The last time Ireland played England in a one-day international in Malahide, Dublin, in 2013, I injured my back whilst emptying the dishwasher (at home, not in Malahide). This year, to avoid any such health and safety issues, I took myself along to the rematch instead, with a number of colleagues in tow. Having booked the tickets last autumn on the back of a cursory check of the long range weather forecast, we were somewhat disappointed in the run up to the match itself to see a storm brewing over Dublin, with its eye seemingly centred on the Malahide cricket club around noon on Friday. Oh well, we thought, they’re never right about the weather, those forecasters.
On the morning of the match, it was dry, if a little overcast. I arrived at the entrance to the grounds just as the announcer, well, announced the arrival of President Higgins to greet the two teams. Thankfully, there was no ensuing crush from those outside the ground eager to see the President, although I was worried how he was going to clear the boundary. I took my seat at 10.45am precisely, alongside the first two of my colleagues who were already seated with a pint in either hand. They were proud to tell me they had been second in line at the bar at 10.30am, just behind an English supporter who was berating the staff for not serving him at 10.29am. Having vowed not to have a drink before 11am, I contented myself with a cup of tea and a couple of chocolate digestives, a packet of which I had brought along with me with a view to sharing, but they don’t go with beer, seemingly. We agreed that the darkening clouds overhead suggested the forecasters might just have got it right for once.
One of a group of English supporters in front of us was wearing a full wet suit, snorkel and goggles as a commentary on the forecast. We gathered it was his stag weekend. They were ribbing one of the programme sellers, whose perm did make her look a little like 1970s-era Kevin Keegan, so there were some “I will love it if we beat them, love it!” type commentaries, which she either ignored or didn’t understand. I had a pint. We were slagging off the announcer, who in between every over ended his unnecessary score updates (we can see the scoreboard, thank you) by saying, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y indeed, “… at this, the Royal London One Day Cricket International between Ireland and England at Malahide Cricket Club.” I think he was worried that somebody might be at the wrong event.
We had all brought our sunglasses to encourage the weather to do its best but in the end they weren’t much good against the rain, which arrived around 12.15-ish. We repaired to the beer tent and had another beer. Then we repaired to the food tent and had some food. I almost mastered the art of holding a pint, an umbrella, a burger and a basket of fries at the same time. Not quite the cuisine or the setting I had imagined for this, my first cricket match. We did spot the usual gang of Richie Benaud impersonators, who looked miserable enough wandering around the ‘tented village’ in their cream coloured linen jackets, although at least their wigs were keeping them dry, if somewhat itchy.
Eventually we decided to walk down to Malahide village for some proper drinks, knowing we’d only be a few minutes walk away for the inevitable resumption of play. However, the ridiculous and unnecessary abandonment of play around 3pm-ish intervened, although at least it meant that we didn’t have to stir from the pub, which was just as well because it was really tipping down outside. We agreed that the guy in the wetsuit had the right idea. We got a train around 5pm and I walked a couple of miles home in the rain to clear my head, arriving just in time for dinner.
Saturday and Sunday turned out to be dry and warm, either one of which would have been just perfect for cricket. Bloody cricket administrators.
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