Birmingham gets a lot of stick. I’ve never been sure why. I think it’s because nobody really knows what it is. Is it north or south? Is it Britain’s second city or just a collection of old car factories? The comedy accent doesn’t help, nor does the list of famous people hailing from the area. Jasper Carrot, Noddy Holder, Alan Titchmarsh, Karren Brady – although she was actually born in London, but you get my drift.
Anyway, I grew up in Birmingham and most of my family are still there, despite their best efforts. So I still have a soft spot for the place, and Edgbaston in particular, where I spent much of my youth freezing my nads off watching Warwickshire win yet another County Championship.
Edgbaston doesn’t have any Test matches this year, for the first time in living memory. So the powers that be obviously decided to make amends by giving them a load of matches in the Champions Trophy. I went to the first one. We were sat in the Eric Hollies stand, otherwise known as the “popular” stand. Which means it’s where all the drunken idiots in fancy dress congregate.
In front of us was a group of men, most of whom were dressed in overalls and hard hats and one in a long blue dress and necklace. It was only when he turned around and revealed his mask that I realised they were Thatcher and the miners.
We saw a couple dressed as Mr Blobby (he was a novelty 1990s TV character, kids. Ask your dad). There were also a group of extremely irritating people sitting near us who didn’t seem remotely interested in the action. At one point the most annoying man had his trousers pulled down by the others. They got steadily more intoxicated and didn’t come back after the break.
At the interval, we went to the shop. It was kitted out just like the rest of the ground – entirely in bland ICC branding. It was almost like someone had erased Warwickshire from the history of the sport.
My cousin was playing Kwik Cricket on the outfield. I couldn’t really make him out. I later discovered he had also been one of the mascots standing in front of the Australia players during the national anthems.
Having been behind the stand for the first innings, the sun finally made an appearance in the afternoon. We spent most of the remainder of the game unsure whether we were too hot or too cold. Every removal of cardigan or jumper seemed to prompt a re-appearance of the sun, and vice-versa.
As the end of the match approached (sorry die-hard KC fans, cricket mention alert) Nasser Hussain stood waiting at the boundary edge, poised for his presentation duties. As the last-wicket partnership dragged on he just stood there, clipboard and microphone in hand. Nobody spoke to him for what seemed like an eternity. He kept glancing at his notes and shuffling his papers, as if he was standing in the corner of a bar pretending he hadn’t been stood up.
Then we went home and played badminton in the garden.
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