England v Sri Lanka, ICC World T20 semi-final match report

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Ged writes:

A week or so before the match, I e-mailed King Cricket for some advice:

“I find myself on business in Manchester Thursday/Friday and have engineered an early evening gap in my activities Thursday so I can see most (at least the closing stages) of England’s T20 semi final. Can you recommend a suitable hostelry in Central Manchester for said match?”

King Cricket, polite as ever, replied promptly:

“I have to be honest, watching sport in central Manchester is something I actively avoid – as you can perhaps imagine.”

I found it hard to imagine. If a Mancunian sent me a similar request about London I would reply along the following lines: “The Lord’s Tavern always broadcasts the matches. It usually isn’t too crowded and it is sometimes convivial. The drinks are a bit pricey, but the Rioja is servicable and the beer drinkable.”

In fact, rereading KC’s warning a couple of times, I started imagining all manner of things – perhaps hordes of cricket-loving nutters throwing beer and food everywhere – perhaps even making life extremely unpleasant for anyone slightly dark-skinned who might be mistaken for a Sri Lankan fan. Perhaps worse.

I decided to take refuge in my hotel room for the match. The match was about an hour old once I checked in to The Midland. The television in my room displayed four sets of inverted commas inappropriately on one side of the screen, but it was possible to change channels and I soon found Sky Sports One.

After a few minutes’ viewing, by which time the ever-present inverted commas had left my consciousness, some strange green messages started appearing on the screen – seemingly random mixtures of letters, numbers and symbols. Perhaps these were Kabbalistic messsages predicting the score of the match or the end of the world, I mused. They increased in length and frequency and then the television simply switched itself off.

I considered venturing out into the town to find somewhere else to watch the match, but by now I was stricken with KC-induced fear, “as you can perhaps imagine.” I fiddled with the television and got it working again. It only went through the Kabbalistic messages and self-destruct routine once more during the match.

When the match was over, I waited a few minutes for safety reasons and then ventured out to the Obsidian Restaurant for a most enjoyable dinner with an old friend from university. The city centre seemed calm and reasonably safe.

On returning to the hotel after dinner, I was greeted in the lobby by a convivial group of people in black tie who were attending a Marine Insurance Association dinner at the hotel. One of them tried to sell me some marine insurance, but I managed to avoid the purchase and rapidly returned to my room. Sleep came easily that night, as you can perhaps imagine.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Yes. Blimey indeed – KC uses the first person singular in personal correspondence.

    Yet more of his authority erodes.

    Top avoidance of purchase of marine insurance – i wasn’t so lucky.

  2. Not sure why KC had to preface his comment about Central Manchester with ‘watching sport’

  3. The Midland?

    The Obsidian?

    I’m not sure KC was necessarily talking about the same Manchester that you were in, Ged.

  4. Crikey. I’m going to Manchester to see The Wall next May. On a Saturday as well.

    Please somebody tell me the MEN arena is not in central Mancester! Please.

  5. The Midland is as posh as the Queen – they serve AFTERNOON TEA there, for God’s sake.

    It’s usually quite difficult finding somewhere to watch cricket in the City Centre, especially since the Sports Cafe closed a few years back. I would suggest the Sawyer’s Arms on Deansgate, or the Hog’s Head next door to it, as possibilities.

  6. Afternoon tea – what would I know about that, AP? I was up there working during the day – right by the Arena as it happens, Dandy Dan.

    I’m starting to realise that it was a miracle that I got away from Central Manchester unscathed.

  7. Browsing the Afternoon Tea menu in the Octagon at the Midland I notice they do a “Vegertarian” Afternoon Tea. I make many typing errors but I don’t write menus for posh hotels. $25 for a cucumber sandwich, crust off, and a sultana scone.

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