The government pilot post-social-distancing 2021 Edgbaston Test – a match report

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Send your match reports to We’re only really interested in your own experience, so if it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. (But if it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.)

Ged Ladd submitted this match report what might be termed ‘promptly’. Given the time-sensitivity, we definitely should have published it at the time, but we were moving house or something, so we didn’t. So it goes.

Ged writes…

Whereas the Lord’s Test was a socially-distanced affair, which I attended alone, the Edgbaston Test was designated to be a Government pilot for major events.

Our regular Heavy Rollers gathering was a depleted group for various reasons, further diminished by Charley “The Gent” Malloy’s indisposition (thankfully A lurgy rather than THE lurgy).

Mrs Malloy sent Nigel “Father Barry” a hamper with all the non-perishable foods she had already gathered for our picnic. Harsha Ghoble was our third man at the match.

I took on perishables duties, taking advantage of the kitchen in the Air B’n’B I had chosen.

I procured sandwich components, fruit and refillable plastic water bottles in Leamington, where I stopped for a couple of hours of tennis and lunch with friends on the Wednesday. 

On day one, we sat next to a sweet little older couple. She told us that they had abstained from smuggling in alcohol for the first time this year, as they thought security would be tight. Nigel remarked that security had done for his “thermos method” some years ago. 

“Ah yes,” she said, “but you don’t look like a sweet little old lady.”

We liked them.

The pandemic has wrought havoc, but also forced some improvements. The e-ticketing meant that we got through security and all the additional checks faster than ever at Edgbaston. Similarly, although the Eric Hollies was heaving with beer-swilling folk, the click and collect method kept the queues at the back of the stand modest.

My old friend Jonny Hurst, the soccer Chant Laureate, was in the Eric Hollies on day one. He and I exchanged e-bants during the day.

Nigel got into a muddle with the fruit infusion section of his refillable water bottle, causing the sweet little old lady to guffaw with laughter, which obviously helped Nigel regain his composure.

Beer snakes were “the thing” day one; in the Eric Hollies, naturally, but also the one depicted, in the Raglan.

On day two, a self-important bloke marched around the Raglan, barking orders, in an attempt to build an even bigger snake. Mercifully, security rumbled him, confiscating the skiffs. We saw him still remonstrating with stewards near the exit as we left the ground.

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  1. That picture of Ged on top of the page should go down as one of the classics of this website. Quite not reaching the heights of the capybara one, but a close second perhaps. Kudos.

    1. It’s a corker – and away from Lord’s as well! Has the potential of a reply from Daisy ever been anticipated so eagerly?

      One key non-cricketing data-point is sadly missing from this otherwise top class write-up. Was the pilot a success, in the sense that the Heavy Rollers avoided The Lurgy?

      1. I think, Bail-out, you mean THE ‘Dreaded’ Lurgy, a useful middle-order batsman back in the day, whose main claim to fame was at one point captaining a certain Laurence Elderbrook in an important end-of-season game, entrusting him with the pivotal number 11 slot and asking him to field from the dressing room. Not to be confused with his younger brother A Lurgy, who was just a bit of a pain in the neck, to be honest. Historians differ as to whether their surname should be capitalised or not; Ged obviously sits in the opposite camp to me on this matter.

  2. Thanks for the kind words.

    A publishable Daisy comment is most unlikely in the circumstances. ChatGPT seems to have had some sort of a hold on her…

    …and on KC – it is hard to imagine the temporal rule that might have led to and April 2023 match report going up three months ahead of time, leaving a June 2021 piece waiting patiently in the pile.

    But in truth I don’t do strict chronology either, neither for writing nor for publishing. Coincidentally, I posted a proto Heavy Rollers story on Ogblog just the other day. Charley “The Gent” & Nigel “Father Barry” are mentioned, but it was actually when I spent an afternoon with Big “Papa Zambezi” Jeff that the penny dropped that we were all mad on cricket:

    1. I spent a day at this match sat between a group of ‘ample girthed’ middle aged men wearing bikinis and some women wearing cricket gear. I suppose in less enlightened times it might have been the other way round.
      Then I missed a wicket because my mate asked me who the other Eng player after Gooch and Botham to appear in more than one World Cup final was and it took me half an hour to get it.

      1. If you will choose to sit in the Eric Hollies, Military Sub-Medium, you might expect company along the lines you describe.

        Two brave Heavy Rollers – Nigel and Chas – braved that stand for one day in 2008. Nigel kindly reported the matter on this very website a few years ago – it’s a thumping good read with some equally wonderful images:

        Oh, and to answer Bail-out’s kind question above, we all returned uninfected from the 2021 pilot match at Edgbaston, not a lurgy (never mind THE Lurgy) amongst us. Respiratory viruses don’t transmit easily out of doors. Who knew?

      2. Glad you all returned unscathed Ged! Enjoyed re-reading that 2008 blast from the past. Like MSM, I think I enjoy it more from a distance mind you.

        In answer to your mysterious equation (well, expression, really) does Ged + Ladd = Add Geld? Sounds either profitable…or painful.

  3. In other news, I discovered today as the only source of the Zimbabwe v Ireland match. Free streaming – seemingly no strings. Presumably to be the source of seeing ICC stuff that doesn’t quite make the cut for pay TV deals. It took some fiddling around to log in via one of my Google or Facebook accounts, but I think that was a temporary glitch their end.

    Daisy and I caught the last 10 overs of the match and came away from it thinking that the quality of the stream and the commentary was good.

    That stream channel is also showing the Women’s U19 T20 World Cup.

    Good on the ICC to ensure that less glamorous international matches get an airing.

    1. ICC player is a funny beast, they seem to have invested pretty well in quality of footage and commentary, but lots of complaints about glitchy transmission resulting in it lagging or even going totally off-air regularly at previous tournaments. Hope it holds up for this one.

      I think this U19 Women’s T20 WC marks the first appearance of Indonesia and Rwanda in a global tournament – good to see cricket spreading, and Henriette Ishimwe of Rwanda and Indatwa Hampshire CC is a genuine talent (if Rwanda get a chance to bowl first she’ll be good to watch, have seen her play in some other streamed tournaments), but it’s partly the result of a wonky qualification system. Only one qualifier per ICC region regardless of that region’s strength, and no global qualifying round. As a result the USA qualified by default (no other Americas country had a women’s youth programme the ICC deemed strong enough to be eligible) while Indonesia only had to face off against PNG for the East Asia-Pacific berth. The Africa, Europe and Asia qualifiers had much deeper fields and some relatively strong teams including future professional cricketers will be disappointed if they end up watching the likes of Indonesia get thrashed. It’s something to watch out for as the ICC seem to be moving towards regional qualification for more of their tournaments. A global qualifying round does mean the associate teams who make it to the main draw are more like the “best of the rest” and would have meant more competitive matches, ironically at the expense of making the final tournament less global in nature as weaker regions get crowded out, but it’s a kind of Mini World Cup that’s expensive to stage without pulling revenue in.

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