My parents tried very hard to get me to like cricket when I was young. It was a universal failure; I just didn’t see the fun or appeal. After the religious experience known as the 2005 Ashes, I had to ask them why they’d kept this great game from me for so long.
I worked out in the 2013 English Cricket season I had attended 18 days of cricket, across the County Championship and international matches, and I succeeded in dragging my parents along to a few of them. Both are keen cricket fans from their youth, but my Dad had never attended a day of international cricket in his life. Our attempt to watch the second t20 between England and New Zealand at the Oval last May was rained off after two balls, so I guess that doesn’t count.
My Mum, from the sound of all the stories she’s told me, was quite the cricket fan in her youth. Attending teacher training college in Canterbury, she’d watch some iconic players at the St Lawrence Ground play for Kent (see scorecard photo), and once stopped her car at the side of the road whilst on holiday to listen as Derek Underwood bowled a particularly deadly spell for England on TMS. I once stayed up until 4am to watch Steven Finn not score a run for over an hour against New Zealand; I am truly my mother’s daughter.
Her experiences with test match cricket don’t fare so well, she’s had tickets for two test matches, at Lord’s and the Oval, and saw no play on either day due to weather (do you see a pattern emerging?) I hope all of this was made up for when we went along to the Women’s Ashes test at Wormsley and soon discovered just how hot an English summer in the countryside can get.
I also succeeded, just once, this summer to get my parents along to a day of county cricket. I won two complimentary tickets to a Middlesex home fixture at Lord’s during the latter part of the summer. Since I’m a Middlesex member and get free entry anyway, I gave them to my parents and they came along and watched a not particularly thrilling day of Somerset batting, diligently filling out their hot-off-the-press scorecard in neat and tidy handwriting and partaking in a pie for lunch from the bar.
We whole-heartedly support and watch sport. As I’m writing this, on New Years Day 2014, my Mum is watching the Four Hills Ski Jumping competition on TV (don’t ask, just don’t) having switched on the box this morning to watch the Sydney Thunder play the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash t20 League from Australia. When our terrestrial TV signal got so bad that the Channel 4 cricket coverage looked like it was being broadcast from the Arctic tundra, we bought Sky and never looked back. Sport means an awful lot to us in this house.
My family really are the reason why I love and still love this sport, and a defining memory of what it means to this family comes at the end of the 2009 Ashes. We were sat in the living room, with Sky on the TV and TMS on the radio when the final wicket fell at the Oval and we’d won the Ashes. Amidst the cheering and applauding, my Dad stood up and calmly walked to the kitchen and returned a few moments later with a bottle of bubbly and three glasses, and said “I think we deserve this”.