The Old Trafford Test
It's that time of year when the cricket world descends on our town for the Old Trafford Test. Strangely no-one ever wants to stay with us. The offer's open to players from both sides. Inzy, if you fancy relaxing after a hard day in the field, you're always welcome round ours. We don't have to do anything major. We could just sit and watch telly. Maybe have a bite to eat.
Last year's Old Trafford Test was remarkable for both the players and the crowd. We were working irregular hours last year and were still at home when the fifth day started. Watching on television, we weren't surprised that people were being turned away from the ground. However we were astounded by the volume of people. The official figure put the number of people turned away from the ground on that fifth day at one hundred million - almost double the population of the UK.
Cricket fans in the UK experienced mixed feelings as a result of this. It was great that cricket was so popular, but also slightly frightening. Kind of like being the quiet kid in school and then when you do speak everyone pays attention because if you're bothering to say something, it must be worth saying.
Well luckily the cricket on that last day was well worth tuning in for, even if you were excluded from the ground. Australia retained an outside chance of reaching their target all day. England slowly whittled away Australia's batsmen until they needed only one wicket in the last over and Ricky Ponting produced a staggering innings under colossal pressure - the innings finally convinced us that Ponting was a notch above the rest of Australia's class-oozing batting line-up; that he was something special indeed.
That England failed to take that final wicket and that Australia failed to reach their target was besides the point. Any cricket fan knows that there's not necessarily disappointment in a drawn game. If we get even a fraction of the tension of that match at this year's Old Trafford Test we'll be in for some fun.
We'll be attending on the third day and we're really looking forward to it. There's a different atmosphere at England v Pakistan games and that's part of the charm. We're expecting a good number of Pakistan followers and plenty of noise. Hopefully the authorities will be lenient when it comes to drums and other instruments. We're sure that the players will be able to tolerate the appreciation of the crowd.
As far as the conditions go, on the ground it could be Perth. The pitch is the hardest in England for years and it's barely rained in Manchester for about two months, which is pretty much unprecedented. Overhead, the forecast says it'll be dry and a comfortable temperature, but staging an international cricket match is usually enough to make the heavens open.Cross-posted at King Cricket