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September 21, 2004
We received a large number of complaints about the organisation of the England v Sri Lanka match at the Rose Bowl last Friday and Saturday. This letter, from Richard Seeckts of Alton, summarises the points raised in many of them:
The Rose Bowl is not capable of successfully hosting England matches. Several journalists mentioned the long queues for buses to the park-and-ride car park on Friday afternoon, but that was not the half of it.
Last Friday morning, the M27 was blocked solid as thousands of spectators sat in their cars for up to two hours queuing to get in to the official park-and-ride (price £7) which had only one gate. There was no traffic control and chaos reigned on every roundabout. To add to the frustration, we listened as the Test Match Special radio commentators remarked that the ground was only filling up slowly.
When I finally reached the ground - 16 overs into the game - the seat numbers printed on my tickets did not exist. I was helpfully told they had been reissued, but then I had to find the right steward with the replacement tickets. I eventually took my seat two hours after I started queuing on the M27. An hour later play was washed out for the day.
Before the long wait for the bus back to the park-and-ride, there was ample opportunity to queue for toilets, overpriced bars and food outlets, all of which were far too scarce for a crowd of 16,000. Shelter from the rain was non-existent.
With Saturday dawning sunny, and big Freddie at the crease, I drove to Southampton again, knowing the crowd would be smaller and more manageable. I arrived at the park-and-ride to be informed that it was not in operation, and that parking was at the Rose Bowl (in the acres that had been mysteriously unused on Friday). Nobody had thought to announce this on Friday, or put notices up, or print it among the information sent out with tickets. The ICC preferred to focus on stern warnings about which fizzy drinks could not be taken into the ground.
The big screen for replays and information was gone by Saturday, short-changing spectators again. A reserve day was set aside for the match, but not the spectator facilities! Fortunately the portable toilets were still in place, but the stench from them was nothing next to the whiff from the administrators. The ICC, Hampshire CCC and the ECB all had a hand in the disorganisation of this fixture, which will conveniently allow them to create a smokescreen as each denies responsibility for such poor planning.
Leaving the ground by car in Saturday's rain was a breeze. It took just under one hour.
We have asked the Hampshire authorities to reply to the complaints raised in this letter. If you have any comments please email us.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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