England v Australia, 3rd Test, Old Trafford, 5th day

Thousands join the jittery stampede

Roving Reporter from the final day at Old Trafford

Roving Reporter by Paul Coupar at Old Trafford

August 15, 2005

Text size: A | A

Huge queues flock to Old Trafford, but as many as got in were turned away © Getty Images

Old Trafford cricket ground this morning drew the sort of crowds more often seen a few hundred yards up the road at the cavernous football stadium.

Lancashire CCC guess that at least 10,000 were turned away when the gates of the 23,000-capacity stadium were barred shortly before 10am. An experienced local journalist put that closer to 20,000. Crowds were sucked in by £10 entry on the gate and the prospect of an "I was there" moment. On a working day it was an astonishing turn-out.

The first reports of queues forming came at 11pm on Sunday night. By 9.45am one line for the 21,000 tickets available was six abreast and stretched 600 yards down Brian Statham Way. That was after the worst of the rush - and there were three other queues. Several England players, driving from their central Manchester hotel, were delayed after getting caught in the traffic snarl-up outside the ground.

The ECB belatedly tried to arrange a giant screen for the disappointed thousands in Manchester's Albert Square. The police spurned the proposal fearing public-order problems. So the only screen is a not-very-handy 160 miles away at Bristol.

As it was, the masses slowly trudged away, their frustration compounded by the temporary closure of the overwhelmed tram station. The most agitated stayed to barrack police and stewards. The most lithe climbed bus shelters and tried to climb the high walls of the ground.

The last magic Monday to draw similar attention was the decisive Oval Test against West Indies in 2000. Then, as now, England needed all ten wickets to seal the win, although with a 2-1 lead and defeat out of the question, the crowd enjoyed a carnival atmosphere in hot September sunshine. It was an astonishing day. One man at the front of the huge queues for the bar found his pockets empty save a cheque book. Strangers volunteered to swap an unguaranteed cheque for cash.

There is none of that happy distractedness in Manchester today. The bars and ground are unusually quiet. The fancy-dress boys are at work, at home, or nursing a hangover from yesterday. Under clouds above Old Trafford, the tension is greater, the prize bigger and the crowd far more jittery.

Paul Coupar is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

RSS Feeds: Paul Coupar

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print
Paul CouparClose
Related Links

    An all-round ODI giant

Numbers Game: Few players can boast the sort of numbers that Jacques Kallis achieved in ODIs

    Is being bowled out by Moeen embarrassing?

Polite Enquiries: Is Rahane India's Misbah? Should Rohit be dropped? Jarrod Kimber and George Dobell discuss

    'We were determined to prove we were not an average team'

Former South Africa wicketkeeper Dave Richardson remembers his favourite moment from the Lord's win in 1994

    'A test of Kohli's mental strength'

Bowl at Boycs: Geoffrey Boycott on Kohli's recent form, and Cook's captaincy

How does one 'lead by example'?

Alex Bowden: A captain needs to do enough as an individual to retain respect and control, but exceptional performances may not result in even greater influence

News | Features Last 7 days

The woeful world of Pankaj Singh

Pankaj Singh greeted his most expensive analysis in Test history with the words 'That is cricket'. It was admirable acceptance from an impressive man of a record he did not deserve

Bhuvneshwar on course for super series

Only 15 times in Test history has a player achieved the double of 300 runs and 20 wickets in a Test series. Going on current form, Bhuvneshwar could well be the 16th

Ugly runs but still they swoon

Alastair Cook did not bat like a leading man but the crowd applauded him for simply not failing

Boycott floored by an Indian trundler

When Eknath Solkar got under the skin of Geoff Boycott, leading to a three-year self-imposed exile from Test cricket

Worst keepers, and honours at Lord's

Also, most keeping dismissals on debut, seven-for at HQ, and youngest ODI centurions

News | Features Last 7 days
Sponsored Links

Why not you? Read and learn how!