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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
The match was a good excuse to go and see my sister who lives in Sussex. Also, since it was being played after the third Twenty20 between England Women and New Zealand Women, it seemed an ideal choice to spend an entire day relaxing and enjoying the game I love most. I thought Sussex would win this one - they've been a very consistent team.
I support both teams, but I was veering towards Middlesex in this one, mostly because they looked very despondent after their loss to Sussex at Lord's last month.
Tim Murtagh was outstanding. His three wickets in one over stunned the Sussex batsmen and silenced the crowd. He was amply supported by some spectacular fielding. I have to mention Owais Shah as well. His quick-fire 34 put Middlesex on top at a time when they were losing wickets consistently. For Sussex, Oliver Rayner was outstanding with both bat and ball.
One thing I'd have changed
The beginning of my day. My sister and I stood for nearly an hour waiting to collect our tickets (which we would have had with us had the ticketing machine not stopped working when my sister had gone to buy them), only to be told that we were standing at the wrong place. When we went to the correct line we were told our tickets were not there but somewhere else. I was appalled at how disorganised everything was.
This is probably asking for too much, but I really would have loved to see Brendon McCullum and Adam Gilchrist in the match - but they have other responsibilities and I shouldn't complain. I think that was only me, considering how packed the stadium was. I also would have loved to see more of Ed Joyce and Dawid Malan - both these batsmen have great potential, but unfortunately do not bat long, aggressive innings often enough.
Face-off I relished
This is very unoriginal but I really wanted to see Pedro Collins bowl to Dwayne Smith. I regard Collins as a fine bowler, who really got the wrong end of the stick when it came to West Indies selection. Dwayne, of course, is aggressive and brilliant. I would have cherished the chance to watch that had Dwayne not got out so soon after he arrived. That was really disappointing.
There were a few in this match actually. But the winner is definitely Middlesex captain, Neil Dexter's one-handed catch off Murtagh that ended Joyce's brief innings. It was a brilliant show of reflex catching. In fact, from what I made out from his gestures on the big screen, he seemed to indicate the he couldn't quite see the ball clearly because of the setting sun. He still caught it though.
Surprisingly, there were quite a number of players fielding near us at the North Stand. During the Sussex innings, Owais Shah and Scott Newman fielded. The children near us got very excited when they saw Shah and kept calling to him, but that was it. Newman, however, got a really raw deal. He was chatty enough with the spectators, but a handful of rowdy young Sussex fans kept booing him every time he fielded a ball. He had to put up with a great deal of heckling as well. Nearing the end of his stint of fielding near us, he stopped a ball and said "Not like Lord's" - referring to the two teams' last encounter together.
Sussex fielders Joe Gatting and Will Beer fielded near the boundary in the second innings. They were welcomed by the crowd, but there was very little interaction between the players and spectators.
Shot of the day
Ollie Rayner's six down the ground and into the Family area was spectacular and breath-taking. It was perfectly timed and gee-ed up the crowd.
The ground was packed. The North Stand had been closed off during the women's game, but it was opened up for this one. When the security guard told us the game would be full, we found it hard to believe. We were so wrong!
It was a surprising contrast really - a packed ground for a county match, but several empty seats for an international women's game.
What I loved was how some of the England players from the previous match stayed on to watch this game. A few rows behind us sat Sarah Taylor, Jenny Gunn, Nicky Shaw and Katherine Brunt.
The crowd were very partisan - in Sussex you support only Sussex. There were loud cheers for every boundary and dead silence for every wicket. The boys next to us made their dislike for David Warner very apparent. During the Middlesex batting, it was easy to make out when a boundary had been hit, simply because of the overwhelming silence.
After the toss the dancers from Juice 107.2 entertained the crowd. The mid-innings break saw Sid the Shark's Time Trial - he finished his run in only 16.38 seconds. Good on you, Sid. Three spectators participated in the Catch the Cash competition.
The music was the usual contemporary Lady GaGa, Usher, JLS and Black Eyed Peas with a smattering of Michael Jackson. I was extremely pleased they didn't have the usual noise following the introduction of a new bowler. Phew. What a relief!
My binoculars, my England cap and my little digital camera are mainstays in my rucksack for a cricket match. I took lots of sandwiches, crisps and fruits along to stave off my hunger. The one thing I forgot was the sunscreen. Let's just say, lesson learnt.
It was a brilliant match and the atmosphere was electric. It went right down to the wire and while everyone around me was rooting for Sussex to get a wicket, I was praying for fours and sixes. And Middlesex obliged. The groundstaff (barring the ticketing agents) were polite and let the spectators hang around to meet the players even after the lights went off. Thumbs up to the security lady who let us get through the barrier to get pictures with David Warner. Thank you.
Except for the foolish children who were practically sledging the Middlesex fielders, everything was perfect.
Marks out of 10
9. If only the crowd had been less partisan and had come to enjoy the cricket more.
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Monita Mohan's life revolves around cricket. She is currently making up for all the matches she missed during the first two terms of University by going to whichever ones she can. She supports Middlesex, Sussex and Warwickshire and hopes to make the most of her spare time on the island going to more and more county matches.
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