First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
As a lifelong Hampshire fan there was no way I was going to miss the Rose Bowl's first Test. Fortunately, mentioning this sentiment repeatedly and loudly in the office birthed a nine-strong party, complete with huge picnic, for day three. We met at the Southampton Airport Station and took the Rose Bowl shuttle bus service, which appeared to have commandeered every bus in the county to ferry fans to and from the ground. After being dropped by the gates, we made a dash inside as the first rain of the day had begun to fall. Thankfully, the rain had cleared by the time play was due to start, and everything got underway with only a 20-minute delay. The crowd had the groundstaff to thank to be able to watch the day's play.
England. Although growing up under Mike Atherton's England makes all this recent winning shocking to the system. Still, Hampshire appear to have taken up England's old mantle in the County Championship. Sigh.
A tie between Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, for putting together the partnership which ultimately revived the England innings. Their dismissals were head-in-hands moments, with plenty of unrepeatable exclamations ringing out from all around us.
One thing I'd have changed
The rain. Although the cricket we got was enjoyable, an extra 40 overs and a little less watching the groundstaff would have been preferable. Though sitting under the roof of the new Rose Bowl stands did afford us the somewhat smug experience of watching dry, while umbrellas flew up in the rows closer to the pitch.
Filling in the gaps
The pop quiz one of my companions had prepared in case of rain was gratefully received by all. A number of groups from the surrounding rows took part in the contest which was eventually won by the boss. An England cricket rubber duck was the hard-fought prize. Um... who succeeded Beefy on a Question of Sport again?
Pietersen's sixth four - pulled imperiously to midwicket - heralded a glimpse of the KP of old, and had the crowds collectively breathing a huge sigh of relief.
The crowd's patience was tested to its limit after play resumed at 4pm, with tea scheduled for 4.40. Several people complained that it would have made more sense to take tea during the rain break and that "tea" was likely to have brilliant sunshine, with rain immediately after. This turned out to be the case - prompting a chorus of complaints from all. However, everyone was feeling considerably happier once a few hours of play had taken place in gorgeous, rain-free summer weather. Though it didn't stop a few grumbles about the management of the rain interruptions in the shuttle queue later on.
We shared the stand with Tinker Bell, Captain Scarlet, a matador, several tigers and a flock of seagulls. However, a misbehaving Batman, whose jaunt onto the pitch left several members of security red-faced as he danced, gyrated and evaded capture, delighted the bored crowds the most.
Tests v limited-overs
I love both. I honestly believe there is room for both in cricket without either suffering for it - the sooner people stop seeing it as one-or-the-other the better in my opinion. I'll be back at the Rose Bowl for the remainder of the Twenty20 season soon, and I know I'll love it just as I loved the Test.
Despite the poor weather, I had a fantastic day. Transport was well-organised and hassle-free, the view of the action was good from all around the ground, and the crowd was welcoming and remained optimistic while the rain fell.
Marks out of 10
7. Not as much cricket as I would have liked, but what I did see I enjoyed very much. The venue provided a huge selection of food and drink, and there were enough stalls to avoid huge queues. It's definitely an experience I would recommend.
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