Choice of game
The third ODI between England and Bangladesh at Edgbaston was the last stop in my sister's cricket tour plan. We had bought tickets assuming we would be attending a dead rubber, but Saturday's thriller in Bristol changed all that. The series was in the balance and I hoped England would manage to regain their honour.
I supported England. Main reason - Stuart Broad. As they say, "Nuff said."
Having attended only Twenty20 matches till now, I was a bit concerned the ODI format would be dull. Was I wrong! Andrew Strauss kept us highly entertained throughout. His 154 was laden with glorious boundaries; his first six over midwicket came in just the third over.
One thing I'd have changed
First up, I was very disappointed at James Anderson being dropped. I know his form hasn't been that great of late, but he is much too talented to be carrying drinks. However, injuries to Ajmal Shahzad and Paul Collingwood meant Anderson fielded almost throughout Bangladesh's innings.
Another factor I would definitely have changed was the flow of alcohol. The Eric Hollies Stand, where we were seated, was full of fun-loving folks but on our way out we seemed to encounter a number of people who were on the verge of losing control.
Face-off I relished
Mashrafe Mortaza's brilliant length bowling against Jonathan Trott was something to watch. Trott was completely at sixes and sevens.
Just about everything that Strauss did wowed the spectators, but my pick would have to be Shakib Al Hasan's run-out at the hands of Collingwood. Shakib took off for a run and met his partner at the same crease, but Collingwood, in his haste to pick up the ball, ended up fumbling quite a bit until he finally took off the bails. Shakib, sure that Collingwood had already effected the run-out, didn't even run back to his crease. Talk about a comedy of errors.
Shafiul Islam was the first to field near our stand and was a good sport with the friendly crowd. Mohammad Ashraful, however, was not. He refused to acknowledge his fans, which was a bit disappointing. Ajmal Shahzad, Tim Bresnan and Jonathan Trott fielded near us during the second innings and were generally quite friendly, especially Shahzad, who granted numerous crowd requests for a wave. Bresnan was kind enough to leave his fielding position to sign autographs, though similar demands made to Trott went unnoticed.
Shot of the day
Of the five sixes Strauss hit, his straight one off Abdur Razzak was the most memorable. He danced down the track and hit the ball so far that it disappeared into the construction area
The day started off wet, soggy and extremely unpleasant. The start of play was delayed by 45 minutes. Despite the dismal conditions the ground was nearly packed. Three out of four stands were full.
Our stand had a fantastic mixture of Bangladesh and England supporters, who gladly took each other on when chanting team slogans. The atmosphere was jovial and festive; the crowd often forgot they were at a cricket match, so busy were they entertaining everyone with songs and chants and attempts at Mexican waves (only one was successful) and plastic-glass snakes (the stewards ruined it by removing the people responsible from the stand). Someone brought a beach ball, which was duly bounced about until it fell into the hands of a security guard. That was the end of that but the guard was lyrically chastised by the crowd. The supporters later took to swapping allegiances - there were a few surprised faces when those in Bangladeshi bandanas started shouting "England, England".
We had some Bangladeshi "bishops" and "wizards" seated near us, complete with conical cardboard hats and Bangladesh-flag capes. Elsewhere in the ground, a Nun, a stormtrooper and a person in a monkey-suit were spotted.
The music was a bit repetitive. There was a lot of N-Dubz and Ellie Goulding but little else. Each Bangladeshi batsman was greeted with "The Boys Are Back In Town", which was catchy enough not to get boring. After the toss, snippets of spectator predictions were shown on the big screen. I was first up, as there were hardly seven people at the ground when the lads from Screens came to interview us. I must admit, having everyone turn around and stare at me was a bit amusing.
During the innings break, we were treated to a wicketkeeping masterclass by Alec Stewart. It was followed by a question-and answer-session with six competition winners. Stewart was apparently available to sign autographs at the TwelfthMan Fan Hub, but I wasn't able to meet him.
My binoculars and camera came in handy, as none of my favourite players were fielding near me. I also took along some food, which I didn't get around to eating. Instead, I indulged in hot dogs and chips from a stall. My trusty England cap made another trip to the cricket with me. Sunscreen has now become my constant companion, except we didn't get one dot of sunshine. I should have taken a jacket along instead.
Banner of the day
I didn't see many, but at the end of the match I met a girl with an "I heart Broady" banner. Wish I'd made one for myself.
It was a brilliant and exciting match. Whoever said the ODI format was dead needs his head checked. The crowd was fabulously enthusiastic, not in the least bit partisan, and we all had a wonderful time. A handful of us even got autographs at the end of the match, so that pretty much capped a fantastic day.
Marks out of 10
9. Everything was perfect really, except the rain and the absence of Anderson.