A smashing evening watching cricket with smurfs

The penultimate Women’s Ashes match, a T20 between England and Australia was one of the best sporting events I’ve been to in a while.

Taking place at Sussex County Cricket Club in the seaside town of Hove in the UK the atmosphere was awesome, the match mattered – the home side were fighting to stay in the series – and it was a beautiful chilly south coast night.

The tone for the evening match was set as I approached a steward at the entrance.
“Excuse me, where’s the press accreditation centre?”
“The what?”
“Where do I pick up my press pass?”
“I’ve no idea, love,” chuckled the elderly fella, grinning widely and pointing me in the direction of someone who may be able to help.

Despite this being an international sporting occasion the friendly local relaxed atmosphere set the tone right from the off.

Seating arrangements, for example, were rather lackadaisical.

The groundsman downed tools and put his feet up to watch the game.

These locals had an awesome vantage point.

These locals had an awesome vantage point.

The Smurfs had arrived...

The Smurfs arrived…

Photographers were in position...

Photographers were in position (soooo much camera envy here)…

The beers were flowing.

The beers were flowing…

The crowd were in good spirits.

The crowd were in good spirits…

Fathers were spending quality time with their daughters...

Fathers were spending quality time with their daughters…

Arriving late

There were the traditional late arrivals…

The obligatory trilby-hatted gentleman...

The obligatory trilby-hatted gentleman…

People were dressed appropriately for an English summer's night...

People dressed appropriately for an English summer’s night…

The Mexican wave was doing its rounds...

The Mexican wave was doing its rounds…

We were ready. We just needed England to do their bit.

And all was good with the world. We were ready. We just needed England to do their bit; win here and they’d take the Women’s Ashes to a final game decider in Cardiff a few days later.

And they started so well...

England started well…

Skittling the Aussies back to the clubhouse to the likes of 'Hit the Road Jack', for a very gettable 107-7. Game on.

… skittling the Aussies back to the clubhouse for a very gettable 107-7. Game on.

Half-time, as it were, and the crowd was ratcheting up a notch.

Half-time, as it were, and the crowd was ratcheting up a notch.

Aussie captain Meg Lanning was out warming up her fielding in anticipation of the battle ahead.

Aussie captain Meg Lanning was out early warming up her fielding in anticipation of the battle ahead.

The Aussies were out in force, some clearly relishing this battle after their team were disappointing in the men's Ashes.

The Aussie fans were out in force in their green & gold, relishing this battle after their team were disappointing in the men’s Ashes resulting in this amusing T-shirt.

England fans were getting tense...

Fans started to get tense…

 

... and fully focused on the game.

And were fully focused on the game.

I said, the fans were fully focused on the game!

I said, THE FANS WERE FULLY FOCUSED ON THE GAME!

It was lovely hearing young girls talking like wizened cricket fans and this young girl god cricket down: "

Young girls talked about the game like wizened cricket fans and this girl got cricket down pat: “Bat it, catch it, throw it,” she repeated in a mantra.

Players' friends and family were getting tense

Players’ friends and family supported the team. The lady on the left here, Emma, is the sister of one of the players. Can you guess who?

You got it (or did you?)! It's Lydia Greenway.

You got it (or did you?)… It’s England’s Lydia Greenway.

Another game for you? Who's this player's sister Beki and her niece Evie...

Another test for you. This cutie here is the niece of one of the players, with her mum Beki, but who is the related player…

Yup, it's Aunty Sarah Taylor.

Yup, it’s Aunty Sarah Taylor.

Boring Ladies were watching. I'm not being rude! That's their name for the new season, so they tell me.

The Boring Ladies were watching. I’m not being rude, they told me that’s their team name for the new season.

My pet hate – the unhealthy food options at sports occasions...

Food options were, shall we say limited as at most sports occasions… A pet hate of mine, especially with kids around.

Burgers and fries

So enticing like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...

Selfie sticks replaced cricket bats.

Selfies abounded. Obvs.

Sensible shoes were worn.

Sensible shoes for walking about on grass were de riguer…

Fred Flintstone was absorbed.

Fred Flintstone was absorbed.

Anglo Aussie relations were tested to the limit with some couples.

For one Anglo/Aussie couple, relations were tested.

The scene was set but the spotlight faded on England as they fell for 87 all out, handing the Ashes to the Aussies, winning away from home for the first time since 2001.

The scene was set but the spotlight faded on England as they fell for 87 all out, handing the Ashes to the Aussies, who won away from home for the first time since 2001, with a game to spare.

Yet, despite the disappointment for the home side, I left the ground with a big smile on my face.

This was proper sport; a super friendly atmosphere, support for both teams and appreciation for their endeavours, kids running about mimicking batting techniques, players’  friends and family chatting with the crowd, and no static stadium-style shoal moving inexorably towards the exits, it was a stroll home for most.

I wasn’t the only one who thoroughly enjoyed the game.

Two local likely lads, Simon and Nick, spoke to me after the event.

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Twitter Southern Stars

Photos by Jo Gunston

Author: Jo Gunston

Roving blogging superfan shares behind the scenes stories of her sports life and the best of those from like-minded souls.

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