I’ve seen the Toronto Blue Jays (baseball) and the New York Giants (USA football) as well as Manchester United over many years but I had never been to a cricket match. So when we had the chance to go and watch a Nat West T20 Blast at Old Trafford I was not the most excited person in the house. My two boys, aged 7 and 12, both play cricket as does my husband and were totally game on!
Having two sport loving boys and a husband, I’ve had little choice but to swept away on the current of bats, balls and matches, having to attend events, more than actually wanting too. However, I have to admit that over the years I have come to enjoy them more and more.
Approaching Emirates Old Trafford I remembered why sporting events are great fun, I just love the atmosphere outside the ground, with mouthy ticket touts, police, bumper to bumper traffic, the smell of fast food, the families all together, the excitement in the air – it all adds to the build-up.
After collecting our tickets and easily finding seats in the shade, I started to ask my husband lots of potentially annoying questions; what is a power play? Is it called ‘blast’ because of the blasts of pop music? What does a blast of ‘High Ho’ with a bell mean? Why are they all in red? Is there an interval? How many balls in each over?
The pace is fast and the players can’t half sprint, throw fast and accurately, blink and you’d miss it! There were several sixes hit high into the air, with accompanying ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ from the crowd. One spectacular shot hit the upper tier of the stand above our heads and was caught by a very happy man a few rows in front of us. Lots of action in the form of fours and sixes, with many high and heart stopping catches. It was then I thought, yes, cricket can be exciting and entertaining.
I did notice the music for the opposing team when the batsmen were out was a little harsher than when Lancashire were out, ‘Bye Bye Baby’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ – I even felt sorry for Durham as they sprinted back to the Pavilion in time to the beat!
Lanky the Mascot made his way round the ground waving hello and giving a high five to some children. He also had a little dance, odd but fun, a giraffe mascot dancing along to the Spice Girls (Lanky short for Lancashire, giraffes are lanky, in case you were wondering).
Now for the boring bit, which families like mine notice and can make or break a day out if done badly – Very nice toilets, clean, cool and big and lots of them. Loads of bar staff and no big queues, with lots of parking in and around the ground and efficient and smiling staff everywhere; all the stuff you need when you have children in tow– well done Emirates Old Trafford!
Is cricket for posh people and public school boys? Definitely not. Emirates Old Trafford and Nat West T20 Blast have a slick, efficient family friendly set up, with a whole family fun area outside the pitch with bouncy castle, bands, music and souvenirs (see plastic Lanky mascot image £2). The free Emirates baseball caps; which my husband thought made them look like Arsenal fans (he is a HUGE Man Utd fan) were a big hit and my boys loved them. Even if you don’t like sport, let alone cricket I’d urge you to go, it’s fun, different, exciting and a glorious way to spend a hot summer’s evening, they even do a great glass of rosé.
There were many children and families of all ages, from about 3 upwards, and they get to move and dance about, cheer, whoop, clap and holler, so no sitting still required! As my 7 year said at half time “I love this disco cricket!” To top the evening Lancashire Lightening won the game and finished top of the T20 Blast group, winning by 27 runs (which my husband tells me is a good result).
One thing I would say, it trying to book tickets is a cumbersome process, there is nothing on any sites that just tell you how much tickets start from without having to go through and long slow booking process, so even now I still can’t tell you how much child tickets start from, I think it is £12 or free, I can’t be 100% sure without another 15 minutes of web surfing. If Nat West T20 Blast and cricket venues across the county want to attract more families, clear prices, easy to book and maybe a family ticket/package would be the way to go, which they probably already do but I could not find the details anywhere! So I will ask and post a link ASAP.
According to my son’s the catches were the most impressive thing of the night and as we speak, both are out in the back garden practicing catches with a softer, training cricket ball. You can pick up a cricket starter set in most sports shops for about a £10-£15 making it a low cost sport to start to play. I love the fact my children have been inspired and excited by attending a Nat West T20 Blast. School summer holidays, sunshine and cricket; happy days.
For more information about matches in your area take a look here – http://www.ecb.co.uk/news/domestic/natwest-t20-blast