At lunch at the Ageas Bowl, having paid (well over the odds) for a couple of beers and some food, we perched on some railings and watched most of the afternoon session from a vantage point in between two stands, one of which obscured much of one half of the field.
After a couple of hours at Lords, we sat on the grass behind the Edrich Stand in the sun with our croissants (posh ain’t I), eyes on a large screen, and stayed there until around tea when the area became busy again.
I stream cricket until my monthly data allowance runs out. I play cricket, occasionally and poorly. I follow about 500 cricket fans, players and bloggers/journos on twitter. I even write a god-awful, infrequently-tended-to blog about it. I’m an utter tragic. So why would I sit there, having paid lots of money to watch live cricket, and watch it on a screen behind the stand? Why would I watch the action through a restricted view at Southampton?
The answer to both, is “comfort”. I’m an unremarkable bloke of an unfortunately average height (5″10), I’m generally healthy and reasonably fit, and I’m in my late twenties – apparently the age when I reach my physical prime (as much as I hope this isn’t it!). Don’t get me wrong, I’m no He-Man, but I consider that I have a lot of physical advantages over what I perceive to be the average cricket fan. Yet I can not sit in comfort for 7 hours in the same seat. Certainly not in one of *those* seats.
Lords was packed, busy and stuffy, but how about the Bowl? How is it normal to feel so utterly cramped in a half-full stadium? It’s not exclusively the legroom; it’s also the shoulder room, the shape of the seat itself, the heat and stickiness trapped between thigh and seat, and the duration of a day’s cricket; 7 hours in these conditions just doesn’t work for a normal human body. I don’t necessarily blame either the Ageas or Lords in terms of the seats provided. I’ve also been at ‘state of the art’ sport stadiums with padded leather seats, like they have at The Emirates – and they really aren’t any better. Although at least at football it’s more acceptable to stand up for long periods…
What I’d recommend is for areas within cricket grounds to stretch legs AND be able to see the action. Grass banks don’t tend to work as well on a rainy day in Cardiff as they might in 30+ degree heat in Perth, but perhaps something along the lines of a concrete terrace, obviously akin to the classic, world-renowned Mayflower Terrace (at the world-renowned Home Park) might at least give people the option of an alternative space to watch the cricket from during the day.
I suspect it wouldn’t be too popular in the morning session, of course, but come lunch and the afternoon evening sessions, I expect a rotational uptake would be pretty high. An area for the cricket team socials/stag dos/groups to congregate and enjoy their afternoon beers together rather than simply annoying people ‘by the bar’ under the stand – the refreshments could even come to you. An area where you can move around; an area to get away from the spitting lower class oik in the allocated seat next to yours; an area where you can breathe, a “fun” area.
The members at Lords wouldn’t want it, of course, and to be fair to them they tend to get sellout crowds anyway so there wouldn’t be quite the perceived need for it there. How about the average punter in half-full crowds at Leeds, Southampton and Durham?