Worcestershire have the quintessentially English cricket ground and the promise of cake. Being 45 minutes from Birmingham I took in the first day’s play of a game against Warwickshire and ate a load of food for good measure.
Costa cappuccino and brie and bacon sandwich
Apparently panini is plural for that piece of bread in Italian. I’m not sure what your average Italian epicure would make of this molten brie rectangle with bacon and cranberry bought from the only open cafe near the ground. It wasn’t too bad once it had cooled down but the coffee was a well off.
To contemplate over breakfast, Daryl Mitchell grafted for 30 odd runs while Moeen Ali elegantly went through his repertoire at the other end for a run-a-ball 30 odd. One of England’s many documented issues at the World Cup was frenetic carelessness from Moeen at the top of the order. Against a good attack though he looked utterly unruffled though seamers Keith Barker, Chris Wright and Boyd Rankin will probably admit they made neither batsmen play enough. Mitchell must have been seriously frustrated to give it away four balls before lunch with a tame chip to mid wicket. Probably eyeing up the cake.
Scotch egg and filter coffee
After sitting on a park bench (later discovered to be pock-marked with pigeon excrement) for the morning, I moved over to cathedral view seats for a light lunch, resplendent with loud bell ringing. Lunch time message from the Warwickshire bowling coach was clearly to make the batsman play more with the Worcestershire middle order folding quick time to catches close to the wicket. The mental side of Moeen’s batting is probably his weakest facet at the moment. With only the lower order to bat with a mentally flabby poke to mid wicket was what no-one needed.
Of the other test players involved, Boyd Rankin employed an exclusively back of the length line to floor several batsmen, rewarded by Joe Leach’s wicket out hooking. Jeetan Patel was treated to careful respect. At the other end of the scale, a good counter-punching 50 by Joe Clarke, a 19 year old wicket keeper on his second first class game, kept Worcestershire, just, in the game. He looks like he’ll have a future on this basis. The scotch egg was better than an orange-wrapped Supermarket special, but less than lovingly crafted by an old dear. Either way, it was definitely a step up on standard stadium scran. I’ve never had a filter coffee at a sporting event before, this was a nice touch.
Tea, ginger cake and lemon drizzle
Worcestershire CCC’s offering to the game of cricket is afternoon tea, served in the ladies pavilion, which I’m delighted to report has armchairs reserved for ‘Lady members’ while anachronistically you are served tea and cakes by a gaggle of old dears. I had a huge Lemon Drizzle cake, with just enough lemon peel to fizz and (Jamaican?) ginger cake. Two cakes does seem to be the limit, with the tea it comes in at a very reasonable £4.50.
The other Worcestershire institution is the cathedral. This doled out bell rings for over four hours over the afternoon and is something difficult to convey over media. If it hadn’t been for the cake, this and squawking crows, might have encouraged the onset of some gothic horror film paranoia by mid afternoon. The cessation was awarded a round of applause from spectators.
Some entertaining late order swishing and biffing from Jack Shantry and Saeed Ajmal, back from remedial work on straightening his bowling arm, saw Worcestershire close on 242, probably 60 light. Keith Barker’s removal of Saeed and Charlie Morris with accurate length balls illustrated to Stuart Broad (and perhaps Rankin too) the importance of bowling at the stumps to remove the tail. It was a professional close to what was shaping up for a bought tail had leg theory been allowed to continue.
Booked an early train home so I missed what I’m certain was a silky 44 from Ian Bell. Train was comfortable on the way home, but noteworthy for hearing one of the more interesting bits of PR from First Great Western, blaming their customers for delays by leaving the doors open! We got to the next stop four minutes early.