Thursday 27th May 2021 was a big day in my calendar, something that I think most people in my life don’t fully comprehend. It was my first day back at Edgbaston Cricket Ground after 614 days away.
Why “Welcome Home” by Peters & Lee? Because to me Edgbaston is like my second home and not being able to go there to watch cricket (or do anything to be honest) has been very difficult. I have missed it so much which is why I was sure to be there on the first day of them welcoming back supporters, and it felt pretty special to be back.
Don’t get me wrong, gigging and music is my main passion. However with so many different gig venues that I would frequently visit it is difficult to put my finger on one being my favourite i.e. my second home. (Although if I had to I would probably say The Sunflower Lounge, but I’m kind of contractually obliged to say Arena Birmingham.)
Anyway, I digress.
Edgbaston holds such an important place in my heart. Even if I go and watch the team lose I still feel like it is an honour to have been in the first place. Whether it is the wonderful calmness when the overs are ticking over or the excitement of a couple of quick wickets, there is something so wonderful about the game of cricket and I feel very lucky that my club play at one of the best grounds in the world.
On Thursday I brought my grandpa along to watch the first day of Warwickshire‘s County Championship fixture against Nottinghamshire and although I originally wanted to see the Bears bowl, mainly because it has definitely been their stronger area this season so far, it was great to witness the captain finding form and some great cricket from both sides. There was a nice atmosphere, like minded people passionate about the club feeling (like I was) very glad to be back in the ground.
We (my grandpa and I) were even interviewed by ITV News Central and I was very relieved when I saw that I didn’t come across as an awkward idiot, and it was funny albeit a little mortifying when people were messaging saying they saw me on telly!
Walking up to the gates after being away for over a year and a half had the same effect as visiting the stadium for the first time. That was for Finals Day in 2015 and from that moment on I knew that I wanted to spend as much time there as possible. At first it was domestic T20 fixtures usually with my dad (and another Finals Day) but in 2017 I then became a member of the club and I haven’t looked back since. My youngest sister is now even a “Junior Bear” and I have been taking her to games since she was ten-years-old, at the time in hope that she would learn to love the game as much as I do, and now she is eager to come to Edgbaston whenever possible.
Monday was her first time back when I took her and my boyfriend to watch the Central Sparks play a fifty over game against Western Storm in the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy. It was a gorgeous day and my slight disappointment of everyone being sat in the Hollies stand was quickly displaced by a wonderful crowd, of which I estimate about fifty percent were female, and lots of families. There was no better way to spend a bank holiday Monday than having a cider in the sun watching some brilliant talent on offer. I will not forget Amy Jones‘ 163* (114) in a hurry.
Sometimes – especially for Warwickshire‘s County Championship games – when you are one of the only women there it is a little daunting. I rarely sit in the member’s area for this reason (but the South Lower Stand is elite anyway). It was so good to see so many women and girls of all ages, enjoying the game we love. It gave the experience a different dimension and I know my younger sister found it inspiring.
There is nothing quite like watching your team play at home and what I love about having three formats in the game is the different types of audiences they attract. I personally love watching all three: the buzz of a T20, the digging in yet still fiery One Day game, the technicalities of the red ball game… it is amazing how much one sport can vary.
I have also loved attending the odd major match day, from the England v India test match in 2018 to four different Finals Day, I even have tickets for the New Zealand test next week. When Edgbaston is full and rocking the atmosphere is second to none, but watching the Bears play is my main love and passion. I’m really excited for the rest of the summer!
It isn’t just the team that makes this a special place. The wonderful and hardworking back room and ground staff are so important to making Fortress Edgbaston the place it is. I have never been treated anything but kindly by these people, they make you feel like you belong and give their all so you have a good time. That is so vital.
Returning this past week is definitely one of my favourite experiences at the ground. It is up there with the charity zip wire event in 2017 and touring the stadium a year later. The love I have for this place and club continues to grow, last year was tough without having it in my life but now we are back and I am ready to go to as many games as possible to make up for lost time.
Maybe when I finish my degree I could go into sports broadcasting…
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