Year:- About 1979 or 1980. Can’t be exact on that. What I can be exact on is the first ever live cricket match I watched.
It was Essex (my home county) versus Somerset in the old John Player Sunday League, played at Valentines Park, Ilford.
My parents took me along and the size of the crowd for a relatively small ground was incredible. There must have been 10,000 inside the ground, standing in rows of eight or ten deep. The best vantage point I could muster was on my Dad’s shoulders, until I screamed to be put back down again.
The two teams playing were the best county sides in the English game at the time. Essex had players like Gooch, Turner, Lever, Hardie, Keith Pont, Fletcher, a formidable and winning line up. But Somerset too had match winners in the shape of Ian Botham, Joel Garner and my favourite player of all time, Sir Vivian Richards. The crowd were bubbling to see these great all stars in action, and I, too, was itching to see the play.
If I remember rightly, Essex won, but my heroes Richards, Botham and Gooch didn’t perform that well, to my enormous disappointment. But having watched the great game of cricket on the TV, this was my first taste of live play, and I was hungry for more.
This Monday, I shall be watching my first live cricket of the new English season. It won’t be as glamorous as that first live match, but I still love the game as much as I did those 36 or 37 years ago. It’s taken a hold on me that I’ve never been able to relinquish. I’ve tried a few times, but failed!
Cricket – the best game in the world.