For our last two weeks in England we are doing a house exchange with a couple who live near Birmingham. While Birmingham is not renowned as one of the garden spots of England, there are plenty of wonderful attractions just a few miles away. For me, perhaps the greatest was the chance to see the touring Australian Cricket Team play at nearby Worcester.
Masochists can now watch this skit from Beyond the Fringe. The 'saucy Worcester' comes at 6:50.
As you might expect, the town was very busy with the influx of people to see this cricket match. We parked up the hill from the cricket ground and had to walk about a mile. Fortunately we go this view of the cathedral above the practice fields.
Nets where cricket batsmen can practice.
Tickets were 25 pound each and that gave you access to the general public stands. If you were a member of the Worcester Cricket Club, you could have lunch in this tent.
We strolled around to the stands where we were allowed to sit and passed this old tree. Back in 1974, Marianne and I happened to arrive when Worcester was hosting the cricket team from Pakistan and so we spent a few hours watching the game. The ground had changed considerably since then with new grand stands to replace the much smaller versions of 1974. Fortunately this tree had escaped the axe.
Because we arrived about an hour ahead of the start of play at 11 am, we managed to get decent seats. The two teams were already out on the field warming up. It's many years since I saw a first class cricket match and I was very impressed with the standard of practice. Forty years ago, there might have been a few minutes of warm-up before the start of play, now there is over an hour of drills. The Worcester team were the ones closest to us and the Aussies were on the far side of the field.
There were two scoreboards and this was the most informative one. Australian cricket scoreboards show much more information. This was the second day of a four day game and the Australians were using this match as a warm up for the 1st Test Match to be played at Trent Bridge next week.
A coach with a baseball glove and a cricket bat. He would hit a ball to a cricketer who then had to throw it back to him. Even though this was a county team their throws were very accurate. My understanding is that accurate throwing came from watching how US baseball players could throw the ball accurately over long distances. A cricket ball weighs about half an ounce more than a baseball and is slightly smaller.
The crowd was building.
It looks like they are building a hotel that will overlook the ground.
Somebody doing pre-match commentary.
The Aussies in the pavilion.
The batsmen in white waiting to come out to bat.
At 11 am, the two umpires walked out. I am not going to even attempt to explain the rules of cricket. It would take too long just as it would take a while to explain the rules of baseball. All that I will say on the subject is that Cricket is God's game and Baseball is the Devil's game.
The Aussie batsmen at each end of the wicket.
The first ball of the day.
A dog enjoying the action.
After an hour's play, the Aussies declared for a bit under 400. One of the batsmen, Smith, had scored a reasonable number of runs in the hour's play and looked quite accomplished but the other batsman Hughes had scored very little. A night watchman would have played with more authority. Here are the Aussies coming out to field at the resumption of play. The grounds keepers had been remarking the creases.
You Americans understood the above paragraph completely of course.
The first ball of the Worcester innings with the Aussies fielding.
I think this was the new Aussie coach, Boof Lehmann signing an autograph as he circled the ground looking at his team.
The new members pavilion. It really is a lovely ground and it reminds me of the old Gabba cricket ground in Brisbane before it was modernized.
The sign on the grandstand says the temperature was about 70 Fahrenheit. With the damp wind blowing across the field it felt much colder than that.
An Aussie contingent of spectators. It was interesting to listen to the English spectators surrounding us talking about the upcoming matches with Australia. This Aussie team is probably the weakest that has come to England in decades but you never know. They might perform better than expected. I didn't see any bowler who looked particularly intimidating and the Worcester batsmen only had a few uncomfortable moments.
The Worcester scoring rate was very slow so it was not particularly exciting cricket. We left about 3:30 pm just before tea and crossed the Severn river to visit the cathedral.
They have quite a long arcade lined with shops. It all looked quite prosperous.
We arrived at the Cathedral which dates from the 11th century.
Entrance is free.
One of two organs.
The other organ which was being played while we were there.
The tomb of one of the villains of the story of Robin Hood, King John. Of course he was also famous for signing the Magna Carta,
The organist. He was very good and he made the piece he was playing really sing.
Down in the crypt. It almost looks Moorish with the multiple arches.
The garden inside the cloister. Visiting the great cathedrals of England is a real pleasure. It amazes me how these huge building were built with the primitive tools of the time.
We walked along the bank of the Severn back past the cricket ground to the car. There were quite a few rowers out on the river practicing and quite a few of them were girls.
I was really pleased to see the cricket. It wasn't the most exciting game but it was fun to watch.