Harold Macmillan famously observed that he could cope with political decisions but that it was the events that were much harder. En route to and at Arundel there were two events which required immediate judgment and both came out of the blue.
The first happened on the train at Hove station. A young blonde woman started shouting at her now ex after he refused to hand over some keys. His reaction was to throw her off the train. I would say the sympathy of the carriage lay with the woman although my neighbour wrily commented “Oh God, we’ve got a domestic”. She repeatedly tried to get on the train. She had some difficulty in knowing where she was or what she wanted to do. All she said was she was in deep trouble and had no money and where was the next station. Eventually the conductor came to sort it out. He said she had a choice of getting on or leaving the train, what she could not do is obstruct its journey by effectively between undecided between the two. Our last picture of them was the ex-partner chasing her down the platform, both sprinting energetically. No one came to the girl’s aid. I suspect the majority including me simply wanted the journey to continue.
The second event was more serious as at one stage we thought there to be a fatality. At Arundel, Sussex had reached 141 afer 18 overs in the T20 blast when Moisés Hemriques and Rory Burns of Surrey, going for the same catch, collided. Both were on the ground for at least 45 minutes and at one stage there were three ambulances on the pitch. There was much blood and Henriques who had a broken jaw did not move at all. As ever on such occasions when you’re present you learn more what is happening from those that were not. From the twittersphere an endless stream of info flowed and was relayed. In fact I heard later, from the Sussex president no less, that the paramedics were always in control. Both injured players left for Chichester Hospital, Burns able to waive to much cheering and the game was called off.
Again the majority view was that this was correct, but not mine. After all, it’s not uncommon at football, rugby or steeplechasing for severe injuries to take place. What was unusual, if not unique, is that the injured players were on the pitch in full view so long. 8500 spectators were deprived of their entertainment, both sides of much needed points. All this would be secondary if the injuries were life threatening, but rather cynically, I felt Surrey with two subs to be called up would have a more difficult target to get.
Arundel is so beautiful, tree-lined in the grounds of the castle in one of the most picturesque Sussex towns. Little has changed here since feudal times. The institutions of the church, a lord of the manor, village green and inns are still there. However this emphasises it’s unsuitability for first class sport. The transport system was inadequate. Waiting for train at Arundel and Ford to connect with the mainline resulted in a journey of over 2 hours for a 45 minute car journey. The signage in the ground was so poor hat I found myself in the kitchen tent and telling a steward who asked me to leave that if there was just one sign or steward that could direct me I may have located the Players Club marquee.
For an extra £5 I sit in the first class train carriage. There are no extras nor benefits as such, not even separation from standard as you get in inter city. My rationale is that I can get a seat and enjoy the countryside and read the papers in quietude. In fact at Ford, where change is made, two drunks invaded the first class area and my journey was spent listening to their foul-mouthed crass conversation. Speaking to the cultivated Stefano the other day I asked him if football in Italy or any sport was more about male drunken bondng than appreciating it. He said the ultras were worse than any British football thugs but no, the Italian just as if he was going to the opera, would want to savour the event not be so drunk he could not. The Rust pin-up girl Polly does not drink and Bob Tickler who enjoys his tipple suggested she should as she would then not have to watch objectively the degeneracy of the character under alcohol. I witnessed this at the T20 blast last Friday where a man on our table drank two bottles of red wine and his conversation, quite well-informed on cricket initially, became one slurred piece of nonsense.
It’s a debate we often have in these pages of live attendance v watch at home. On days such as these I am firmly in the latter camp: stay at home, dear boy, stay at home.