The famous five - full to bursting

Cricket Diary

Something happened at The Oval in the final Test which has never occurred before in the history of English cricket. The ground was full on all five days of the match.

Something happened at The Oval in the final Test which has never occurred before in the history of English cricket. The ground was full on all five days of the match.

There have been three-day capacity houses before, there may have been final days which drew a capacity attendance but never, not in the Age of Grace, the Golden Age, the era of Hobbs, the triumphs of Hutton, the coming of Botham has an entire match been a sell-out.

The scenes on Monday as England beat the West Indies were extraordinary. Some 3,000 people were locked out, some 20,000 got in. The first four days each produced attendances of 18,500, so the total was not far short of 100,000. Asked whether he might have invited future potential sponsors to see what the fuss was about, Terry Blake, the ECB's marketing director: "No, I'm not an opportunist." Why not?

As recently as 1997 The Oval Test was played to full houses (official figures put the total crowd at 60,123) but the match finished on Saturday afternoon. Back in 1926 the trouble was not the final day which was crammed to the rafters - it happened to be the fourth day but the match was scheduled to be timeless - but the first.According to Wisden: "While on Saturday [the first day] theattendance did not exceed that of a popular county match - the public having been frightened away by prophecies of over-crowding at tales of all-night vigils outside the ground - the crowd on Monday was so large that the gates had to be closed."

So it was in 1953 when the Ashes were again at stake in the last match. "As in 1926, stories of long all-night queues frightened away many would-be spectators on the first day." By the fourth and final day The Oval was full.

There were no such scare stories for the recapture of the Wisden Trophy in 2000. True the first four days had been sell-outs because these days you have to buy in advance, but nobody expected queues round the block on Monday. Four thousand was an optimistic assessment. It was a historic day, it demonstrated the residue of goodwill towards cricket in England and, bearing in mind the result, it might have been a turning point for the game.

 

The moment, as so often, was captured by John Arlott: "The shadow of cloud just slides across the ground and then it's all in bright sunshine again as Lillee prepares to bowl. He comes up now from the Nursery End, body thrown well forward. Bowls. And Fredericks hooks this bouncer - and knocks a bail off. He's out. He's out. He hooked that bouncer, swung completely round and knocked the bail off as he went."

This was in the formative stages of the first World Cup final in 1975. It remains one of the most vivid moments in all finals. And for once Arlott had forgotten something as his commentary colleague, Trevor Bailey, reminded him: "Very unfortunate because he fell on his wicket and the ball actually went over the boundary for six." It was true. The ball had sailed off the bat high over fine leg. Swivelling round in his white hat, the batsman slipped.

Roy Fredericks, perpetrator of that thrilling but ill-fated shot, died last Wednesday. He was a compulsive hooker, never shirking the challenge to play the shot. His slight stature made it the more thrilling. Fredericks became his country's Minister of Sport but he took a sabbatical from his job in 1983 for one final appearance for Guyana and scored 217 and 103. It was surely one of the most triumphant of all valedictory matches, maybe the most triumphant. Unfortunately, The Diary is shutting for business for the winter but will return promptly to this topic next spring.

 

It will be like the old days in Hambledon today. The village XI are playing England again. Not quite like the old days perhaps. In their pomp they played All England (some 51 times in all in the late 18th Century) and this is Old England.

This match, to boot, is at somewhere called Ridge Meadow, not Broadhalfpenny Down where Hambledon grew to greatness. But its significance should not be underestimated. If cricket was not born in the Hampshire village, it was there, in the words of the historian Desmond Eagar, that it "grew to man's estate".

England include John Snow, Derek Underwood and Derek Randall. They have some catching up to do. England might not have beaten West Indies for 31 years until last Monday but they have not beaten Hambledon since 1787.

BOOKMARK

You might have thought there was nowhere new to go with cricket statistics and indeed nowhere anybody but a cricket saddo would wish to go. The Virgin Cricket Record File (£9.99), however, has been a revelation. It contains all the England scorecards from 1946 and provides breakdowns of strike rates, batsmen's averages in winning matches, top 10 innings for each batting position. And much, much more. A good companion for the long winter.

Man in the middle

He was one of the great batting hopes, but he has not so far achieved all, or actually much, that was hoped. Owais Shah (above) has been out of the Middlesex side for the past five matches. But what might have been and might still be was spread before him at The Oval on Monday. Shah, still only 21, was England's 12th man and was on the field at the moment of victory. It was to be hoped that Shah (batting average 26 this season) wants more. But while it was tongue in cheek it was also a bit disconcerting to read his replies in a recent questionnaire. What's special about cricket? "It helps to pay the mortgage."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
Life and Style
food + drink
News
video
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home