Letter: Testing time for cricket fans

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The Independent Online
Anyone who has tried to attend Test matches in this country will not be in the least surprised that Nasser Hussein lost his way to Edgbaston ("How our little boy lost found his way", Sport, 16 June). Every season I live in hope that there will be changes in the eccentric way our cricket grounds are run. The idea of marketing this sport seems never to have occurred to those who just take it for granted that we will be there in force. Just try finding a signpost in Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham if you are in a car.

Then there is the question of Getting Inside. The attitudes at some grounds are similar to those of post-war cinemas. Once in, they were usually half-empty but you had to prove your determination by waiting (usually in the rain) for a worthy length of time. What would a theatrical producer say to a theatre with over 100,000 seats to sell for a five-day production and no direct lines for telephone sales? Yet to book for Headingly, Old Trafford and Trent Bridge you have to go through a switchboard (usually engaged). Headingly has all its public turnstiles crammed together along one narrow pavement, and as the queues overlap you have to be nimble or you are forced off the kerb into passing traffic.

Then there's the catering. No doubt the members' dining-rooms are excellent, but for the rest of us, revolting tea and coffee is dispensed in scaldingly fragile plastic cups by people whose grubby hands take cash and juggle with bread rolls and hot dogs with never a pause to wash or use plastic gloves. Why is my local sandwich shop inspected so frequently by health officials when these people charge three times its prices and ignore basic rules of hygiene? More important, why do the clubs let them?

The issue that does seem to concern the clubs and the Test and County Cricket Board, crowd noise, has never been a problem for myself or my wife. If I didn't want noise at cricket, be it clapping from the members' stand or drums and bugles from West Indian supporters, I would watch it on TV.

I live in hope that things will change, but I am not optimistic.

Rev Brian Cranwell

Woodbridge, Sheffield

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