If you were looking for a Friday night out that offered you lively music, good company and professional live entertainment that was suitable for the whole family, the last place that would probably be recommended to you would be a cricket match.
However with the return of the Natwest T20 Blast series, County Cricket’s latest reinvention is as popular as ever.
So with this in mind I set off with 6 of the older kids to the Spitfire Ground in Canterbury last Friday evening for the local(ish) match between Kent and Middlesex. We loaded up for the hour long trip not really sure of what was waiting for us. I always loved watching cricket on the TV when I was younger but this would only be the second time I’d actually seen a professional game in person and the kids knew nothing at all about the game.
It’s okay, I thought, I’ll teach them as I go.
Luckily we found a parking space in a side street as there seems to be only a limited number of spaces in the available in the official car parks. As we made our way into the ground the first thing I noticed was the amount of space there was. With its open areas, buggy or wheelchair access would certainly not be a problem, though toilet facilities did seem a bit limited and basic. It was completely different from the battery cage style football stadiums I’d been to in the past and the atmosphere was totally relaxed as we wandered around looking for somewhere to sit (you could choose your own seats, rather than having them allocated to you during booking).
This family-friendly ambience was illustrated as all the kids were given their free cardboard cut-out helmet and noisemakers to wave about during the action. While we were given complimentary tickets for the game, they were still extremely reasonably priced if purchasing, making this an inexpensive night out for even a larger-than-average-sized family.
As the players took to the field against the backdrop of cheerleaders and blasting music, I couldn’t help thinking what the old-school cricket fan would think about all this. With the cheerleaders throwing sponsored foam cricket balls and t-shirts into the crowd at regular intervals and loud music greeting every wicket and boundary it certainly was different and at times it threatened to overshadow the game itself.
With darkness falling and the floodlights becoming more noticeable, we all tucked into doughnuts and a drink from one of the many food stalls to delay the inevitable sleepiness of the younger ones until we returned home.
Prior to the Natwest T20 Blast match we wondered how the children would take to the game. As this would be a completely new experience for them, with them never even having seen a cricket match themselves before, we wondered whether they would get into the spirit of the game or if they would be battling boredom for the duration. Our worries were unfounded as they remained fixated on the game, swept away by the excitement (no doubt aided by the upbeat music and entertainment), and keenly asking when they’ll be going to see another game on a daily basis since.
It was certainly an enjoyable evening and to cap it all our (adopted) team won!
Experience the fun yourself! Click here for more information and to buy your tickets for this year’s Natwest T20 Blast.