Last week we visited home of Lancashire Cricket Club, Emirates Old Trafford for the T20 Vitality Blast match of Lancashire Lightning (#LightningStrikes) vs Northants Steelbacks. This was an event that none of us had ever seen before.
Simon used to play cricket when he was younger and over the years I have watched the odd Test Match but truth be told, I got bored because they went on for so long that my attention wandered. When we were invited to Sunday’s match Simon assured me that T20 is a totally different ball game (pardon the pun) and that he thought we would all love it so we set the wheels in motion.
Emirates Old Trafford was quite the journey for us, around 3 hours in the car but thankfully the journey was pretty easy being a Sunday. We parked up in the grounds and headed to the Press and Media Centre to meet with our host, James, who was to give us a tour behind the scenes at the home of #LightningStrikes. Unfortunately a road closure meant that we arrived later than planned so by the time we were due to check out the dressing rooms, the teams had already started to arrive.
Behind the Scenes
James gave us a tour of the Press and Media Centre, showing us the amazing views that written press, radio and TV crews enjoy when they come to report on the match. The children ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ when they discovered they were standing in the same rooms that some of the famous people they are used to seeing on the TV screens at home. The dark grey and red walls were adorned with cricket memorabilia and artwork but the building remained cool, calm and collected.
Stepping onto the outfield
After our tour of the media centre we were ushered through the gates and onto the cricket field where we were introduced to a few members of the Lancashire Cricket Team including Team Captain Liam Livingstone, Jordan Clarke, Arron Lilley, Dane Vilas and Graham Onions. The guys were all great with the kids answering some of their bizarre questions and getting them fired up for their first match. Liam even took the time to explain what their 4 and 6 cards meant and when they needed to hold them up.
What is T20 Cricket?
When we arrived James gave us each a Vitality Blast lanyard with a Stumped . . . Guide to Vitality Blast cricket. This little guide explained the Vitality Blast Competition format, game rules and field layout in simple terms. So simple in fact that the children and I grasped it all very quickly. The beauty of T20 cricket is that the game moves much quicker than traditional cricket and it is interspersed with fun music and imagery on the big screens (think Dance cam and Kiss cam like you see in the US sports games). All this makes for a more fun and interactive game which is perfect for families like ours because the children tend to have a limited attention span. Since the game moves on so quickly they find it easier to follow and they loved all the music, it was definitely a cause for lots of laughter and cheers, as well as the odd ‘ooh’ and ‘ahhh’.
Lancashire Lightning v Northamptonshire Steelbacks
Before the game began, the teams tossed a coin to choose who bats first. Northamptonshire Steelbacks won the toss and opted to bat first. They scored 123 for 9, to newbies like me this means they scored 123 runs and lost 9 wickets. Lancashire batted second and scored 124 for 2 and won by 8 wickets with Alex Davies scoring 64 runs not out.
What amazed me was how well the children followed the scoring and knew exactly what was needed for the #LightningStrikes to win and went crazy when they did.
One thing which Simon and I thought was really nice was after the match the team came to the Family stand to meet the fan and do signings and photographs. This means so much to the children who go to watch and really makes them feel like they are important to the game too. We came away from our first T20 Cricket Match buzzing, the children couldn’t stop talking about it and were eager to tell all their friends. We have already been looking into getting tickets to a game a little closer to home but wouldn’t rule out driving to Manchester again for the warm welcome we received.
Top Tips for a fun family day out
We really loved our first taste of cricket but decided there were some things we would do differently next time to make the day more enjoyable;
- Arrive early – as you can imagine it gets very busy so arrive early and give yourself the opportunity to see what else is happening around the cricket ground. On the day we visited there were lots of family friendly activities which the children could join in with.
- Wear lots of sun cream – it was a boiling hot day when we visited Manchester and we did keep the sun cream topped up but still ended up with a few burnt patches.
- Choose your seats early and carefully – in hindsight we would have been better choosing a seat in the shade as it became so hot. It also was so bright that we were squinting lots. Towards the end of the game the tots and I retreated to the back of the stand to cool off in the shade.
- Buy drinks and visit the loos mid-game to avoid the queues. Whilst nobody wants to miss the action, any parent will know the pain of standing in a queue with a moaning child is far worse.
- Hang around at the end to meet the players, they are super friendly.
DISCLAIMER: We were invited along to the Vitality Blast as guests of Lancashire Cricket Ground in exchange for our honest account of the day. All words, images and opinions are my own and may not be copied without my permission. I have not been instructed what to write.