I mistimed my arrival at Vauxhall this evening, having forgotten about the test match being held at the Oval. My first clue was when the train pulled in to the station and about 500 beery men, some of them in hawaiian shirts, tried to get on. Even then, it wasn’t until I got to the concourse and saw a few people wearing white floppy hats that I twigged it was the cricket. There were hundreds of people milling about – some of them in football strips – and as I left the station the sound of chanting could be heard wafting from the platforms above.
When did this happen? Cricketing crowds used to sport blazers and panama hats and if they consumed one or two Pimms too many they would go home in a cab, not reel woozily down the platform with their mates. Last weekend we ended up on the Wembley train with the football crowds going home, and they were the nicest and most well-behaved bunch you’d ever hope to share a crowded tube train with, albeit a little dozy about the escalators. Has some sort of reversal taken place? Have I slipped through a crack in the space time continuum?
I blame Sky, frankly. The cricket you get on Radio 4 longwave would never attract the hawaiian shirt brigade. I shall be sticking with Johnners and Aggers and the long shadows stretching across the grass as the game draws to a decourous close with a final delivery from the gas works end. And leave the sledging and the jelly beans and the lurid shirts to the people who can actually see what’s going on.