Despite confident forecasts that flaming June would finally arrive, the day dawned damp and grey in Bristol, the first spectators to arrive being greeted by the all too familiar sight of a mopping up operation on a wet outfield.
But Gloucestershire have a good drainage system in place these days and it didn’t stop the women’s T20 international between England and Australia starting on time at 10.15am, Anya Shrubsole taking her place in the home line-up despite suffering a painful blow in the mouth during catching practice when a ball smacked at her by a coach slipped through her fingers and laid her out.
The gals found quick scoring difficult on a slow pitch, hopefully not an indication of what lies ahead in the main event. England made 136-6 from their 20 overs and won by 22 runs to put the partisan crowd in confident mood that the men will follow suit against Sri Lanka.
A shop fire on the nearby Gloucester Road delayed many people getting to the ground, but it was still more than half full by the second innings of the women’s game, with a 14,500 full house guaranteed by the time Stuart Broad led England into action for the first time as T20 captain.
The skies remain leaden, but the scene is brightened by the usual array of fancy dress outfits which so many now see as obligatory wear for attendance at an international cricket fixture. It’s not difficult to spot a tribe of Red Indians, a legion or two of Roman soldiers and various super heroes invulnerable it seems to the chilly wind blowing through the stands.
Broad is the son of a former Gloucestershire player in father Chris, although he was born in Nottingham. Other than that, the closest thing to local interest in the England line-up is Somerset’s Craig Kieswetter, who goes into the game on the back of a pair for his county in the Championship defeat by Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
That hasn’t stopped the West country sporting public avidly snapping up tickets and Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen are finding their way back to the dressing rooms after practice blocked by a large posse of autograph hunters, young and not so young. They patiently answer every request.
Broad has lost his first toss as England skipper and his side will bat first. The England team is Lumb, Kieswetter (wkt), Pietersen, Morgan, Bopara, Patel, Wright, Swann, Broad (capt), Woakes, Dernbach.