Surrey victory greeted with a strange sound – live applause
Strange sounds were emitted in south London. Surrey’s T20 victory over Hampshire was the first competitive cricket match in England since Covid’s arrival to be staged in front of a crowd.
A round of applause by spectators followed the PA’s announcement of “the Surrey side led by Gareth Batty!” A total of 2,300 tickets had been allotted to Surrey members, and even though rain delayed the start by an hour and later reduced the game from 17 to 11 overs per side, Surrey’s cricketers were greeted by people clapping, which must have come as music after the soundless summer behind closed doors.
Shouts of “Ooooh!” accompanied the first delivery of this historic fixture. Surrey’s wicketkeeper Ben Foakes leapt to catch the ball down the leg side, and dropped it, which is almost a historic event. It turned out to have brushed a thigh pad, not the bat, but even a leg bye can be dramatic if a live crowd is watching.
One of the sounds of an English summer, along with cuckoos, and binge-drinkers, is the polite applause of a cricket crowd. A smatter greeted the first good long throwin, then a positive ripple at the end of the over in which Tom Alsop was stumped by Foakes after running past an off-break.
Overall, however, there was little big hitting to cheer. Although Surrey’s debutant Jamie Overton conceded 12 off his only over, Hampshire were contained by spin to only 77 for five from their 11 overs, and Will Jacks drove Surrey to their revised target of 80 with two balls to spare.
The Surrey members were not alone: 100 hospitality packages were sold, and another 100 tickets went to players’ families, making the maximum of 2,500 decreed by the Government. Of them, 200 people were randomly selected and given lanyards with tags so their social distancing could be monitored by beacons attached to roofs of the stands. If a tagged spectator becomes infected, the company commissioned by Surrey as part of this pilot could track and trace those who came into contact with them.
“It’s great that Surrey have taken on this piloting, because watching without a crowd is not the same,” said one spectator, Liz Collins of London.
“I would normally see Surrey 2025 times a summer,” said a relieved Clive Preston of Richmond. Not much of a match, but better than nothing for a favoured few.
Young gun: Will Jacks, Surrey’s 21-year-old batsman, steered his side home at the Oval