Sur­rey vic­tory greeted with a strange sound – live ap­plause

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Cricket - By Scyld Berry at the Oval

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

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