My Cricket Memories 3
With our first home match scheduled for this weekend, our latest instalment of My Cricket Memories instead takes a look back at the first time Life Member Oliver Hawke visited the Fischer County Ground.
My first ever match that I saw at Grace Road was in the old 40-over Sunday league against Nottinghamshire in 1986. I was eight years old and I remember sitting at what now is The Bennett End of the ground, then known I think as The Hawksbury Road End.
I sat on the old grey seats which have long since between replaced by the current green ones and where the cricket school now stands behind ,was just an open grassed area, where you could play your own games of cricket or football.
In those days the club like most counties had strict members only areas and the upstairs of the Meet all the Pavilion End and the covered George Geary stand were all for Members only.
The only bar available for non-members was the old downstairs bar on the end of the Meet, which closed sometime in the early 90s. The now yellow seats to the side of the meet were old concrete and wooden benches.
Having already watched plenty of Test and county cricket on TV (BBC2 covered Sunday league games weekly back then), by the time of my first game, I already understood most things I needed to know about cricket.
I remember it being a lovely hot sunny day and Leicestershire were led by than England captain David Gower, who I needed no introduction too. The other 10 Leicestershire players were Peter Willey, Laurie Potter, James Whitaker, Peter Bowler, Phillip DeFreitas, Tim Boon, Winston Benjamin, Phil Whitticase (wk), Jonathan Agnew and Les Taylor.
Leicestershire batted first and my biggest memory of the day was David Gower hitting towards me and my dad telling me to watch out, the ball eventually landing in a handbag on the back row!
Gower and Willey put on an opening stand of 101, both passing 50, and the Leicestershire innings closed at 191 for six, a fairly decent total in a 40 overs game back then.
Unfortunately Notts eased home by seven wickets winning with 3.5 overs to spare, Benjamin and Agnew taking our wickets with the other being a run out. The Notts side included England stars Chris Broad, Tim Robinson and Eddie Hemmings.
I was hooked nevertheless and was very keen to return soon and I instantly fell in love with Grace Road. Over the next few seasons my visits became frequent and soon extended to four-day County Championship matches.
In this time I was able to enjoy David Gower’s final years with Leicestershire when not on test duty before he left for Hampshire along with the upcoming Phillip DeFreitas who would soon also be an England regular, both of whom were part of a very talented team of that era.
My love affair with the club is strong as ever now and as well as remaining a regular at Grace Road. I travel all around the country following Leicestershire and try to miss as few games as possible in all competitions.
* Thanks to Getty Images for the accompanying image.
Click below to read the other installments of the Cricket Memories series: