Hampshire Bowl diary: Traffic snarls, press box in a star hotel and Jofra Archer

No rain, a host nation's game, Jofra Archer and with traffic snarls Southampton had everything for the cricket-crazy fans in the ongoing World Cup.

Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer was clearly the fan favourite in Southampton as England took on West Indies.   -  Reuters

It’s usually a twenty minutes drive from Southampton city centre to the Hampshire Bowl. But on Friday, it took nearly an hour to cover the seven kilometre distance, thanks to the World Cup fixture between England and the West Indies.

With traffic snarls, many fans could be seen getting off their cars and walking up to the Bowl. “People in this part of the city like watching cricket and with rain playing spoilsport, they did not have a chance to watch the World Cup games. Now, with a bit of sun, they are here to support England,” Craig, who drove us to the stadium said, explaining the reason behind such a snarl.

In this edition of the World Cup, the Hampshire Bowl has, so far, hosted three fixtures, of which the last game between West Indies and South Africa was washed out. “People are rooting for England and they want to travel in large numbers. It is should be a India-England final,” he said, with a smile. “People want England to win…”

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That he was not wrong was evident from the fact that a large number of fans were waiting outisde the stadium searching for extra tickets. “Do you have a couple of tickets? We will pay more…” one of them asked, after seeing our media accreditation cards. “We have been trying to get tickets, but it’s all sold out,” the fan said.

The local organisers claimed that it was a full house. After days of rain and gloom, the cricket crazy fans of Southampton finally had a chance to cheer for the home team!

 

The press box inside a hotel

Unlike most of the cricket venues around the globe, the press box at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton is situated on the third floor of the Hilton Hotel — which is located inside the stadium premises. So, if you are here to cover a match, you have to walk into the hotel, pass through the layers of security check and then head to the third floor to reach the press box. As you take the elevator along with other guests of the hotel, there is a possibility of bumping into some of the players or support staff as the teams too stay here during the matches. Quite an unique experience, this!

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Archer, Archer everywhere…

For the last few days, cricket fans have been eagerly waiting to see Jofra Archer in action against the West Indies. And on Friday, even before the England players took the ground, all one could hear was chants of ‘Jofra, Jofra’. The 24-year-old Barbadian was drafted into the England team last month and ever since he has been England’s trump card. And as he took on his old team — Archer has played junior-level cricket for the West Indies — the fans were excited to see him have a go against Chris Gayle. Though that did not happen as Gayle was dismissed by Liam Plunkett but the fans cheered for Archer every time they saw him around.