What, in England anyway, is most associated with watching cricket? Fun? Most certainly, it’s great fun. Good food? Nah. Picnic eggs and Â£10 heart-attack burgers are the best you can hope for. No, so it’s perhaps why most people have always enjoyed a drink or three “at the cricket”. But the ICC are trying, and have already partially succeeded in, outlawing booze from the game.
To be accurate, they’re banning people from bringing their own alcohol into grounds. It’s already happened in the Caribbean, and smacks of commercialised greed (i.e. forcing people to pay over the odds for drinks inside the ground). It’s beer tax.
So long considered the stuffy great-uncle of cricket, Lord’s continues to be the groundbreakers. They’re the only ground to refuse the ICC’s ruling, and good on them. I spoke to them last week and fed the info to my boss who has written it all up here.
For some time, however, there was a threat that the ICC were about to poop the party. They were thinking of imposing their worldwide ruling that no-one would be allowed to bring glass or tin containers into grounds. Members spluttered and the MCC, still a private club, took a stand. Allowing women in the pavilion is one thing, but barring wine and champagne was a bridge too far. The result is that, for this year at least, there will be no ban on people bringing in bottles to go with their lunches.
Sadly, at all other venues in England – and around the world – we are likely to see a repetition of spectators having alcohol and soft drinks removed by overzealous security guards and then queuing to buy the very same product, only with a large mark-up.