If you have been anywhere near London this July or August, you will already know that The Ashes — a biennial test cricket series between England and Australia — is currently underway. This tournament comprises of five tests, each of which lasts for four or five days; the final day of the fifth test is slated to fall on August 25.
The event is ideal entertainment for long-established cricket nuts with plenty of time on their hands, but it can be a little overwhelming for newcomers to the sport. While it may not enjoy the same following as professional football or basketball leagues in America, cricket is perhaps the second most popular sport on earth (after soccer) and is enjoyed around the world, from New Zealand to Barbados, South Africa to Sri Lanka. It also has a close relationship with baseball, so newcomers can pick it up relatively quickly. Luckily, for those who simply wish to dip their toes in the cricketing waters, there are several opportunities to see short-forms of the game in London this summer.
Where to watch
There are two major cricket grounds in London. The first is Lord’s, renowned as The Home of Cricket, as it has held matches for almost 200 years (the current location of the field held its first match in 1814, but the first iteration of Lord’s was located near Dorset Square and hosted its first match in 1787). This historic field regularly features England internationals, and is the ground of Middlesex County Cricket Club. Another important stadium in London is Kia Oval, which is the traditional venue of England’s final test match of the summer (it will host the last test of The Ashes series) and home of Surrey County Cricket Club.
What to watch
The simplest introduction to the game of cricket is the Twenty20 form — thrilling, action-packed and, most importantly of all, short. Twenty20 cricket involves two teams, each with a single inning, and batting for a maximum of 20 overs (six balls bowled). These matches generally last around three hours. Today, Lord’s will host a T20 county match between Middlesex and Surrey, while on July 26 and July 31, The Oval hosts Surrey against Kent and Surrey against Essex, respectively.
If you want to pack a picnic and make a day of it, you can also sample a longer ECB 40 match (which means 40 overs). During the month of August, Middlesex will play Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Somerset at Lord’s, while Surrey will take on Essex, Derbyshire and Durham. Alternatively, for international action, head to the England Women versus Australia Women one-day match (which usually consists of 50 overs) at Lord’s on August 20.
How to watch
While tickets to The Ashes are long gone, you can usually secure a seat at a county game or lower-profile international match closer to the time or even on match day. You can purchase tickets for games at Lord’s either by phone or online, and the same applies for The Oval. Standard adult tickets for short-form matches range from $20 to $40, while kids get in for $7.50 or less. It can pay to book in advance.
If for some reason you can’t make it to the ground, you can also watch the matches from home or in a proper British pub — with the added benefit of a commentator explaining what’s happening on the field. If it isn’t covered on British television, you can usually find live coverage and highlights on Surrey TV, Middlesex TV and Lord’s TV.
Photos Courtesy of Sarah Williams and The Oval