The Great Test Hunt

I hate Sky. BskyB strikes me as a disgustingly cynical, manipulative broadcaster, charging it’s customers an extortionate amount for every moment of it’s second or third-rate airtime while still forcing adverts upon them every quarter of an hour. The irony is, when I was nine or ten, I practically begged my parents to get a subscription so I could watch American Wrestling, but these days I think I’d rather get a lobotomy.

The fact remains, though, that the only way you can watch the cricket is via Sky. The third England vs. India test match was really getting interesting yesterday, so yesterday afternoon I decided to see if I could go out and catch a bit of it. First I tried the big screen in Woolwich’s General Gordon Square, with no luck – there was another event happening there. Then I tried in two or three of the pubs around Woolwich to see whether any of them were screening it, again with no luck. I eventually had to go all the way to Charlton to find the test being shown at the Royal Oak – a nice little place I used to visit quite frequently, seven or eight years ago. I stayed there for an hour or so, becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of wickets, before getting the bus home.

Today, however, I had a much better idea: blackheath cricket club has a wonderful ground on Charlton Road with a nice, well equipped pavilion. I’ve been there a few times. Reasoning that there would be a good chance they’d be screening the test match, I trundled over there this morning after breakfast. I was greeted with quite a splendid sight: there was a live match being played on the 130-year-old pitch. Heading into the pavilion though, I finally found what I was looking for; and, more to the point, England had started to take the wickets they should have taken yesterday afternoon.

It didn’t take long for the match to end. I was barely there an hour, watching England get the last four wickets they needed to beat India by an innings. It was a great morning, but I felt guilty about watching blackheath cricket club’s televisions without paying them anything – I’d already had plenty of coffee, and it was much too early for anything harder. Yet the fact remains international sport like this test should be on terrestrial tv where everyone can watch it; I shouldn’t need to go on such hunts. We shouldn’t have to put up with Sky exploiting it’s viewers, making them pay ridiculous amounts for what struck me earlier as a mediocre service interrupted by adverts every few minutes.

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