We've been on at Will Luke, cricketing aficionado and all-round good egg, to write something for us for ages, ever since we spoke to him ahead of the last test of THAT Ashes series. Finally, he's relented, and given us a little snippet on where best to catch the sound of willow upon leather this summer. If you like what you read, please push the 'recommend' button and we can thus continue to pester Mr. Luke. Over to Will........
In such hot weather, Londoners gravitate towards the parks and greener pastures of Berkshire and surrounding counties, escaping the claustrophobic concrete radiators otherwise known as the city of London in high summer. For the cricket fan and Londonist reader, and surely there are some of you out there, a trip to Lord's or The Oval
can be a terrific day out - but you are unlikely to be particularly shaded from the sun. Expect to return home not only uncomfortably drunk, but with a burnt face, a nasty sweaty wedgie and worse still.
Instead, visit Southgate. It's hard to believe the ground is a mere 10-minute walk from the Piccadilly Line, which transports you from the middle of the West End right out into the suburbs. The ground, one of several Middlesex use when Lord's - their "home" ground - is in use, has a delightful backdrop of a church with green leafy trees providing shade throughout the day. The pavilion, seemingly, allows anyone in - although we were there on work, trying to interview Chris Silverwood, so perhaps we had our blagging shoes on.
Outgrounds are a terrific way to watch cricket. My colleague from Mumbai is over here at the moment, and it was his first trip to an English outground. He was enthralled, and made the very good point that it is the whole occasion which attracted him to cricket. Your attention drifts; some people snooze, read the newspaper, get utterly wasted, have a picnic or whatever they choose. There is never any animosity, except when a foolish clueless newcomer stands right in your line of view. You are perfectly entitled to shock the offender by telling him to get out of the fucking way, before smiling, nodding, mocking a "thanks" and generally enforcing the view that you're completely balmy.
The food is predictable (burgers, chips; food poisoning an extra); the beer cold and cheap (£2.20+) and it's a great day out. You might as well be in Dorset such is it's tranquil setting which, in the height of summer, at least provides temporary relief for the nightmare of central London in a heatwave.
Will Luke is Editorial Assistant of Cricinfo.com and edits The Corridor of Uncertainty. That's his photo as well.