Chris Waters: Giving it a whirl as I cover game from outside the ground

GRANDSTAND VIEW: Hampshire's Ageas Bowl.
GRANDSTAND VIEW: Hampshire's Ageas Bowl.
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FOR reasons I will not bore you with, I did not cover Yorkshire’s two previous County Championship matches at the Ageas Bowl.

Prior to this week’s game, my most recent visit had been in 2011, when Hampshire’s Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie shared their famous stand of 523.

Ageas Bowl under fire.

Ageas Bowl under fire.

Much has changed at Hampshire’s headquarters since then, not least the construction of a Hilton Hotel at one end of the ground.

I booked into that hotel for this week’s match, reasoning that it would provide the most convenient base.

What I had not appreciated until I checked in, however, was that the press box at Hampshire is now inside the hotel, even though the hotel itself is not in the ground.

The new media centre is situated on the hotel’s second floor, directly behind the bowler’s arm, but not inside the stadium itself.

There is no way of getting into the press box if arriving at the Ageas Bowl without going through the main hotel reception and then going up the lift/stairs.

And there is no way of getting from the press box into the actual ground without going back out through the main hotel reception and then walking a good 10 minutes around to the main stadium entrance on the opposite side to conduct interviews, etc.

To say that this is a novel, surely unprecedented, state of affairs is an understatement.

It is certainly the first time I have ever found my way towards a press box with the help of a lady from housekeeping.

Although her Spanish was excellent, it was a bit like asking Manuel from Fawlty Towers for directions.

“Er, excuse me, can you tell me where the press box is, please?”


Yes, it has been a strange old experience.

So much so, it has thrown me out of sync.

Somehow, you do not feel as though you have really started the day until you have had an argument with a steward on the turnstile (who has been put on the planet purely to query your legitimate accreditation), or until you have had to venture outside of your living space to get to a game.

To not even have to go out into the fresh air between rising from your bed to walking into a press box is pretty disorientating – although the radio commentators at the Ageas Bowl are at least outside in the open, albeit in the same pickle in that they cannot actually access the ground from their position.

When I asked one of the Hilton staff where the radio commentators were housed, so I could go and see my BBC Radio Leeds colleague Dave Callaghan, she directed me to the ‘radio pantry’ on the hotel’s third floor.

“Do you mean the ‘radio gantry’” I asked. “Oh, is it?” she gawped in wide-eyed amazement.

That is not to say that the whole experience has been without benefits.

Indeed, having a press box situated just yards from your hotel room is advantageous in some respects, not least when the press box runs out of biscuits.

Why, all you have to do is nip back to your hotel room and tuck into the complementary ones: in this case, a pleasing line in golden oat crumbles and light and buttery Viennese whirls.

And, when they run out, there’s always plenty more in the ‘radio pantry’.