Beer and cricket at Liverpool
Jamie Bowman - Friday 2nd May 2014
Unsurprisingly for a sport whose laws were drawn up in the Bat and Ball pub in Clanfield, Hampshire, over 200 years ago, the relationship between cricket and beer has always been one of mutual affection.
It's a love affair that continues at Liverpool Cricket Club's Aigburth Road ground this Bank Holiday weekend, with visitors to the famous old pavilion set to witness two high quality matches while also enjoying the cricket club's second annual beer festival.
The four day festival which started last night will feature a range of real ales from around the world and follows the success of last year's event which saw over 1,000 drinkers sample up to 40 beers, six ciders, a specialist whiskey bar and a wine bar.
Festival organiser and LCC vice captain Owen Jones said: "Last year the event was held at the end of January and really surprised us with how successful it was, so this year we've decided to run it in the summer, hoping the British weather will be on our side.
"The added bonus to having it in the summer means there will be local and professional cricket over the weekend which will hopefully attract local cricket and beer lovers."
First up on the bill is the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition First Division clash between Liverpool and Formby with the hosts keen to improve on their opening day draw with Highfield.
Jones said: "Last week's draw was disappointing despite Highfield looking a decent side – we chose to bowl and they were very defensive, taking 60 overs to score 180.
"We only had 35 overs back and had to go off for rain three times, but we kept going for the win."
Despite Liverpool's high profile as a county cricket ground (Aigburth will once again host Lancashire this season when they take on Nottinghamshire in July), the club's 1st XI have not played in the top flight since 1999, something Jones and his team mates are determined to rectify.
*In my opinion we should definitely be in the ECB Premier League," he said. "Whether in the past that has been because of a lack of quality players or team spirit I'm not sure, but we now have a very pro-active captain in Ashley McDonald who makes an effort to get involved with the junior sections and has brought a professionalism to training which we have not had before.
"The dressing room seems focused and we are all determined to win as many games as possible this season."
Liverpool, who will look forward to local derbies with both Sefton Park and Wavertree later in the campaign, have welcomed back former players such as Hamish Dunlop and Matty Jackson this season and Jones believes the club's environment is key to attracting talent like Fayaz Ughradar and Sam Holliday from Lytham.
"It's the ground and the captain which have brought them back," added Jones.
The uniqueness of Aigburth Road as a venue for cricket is backed up by Lancashire’s Women's side choosing the venue for this Sunday's County Championship match against Ireland.
England Ashes winner Kate Cross, who took six wickets in her début Test match against the Australians in January, said the Lancs girls cannot wait to play in Liverpool.
She said: "It's brilliant for us to have these facilities and to train on them throughout the year.
"You only have to look at the pavilion to see what a prestigious venue it is and we'll all be pretty proud to walk out here on Sunday morning.
"We're hoping the beer festival will bring a nice little gathering for us even if they are a bit rowdy!"
Lancashire captain Jasmine Titmuss added: "Ireland will be a huge challenge as they have just been at the T20 World Cup and have played cricket all through the winter, but we beat them last season and being the first game of the season, we need to be on our toes.
"It's brilliant to have the beer festival on as we do not usually have that many people watching us, so it will be great, even if they are drunk!"
Liverpool Cricket Club Beer Festival tickets are only available online from www.cricketclubbeerfestival.com
The Lancashire Women v Ireland Women starts at 11:00am on Sunday May 5th.