What time does it start? What time can you make it? So goes the joke every Luton fan has to endure at some point in their supporting life.
My return to Navi Mumbai and the Dr D Y Patil Stadium and it felt a bit like living the off told gag for myself.

I half expected commemorative plaques screwed to the backsaw of the seats where Tesco Nige (Hello mate!) and I witnessed IPL 3’s epic conclusion back in May 2010. The memories came flooding back. Tangibly what hit me, as I watched the England Performance Programme XI take on the D Y Patil Academy XI, was, just where the bloody hell was everybody?

Then. Fireworks, Mexican Waves, that funny parping noise that originated at the Rugby World Cup in 2007 that stadium announcers use to gee up the punters. There was A.R. Rahman, S.R. Khan, dancing girls, a packed crowd replete with bouncing, screaming Sachin crazy locals and not as many soon-to-be-smug supporters who -wisely as it turned out- made the journey from Chennai. There was Dougie Bollinger at the peak of his powers. There was another chapter unfolding in the memorable career of M.S. Dhoni. It was all going off.

Now. Me. And an empty bowl of a stadium with rows and rows of empty blue seats, white seats, all finished off with an unloved and suffocating dusting of, err, dust. England’s fringe players were doing their best to nudge the selectors with the next Test just a week away as the game, but considerably weaker, opposition went forlornly about their business. And due to all that earlier mucking about on the trains, no sooner had I got there than the players walked off for lunch.

The interval was signalled by an ear splitting blast of that God awful noise that signals an appearance from Angelos Epithemiou on Shooting Stars. And then another burst of a similarly moronic accompaniment. It would’ve woken the dead. If they’d have bothered to turn up.
Taking this as my cue, I went for a wander of the impressive facilities the good doctor has provided to the local area. As well as an under-used stadium with practice fields, swimming pool and gymnasium, there is a hospital and a medical college not to mention something for the keen naturalist as well. “Snake, snake!”, shouted one of the local maintenance staff. I stood immediately to attention as this huge reptile slithered down a drain.
Feeling in need of sustenance, I repaired to a local vendor and picked up two bananas, a bottle of water and two packets of Parle cashew and butter cookies to help coax some sanity back into my life. Returning to my seat to catch the closing refrains of Skat Man John, my choice of brunch hadn’t seemed to have done the trick.

The teams returned and England’s middle order set about their counterparts with untroubled abandon. Their fourth wicket put on a quick hundred runs with the ease of a Pringle sweater clad Michael Parkinson interviewing Sting, Paul McCartney and Jamie Cullum from his armchair in front of a gently smouldering fire while supping a dram of Glenmorangie.

After nearly two hours and with little chance of anything approaching a contest happening soon, I gave up and left. As the score climbed steadily, I bet the Academy XI bowlers wished they could have done the same.

Post Script. As the continuing nonsense between the BCCI (yes, them again) and the independent photo agencies shows no signs of abating, and because Jocelyn Galsworthy definitely wasn’t there (I checked), if anyone’s interested, here’s a picture from today’s action.

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Jocelyn Galsworthy? Jocelyn Angloma more like…..

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