IT IS one of my favourite days of the year next Saturday – t20 finals day and I’m thrilled it’s back at Edgbaston. It ticks all the boxes for me: a good central location that everyone can travel to in a day, a good wicket and a fantastic stadium, with a brilliant atmosphere.
There are four top teams qualified as well with world class players in each and all we need now is the sun to shine. I can’t wait. And for anyone stopping in Birmingham it’s a terrific place to visit with some of the best pubs and curries in the country.
The Tap and Spile in the centre is a lovely place, full of atmosphere with old wooden floors, pleasant staff and very good ale. It regularly has Timmy Taylor’s, which is never a bad thing, among its eight or nine hand pumps.
But the creme de la creme is The Welly, or the Wellington to give it it’s full title. There aren’t many better pubs than this in the country.
It has a menu on a board describing each of its ales from hoppiness to fruitiness to strength and there is normally about 20. Sometimes with that many ales you can get a bad one … but not in the Welly.
The staff are extremely friendly and enthusiastic and it’s a favourite of mine and the lads who enjoy a pint in the jeans and a T-shirt. For those who prefer it a bit more arty the place to head to is the Hotel du Vin.
There are lovely sofas to relax on with a nice glass of wine but I prefer the Welly. And for those wanting a curry after a pint there’s nowhere better than the Blue Mango, a magnificent eating establishment.
They do wonderful food including a bullet naan packed with chillies which is absolutely red hot. Nass is always keen to have one of those and share it with me and Athers but it’s a test as it’s so hot.
It’s also a place where our former boss Paul King dumbfounded the staff. He loves a hot curry, a phaal is like a korma to him. And one night when asked what he would like he simply said: “The hottest thing you can possibly cook.”
But when it was served he said he wanted it hotter. Off it went back to the kitchen and it returned with the entire kitchen staff coming out to watch. Paul ate the lot and loved it, no-one could believe it.
Another spot worth looking at is Shimla Pinks on Broad Street, stuck right in the middle of the bars and clubs. It’s a good curry but is a very, very lively spot.
Hopefully I’ll see some fellow Lancastrians celebrating. It’s great to see my county back and hoping to finally win after several previous appearances on the biggest day of the domestic calendar. And Birmingham Bears, I’m still upset they never went for the Coventry Clouters, with it being on their home ground. If they get off to a good start they could be difficult to stop.
The mascot derby will also be great fun. I presume I’ll be doing the commentary this year but with my new titanium knee, which feels like it needs oiling on some mornings, I won’t be running round this time.
It’s always fiercely contested but I never know who is in the suits and it can get confusing. I once saw Warwickshire’s Carmen Bear in a pretty little dress coming out of the gents! If the weather holds it’ll be a cracking day.