Edgbaston’s crowd has been called England’s 12th man – and they always deliver.
The home support at Edgbaston, notably the 6,000 in the Eric Hollies Stand, is second to none in England. When the match is on a knife-edge, home advantage and crowd support could make all the difference.
There has never been anything like the Hollies Stand for rallying the England team. Edgbaston has always been vociferous. On a Sunday afternoon in 1981 England were drifting to defeat, which would have sent them 2-1 down against Australia, but the Hollies Stand roared and Ian Botham joined in.
It was much the same against Pakistan on the last afternoon in 2016: the series 1-1, Pakistan only one wicket down at lunch, and the pitch flat – but the crowd were not and England ran through Pakistan in the last two sessions.
And it was a similar case for during the recent first Ashes Test in 2019.
In 2019 for the first Ashes Test against Australia, the Queen had visited the Hollies Stand on the second day to hold aloft the World Cup won by Eoin Morgan’s team last month – unless both were replicas. On day three the distinguished visitors included Laurel and Hardy, and the other England team that won a World Cup, the footballers of 1966.
The difference is that supporters in the Hollies Stand compose their own songs, which involves watching the game as well as wit, and most of it has been entertaining, even inspired.
When England appealed for lbw, the best part of 25,000 did too.
Had this been a championship game, and the ninth-wicket pair had added 65 off 24.1 overs either side of lunch, mostly in ones and twos, it would have been mundane fare. But context – which includes the crowd – is everything, and thus the occasion was transformed into another momentous Test match in the Ashes.
Experience the famous Edgbaston atmosphere yourself this summer as England face West Indies for the second game in the three-match Test series in 2020, from Friday 12 to Tuesday 16 June, and World Champions England take on Ireland on Saturday 12 September.