There are three things I’ve learned today which I didn’t know when I got up:
- Bird shit contains more water/moisture than you would think and ‘The Economist‘ is not very absorbent!
- Paint comes in a shade called ‘wild primrose’ which implies there should be a ‘tame primrose’ and
- If you bowl two full tosses as no balls in one day cricket, you are removed from the attack!
I make no apology for using ‘bird shit’ as a term since it’s good enough for this week’s Economist magazine to describe the streets of San Francisco. How did I find that it has more moisture than you’d think? Well, I was sitting at the cricket (as above) concentrating on the game (more to follow) when the spectator in the row in front and three seats to the left shouted out ‘Did you feel that?’ and wondered why he had been sprayed with ‘something’; looking down I discover that my trousers, jumper and camera were covered with the contents of a long-departed bird no longer having diarrhoea! I had ‘copped the lot’ whilst the other spectators just had the fall out from the edge of the ‘catchment area’.
Having changed into my older trousers before I set out today, the damage to clothing was not catastrophic but as I did not have anything to clean the ejectamenta away, accepted took the offer of a small tissue from a sympathetic spectator (which went nowhere towards clearing things up) but had to resort to the Economist magazine I happened to have in my bag – unfortunately the paper used was not particularly absorbent – so I had to leave things to dry in the afternoon sun. It took over an hour and a half to dry out, leaving me surprised at the moisture levels contained in bird shit!
On line, I was also asked what colour paint to choose for a kitchen and recommended magnolia, being the limit of my decorating knowledge, only to be advised that ‘wild primrose’ would be the choice. This led me to think that logically if there is wild primrose, there should be ‘tame primrose’ – and the Pythonesque scenario of being attacked by bunches of wild primroses each Spring but not to worry about those indoors as they had been tamed! Sad, and odd I know, but the cricket was not that exciting at that time.
Until…just before the end of the Essex innings, the Kent and NZ bowler, Henry was taken out of the attack mid-over since he had bowled two full toss no balls in his nine over spell to date. That was something I had never seen before nor was aware of as a regulation – as it seems were most of the crowd. It’s a rare event but I did – clearly having major flights of fancy at this stage – wonder what would happen if, in one innings, several players were withdrawn from bowling by this regulation and what would happen if all 11 players fell foul – would the innings end? Could this be an odd form of match fixing?
And so to the cricket – Essex v Kent in the last round of league matches in the Southern Division of the Royal London one day cup at Chelmsford. Kent had already qualified for the next phase but an Essex win would mean that they also qualify and could gain a home advantage in the next phase.
I use the word ‘phase’ since it’s being called the ‘quarter finals’ but only involves four teams – all delightfully odd and British! The top teams in each division qualify for the semi-final whilst those finishing second and third play each other (cross-divisions) in the ‘quarter finals’ to see who plays the division winning sides in the semi-finals. (You have to live through it to see it makes sense!).
This match was the 2nd v 3rd in the group as well as a local derby so a bit of ‘needle’ could be expected. Early on Kent looked an excellent side with a lot of team-encouragement and chirping clearly audible from the boundary edge. They looked very sharp in the field and exuded all the confidence that a team gains from momentum from winning regularly. From ball one, each bowler found the right line and length and had Essex on the back foot, somewhat shell-shocked in comparison to the team from last Wednesday!
After losing both openers for 42, Westley and Lawrence set out on a rescue and rebuilding mission and by the 15th over had reached 64-2 at 4.2rpo. It was at this point that the seagull appeared and things changed for Essex…they reached 103/3 by over 25 and whilst consolidating they did miss out on several runs as they tended to run the first one slowly; tight bowling by Stevens (1-37 off his 10 – and aged 42!) kept things in check and almost turned the pace into a county championship match-style; aided by Qayyum offering a spin option, the pace slowed but wickets looked secure, poised for a late order explosion. Blake – the chirper in chief – seemed to be the least effective of the Kent fielders and soon became a ‘target’ for some ribaldry – it’s ok talking the talk, but walking the walk counts too! A score of 250 looked good at this stage.
But Essex – Bopara and Lawrence – began to dig in; not in the ‘test match’ sense of digging in to secure the game over a longer term but digging in to provide the platform for later. Steady was the progress and the partnership blossomed against the second string Kent bowlers and later against the front line bowlers as the wheels began to fall off for Kent.
By 40 overs and 223/3, a score of 270/280 seemed on the cards and a better result than seemed likely earlier but the Essex batsmen took full advantage and with four overs to go reached 278/4 – Lawrence had gone for 115 and Bopara on 84* was angling for his ton (I learned later that the partnership at 187 was the highest ever Essex had made against Kent for the 4th wicket in this style of competition – going back over 50 years!).
However, the pace quickened, the bowlers visibly lost heart as they went for six after six, consecutive on occasions and Bopara reached his ton and more – ending on 125 – and Essex on 337/7. At the half way stage, this seemed a competitive score (especially given the earlier scoring rate) and with Kent on a confident winning streak and a sound batting line up, it looked like ‘game on’ and anyone’s match.
Commitments prevented me from staying for the Essex innings – not least a change of guano-covered clothing – but suffice to say that the wheels really came off as the sun went down. Kent were all out for 184 – three less than Bopara and Lawrence made between them.
Kent had qualified for the next round already so the result only mattered in terms of getting a home or away tie – so did they really play at 100%? Research suggests that in such situations teams are only 95% as effective as normal and did they really have their whole heart and soul in the game? It’s probably unavoidable as you know you have done all the hard work to achieve your first objective and you just can’t avoid taking this approach – after all, how many ‘last test of the series’ tests did Australia lose under Steve Waugh’s captaincy when they had already won the series?
So perhaps, the bird shit was a lucky omen after all for Essex…or was it?