Food and drink XI sustains hard work and my first ever long stop!

Bess begs for a wicket
A long stop in first class cricket? It’s not what you think!

The four day day/night match at Chelmsford looks to me after two days as one where hard work is required and should be rewarded.

The first two sessions had Somerset toiling while Bopara and ten Doeschate prevailed – the latter outscoring Ravi considerably but both made centuries – the first two first class centuries for Essex this season and July is next week!

This bat-fest and hard work for wickets gave me time to ponder whether an eleven could be formed from those with either food or drink as a last name…but current players only? Well, how about:

  • Joss Cobb – Northants (ok..a cob being a type of bread roll, or an alternative name for hazelnuts)
  • Michael Pepper – Essex
  • Matt Lamb – Warwickshire
  • Chris Sole – Hampshire
  • Will Beer – Sussex
  • Phil Salt – Sussex
  • Phil Mustard – Gloucestershire
  • Josh Tongue – Worcestershire (ox tongue is regarded as some kind of delicacy?!)
  • Graham Onions – Lancashire
  • Jamie Porter – Essex (porter is a kind of fortified beer) and
  • Joe Tetley – Cambridge Uni (I know, stretching it a point as this is a brand name but all this food and drink can be topped off with a cup of tea!)

Not a lot of batting but the bowling should be good!

Pepper impressed a large number of the Essex faithful yesterday – most of whom have seen many players come and go over the years, and the general consensus is that he is an England player in the making! Remember you saw it here first!

The run-fest resulted in Essex declaring at 517/5 off 150 overs some 35 mins before the scheduled ‘tea’ break; Bopara made 118 whilst ten Doeschate was not out on 173 – fine knocks both, although Ryan tended to only offer one shot each ball towards the end (hooking to leg) in an attempt to speed up the scoring rate. To their credit, at no time did Somerset give up although they looked down-hearted; they did not have all nine fielders on the boundary to stop the runs flowing as Essex tried in vain against Notts last week.

** incidentally Bopara and ten Doeschate took the score from 212/4 to 506/5 – the Essex record for the 5th wicket was in jeopardy until…

It seems that ten Doeschate needed to be reminded of the tea break as the declaration came suddenly when a drink was brought on to the field for him for no real reason and then everyone just walked off. I’ll come back to his captaincy later.

In the 10 overs before tea – taken 15 mins late – Somerset managed 39/0; this looks like a game where runs will flow and bowlers and fielders will need to work hard for their wickets.

A leg-side feather after tea does for Davies c Wheater b Wagner for 41 at 55/1. Enter George Bartlett with over an hour and a bit to the scheduled close – not an auspicious sight as Playfair records his highest score as 28 – and Somerset need another 462 to get to level terms or 312 to save the follow on. But pluckily did he bat against all that Essex could throw at him. A very hard chance down the leg side (a backward short leg was positioned – Pepper) was put down; no fault of the fielder as it was very sharp and very fine deflection but ten Doeschate immediately swapped Pepper for Harmer in that position and Pepper was despatched to the fielding ring like a naughty school boy…hmmm, yes, the game is hard but that seemed too harsh.

Later Cook A made some fielding change suggestions which were implemented and towards the end Westley suggested having a long stop which again was put in place straightaway. I have never seen a long stop in first class cricket so this was a first in over 50 years of following the game. There was no clear reason as the wicketkeeper seemed capable but it became clear later that they were trying to feed Bartlett the hook and were hoping for a mistimed one to go straight down Westley’s throat at long stop. The tactic didn’t work but Bartlett was out just before the close of play for 42 whilst Ed Byrom is still there on 53 at 140/2 – still 237 away from avoiding the follow on. On this pitch this should be possible.

With regard to the day/night nature of the game, we haven’t seen the excessive swing and seam of other matches but then it’s been unbroken sunshine for the past two days. The crowd was smaller than the first day (always seems to be the case) and little, if any, corporate entertainment in action…giving up a whole day’s work is more attractive than giving up a half-day and then your own evening! Numbers fell away after the tea and probably before and still no mass influx of people coming along after work – that’s just not happening.

One other aspect of day/night cricket is the ability to travel home after the game has finished. Spectators and members are not all locally based, nor have cars parked in the exclusive car park at the ground! Several travel long distances and not always by car so are using public transport, and even if they did stay to the end, then travelling back home by rail should be ok, but then they have the challenge of more public transport to complete the journey home. Not all towns and villages have bus services during the evening and not everyone can afford taxis…so they come along, pay full admission price but then have to leave well before the end to get home at a reasonable hour and at reasonable cost.

Porter in full flow – yet perfectly balanced!

No – not seeing double – Essex have two Cooks!

Wagner straining to take the first wicket

Long stop?

Doh!…that’s nuts and a dusting of Pepper

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No need for snicko here…or is there? Pepper (on debut on his birthday) gets a bit of a dusting from the West Country quicks

The 4,500 doughnuts ordered for the ODI at Old Trafford on Sunday were delivered a day late – to the embarrassment of all concerned, especially the doughnut eaters of Lancashire!

I feel the same level of embarrassment is being felt in the Somerset dressing room at the ‘long break’ in the day/night match at Chelmsford against Essex – 3rd vs 4th (again…places were moved around after the last set of matches!). My understanding is that with an uncontested toss**, the visiting side have the first choice to bat first and looking at the straw coloured strip (ok, it has a tinge of green but there’s very hot weather forecast and any dampness will soon be gone; after all it hasn’t rained in Essex in weeks!) batting first was the clear option. But no! They decided to have a toss and Essex are batting…and probably batting Somerset out of the game having reached 116/0 off 33 overs in the first session (yes, I know, it’s ridiculous…all those overs in that time! Whatever next?)

Four changes to the Essex side following the mauling by Notts last week – out go Chopra, Lawrence, Coles and Quinn and in come Browne, Cook S, Pepper and ten Doeschate. Pepper making his county debut on his 20th birthday!

Browne and Cook A are opening and as you can tell from the score have set off as if they are being chased by a wild bull – both have 50s and with the power to add, the second session could be thrilling. After all these two put on 371 in the corresponding day/night match against Middlesex last year, so they know how to play pink ball cricket!

Only Bess and Trego so far have shown any element of control – at one stage 4.4 overs went runless in this run-fest; perhaps taking the pace off the ball is the key to this pitch.

The hottest day of the year would seem ideal for a day/night match but surprisingly as the evening progressed it became increasingly pleasant if not chilly towards the end  – having experienced, now, 10 day/night days of first class cricket both here and in Australia, the weather has to work in your favour. Adelaide was colder in the evening than some April days at the top of the Lord’s Pavilion and last year at this time was bitterly, bitterly cold when the sun dipped down…so it’s very much hit and miss.

But back to the action – Browne was run out, backing up for 66 much to the annoyance of a few in the crowd but Essex benefited from such a mode of dismissal last week, so they can’t complain but he and Cook A (to distinguish from Cook S) had put on 151.

Cook A followed at 176 for 96 lbw to Bess – who bowled, it seemed for most of the day/night and even later took the new ball; this was Cook A’s second successive lbw dismissal. Perhaps something to think about?

But the opening partnership was a joy to behold with fine stroke play and also knowing when to play and miss!

Browne and Cook A in imperious form

Bess has skill beyond his years and whilst his test elevation came through misfortune to others and serendipity on his part, I think he could be around the England test side for a few years.

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Bess – looking “cool” in the heat!

The fast bowlers were concerned about the state of the pink ball that almost from the start they wanted it changed and pestered the umpires to change it – not a good idea to pester umpires on day one…or any other day come to that!

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Ump…Can’t you see the ball is out of shape?

By ‘tea’ Essex had reached 204/3 after Westley went cheaply (again); he is a confidence player and needs a run of matches to regain his self-belief. Perhaps being dropped from the England test side after last summer (and all the hype he had around him) has affected him; let alone the lack of a consistent first class programme to regain his form. He will come again.

This brought Michael Pepper to the crease and to first class cricket. Excuse the humour but he was given a dusting by the quicks but defended resolutely. He has determination and plays with one of the straightest bats I’ve seen for a long time and it was a delight to behold. Let’s hope a coach doesn’t get hold of him and change his approach.

Pepper with a straight bat and a classical look

He fell to Bess – a marathon spell – for 22; with these two youngsters coming to the fore (ok, it’s very early days for both) I have hope for English test cricket!

What this does mean is ample opportunity to put a team of foodstuffs together from current and past players…Mustard, Onions and Salt are among the current crop of first class players; need a bit of time to come up with the other seven needed!

As for the crowd, the members areas were busy but not full (most were taking shade cover wherever they could rather than offering themselves up to be roasted in the bleachers) and a few drifted away at the end of the second session (used to be known as ‘tea’); as for the ‘let’s attract those finishing work at 5pm/6pm to come along for the evening’ – well, I saw two…and they were members and didn’t stay that long. Also not helped by a lack of advertising and promoting – so if the public don’t know, how can they be expected to turn up? Ok, a few also drifted away to follow some football tournament on the TV but in the main a good number of members, perhaps a few more than for a ‘normal’ game stayed for longer. Did they spend more? Did the bars and food outlets take more than normal? Doubt it…but the ice cream van did a roaring trade at ‘lunch’


And whilst ‘tea’ was taken at the due time – it can be done when players put their mind to it – what was baffling was why the floodlights were switched on when the sun was still streaming and some in the crowd were still sun-bathing. Not a good PR exercise in how ‘green’ county cricket can be (am sure there’s an ECB directive somewhere to waste energy and money) but even the floodlights at Canterbury could not overcome the sunshine issue when shadows brought play to a temporary halt but it meant that Middlesex had to bat in the night time and the ‘traditional’ pink ball bowling seems to have brought them to their knees (again); I know the ECB are trying but it’s still not quite right.


**Apologies…seems the uncontested toss allows the visiting team to bowl first; just shows how confusing the whole situation is!