The vagaries of the fixture list mean that today is the only time all season that I’ll have the chance to see Lancashire in action (repairs to my domestic accidental internal waterfall rule out attendance tomorrow and Sunday). The first day ended with Middlesex 236/9 – probably honours even – but after a few lusty blows and a bit of confusion among the Lancashire bowlers Middlesex made 265.
But to start with and to keep the inner man warm, a coffee and Danish from the cake tray at Lord’s and the best view in world cricket!
The Lancashire side oozes class and stars – Jennings, Hameed, Vilas, Onions, Anderson etc – so its not an opportunity to miss.
The experience of the Oval yesterday and Lords today forces the question – which is the better ground? Well it’s like comparing a Merlot and a Sancerre – both are wines, both are enjoyable but both are different from each other. Each has the same effect but they’re not the same and it’s impossible to choose between the two!
One aspect where the grounds do differ (or so it seems to me) is that when I go to the Oval I increase the average age of the spectators but at Lords I reduce the average age! Looking around I feel a little out of place…most of the other members are either grey or bald or both (ladies included!)…Grecian 2000/Just for Men not working for some!
And so to the cricket…Jennings and Hameed have added 88 by lunch with few alarms. The Middlesex bowling started off tight – Murtagh and Roland-Jones providing some control, Finn at first change got more than the occasional ball to keep low from the Pavilion End but Harris didn’t provide the extra control needed.
The opening pair provide an interesting ‘compare and contrast’ question of GCE English exams of long ago! Jennings (and I’m no great fan) has a tighter approach, less fluid and hence when he does venture out offside of off stump, test bowlers tend to clean up but Hameed plays the ball away from his body…he looks loose and no quite so controlled but each technique is working for its owners as they both head towards individual 50s.
In terms of the Championship, Lancashire are favourites to go back up in September (after all they were demoted on fractions last year) and seem to have more all round strength. Middlesex are relying on their bowling attack to spearhead their campaign under new coach Stuart Law (once of Lancashire!) but the batting still seems a little fragile and young!
Another difference between Lords and the Oval – the former has the best view in world cricket from the top of the Pavilion but also the coldest! Wrapped in thick coat, scarf, gloves and hat…and I’m still frozen, really really cold! I need to forego the view for warmth…but the weather today suggests that could be a futile search!
Both teams seemed to have lunched exceptionally well (see blog from 11/4/19) as the afternoon session is at a slower pace all round…overs seem to take longer, runs dry up, or is the temperature warmer so that the ball will actually seam/swing? Don’t think so as the temperature has yet to reach double figures and probably won’t today! Why is first class cricket being played so early in April?
Hameed goes to his 50 and beyond as his technique improves…less playing away from his body but he still looks less than confident when ‘tucked up’. It’s good to see him in the runs after all his recent trials and tribulations- perhaps he’s been over-coached and only know working things out; let’s hope for good things.
Jennings gets stuck – nearly 30 minutes without scoring after lunch! He’s getting frustrated even after getting to 50 as the bowling seems to be getting the better of both batsmen or at least the scoring rate. Inevitably Jennings succumbs to a nibble outside off which is snapped up by Simpson and the first wicket falls at 123.
Murtagh seems to be the only bowler capable of maidens as he keeps things under control to some extent. Loose shots by Guest and Maxwell bring Middlesex back into the game as tea approaches at 150/3. Wherever you sit, it’s cold and breezy so my soul can take no more as I head for warmth from the Jubilee line in the Friday afternoon rush.
And a reminder of how fragile life is…