Dance of the diggers, trousers dropping and herding cats – Middlesex v Durham

Apologies for the lack of photos in this blog. I’ve broken my wrist and bruised my ribs which mean that I can only carry essential items and my camera is too heavy at the moment but once the ribs heal…!!!

The redevelopment of the Compton and the hole where the clock used to be!

Lord’s looks different as the builders are in for the Compton and Edrich redevelopment- access around the ground is restricted, the Clerk of the Works clock has gone, the urinals demolished and so forth. Ok, so I’m no building expert but to me the amount of double and treble handling seems excessive – rip out the seats from the Edrich, throw them all in a heap and then put them in the skip within throwing distance? Store scaffold poles at the top of the Edrich but then get a team to take an afternoon and a fork lift to move them again? But all this is of nowt when the diggers get into action (not quite sure what they were doing) but the choreography was wonderful and a distraction from the game…and enhanced by their flashing lights! A pure spectacle only fully appreciated from the Long Room!

The Pavilion
You can begin to appreciate the scale of the slope!

Watching cricket is an art and a skill all by itself. If you haven’t don’t it for a little while or are changing format between ‘red’ and ‘white’ ball cricket as it’s so delightfully phrased nowadays then it takes a little time to adjust and training is needed.

It doesn’t take long to get back into the swing of things and Middlesex were certainly swinging it after the first hour of the first day in their game against Durham. Nip, swing seam and bounce were all in evidence coupled with some inept batting. For a long time I couldn’t decide if it was good bowling or inept batting which had the upper hand – but by the time Middlesex batted it’s the bowling’s which was good – from both sides; Durham’s aided by the cloud cover from mid/late afternoon but nonetheless poor batting all round and low scores across the land.

Current players seem unable to switch between the formats of matches than in times gone by. Some of us can remember the times when a first class match (now so delightfully known as ‘red ball’) started on a Saturday (day one of three); the players then moved to a 40 over game on the Sunday (not necessarily against the same opponents or even in the same county), back to the first class game on the Monday and Tuesday and then probably another one day match (60 over knock out cup) on the Wednesday.! And so it continued. Nowadays there are swathes of the calendar devoted to one form or the other…but I still don’t get how the mindsets and approaches can move…but then I’m probably too old to feature in any ‘key demographic’ but they’ll still take my cash!

Talking of ‘olds’ you can never be quite sure what you’ll see at a cricket match and this was no exception. An elderly MCC member managed to drop his trousers (accidentally I’m sure) as he struggled down the steps at the top of the Pavilion. The expanse of exposed flesh required a strong stomach! He was suitably apologetic!

Overnight Middlesex rested some 60 runs behind with three wickets left (Durham eking out only 147) but they managed to almost draw level in 90 minutes of a range of batting strokes – one day hoicks, forward defences and playing and missing so often we all lost count. What was noticeable was that batting got easier when the sun came out which it did fleetingly on what was otherwise an overcast grey day; in years gone by the day would have been lost to bad light. So I suppose there’s some progress!

Overall I’d say that the bowling was good, the batting mediocre and unable to cope with the change of format and the variable bounce especially from the Pavilion End. Interestingly neither side picked a spinner!

Over the years MCC stewards have come in for some severe stick (no need for the Home Guard in WW2, just position a few MCC stewards at Dover…none shall pass!) but I witnessed today at close quarters what they have to put up with! I’m not sure if it’s easier to teach a class of infants or herd cats but the stupidity and crassness of some MCC members is unbelievable! You don’t move during an over, you don’t move when the bowling is from this end, you sit down when asked politely, you don’t use your mobile phone for calls or photos, you don’t wander around with pints of beer in both hands and a barman in tow! Unbelievable! And these members should know what the etiquette is!

So as Day 2 ends for me (need to leave at tea) with Durham leading by 100 with six wickets left. There wasn’t a lot of dancing among the batsmen on either day as playing and missing seemed to be the preferred way and few fast bouncers to encourage a bit of dancing but then the diggers would win any glitter ball on offer!

The end of reassimilation for me – two days of Ashes strife awaits! And there’ll be dancing there!

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