Day 41 of cricket!

Today is day 41 of watching live cricket since the start of March so I rock up to the Cloud to join how many more to watch the end of the friendly between First Class Counties XI v NZ. I’m the eighth car in the car park so numbers don’t look good!

And the spectators on the right need to be moved? 🤔

By 11.20 the spectators had just about outnumbered the stewards and late arrivals would have missed the first wicket of the day. Haines caught behind for 14. Is this the breakthrough the Kiwis are looking for?

Stewarding is a fine balancing act between safety and welcoming and ok, it’s not the most exciting or well paid job going so rule following is probably top of the job requirements. Given there’s about as many spectators as total runs needed (264) an officious approach may just be silly.

So much so in that one steward took great delight in moving one lone spectator from an area beside the sight screen – doing no harm and at least 100 metres from the nearest human!. The spectator was not best pleased…especially when minutes later two others moved into the seats he had been thrown out of, but by that time Mr Jobsworth had moved on!

You’ll gather, dear reader, from this ramble that there’s little by way of excitement so far to write about!

But to pick up a point I raised yesterday about spectators not asking for autographs etc I’m told that this is an ECB ‘directive’ and nothing to do with Essex CCC. Well, tell that to the Surrey and other players who gladly welcome autographs and selfies at the Oval, and on the boundary at Lord’s and (best of all) the NZ players signing autographs at the back of the Pavilion yesterday lunch time!

Methinks it’s easy to blame the ECB but counties need to look closer to home first!

But back to the action! Well, activity rather than action! After a nondescript 100 minutes and a rain break, lunch was taken early with the FCC 98 short of their target and 70 overs left. I suspect we’ll all be gone around tea time. Compton presses on to 70no and Gubbins 30no as the Kiwi quicks appear to go through the motions and have a reasonable workout before the test starts.

If sheer force of runs gets you on the England radar then Compton should be there already; what worries me is his back leg which seems to be left to think for itself in his stance and a few Yorkers could test him. Why are they no longer in fashion?

Within 80 minutes after lunch it was all over. Compton and Gubbins dramatically changed gear to achieve a win by seven wickets. Compton went for 119 – trying to be too clever against the spinner and his back leg let him down. But a fine knock nonetheless. Gubbins reached his half century but Ryan Patel scored the winning runs with a fine cover drive.

Not the slickest keeping
Patel ducks a fast one from Tickell
Gubbins driving
And Patel drives the winning runs

So what have we learnt from this glorified extended net? Seventeen plays twelve doesn’t work for the team of 17 – it’s too big as a single unit to provide eleven players with ‘proper’ match readiness. The Kiwis’ class on Friday was shown in spades whereas the FCC looked like a local league side at times.

NZ batting could be their weak link come Thursday whilst their array of fast bowlers gives them a lot of options. Blundell has a hard act to follow and could grow into the keeping role a la Bairstow; spin options look limited even though Patel has taken all 10 in a test – so he’s no mug! But dropping/missing six chances just makes the challenge even greater.

FCC won this match in 45 minutes on Day 3 with local boy Porter having great success on his first real outing this season. He’s struggled to get in the Essex side due to overseas signings! Calls for a England call up on the back of those 45 minutes I think are premature but take wickets galore and improve his batting/game awareness (not quite as bad as Ollie Robinson’s walk to square leg in Hobart) and who knows?

Compton’s purple patch and weight of runs should force him into contention at some stage this summer; Sibley I think is still work in progress. Blatherwick and Gibbon show early signs of promise whilst James should really be a bat who bowls and not vice versa. Haines…not sure but only seen him this once.

And a shame that none of these scores or wickets count in averages or career records but a useful marker nonetheless!

The season now enters the trash and bash with tests sprinkled around; I wonder what the date will be by the time I’ve watched another 41 days?


What? No over-50 nude trampolining?

A surreal morning to say the least at the Cloud!

Started by stewards asking me if I was here for the cricket? I was tempted to reply ‘no, I’ve come for the over-50 nude synchronised trampolining training’ but thought better of it. Why else would anyone brandishing a ticket and membership card go to a cricket ground when cricket is being played?

The first 45 minutes just added to the surreal nature – by which time NZ had reached 19 for 6 – yes, 19/6! Only Mitchell from the top order offered any resistance, the others expecting the pitch and bounce to be a bit better and suffered accordingly. Porter had taken 5 for 6 with seam movement but then Southee got after him (and others) so Porter ended the session on 5 for 18.

Williamson – edges to slip
Conway – not comfortable
And then…lbw
Blatherwick tried his best

This time yesterday the FCC bowlers were looking like local league bowlers against a Test side! What a difference 24 hours makes and you wouldn’t get this change in a one day match!

The mentioned Southee struck some lusty blows, de Grandhomme played on but Wagner and Jamieson steadied the ship to lunch on 102/8 and a lead of 217. Is that enough?

Southee decided attack was the best form of defence
And again!
Mitchell – head in line

One wonders if the Kiwis have been sabotaged by excessive Chelmsford hospitality overnight or with no edge to this match just using it as extended nets as we’ve now seen 17 NZ players in total.

During lunch a small number of people – including families with toddlers – strayed into the outfield and started a gentle game with bat and ball. Clearly they’d missed the edict from on high not to do so since after five minutes the rudest steward I’ve ever seen orders them off and back into their seats. The steward looked ready to mete out a punishment more severe than when you’ve been ambushed by a birthday cake. Heard those families say that they’ll not come back again!

And you’re trying to encourage a new audience?

Meanwhile after lunch, NZ move to 148ao and a lead of 263. Again the FCC let them off the hook – 19/6 should not have reached 100! England will not be so ‘kind’. That leaves FCC 135 overs to score 264 but against Wagner, Jamieson, de Grandhomme, Henry, Patel and the up and coming Duffy and Ticknell?

By tea FCC reach 26/0 off 12 overs; slow going but setting their stall out for later progress.

At the close FCC reach 112/1 – 153 more needed to win. Sibley the only wicket to fall but if you only take one catch in four, then winning is going to be even harder. NZ seem to be off their game today, collectively not blending as a team and short of match practice but then when you’ve had 17 players involved over three days, the cohesion is not there.

I suppose it’s all preparation for what is to come but it would be a psychological boost for England if the FCC can force a win but context is everything and not a trampoline in sight!


Cricket revolves around numbers – runs scored, runs against, wickets lost, wickets taken – so much so that the numbers have to balance; there can only be one occasion when they don’t and that’s at the end of a winning game. One side must score at least one more than the other to register a win.

Jamieson – how did that miss?

The other number of concern is that they’re 11 players a side. In this game at the Cloud, there’s 11 fielding and two batting but the 11 who field can seemingly not have to bat! This doesn’t sit well with me but that’s the modern way of tourist matches.

But back to the numbers! In recent times names and numbers have been added to players shirts to help identification and I must say it does help. But here…who are the players? The numbers on the shirts are covered by long sleeve sweaters; the scorecard is completely blank so you need to fill it yourself but you’re not told who’s who? And as for the scoreboard don’t get me started! It easier to rely on the internet and websites than it is the scoreboard!

Ok it’s a friendly match, not first class and not that great in terms of quality from the FCC XI but the ECB still have the gall to charge £15 per day for what? Unnamed players playing badly?

NZ declare at precisely 100 overs for 362/9 inc one ‘retired’ – Henry for 65no. Fletcher 50 no and Patel 36no add 64 in 45 minutes against some pretty innocuous bowling by FCC; it’s at this point in an innings bowlers show their true worth and to let NZ go from 219/8 to 362 without taking a wicket is poor, but there we are.

The FCC lunch at 59/1 with Sibley gone; his new stance/approach looked strained/stressed and far from comfortable. Compton goes mid afternoon for 39 and taking the chance to watch side on, (anywhere on the ground that’s not in the teeth of a cold breeze or so sheltered as to be able to fry eggs on the ground) his stance has too much weight over front foot so that the back leg waggles! Pin him back against the stumps and…?

Sibley…shouldering arms
Compton…too far forward?
Henry and Compton

From the NZ aspect, Henry and de Grandhomme look good; Jamieson looks out of sorts/match practice to start with going for close on 8 per over. Which begs the general question of how will players from the IPL will cope next week going straight into a test? We now have Tickner bowling (but not batting) same with Duffy before lunch, Fletcher takes over the gloves, and Williamson is fielding – all good match practice but…just jars.

de Grandhomme in full flow
Kyle Jamieson

And so it continues, just like tag wrestling but who’s on the field and who’s not? You tell me!

By tea FCC reach 143/4 with Haines 41no in steady and unspectacular form but that’s what his team needs!

Unfortunately after tea things start to go awry and wickets fall galore. This is a professional effort by the Kiwi’s and a near full strength test side against, and let’s be honest, a makeshift team of county players who don’t feature in the trash and bash.

Spectator numbers dwindled after tea – possibly close to 700 at its peak and a good number of NZ fans too!

By the close FCC had succumbed to 247ao with Lyndon James scoring a dogged 52. The Kiwis lead by 115. The last pair failed to bat ‘sensibly’ and now need to come out to bowl the one remaining over of the day. That would not have happened in times past.

And finally an apology to any of my dear readers who were upset by my comments yesterday on gardening. For the record, I’m also not keen on DIY, oysters, crabmeat, jobsworths, white vans in country lanes, patronising newsreaders, tea, rudeness, cold callers who call me by my first name when I answer the phone, and…sorry, there’s a list too long to number! 🤣


There’s something missing…?

Having spent two days tidying up my garden in readiness for Spring/Summer (how can anyone take pleasure from gardening I have no idea! It’s purgatory!) the prospect of four unplanned extra days of cricket lifted my soul.

So things look even better when a grey overcast morning breaks into sunny periods as I write this at lunch on day 1 of a four day ‘friendly’ between a First Class County XI and NZ at the Cloud in Chelmsford.

It almost has the feel of an old fashioned tourist match (the last Kiwi tour match here I recall was a sell out, lasted three days against a class Essex side) with ostensibly eleven playing eleven and no ‘funny’ options.

In the past it’s been 13 against 13 or less, retire when you feel like it, treat it like an extended net or not as the case may be or decide not to play the last day as it’s ‘too hot’ said one Indian touring team in the recent past!

The FCC XI is essentially a mix of up and coming players and a few who have ‘been around for a while and not going anywhere’ but more relevant are not likely to feature in their county’s ‘trash and bash’ of the 20/20 beer fests.

NZ win the toss and bat; reach 74/2 at lunch with Latham (captain – no Williamson!) and Conway back indoors. It’s been an all seam attack so far of young quicks looking to make their way or in Porter’s case get a game here at the Cloud.

The pick has to be Jack Blatherwick – great name, straight out of a Jane Austen novel – who seems to be able to move the ball more than most; (Blatherwick that is, not Jane Austen – not sure she ever played first class cricket but then history may not have recorded it! 🤣). I suspect it’s swing rather than seam but from a distance at long on, it’s hard to be certain.

What is startling is the size of the crowd – close to 500 I’d say – given the complete lack of marketing by either the ECB or Essex, but then that just underlines where the priorities are!

By tea, after a nondescript afternoon session NZ reach 167/5. We now have 12 playing 11 as Ethan Bamber appears in the afternoon. The main news of the day being that Robinson is unfit (‘again’, or should that be ‘still’?) and presumably Bamber brought into the squad as a replacement. Will Young went for 46, Blundell quite cheaply and Mitchell 56 as the runs accrued. Am not sure where this match is going but that’s the beauty of the game I suppose?

A few photos of Will Young looking very sound
Blundell on the other hand looked jittery

A little flurry of wickets straight after tea hints that this pitch will take spin and NZ get into a tail spin but Fletcher (a name very well known in these parts) and Henry (well known from over the Thames) steady things and move from 219/8 to 298/8 at the close with Henry top scoring on 65no

The fast bowling has generally been much of a muchness, spin adequate but not really penetrative and the batting steady. But there’s something missing from this match…edge, needle, no real point to it other than practice for the tourists; it needs that little ‘extra’ to come alive and we live in hope that it turns up tomorrow!


Waiting and watching

Some people wonder why we watch or play cricket? What is it about 11 players per side, plus umpires and scorers (not forgetting the most important people – those providing the food and drink) running around a field brandishing pieces of wood, throwing and bowling a hard ball at each other and putting sticks in the ground?

I know that’s a basic view of cricket and dear reader, you know there’s a lot more to it than that…but according to this years Wisden almanack, there’s a theory that cricket has Icelandic roots! Whatever version they played or invented was far from genteel, included killings, beheadings and other activities more akin to Game of Thrones. (Confession time – I’m probably one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t seen even one episode of GoT…I’m working on hearsay).

So, I’m very pleasantly surprised to arrive at Lord’s today to find over a hundred like minded souls who have turned up in the rain and in the full knowledge that play is unlikely for a few hours but are more than content to watch it rain, engage in conversations, read or even write blogs!

There’s an accepted level of idiosyncrasy in society generally and today those of us in that category are here in numbers!

Relaxed England captain waiting like the rest of us!
Surprising number of drain outlets in the outfield !

After the rain stopped and whilst the ground was being made ready, a walk around a quiet Lord’s gives the chance to find a few nooks and crannies…

Under the walkway between the new stands
Any ideas?
Surprising amounts of greenery off the pitch!

A delayed start at 2.40pm means 40 overs lost to the day – some can be recovered tomorrow and Sunday. A cooler (or ‘fresher’ as weather people like to call it) day and the ball is doing a bit more than yesterday.

Durham lose two quick wickets but Trevaskis makes his 50 as he’s joined by Carse as they add a handy 50 odd. Carse is just the person for a few lusty blows when you need to score that next batting point – and he does, with one ball to spare but not without dispatching Hollman into the top tier (yes, top) of the Tavern Stand and Holden sent to retrieve the ball! Hollman is still learning his craft!

Carse gives it some welly!
Holden looking for the ball!
Found it!

Eventually Durham subside for 350 with Trevaskis 80no. Batting isn’t easy but with application and cutting out the silly shots, runs can be scored. This is not the score the Middle had in mind at 11.00am yesterday but let’s see what the last session brings.

Well that passed without too many issues until just before the end Stoneman goes swiftly followed by Bamber as the night watch leaving the Middle on 88/2. Unless someone grabs this game by the throat (cue B.A. Stokes?) then there’s little chance of another 28 wickets falling in the next two days to force a result but we’ll be waiting and watching!

PS thank you to everyone who flocked to the previous blog/rambling in such numbers as to break all records! Greatly appreciated.

Has the world gone Potty?

This is round seven (of 16) of the County Championship and it’s only just mid-May! How crazy is that? And there’s a lot of talk about the rare feat of 1,000 runs by the end of May being achieved soon. That’s different from 1,000 runs IN May but then only a very few achieve that!

It’s a reflection of the crowded fixture list and overcrowded number of competitions, as well as the ECB succeeding in its unwritten strategic plan to write off the first class game in England. Media commentators today underlining the point that the ECB has allowed itself to be business and not cricket dominated so much so that you could pay yesterday to have the Test squad details sent to you before the general release.

And precisely what would those pounds have gained for you?

But I digress…Lord’s today is a picture as the Middle host Durham. I had hoped to see the latest up and coming bowling star from Durham – ‘Chamber’ Potts (or to give him his real name – Matthew). Given his England selection, I suppose the need to keep him fit for the tests, since the ego-fest which is Broaderson cannot continue for ever, takes precedence especially as Archer and a host of others are out for the season (again)!

What the media seemed to have overlooked is that while Chamber has been ripping out bats this season like it’s going out of fashion, it’s second division batting and from what I’ve seen below the standard of the first division and certainly well below tests…but let’s hope he makes the transition (or is at least given a chance)!

Stokes is playing as is Lees – so at least some England players are getting real match practice; as is Petersen from SA in readiness for the second half of the test season.

Inserting the opposition means you have hopes of running through the batting quite quickly but at 81/1 at lunch, that’s not the outcome intended! Lees made a patient 44 and playing at Lord’s with its slope would have helped his preparation. Or were the Middle frightened of the Durham attack given the batting frailty of late? Who knows? Time will tell.

The MCC kindly invited spectators to walk on the outfield at lunch and it would have been churlish not to accept. This happens about twice a year so is not to be sneezed at. The sheer joy cannot be described but the view from the probable test pitch allows the imagination to run riot.

Use your imagination to picture facing the bowling!
This snap shows the slope!
Glorious Lord’s
The new
Ancient and modern mixed – in old fashioned monochrome!

By tea Durham had reached 178/4 with Petersen homing in on his 50 and honing his skills in advance of the August test. Stokes provided a brief cameo so short that it wasn’t a cameo more a ‘cam’. But the two cover drives were sublime, the switch hit awkward and the shot to get out…appalling!

Lees looking the part!
But lbw!
Andersson – frustrated
Fast bowlers like the police look younger every day! Ethan Bamber!

The pitch looks another ‘made to order of the ECB’ to be flat, almost bowler hostile (given the state of the Duke this season) and has all the hallmarks of 400 a side. I suppose it’s a way of building innings and learning how to bowl sides out but I’m not convinced how this fits within the ‘red-ball reset’ – let’s see!

Stokes – switch hitting never looks elegant!
Not quite right – caught in the deep

Silly mistakes in the main have been the downfall of each bat so far and Petersen is no exception – silly shot and gone for 48 but useful Lord’s experience. The odd ball does something but with application batting should be reasonable on this pitch.

de Caires in full flow!

And so it proves; The Middle fail to take another wicket as play ends on 256/5. Not quite what the Middle had hoped and a firm foundation for Durham.

Not the most enthralling or exciting day, but when the world’s gone potty, sensible is probably the best thing!

When the…

When the…

Night watch lasts nearly 90 minutes and scores his second 50 of the match (batted at #11 in the 1st innings) and your spinner goes for eight an over, you know you’re in trouble!

And Middlesex are!

Which way is this going to spin?
High levels of concentration!

Nottinghamshire reach 113/3 at lunch on day 3 at the Home – a lead of 333 – with Fletcher (the said night watch) scoring at pace with Duckett in support for a swift 20-odd and demolishing Hollman’s spin in the process with sweeps, ramps and switch hitting.

Duckett – so easy to get into knots when trying something different!

Fletcher highlighting his innings with a 6 into one of the openings in the Grandstand – quite a feat of accuracy.

The strategy is clear – score quickly but not so madly as to collapse – and reach a lead of 400/450 by tea and then run through the Middle. Based on their first innings, Middlesex will do well to reach the current lead but rain is forecast for sometime tomorrow so Nottinghamshire need to balance their plans accordingly.

When the…

Wheels come off and the afternoon session brings 182 runs for the loss of two wickets. Mullaney raced to 100no before declaring at 295/5 and a lead of 515. Clarke deprived of his century being stranded on 68. Mullaney’s century off 55 balls was punctuated with eight 6s.

Clarke – classic driving

However it must be stated – and somewhat churlish of me given I’m surrounded by Notts supporters – that the pitch is so flat and brilliant for batting, the boundary on the Grandstand side very short and the less said about the Middle’s bowling the better.

But you can only play in the conditions and opponents given to you.

Middlesex now need to bat for four sessions – and a minimum of 127 overs – or score 516 to win. Given they lasted less than two sessions in the first innings, the auguries are not promising.

When the…

Innings starts with a second ball dismissal (Stoneman) and swiftly followed by de Caires (b Fletcher) for another 🦆 and you still need another 516 or to bat for loads of overs, things look grim.

de Caires – oops!

By the close, after the pace of the innings has slowly moved from a stop to a crawl, the pressure of the scoreboard begins to tell and one more trudges back to the Pavilion. At 69/3 there’s only one way this is going!

When you…add all that up, you just know it’s not going to be your day/session/match!

But what you can enjoy is the skill on display…and here’s a few photos to ponder.

Always gives of his best – Test or County…it’s the same!
Which way is this one going?

How to stop the runs?

I thought it would be ‘one of those days’ when I heard that Heinz announced that they’ll be selling their ketchup in paper bottles (need to check it’s not April) and to grey overcast Lord’s conditions. Ideal for bowling!

And so it proved…Mullaney went first ball for 92. From the Pavilion roof it looked like the ball held its line, whilst he was expecting it to move down the slope? Or vice versa? Anyway…first strike to the Middle.

One of the delights of a day at the cricket is the opportunity to ‘people watch’ so this bulging pocket of a spectator in front of me intrigued me. Perhaps he knew the Middle would need to plug the runs!

TRJ having bowled so well yesterday for no reward then ripped out another three in next to no time but after a spell lasting 80 mins it was time for a rest. The overcast sky giving way to clouds and increasing sunny periods.

TRJ has been unlucky with injuries during his career and who knows how well he would have been for England? We shall never know. He has the air and gait of a Victorian ploughman trudging his weary way home as he walks to his mark but turns and changes in an instant to a fine fast-ish bowler.

Notts are eventually all out for 415 on the stroke of lunch as the sun bursts through. The last pair made 63! Fletcher 50 before giving Simpson his 6th catch but TRJ was clearly the best of bowlers.

But with Afridi back in Pakistan, stopping the runs will be a challenge for the Middle going forward. Perhaps my fellow spectator should call by the Middlesex dressing room?

How will the Middle fare? Probably better now that the sun’s out and it’s getting better to bat on but…

And exactly that…it’s a different game when the sun’s out; bordering on straightforward batting. Robson goes cheaply misjudging the new ball and de Caires magnificently run out for 5 puts the Middle at 27/2 early on but Stoneman and Handscomb dig in, see off the shine and at tea are 91/2.

Robson gets everything behind this one!

Broad is loosening up for his (assumed) next appearance here at the start of June and is still a fine bowler but he needs to let his bowling do the talking and leave the histrionics to others…it does his ‘image’ little good.

Broad – doing what he does best
Realising there’s no DRS!
Perhaps one of the last few times I’ll see him in action?
Again…more frustration!
Robson avoids this bouncer from Pattinson
De Caires doesn’t look so assured!
Pattinson in full flow

This round of matches look like heading for high scoring draws – 500 plus in the first dig seems to be the standard. And yes, we’re never satisfied but the balance between bat and ball needs to be restored if the ‘red ball reset’ is to have any chance. Can you see Australia or India or anyone else preparing flat tracks for tests? If you can, please go and lie down until you feel better!

In the blink of an eye after tea, Stoneman walks back to the Pavilion dismissed and the floodgates open – not in terms of runs, they flowed to a degree but wickets. Middlesex are dismissed just before the close for 195 and Nottinghamshire do not enforce the follow on with a lead of 220; extended to 226 in the one remaining over.

There’s only one way this match is going. Middlesex need to stop the runs tomorrow but attack the wickets and get among the runs themselves but Nottinghamshire seem to have the upper hand with the runs!

Who says no one watches the Championship? Grandstand almost as full as a Test!

Back at the Home

With Essex not playing and Surrey playing away, I’m back at the Home of Cricket for the next few days. A second division clash between top of the table Middlesex and Nottinghamshire.

Restricted view from the top of the Edrich/Compton

A good sized crowd – augmented by 1,000 or so school children as part of the Middlesex drive to encourage the sport in schools – sees two England ‘outcasts’ in Hameed and Duckett reach 104/1 at lunch against the Middle who are resting their Pakistani ace and boy, does it show!

Murtagh strikes early – luckily – whilst the others seem to be having an off day; Toby Roland-Jones (who surely has the ring of a law firm about his name) being the exception.

Duckett is approaching his whilst Hameed scores his 50 just before lunch. The scoring rate dropped (38/1 at 11.30) over the last 90 minutes as the clouds rolled in but we still have a ‘Simpsons sky’ (as per the start of each episode).

Not quite what the Middle were expecting at the toss – opting to bowl/field first. Where is the next wicket coming from?

I take advantage after lunch of sitting in the upper tier of the new Compton/Edrich stand as the pitch is on that side of the ground and witness three wickets falling fairly quickly (all caught behind giving Simpson four catches to date and nothing to do with the sky) and also aircraft inbound to Heathrow. The upper tier is so high that you can almost make out the colour of the pilots eyes! And in the teeth of a strong breeze which brings the temperature down a few degrees!

Players like ants
And with a small telephoto lens…you can see a bit more!

The players look like ants and you have a poor view of the play. It’s akin to the top of the RiverBank Stand in Adelaide, the National Stadium in St George’s, the Galadari at the Oval and several others I’m sure. Ideal for corporate and other types who just want to be seen at the cricket and drink themselves stupid.

You need a modest telephoto lens to be able to see what’s happening and whilst being at the same height as the media centre just confirms that those without TV close ups are probably as clueless as the rest of us. Sorry…it’s not for me.

The lower levels enable a better (and warmer) view. You’re probably wondering dear reader why I’m rambling on with so little about the play. That’s because there’s so little to write. Tea arrives at 227/4 with Hameed now close to his century and Mullaney close to his half.

In the Ashes players were told to practice batting on one leg – seems to be working!
And with a ‘fish eye’ look!

Other than the end to end sunshine in the first session, it’s been sunny intervals for the rest of the day and the match has the hallmark of becoming 400 plays 400 as the pitch looks bone dry and relatively easy to bat on…but let’s see!

By the close, Notts reach 329/5 and have clearly had the better day; not what the Middle expected at 11am or did they? Did they prefer not to bat first? Who knows…but I’ll be back at the Home tomorrow to see what happens.

PS in response to be inundated with one suggestion, this blog now has its own Twitter account @cricket51days – so if that makes access to these ramblings easier, then great!

Day for the diehards (again)

The car park attendant was worried that he’d be out of a job soon as a) his car park was almost empty when I arrived just before the start of play and b) everyone was parking ‘neatly’. Day 4 of county championship games are running the risk of being days for the diehards – those of us who turn up even in the worst weather since ‘it’s going to get better soon’.

Harry Duke in full flight trying to save 4 byes!

At the start of play only about 250/300 in attendance – augmented by a coach party of Yorkies (fans, not chocolate bars) – but even so upset one Essex member as he was ‘surrounded by them’. Numbers are low because, dear reader, I’m sure you realise that the good folk of Essex are extremely pious and being Sunday morning are attending to their spiritual needs but will flock to the Cloud in great numbers later! (Note to self…must stay off the strong coffee! These fantasies are getting worse!)

Let’s hope Essex v Yorkshire ‘gets better soon’! Fifteen wickets in three days play doesn’t augur well for the probability of a maximum of 25 falling on the last day.

However, within 90 minutes Yorkshire had lost their last five and managed a lead of 62, with 74 overs left in the day. Harmer – on whom so many Essex hopes lie – took two for close on 150 as the match is now 403 plays 465. Perhaps he’s missing teaming up with Porter who seems to be so far down the pecking order it’s criminal!

Harry Brook – has all the shots and class to be an England player
Harmer checking that the bails work!

At lunch Essex reach 19/0 with no alarms and by tea 119/0 again ‘alarmless’; Sir A 80no and Browne 29no – the latter playing himself into some kind of nick after his few recent innings. Yes, this match is going nowhere fast and we all knew it at 11am this morning but it’s a funny game so you never really know.

Brook – ready to bowl!

After 45 minutes more play, another drinks break and then four balls (from Duke the wicketkeeper) the teams shook hands but not before Sir A had scored his second century of the match and Browne using the time for an extended net and a half century. Time called at 167/0

The winner has been the pitch which after the first 20 minutes on Thursday has become a bats paradise – yes, it gives players the chance to learn how to build and play long innings but it’s not offering anything to the bowlers of both sides who must be very dispirited – two of the three matches here so far this season have developed into ‘bore draws’ and unless better pitches come along ‘days for the die hards’ will become ‘weeks’