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.
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!
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.
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!