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 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!