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!
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.
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?