Ridiculous or what?

The first day of the new season broke in typical April fashion – showery and ‘cool’ – and sees me heading for Lord’s for the local derby Division One clash between Middlesex and Essex.

Lawrence and Simpson – study in concentration!

The first session was punctuated by the odd shower, helping the swing and seam of the established Middlesex attack. Sir A goes for 16 strangled down the leg side, although it was the ball before that really got him – a strangling attempt down the leg side – whilst Browne goes next ball to the veteran Murtagh falling to a screamer by Robson. Both fall at 38 and they come off immediately for a rain break.

Westley and Lawrence steady the ship to 48/2 at an early lunch but more showers cannot be ruled out. The cold is biting and penetrating in the sharp breeze but the range of headwear is something to behold – ranging from complete baldness to bobble hats, hoodies, Panamas, floppies, beanies and my own Aztec alpaca ‘creation’ – anything and everything to keep warm!

The afternoon session centres on how to keep warm as the areas in the sunshine are few and far between! Cloud cover gradually builds as does the Essex innings. Lawrence is outscoring Westley considerably and they’ve soon added 50 by mid afternoon.

Ironically at the last cricket I watched, the aim was to seek as much shade as possible as the temperature rose to the low 30s; here the aim is to seek the sun as, who knows, the temperature might even reach double figures.

Middlesex go wicketless during the afternoon as Essex reach 136/2 at tea – Westley 43, Lawrence 53. To a degree I fear that this afternoon could be symptomatic of Middlesex season – the attack doesn’t strike fear into the opposition and Middlesex may struggle to take 20 wickets regularly but let’s see.

With cloud cover all day and the lights on, the theory goes that the ball should swing around corners but it’s not! Why? Well, we’ve seen this before dear reader as it’s probably too cold; it needs to be a bit warmer to work. That’s not to say that Middlesex haven’t been unlucky – the number of knicks and edges has been significant but none has gone to hand this afternoon.

More rain is forecast for the evening session so I don’t think we will have a full session but let’s see.

An extended tea break caused by another shower means we are starting to lose overs from the day, and with more showers forecast a number of hardy punters decide that’s it for the day. After the resumption Westley goes for 48 with a loose shot to gully and Essex reach 159/3. And the day closes at 162/3 as bad light sets in.

But overall today has highlighted the ridicule in which the Championship is held. Most matches have been affected by the weather, it’s cold, damp and uninspiring and you spend the day chasing the sun – such as it is – in an effort to find warmth, any warmth.

But we are where we are; it’s the same for everyone but does nothing to attract spectators – although the numbers at Lord’s looked good with families there in numbers. It’s a good way to fill the Easter school holidays but we do need some warmth and soon!

Apologies for the lack of photos – keeping warm has been my main focus today. Perhaps tomorrow will be warmer and brighter all round!

Toby Roland-Jones – in full flow


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