A week of varied commitments means that today is the first ‘free’ day to watch cricket ‘live’ (as opposed to ‘streamed’) and compared to last weekend at Lord’s, today is almost sub-tropical! I may even be warm enough to take my pullover off! (Ed. note – oooh Matron!)
Billed by some as the likely relegation battle (I know – end of April and 20% of the Championship completed this weekend) I’m at Lord’s to see the struggle between Middlesex and Kent.
The story so far – rain affected, overcast two days, pitch a bit green from afar, both sides batting shaky but the Middle have a lead of 43 which Kent knocked of (almost) by close yesterday with two wickets down.
The season so far has been disjointed with poor weather and an million and one other commitments of mine so it’s nice that the mercury is heading north of 20C and a close game in prospect.
Vic Marks writing in this month’s Cricketer magazine suggests two rules for the fixture list – no matches played when there are no leaves on trees (ie early April and end September) and those putting the list together must attend every day of the first month and sit outside dressed in shorts and T-shirts for 7 hours every day! Brilliant ideas…but whilst tongue in cheek has a point.
The elephant in the room for several months if not years is the (Marmite) Hundred and its impact on the fixture list and other competitions. Arguments both ways have been well aired elsewhere but I gain the impression from current media items that a change is not impossible and could well be being discussed.
This is more to do with market forces than cricket per se as franchises are being set up worldwide almost daily and the 💯 looks like an outlier than ever before.
The issue behind any change is how the ECB (and its broadcast paymasters) can save face and admit their past ‘errors’ – they won’t of course, but it will be dressed up/spun (call it what you will). The seeds of doubt seem to have been planted alongside all the other plants and seeds in gardens across the nation! Let’s see!
But back to this match! Lunching at 99/5 (effectively 56/5) it’s clear Kent’s strategy is crease occupation. Whilst the pace has been close this morning, it’s clear that batting is not easy with edges and near misses being the order of the day. There’s still loads of time/overs left on the match and a result looks nailed on. What I wouldn’t want to do is to have to chase too many – I think 225/250 should be out of reach but we’ve seen what this Middlesex team can achieve!
Compton – possibly trying to secure a test slot as a reliable steady opener (one around whom the rest could bat like maniacs) – is the steadfast glue holding the innings together. Application and grit are needed from these men of Kent/Kentish men.
All round a slow morning with the Middle on top but let’s see!
Oh dear, oh dear…Kent contrive to lose 5 wickets in 40 minutes after lunch for 29 runs. Once Compton went, the rest just crumbled in a heap; a couple of lusty blows from Agar and Hogan tried to soften the blows but this was abject batting. Murtagh ripped through the batting ending with 6/42 (10/82 in the match) just proving that the over-40s are still a fast bowling force to be reckoned with! And his 1000th wicket in all formats for Middlesex – some performance!
Middlesex tea at 61/1 needing another 25 for a second consecutive win. This wicket is a challenge for the bats and I think you’re never really ‘in’; it calls for patience and hard graft. The Kent wholly-Antipodean born attack (Australia 3, NZ 1) strive as they could but the inevitable will be upon us soon. Just leads me to question the Kent structure – no Kent-born quicks??
And so it came to pass – Middlesex wrapped this up in 20 minutes after tea to win by 9 wickets and make it two in succession!
Glorious weather, good crowd, tense cricket (how would a chase of 200/250 have fared?) and safe to say, Spring has sprung!
Back to the tourist stuff next week – more photos than words…probably!