Leicestershire second XI v Surrey second XI, Grace Road, 22 May 2009

A new experience for me today (or technically yesterday) – my first second XI match.  Leicestershire used to play their reserve team matches at Hinckley : never got to that ground (though I think I went past it on my way to watch Poppies playing the Knitters at football in their new  IKEA-style stadium).  Now though they play at Grace Road, so a whole new world opens up for me.

First difference from first XI matches is that all of the usual entrances are closed, so have to circle the ground and “effect an entrance” through the gate the players usually use to get to the nets.  Second difference is that all the bars and restaurants are shut (as expected), but so – at first sight – are all the lavatories (though I eventually find one that is).

Another difference is that the electronic scoreboard isn’t in use and there are no scorecards.  The Leicestershire players are all (I think) familiar (most of them have played for the first XI at some point)- the Surrey players I have to try to identify by listening to the nicknames they use to refer to one another and cross-referencing them with Playfair.

Unexpectedly see the most intriguing player I’ve seen all season, and the most interesting passage of play.  First period of play is a continuation (?) of Surrey innings (this is the third day of three): unidentifiable player hits quick runs – but, encouragingly, he appears to be black (on the basis of his forearms) and I guess he might be Chris Jordan.

Innings closed, setting Leicestershire almost unrealistic target.  One opening bowler is almost certainly Chris Jordan : sprints to the crease, whirlwind, chest-on action and bowls at real pace.   Other Surrey players (noisy beggars, these) refer to him as Chicken (why? – a liking for fried chicken?) : the other opening bowler sounds like “Linnet” (though that’s an unlikely nickname for a cricketer) ; the others two bowlers both seem to be “Kingy” (or “Kinky”) – one of whom appears in Playfair.

Best passage of play is Jordan v Josh Cobb – could conceivably see both of these playing for England in a few years time – or (as I think Jordan is undecided between England and Windies) against each other.

Can’t help noticing – glancing through Playfair – how many of the players are recently ex-public school.  Surrey seem to be mainly Whitgift or Caterham, Leicestershire Oakham.

Crowd not a great deal smaller than for County Championship match – I counted 39, I think – and all  familar faces.   Feel,  sometimes, that I’m becoming an extra in Last of the Summer Wine.  Insight into the daily life of a CCC – some senior player around, practising in the nets, couple of members of the catering staff providing teas, match day scorer drops in, young players discussing their futures (and the evening ahead).  Envious, despite the insecurity.  

Curious scene leaving the ground – via the car park : in the road in the terraced streets surrounding the ground, girl (7-8?) in wheelchair upended waving her arms and legs in the air like a dead ant and laughing uproariously – three or four of her friends on their backs in the road doing the same thing.  Like something by Bert Hardy.

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