Leicestershire 2nd XI v Durham 2nd XI, Oakham C.C., 6th July 2010
And so the great County Cricket drought of 2010 goes into its second month. There have been brief outbreaks of four-day cricket in the Chesterfield area, as we saw the other week, but the next time we can expect to see a sustained period of Championship Cricket is the end of July. Experts believe this to be the worst cricket drought since the Second World War.
However, the drought does provide a stimulus to the resourceful cricket-lover to seek out new pastures. This week I have visited two of Leicestershire’s smaller grounds, to watch forms of cricket I rarely see.
On Tuesday, I was at Oakham, to see the first day of Leicestershire’s Second XI match against Durham. When I saw that they were playing at Oakham I naturally assumed that this would be at Oakham School’s picturesque ground (where, until, recently, the much-missed festival took place), but, in fact, it was at the pleasant ground of Oakham C.C. (known as the Lime Kilns). Here we see a view of the pavilion (recently rebuilt, apparently, after a fire) –
and here a view from the pavilion, featuring, I think, lanky paceman Alex Wyatt –
I noted, incidentally, that the Ruddles family (one-time Rutland brewers) seem to have had some influence on the club – a memorial bench for one of them, other Ruddleses on the honours boards.
Second XI cricket is an odd thing. Leicestershire’s side had one journeyman nearing the end of his journey, a couple of triallists (both of whom bowled exceptionally well), two of the younger first-teamers not required for Twenty Twenty, the rest being young staffers at the stage where they might or might not break through into the first team (as their more obviously talented peers, such as Taylor, have already done) and have a long-term career as a professional cricketer. It must be a tremendously pleasant life, this, (a lot of them know each other from school, or University, most play against each other in the Everards) but they must be aware that it can’t last, and they must be asking themselves how badly they really want to be cricketers, or whether it’s time to pursue their other options (and most of this lot do have them).
Durham, on the other hand, seemed a more hard-boiled outfit – kept themselves to themselves, little laughter and even went in for a bit of gentle off-field sledging. Whether this is a consequence of playing for a more successful county, or a cause of it, I don’t know. Perhaps (looking at their backgrounds in Playfair) they just have fewer options.
I realise that this is a symptom of my advancing years, but the players did seem desperately young. At lunchtime they sat at a long table, with the female physiotherapist sitting at the head like matron, as if to make sure they ate up all their vegetables.
In the next episode. we’re off to another of Leicestershire’s smaller grounds – Kibworth – where we join the ladies.
By way of a not entirely irrelevant diversion, here is an advert for Ruddles, put together by Vivian Stanshall. Some scholars believe that this was recorded in the pavilion at Oakham, and may have been the cause of the fire that destroyed it. The poor bugger did have an unhappy record with fires.