The 2011 Season : the Curtain Twitches

Leicestershire v Warwickshire – Grace Road, 1st April 2011 (40 over Friendly)

“All, all are gone, the old familiar faces”. 

Well, not at Grace Road  they’re not.  They (the regulars) are all exactly where they were last September, and nothing much else seems to have changed (the players, the fixtures and fittings) since the end of last season.  One advantage, I suppose, to having very little money to spend.

I knew I was home again when I glimpsed the scoreboard over the wall as I arrived five minutes after the start of play and saw that Leicestershire were already one wicket down.  Who would it be – Boyce?  Smith?  In fact it was Jefferson, though Smith had joined him by the time I’d discovered that the Milligan Road turnstiles were shut and I’d made my way round to the other entrance (down to a misunderstanding between the wickets, apparently).

The game was a fairly gentle affair (from the stands anyway).  Jacques du Toit’s lofted straight drive is still in good working order and he and Tom New took Leicestershire to 193-5.  In reply, Warwickshire overtook them with overs to spare without really breaking into a sweat, thanks to an almost-century from the previously unknown (to me) Varun Chopra and 60* from Jim Troughton. 

It is always good, though, to have a new character make his entrance, and I rather like the look of one E. Eckersley, a man with no squad number who was down to bat at number six.  He sounds rather like a Lancashire club comedian – “Eee, is it Eckersley like” – but a little research suggests he is of a rather different stripe.

Hailing from (I think) Ealing, he has been an MCC YC, has represented the Unicorns and acted as 12th man for England against Bangladesh.  Encouragingly, he comes equipped with an impressive portfolio of nicknames – Ned, Eckers, Chef, Twiggy, Jazza, Flanders, Ernest and Aubrey.  He is on trial at the moment, and I say we take him on, on the basis of the nicknames alone.

A mildly interesting point is that E.E. is a wicket-keeper/batsman.  Leicestershire already have two of these in their regular side (Tom New and Paul Nixon).  If they were to play three, and one of them was a specialist at standing back to the quicks, but less confident standing up, another the other way round, would there be anything to stop them swapping roles depending on who was bowling?  I can’t see anything in the laws to prevent it, but I’ve never seen it done either.

What else is new?  Well, Leicestershire were sporting a particularly questionable new one day strip – mostly black, but sporting a bright flash of scarlet on the seat of the trousers, making them look like a troop of baboons in heat.  Not very becoming, frankly.

I can’t comment on the quality of the pies (we have another new caterer this season), as they weren’t on sale yet.  The Chinese chippy round the corner must have been surprised to experience an unexpected run on their pies between innings.

And of course, inevitably, it was freezing.  The only way of hiding from the wind was to sit behind the sightscreen, and there were times I was tempted to do just that.

The sun did finally break through, though, at about ten past four (who needs Abu Dhabi?) – just as Warwickshire were about to complete their innings and end the match.  I tried to capture this momentous event (the first sun of Spring!) on camera, though the murk was still fairly impenetrable.

The season starts in earnest this Friday, and – If I’m Spared! – I intend to be there.

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