Leicestershire v Kent, Tunbridge Wells, County Championship 30th May 2011
Northamptonshire v Glamorgan, Wantage Road, County Championship, 31st May 2011
I must confess that, after reading about Robert Key Dissin’ ma Endz in The Cricketer, I approached this match in a slightly chippy mood. Would I be able to find some reason to find Tunbridge Wells (there’s no escaping it) disgusting?
This sign at the approach to the ground looked hopeful, for satirical purposes –
I thought it was a bit much, having charged £15.00 for entry, to ask another fiver for “seating” in the temporary stand “Dear Sir, … “. I noted that the original pavilion had been burned down by Suffragettes in 1913 (“Wanton vandalism!”). I settled in my folding chair on the pop side (or, as a well-spoken young lady from one of the marquees put it later “where all the old tramps are sitting“) and a great whale (in green) promptly plonked himself down, obscuring my view of the pitch –
(“Do people these days have no consideration?”). But really the worst thing I could find to say about it was that – as festivals go – it wasn’t quite as nice as Chesterfield or Oakham.
I thought what we were looking at here was a festival wicket (no-one wants the match not to last the four days), as van Jaarsveld and Stevens eased to 429-3. But in the time it took me to buy a burger, browse the bookstall, admire the view from a slightly different position, peek into the marquees (including one hired by the Tunbridge Wells Constitutional Club, which sounds like something invented by Ray Davies)
and find the Gents round the back of the pavilion, they were all out for 459.
Now it’s true that Malik and White, who did the damage, had been bowling well, and Kent have a long tail, but I think I’d put this collapse down to a subconscious desire to declare.
At 124-1, when Leicestershire replied, I thought I’d be lucky to get a sniff of Taylor’s batting before it was time to go home. Neither of the seamers (Joseph and Coles) seemed threatening, but when Tredwell came on panic ensued. Could the pitch really have turned that spiteful so quickly?
When Taylor emerged –
Tredwell was given a short leg, a silly point and two slips. Giving a masterclass in sustained concentration, Taylor scored a long succession of singles, his only four coming when he edged one and the slip fingertipped it almost to the boundary. While the fieldsmen stood with their hands on the heads, he ran four.
Unfortunately Leicestershire’s other batsmen were less resistant to Key’s psychological warfare, and by the time I left they had been reduced to 161-7.
The next day at Northampton, I saw the same process repeat itself. This was effectively the second day (the real second day having been washed out) of Northants v Glamorgan. In the morning Northants finished compiling a huge total without a care in the world. After lunch, a weary and demoralised Glamorgan were bowled out for 72 by Chaminda Vaas, with a little help from Brooks and Hall.
Northamptonshire won by an innings and 177 runs (I seem to have had a lot of practice this season subtracting 150 from large numbers). Taylor finished with 49 in his first innings and 96 in the second, helping to set Kent a target of 155 that – infuriatingly – they managed with five wickets to spare.
Northants are now top of the division, Leicestershire bottom.
I am looking forward to Mr. Key’s return visit to Grace Road, and I’m sure he is too.