Hoping Against Hope …

Leicestershire v Hampshire, CB40, Grace Road, 17th July 2011

Unhappy Hampshire

“A collection of score cards faded with age, a volume of “Wisden” yellow as Autumn sunshine, will speak of the English climate and of the English summer’s caprices.  The hot days witness the processional movement of batsmen to their centuries; the wet days see them dispossessed, disenthroned, and of no account.  The weather of England enters cricket like a deus ex machina …

Frequently there is no decision at all in cricket, sometimes scarcely a beginning.  But it is on rainy days that the charm of the game has been known to work its most subtle spells for those who play country cricket, away from the bricks and mortar of Kennington and Leeds (both much beloved in their places).  The vacant and rural field is shrouded in mist as you walk through the entrance-gate hoping against hope.  There is a sound of footsteps on the wooden pavilion; perhaps there’ll be play after all.  Then the clouds are suddenly torn apart, and the sun changes the grass to a field of jewels.  And men in white appear from nowhere, and soon two little mounds of sawdust are placed at each end of the wicket and bowlers sometimes lose volition like boys on a slide, and the bat sends forth its ineffectual thud; while in adjacent trees the birds make busy noises, and aloft in the blue sky there are great castles on cliffs of clouds, and burning lakes.  These things all belong to the game as much as the implements, the technical achievement, and the “result”.  Neville Cardus, from English Cricket : Collins, 1945.

Well, it wasn’t quite like that on Sunday, unfortunately.  Hampshire were on and off the pitch four times to reach 89-1 and the game was abandoned.  A brief glimpse of James Vince in action on the installment plan and then home.

But, of course, it’s always worth turning up if the forecast is uncertain.  Events might unfold  as in Cardus’s account, there are worse places to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than the Fox Bar or the Meet –

The View From The Meet

and there is always the hope of some unexpected pleasure such as … winning first prize in the raffle!

A bat signed by the Leicestershire squad in aid of Claude Henderson’s benefit (pictured here having a well-deserved  lie-down on the sofa).

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