Leicestershire v Essex, Grace Road, County Championship, Day 4, 19th May 2012
Well, you can’t say they didn’t try to make a game of it, but, as I was remarking just the other week, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi Est (in this case, in the person of Peter Willey).
I have seen fears expressed that our old friend the contrived finish might be a victim of sensitivity to accusations of match fixing but that didn’t seem to be the case at Grace Rd. yesterday. Certainly any shady Indian betting syndicates who’d thought to put a few million rupees on Wayne White scoring a 12 ball 50 would have been considerably better off by the afternoon.
The start of play was delayed until 1.30 by persistent mizzle. The personable Tymal Mills, fielding on the boundary, relayed the news to us that the arrangement was that Leicestershire were going to be setting Essex a target of 270 (I didn’t see anyone on their ‘phones to Ladbrokes at this point).
I think most of us secretly like a bit of declaration bowling (perhaps something to do with the carnivalesque reversal of the normal roles and rules) and Josh Cobb added to the humour of the situation by being caught behind off his second ball from Adam Wheater (his second ball in first class cricket). As a freebie century would have done his average a power of good, Cobb may not have enjoyed the joke as much. Ronnie Sarwan was two short of his century when he skied it straight to Tymal Mills, who must have been wondering what the etiquette was in these situations, before taking the catch. In his current form, Sarwan might have done better to play his normal game.
Someone behind me pointed out – as slow half volleys were served up and the crowd cowered under a hail of sixes – it was just like watching the IPL (without the music, or the spectators). Apart from White’s 12 ball 50, Ned Eckersley bagged 70 off 19 balls and they can both be expecting an approach from the Deccan Chargers any time soon.
Mission accomplished, Essex began their reply and looked in all sorts of trouble against Leicester’s pace trio of Hoggard, Buck and Joseph. So much so that, after about an hour, they all came off the field again, citing Bad Light. Umpires Willey and Lloyds made a series of further inspections
but after a brief resumption the match was called off shortly before four o’clock.
Most counties would regard coming off for Bad Light as an anachronism, but Grace Road is one of the few grounds (I think) that does not have permanent floodlights yet. One day I expect to see the last abandonment for Bad Light, which will be a bit like witnessing the last cavalry charge,or the last native speaker of Manx.
In case any readers new to cricket are confused about the difference between Good and Bad Light, this
is Good Light (the divine light that emanates from the throne of God and his Angels), and this
is Bad Light, the kind brought by Lucifer himself.
You can always tell that T20 is in the offing because strange objects begin to make their appearance around the ground a few weeks in advance. Last year they were in connection with the Hawaian theme adopted for the T20 season, but this year’s theme is more of a mystery.
These two objects
might be sentry boxes, or perhaps Edwardian bathing huts. Their use can only be guessed at. Perhaps the umpires will stand in them and emerge, dressed in Edwardian bathing costumes, to hold up signs indicating which kind of weather is causing the game to be abandoned. Or perhaps they’re planning to replace the cricket with a swimming gala.
Leicestershire are still second to bottom of Division 2, largely because of the points deducted for a slow over rate in their victory over Glamorgan. Perhaps we should give up and try again in July, when the weather might have improved. (Exactly what we will be doing, of course).