Last week I spent an hour (at least) completing the ECB’s survey about the future of County Cricket. I’m always suspicious of these surveys, wary of giving answers that might allow them to give me exactly what I don’t want and say that it’s what I’ve asked for. The survey seemed to ignore the fact that most who watch Championship cricket are members. This is certainly true at Leicestershire and Northants, though possibly less so at Test playing grounds where the membership subscription is higher in relation to the cost of a single day’s play on the gate.
The survey offered a series of increasingly implausible scenarios designed, I imagine, to discover what factors would make the respondent more likely to attend matches. One assumption seemed to be that people would be prepared to pay more for a ‘late stage’ game than an early season one (one of the loopiest questions being whether I would pay £25.00 to watch a ‘late stage’ LVCC game starting at 4.00 in the afternoon) – the reasoning being that ‘late stage’ games are likely to affect questions of relegation and promotion.
I’m very dubious about this. This match was a typical ‘late stage’ game. Nottinghamshire needed to win to retain a chance of winning the Championship and Durham needed to win to escape the threat of relegation. In its own way – on paper and over four days – it was a classic, but there were far fewer in the ground than when I last visited in the Spring, when the season was fresh and new and full of promise.
True to form I missed the historic events of Day 2 (when Onions took 9 wickets and ran the other man out) and the nail-biting finish on Day 4. Day 3 was a grim, grinding, affair, offering little to the neutral intruding on a private quarrel. Nottinghamshire were lacking (as usual) Swann and Broad, but also Taylor and Patel (on England duties), Adams and Gurney (injured) and Pattinson (whereabouts unknown), but still managed – not being short of a bob or two – to turn out a useful-looking if workmanlike side (in fact their bowlers, including Luke Fletcher, looked rather like a gang of cowboy builders, with their crops, muscles and tattoos).
Needless to say, the weather didn’t help. There is a large painting in the pavilion at Trent Bridge entitled ‘Playing out time in difficult light‘ (exhibited at the RA in 1891) – an evocative painting about an unheroic subject. Much of Friday’s play felt like that, as Durham crawled ahead of Notts, and the fact that the floodlights were on by lunchtime somehow seemed to exacerbate the gloom
The rain set in mid-afternoon and I took refuge in the pavilion, which, with its honours boards and oak panelling and the smells of lunch in passageways, made me feel as though I was back at school on a wet afternoon.
There is a bat in the Trent Bridge museum labelled ‘Experimental two-faced bat used by B.C. Broad 1992′. The last time I was there (I assume it’s the same one) it was turned the other way around and said ‘This bat is two-faced like you‘ – a leaving present for Kevin Pietersen. I was tempted to turn it around again, but thought better of it. Enough’s been said about that subject recently.
Durham won in the end, so they won’t be relegated and Notts (probably) won’t be Champions. Good to have a positive result.