Leicestershire v Derbyshire and Worcestershire, Grace Road, County Championship, June 2014
So, how has June been? Looking back at the photographs I’ve taken, it seems to have been a very green month (in fact I don’t think I can remember a greener) with some blues and some awesome (in the non American teen sense) cloud formations. The cricketers seem to have been a detail, more a pretext than a subject.
But then the cricket itself has become a little predictable. Leicestershire have now played 8 Championship matches, have won 0, lost 4 and drawn 4. As suggested by their haul of bonus points (41, more than all but the two top sides, Hampshire and Worcestershire, who have both played one match more) they have not been playing badly. Four of the top 20 run-scorers in the division come from Leicestershire, as do 2 of the top 20 wicket-takers. Apart from the first-day fiasco against Kent, they have been on at least equal terms by the end of day 2, and mostly still in the hunt by the end of day 3. But still we are bottom of the table.
My new routine – to attend on a Sunday and a Tuesday – means that, as there’s been a merciful absence of rain, I generally see the same side bat twice. Against Derbyshire, it was Leicestershire, against Worcestershire it was the opposition. In both cases the first day was encouraging. Against Derbyshire, Leicestershire recovered from 11-3 to 311, in the face of some lively bowling from Footitt and Palladino. Against Worcestershire, some lively bowling of our own from an all-pace attack removed the top-of-the-tablers for 237.
On the two third days I caught the end of a century from Derbyshire’s no. 8, David Wainwright and then saw him take 5 quick wickets to reduce Leicestershire to 113-6. A workmanlike cricketer from Pontefract, whose baggy cap gives him the air of a young Gilbert O’Sullivan, he may never before have been cheered off the field twice in a day
and may never be again. Against Worcester I saw our all-pace attack struggle on a pitch that was starting to take spin, another century for Daryl Mitchell and a maiden ton for young Tom Fell. On the last days, in my absence, Derbyshire knocked off the target of 188 for the loss of a single wicket and Ajmal, predictably, took 6-19. The losing margins were 9 wickets and 234 runs respectively.
So, those are the facts, but what it is to be done? I don’t know. It might help if Ronnie Sarwan were to relinquish the Captaincy in favour of Josh Cobb (or, since I don’t know the players well enough to make that kind of judgement, anyone else who has a genuine ambition to Captain a successful Leicestershire side – Rob Taylor, perhaps). As I write, we have finished on roughly equal terms after the first day against Surrey at the Oval and there really isn’t any good reason why we shouldn’t win that or any other match. But then reason, as my good friend the Gnome was pointing out just the other day, doesn’t seem to have much to do with it.
The littleness of human existence is an odd lesson to take away from a game of cricket, but then what other opportunities are there in modern life to spend seven hours comparing a spectacle of human striving with the vastness of the vaults of heaven (so to speak)? And at three in the morning in January, dreaming of Flaming June at the cricket, what is it that I’m thinking of? Whether Matt Boyce can ever truly establish him at the top of the order, or this?
A Gnome comments:
Scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren’t you? Midsummer madness, I calls it …