Having written up my recollection of this morning/lunch at Lord’s with Peter Cox, I realise that one of the Middlesex Till We Die (MTWD) “lost masterpieces” (click this link to read the background to those pieces) relates to that very same visit to Lord’s. Intriguing (at least for me) to read the differences and similarities. Very long match report for a short session of cricket – perhaps that was meant to be the joke. Another one for connoisseurs, this.
It Took Four Balls
Ged Ladd reports on the abridged Third Day of the Middlesex v Glamorgan match at Lord’s. Ged meets up with Peter Granny-Hyphen-Smith to watch the denouement of this shortened match. And here, indeed is a “brief” match report, albeit almost as long as today’s session of play.
In early enough
Ged had arranged to meet up with his friend Peter Granny-Hyphen-Smith for an afternoon of business and cricket chat, so it needed a few phone calls and a very early start to enable Ged to switch to a morning/lunch meet instead. But Ged has seen so little first class cricket this season, and Peter is about to go off on his travels, so appropriate action simply had to be taken.
Peter said he’d get to Lord’s early for a pre-match bacon sarny, but when Ged arrived at about 10:50 Peter was nowhere to be seen. Ged did a tour of the Pavilion, exchanged pleasantries with several of the regulars and then, confident that Peter was not yet there, plonked himself in the Long Room – the place he knew to be Peter’s favoured view.
Ged was concerned that Peter might miss the whole thing if he had been delayed for too long, with Chaminda Vaas bowling well from the Nursery End straight away. Silverwood looked even more threatening from the Pavilion End, but of course Croft and Wharf are no rabbits and looked determined to bat for a good while.
In any case, Peter arrived soon enough and the pitch seemed to be doing absolutely nothing. As Ged expected, Peter was keen to watch from the Long Room high chairs – something Ged has only ever done for the odd few minutes before, so it was an interesting experience to watch a whole (albeit shortened) session of play from there.
Word from those who had been around the day before was that Glamorgan’s batting performance on Wednesday had been inexplicably awful – indeed some said that Middlesex’s 361 was woefully below par and that the Glamorgan response to being given a chance had been pathetic.
Silverwood had looked the more threatening of the opening bowlers and it was always going to be a simple matter of time. Peter and I agreed that Murali “Special K” Kartik should be given the ball pretty quickly from the Nursery End and so he was. But Silverwood struck first with an LBW shout against Croft that looked pretty handy and it was no surprise to see Vanburn Holder’s finger go up.
Croft marched through the Long Room looking pretty dejected and then out strode Dean Cosker. Peter and I debated the relative merits of 9-10-Jack, Peter favouring Cosker and Ged favouring both of the others ahead of him.
Meanwhile Alex Wharf was not giving up without a bit of a fight, using his feet to good effect and clattering a couple of decent boundaries, including a well-struck six.
All too soon after his arrival, Dean Cosker decided that he knew how to handle “The Special One” and danced down the wicket to a flat, quicker one. It was certainly missing leg and it was certainly missing off. It was also certainly a quicker ball because it took middle peg right out of it slot. Always good fun to witness that.
As Dean Cosker marched off, I noticed the promotional message on his chest, Brains Beer, and observed to Peter that Cosker’s shot was hardly a good advert for that product. A more brainless shot while attempting to save a match I couldn’t imagine.
Salivating Thoughts of a Win
So, out comes Waters and Alex Wharf continues to bat well. Another big six entertains the tiny crowd. Wharf seemed particularly assured against Special K, but set against both. Soon enough, Richardson replaces Silverwood at the Pavilion End and eventually Murtagh replaces Special K at the Nursery End. I suppose, to be fair, Ed Smith was holding out on Kartik’s behalf in the hope he could get a tenfer. Indeed, he probably deserved a tenfer given that he had taken 9 good ones on a track that was offering him the square root of naff-all.
Tim Murtagh was putting the ball in the right place straight away. Peter and I discussed that dreadful clichéd expression “putting the ball in the right areas”. We even discussed whether the plural was a reference to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. I think a journalist should ask a player that question next time he uses the offending expression. It would be good to hear the answer.
By now it was a little after 12:30. Peter announced that he was mighty hungry and had a crazy craving for the bacon sarny he missed earlier by arriving later than intended. He even got up and wandered into the Long Room Bar to see what was available and toyed with the idea of skiving off to eat before the end of the match and/or lunch.
Mercifully, such sentiments can induce a wicket or two. So, it wasn’t long before Murtagh put his hand up, stepped up to the plate, came to the party and put the ball in enough of the right areas to induce a false shot from Waters. Attempting to clip the ball off his legs, Waters mistimed it high into the air, indeed almost over Nick Compton’s head at square leg and it took a good leaping catch (perhaps milked a tad) to bring about the wicket.
And very soon after that, one from Richardson kept low to Alex Wharf. When Ged says “that’s got to be out” for an LBW shout the finger rarely fails to go up. Vanburn Holder duly raised his finger, the Middlesex boys did a little jig of delight to celebrate an emphatic win and the Ged/Peter combo dipped out of the Long Room sharpish to ensure that they were first in the queue for grubsy and beer.
Only Two Ducks Today
So there were only two ducks today – the two that appeared on Peter and Ged’s plates. Washed down with a decent beer each, the conversation turned to matters of playing cricket as well as watching cricket. Oh, and the occasional business matter, which had allegedly been the object of the exercise in the first place.
Had Glamorgan shown as much spirit for the first 16 wickets that they showed for the last four, they might have made a bit more of a fight of this match. But they didn’t. And Middlesex have a fine bowling attack this season, so we can exploit weakness when weakness is shown.
Peter Granny-Hyphen-Smith is still optimistic that Middlesex can go up; he thinks that we can beat Notts at Lord’s and that our games in hand, coming in (hopefully) better weather conditions, stand us in better stead than the league table looks at the moment. Ged remains quietly hopeful but not quite so optimistic. But for today, let’s enjoy the moment of a big win and hope for more such wins to come.