Long To Rain Over Us, England v West Indies, Edgbaston, Days One and Two, 7 & 8 June 2012

It rained.

Photo, thanks to Charles Bartlett, probably unconnected...unless Chas was building an ark and starting to populate it during this trip
Photo, thanks to Charles Bartlett, probably unconnected…unless Chas was building an ark and starting to populate it during this trip

There shouldn’t be much else to say.

It rained for the entirety of our visit.

When I started typing the headline of this piece, I typed “Wet Indies” rather than “West Indies” by mistake. Or was it a mistake? Spooky.

To add to the disappointment of this visit, Charles “Charley The Gent Malloy” Bartlett had, as usual, organised a blinder of a visit, including our front row seats in the Raglan Stand and nets early in the evening on the day before the test, at Harborne CC, just up the road from our residence at Harborne Hall.

We had a roadworks/lane closure filled journey up to Birmingham. Chas had kindly offered to give me a lift from the outer reaches of the Central Line (Redbridge? Gants Hill?), so the three of us (including Nick) had plenty of time to bicker about music choices in the car.

If I recall correctly, Chas and I were both on a bit of an electric blues odyssey at that time, so (two to one) we mostly settled on Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters for that journey. In any case, I’m listening to my playlist of those artistes to tweak my memory as I write.

We crawled through Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire in glorious sunshine, secure in the knowledge that we had allowed plenty of time to get to our net; we thought that we were merely losing “decompress” time between the journey and the net. Not quite Kim’s levels of ludicrously OCD “plenty of time” – see this write up in recent memory at the time of writing – but still plenty of time.

However, once we were on the M6 scooting through the West Midlands getting close to Birmingham, we saw some dark sky ahead. rather a lot of it. Rain clouds. Wet rain. Very wet rain. We arrived at Harborne Hall in what could only be described as a tropical-style storm. That storm passed pretty soon after we arrived, but we more or less knew that the soaking was bound to have put our nets at risk. We went down to Harborne CC in hope more than expectation, only to have our fears confirmed. Pools on the outfield and around the nets. No chance of a net.

We’d seen the gloomy weather forecast for the first two days of the test, of course, but still we hoped for a further 36 hours.

I remember little about our two evenings in Harborne that year. I think we went to Harborne’s very satisfactory Chinese restaurant, Henry Wong, one of the evenings, I think that first night. Perhaps the others can remember where else we went.

I remember a lot of sitting around at Harborne Hall. I remember the other three deciding to go down to the ground, despite the pouring rain and no sign of respite. I remember staying back, making some notes about Heavy Rollers visits from years gone by, which are now proving to be a most useful starting point for this blogging.

I also remember how much Harborne Hall had declined since our last visit. Not down to Beechwood Hotel levels – those depths would take some plumbing – but still decline. Harborne Hall had been the VSO conference centre, run along similar lines to The Children’s Society’s Wadderton. But it seemed that VSO had sold (or at least put under management and attempted to commercialise) Harborne Hall. The resulting approach had subtracted almost all of the friendly, folksy character of the place, leaving only the distressed gentility and a rather grasping approach to commercialism.

The nadir for our visit was on the final morning, when Nigel made the mistake of asking for an additional slice of toast with his breakfast and was informed that he would be charged extra for that extra slice. Did I see steam starting to come from Nigel’s ears? I don’t remember exactly how this matter was resolved. Nigel probably does recall.

The other occupants of Harborne Hall were now mostly peripatetic tradesmen. We played some pool and I think darts with some of them, at least one of the evenings, during that stay. We more or less held our own. Perhaps they were more inebriated or had failed to mis-spend their youths playing those games any more than we had.

I also don’t remember when we bailed out of this hopeless situation. I don’t think we stuck around too deep into the second day. I don’t even remember whether Chas gave me a lift back to the Essex borders or whether I stuck with my original plan to take the train home after the game.

It was the first time that the first two days of a test match had been entirely rained off in England since 1964. Not even the modern drainage could save play from that type of relentless rain. This telegraph piece has a lovely photo.

Despite the fact that we saw precisely nothing of this match live, it still counts as one of our Heavy Rollers matches in my view, so here is the scorecard. No surprises that the match was a draw, but there was a surprising stand between Dinesh Ramdin and Tino “mind the windows” Best who put on nearly 150 for the last wicket, Tino managing a batting-career-defining 95 of them.

Crickey, I have generated some 900 words, merely to elaborate on the main point, which I managed to get across in the first two words.

It rained.

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