From the Nursery End: ECB’s experiment with winter cricket

15:15 27 April 2012

Sunshine has been rarity at Lord

Sunshine has been rarity at Lord's so far this season

Archant

“Even when it’s been sunny this April there’s been a chill in the air which multiplies by the hour, and once the sun goes only the very hardy make it to close of play”

As the ECB’s experiment with winter cricket continues, the Middlesex players must be grateful that they’ve got time off this week to go shopping for thermals. For spectators it’s pretty tough too. Even when it’s been sunny this April there’s been a chill in the air which multiplies by the hour, and once the sun goes only the very hardy make it to close of play.

At Lord’s, if you’re a Middlesex member, there is the Middlesex room under the Allen stand where you can shelter indoors and, if you’re lucky, get a seat where you can see the cricket. The pitches though for the first two matches have been over on the other side of the ground, the Grandstand side, so not necessarily helpful. And watch out for the dress code. I went in there when the rain fell on the second day against Durham and the steward had a quiet word with my friend because his outside layer could be interpreted as a cousin of the tracksuit. After a discussion, and a phone-call to his lawyer, he was allowed to stay, but with warning that he won’t get a second chance. I daresay that his photo has now been circulated among the Lord’s stewards and he’s on an MCC watch-list.

When the rain eased up I went round to the Nursery where someone was shovelling water out of the gents as, he said, the drains had overflowed. These are the toilets with the swing doors only otherwise seen in saloons frequented by cowboys in westerns, and a shiny object, if not a jewel, in the crown that is Lord’s, and a subject for a future blog.

The Nursery ground was half underwater, great pools of rain sitting on the surface. In days gone by there would have been no more play for a couple of days but the drainage is such after the relaying of the outfield 10 years ago that play started within the hour.

Incidentally, there’s going to be another relaying at the end of this season according to John Stephenson, the MCC head of cricket, in his interview with Alison Mitchell http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/17705469 because the Olympic archery requires some temporary stands on the playing area which will mark the outfield. It will be paid for by LOCOG, which probably means you and me.

The appearance of Onions and Mustard for Durham at Lord’s should not go unmarked, but they’re struggling to find a place in my all-time (Mervyn) Kitchen XI, which like most first-class teams in England has a strong African presence.

Alastair Cook (Essex opener favours the cut and the chop)

Clive Rice (Staple ingredient in Notts team)

Allan Lamb (Northants batsman who’s alive in the field)

Charles Fry (Great athlete found in the deep)

Fred Bakewell (Northants batsman whose private life was his own affair)

Peter Sainsbury (Selectors, spoilt for choice, went elsewhere)

Chris Burger (Expect identical deliveries from this South African)

James Boiling (Durham bowler holding out for tea)

Bob Crisp (South African who appears with the drinks)

George Bean (Sussex batsman used as a runner)

John Rennie (Zimbabwean who settles quickly)

Cec Pepper can do the umpiring.

Follow me on twitter @Laurence_Klein

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