It’s Not Cricket: Baseball in New York

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The city of New York is home to a wealth of famous sights for the first time visitor. The Empire State Building. Joey Ramone Place. Statue of Liberty. Joey Ramone Place. Central Park. Joey Ramone Place. Times Square. Brooklyn Bridge. “New York City really has it all, oh yeah, oh yeah” sang Joey on the Ramones track “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”.

High on my list of priorities, however, was the chance to experience some Major League Baseball in the flesh after years watching from afar. Oh, and visit Joey Ramone Place – sadly, the nearby iconic music venue CBGB is no more, replaced by a high-end men’s fashion emporium that has disappointingly failed to name itself Coats, Boots, Gaberdines and Britches. Continue reading

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No Frame of Reference

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Context is seemingly the new buzzword around cricket. The ICC bigwigs are meeting in Auckland to thrash out the details of some manner of international championship, a proposed league system that will breathe new life into the sport at it’s highest level. Test cricket, apparently, lacks context. I know just how it feels. My relationship with cricket lacks context.

The hardest part of returning to the summer game was not reacquainting myself the rules. Nor was it learning the names and faces of current players. In fact, nothing that happened inside the boundary rope caused me any real difficulty. It was that which takes place off the field that I have struggled with. Continue reading

Lancashire v Surrey, 25th September 2017

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Trent Bridge, April 2016 – The Beginning

Around eighteen months ago, on the eve of my first season back watching cricket I’d begun to have doubts about this new venture of mine. Had I the patience required to sit and watch a sport I’d ignored for the better part of two decades for a full day – possibly, up to four full days – in less than inspiring weather conditions? Having decided to write about my experiences, I also wondered if I actually had anything to say.

These doubts grew with every lap I made of Trent Bridge as I tried to kill the, what would turn out to be, almost four hours before play finally began. What had I let myself in for?  Continue reading

Lancashire v Essex, 6th & 7th September 2017

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Had rain not taken so much time out of it, this encounter might have provided the Championship with another late season classic. First versus second meeting under tough conditions, twisting the title chase one way or the other. Victory for Lancashire could have halved the 36 point deficit between them and the leaders, whereas a win for Essex, over their only realistic challengers, would have all but guaranteed them top spot. Four of the divisions top thirteen run-scorers – Alex Davies, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Liam Livingstone and Dane Vilas of Lancashire – pitted against its two leading wicket takers – Simon Harmer and Jamie Porter from Essex.  Continue reading

Lancashire v Warwickshire, 28th August 2017

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Fans of the County Championship at Old Trafford will be hard-pressed to consider the competition a summer game. Taking the metrological calendars definition of the season as running from the 1st of June through to the end of August, Lancashire’s headquarters will have witnessed only two four-day matches in that time, with almost ten weeks in between encounters against Hampshire and Warwickshire.

With this first-class domestic drought and my efforts to search out other levels of the sport thwarted by work, weather and an unwillingness to get out of bed early on my days off, I have experienced a barren spell with regards to live cricket resulting in my attention being diverted elsewhere. Whilst the sport may have finally regained its place in my affections over the last couple of years, this summer I have found myself returning to an old flame.  Continue reading

Lancashire v Hampshire, 20th June 2017

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With the County Championship having gone into seclusion for the time being – it will briefly stick its head out of the window in early August before retreating, once more, until the end of that month – and weather and work conspiring to limit my days watching live cricket since June, it would seem a good time to roundup the events of the first half of 2017. Rather helpfully the only part of Lancashire’s encounter with Hampshire that I would attend, and which I’m now about to belatedly write about, took the form of a handy microcosm of the season thus far. Continue reading

Lancashire v Yorkshire, 19th-22nd May 2017.

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The inaugural Roses Match was played in 1867, during what was a bumper year for the fixture. The two sides first met at Station Road cricket ground in Whalley on 20-22 June, an encounter which Yorkshire won by an innings and 56 runs. At Old Trafford, a week later, Lancashire would fare only marginally better, this time losing by ‘only’ 165 runs. In a tough year for followers of the Red Rose, there would be a further defeat, this time inside two days, at Middlesbrough in early September.  Continue reading

Hardrocking in Stretford

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New Road may have Worcester Cathedral. Chester-Le-Street, a 14th-century castle. The Oval, its iconic gasholders. Not to be left behind, however, is Old Trafford where, at certain times of the year and from certain angles, it is possible to view the building which, until last year, housed Stretford’s very own B&Q store. A rather nondescript building it may be – flat, part-corrugated, still bearing the signature colour of the DIY retailer and with a sizeable stick of grey, concrete celery protruding skywards – but what it lacks aesthetically it makes up for, rather surprisingly, in musical history. Continue reading

Lancashire v Somerset, 21st and 24th April 2017.

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Second season syndrome. Sophomore slump. The difficult second album. As soon as the domestic schedule for 2017 was announced, I knew I would struggle to reach the dizzy heights of my debut campaign. That shears had already been taken to the calendar and two rounds of the County Championship had been unceremoniously lopped away – like a rogue gardener cutting the heads off a couple of your prized begonias, before shrugging his shoulders and telling you they’d have died eventually anyway – was old news, but the move to Friday starts threatened to hack my early season action in half. The same work obligations that had given me the freedom to see so much cricket last year, doing the exact opposite this time around. Looking back, 2016 appears to have been the perfect time for me to come back to the summer game. Continue reading

Lancashire 2nd XI v Yorkshire 2nd XI, 10th April 2017.

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Lancashire’s preseason has seen them take in a variety of locales, none of which have been remotely local. A tour of Dubai, a university match against Cambridge at Fenner’s, plus friendlies at Taunton and Hampshire. With two further trips southwards to begin the Championship season – to Essex and Surrey – the first competitive cricket at Old Trafford is still eleven days away. Which makes the scheduling of this four-day second team friendly against Yorkshire something of a salve to Red Rose fans starved of live cricket over the last seven months. Continue reading