Honorable Mentions

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If four words could sum up how strange it feels to be following cricket once again, after two decades in the wilderness, it would be these: The Andy Caddick Pavilion. At the County Ground in Taunton, Somerset have rewarded their former fast bowler with a building that will forever bear his name. Watching England twenty years ago, I certainly wouldn’t have picked him out for that kind of honour. To my, admittedly untrained, eyes he didn’t look particularly special – in truth, neither did the rest of that side. However, during my exile, his career seemingly enjoyed something of a renaissance. Continue reading

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2017 Lancashire County Championship Preview

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The five-minute bell will soon ring for the 2017 county cricket season, albeit not for another fortnight at Old Trafford, where the locals will have to wait a further two weeks for the visit of Somerset to put to a long winter to bed. No action may have taken place at the home of Lancashire for seven months, but there has been plenty of activity and intrigue off the field. Continue reading

A First-Class Debut

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Very soon the length of time that has passed since the late September Friday on which Middlesex were crowned champions will be greater than the almost twenty-four weeks required to accomplish the feat itself. Despite this long stretch, only recently has it started to feel like we are truly in the limbo of off-season – at least for me, anyway.

That England embarked on a tour of the subcontinent within weeks of the last County fixture merely prolonged a summer I had hugely enjoyed. Only with the culmination of the Test series in India, just prior to Christmas, did the cricketing year appear to draw to any sort of close.

2017 may have begun, but with England out of Test action until July it seems that cricket is very much on hold for the time being. The return of the County Championship is still some way off – almost two months – so what better time to reminisce over my first year of watching the summer game since my youth. Continue reading

Three Favourites of 2016

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Livingstone & Hameed – Lancashire v Warwickshire, June.

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As Karl Brown departs the Old Trafford field he does so accompanied by the Laurel and Hardy theme, whistled from somewhere in the stands. With a trio of Lancashire wickets lost in the space of five deliveries, the home side find themselves in Another Fine Mess. The stage is set for the Red Rose County’s own mismatched L & H double act – two young cricketers separated by only a couple of years in age, but a lifetime apart in their approach to batting. Continue reading

Haseeb Hameed – a Red Rose in Bloom

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As a teenager, I was thrust into the spotlight of international sport and chosen to represent my country on the subcontinent. Along with a handful of others, picked from the only slightly larger handful of those who actually played the sport, my 17-year-old self travelled to Bangladesh to participate in the 6th Commonwealth Youth Handball Championships – some recent cursory investigation of which has, so far, struggled to find concrete evidence of any subsequent, or indeed, previous iterations. Participation is, perhaps, too strong a word to describe my role as back-up goalkeeper. A brief appearance, including a penalty save, in a fifth/sixth place play-off, wooden spoon loss to Nigeria was to prove the zenith of my sporting achievements. Never again did I scale such dizzy heights. Having been likewise underused in his own visit to Bangladesh, Haseeb Hameed shouldn’t have to worry about a similar fate.  Continue reading

Australia v South Africa, 3rd-7th November 2016.

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Prologue

A bit of grey around the temples. A few thin patches on top. Aches and pains a constant reminder of a long career. Injury now a more common occurrence than a five-wicket haul. Turning the arm over isn’t as easy as it used to be for this once vaunted quick. The scourge of batsmen in his heyday, the extra pace that marked him out above the rest has seemingly gone. Rather than dishing out punishment, it has been he who has been on the receiving end. Five whole days of Test cricket are seen as maybe too much for the now creaking joints and a younger, flashier and more versatile replacement waits to take his place in the line up. Such is the fate of the Western Australia Cricket Association Ground.  Continue reading

Warwickshire v Lancashire, 22-23rd September 2016

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Almost five months ago, I travelled to Edgbaston to indulge my newfound hobby of watching cricket. Warwickshire played host to Yorkshire on a day that was afflicted by flurries of snow, driving sleet and a biting wind that cut through my several layers and chilled me to the bone. Fielders wore beanie hats, the wicket spent a good portion of the day under the hover cover and play ended shortly after the tea break. Returning to Birmingham, this time to watch the Red Rose County, there is a part of me that hopes the weather may affect this game as well.

Lancashire need only a draw from their final game of the County Championship in order to retain their Division One status and, as I arrive on the third morning, it would appear that their best chance of gaining such a result might be via a stalemate guided by the elements. Continue reading

Lancashire v Middlesex, 12-15th September 2016.

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Having visited the place just once in my life prior to this April – and that only in its guise as a music venue – Old Trafford has become something of a second home to me over these last five months. Sixteen days, have I seen, of the County Championship, two of Test cricket, a couple of forays into the limited overs competitions and a good number of appointments at the physiotherapy clinic located within the ground for treatment on a back complaint that probably hasn’t been improved by spending so much of my summer sat on uncomfortable plastic seating – both the worst and, indeed, the best I have found to be at The Oval.

Old Trafford has changed during my time here and so have I. The new hotel that will match The Point is steadily taking shape, whilst my knowledge of modern cricket has improved at a similar rate. From knowing nothing to now being able to bluff my way through a conversation with an array of facts and names. Although, true enlightenment on some of the finer points is still some way off.

It is with a sense of sadness and a bit of a stiff back that I take my seat for the final home game of the season.  Continue reading

Lancashire v Somerset, 31st August 2016.

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The reputation that Manchester has for precipitation had given me the impression that a season following cricket at Old Trafford might see me spending more time under an umbrella than under a blue sky. The city and rain seem synonymous with one another – so much so that there is a bar in its centre paying homage to Manchester’s frequent wet weather. Despite this, County Championship games at the home of Lancashire have, so far, been reasonably unaffected – at least in my presence.

The visits of Nottinghamshire, Surrey and Yorkshire have all passed without interruptions. Warwickshire’s four day stay during late June saw the loss of just the very first session of the match. Only against Hampshire did I experience any real delay with the third day being cut short just before the lunch break. However, on this the final day of August, meteorological matters threaten to descend this game with Somerset into farce. Continue reading