It’s another two-day piece, as days 12 and 13 brought a trio of Category A grounds. First up was a short trip to Nottingham, in order to catch a glimpse of the ground before the first Ashes Test begun two days later. The relatively modern ground does well to maintain a degree of beauty for such a large ground, and it handles its potentially ugly bricks far better than the Oval manages its stone. The white seats add to the ground’s simple look, which give it such a pleasant look.
We also managed to see the Australians amidst their second day of nets. Mitchell Marsh was closest, and his rather dreadful execution of the leave is an accurate summary of Australia’s batting woes, particularly after the first day of the fourth Test drew to a close. As at Northants, we also picked up some merchandise at Trent Bridge, so keep a look out for that which will soon be auctioned off for charity.
A long journey up to the extremities of the North (I am told the Arctic is in walking distance) took us to Durham. Chester-Le-Street was hosting the u-19 four day game between England and Australia, and we arrived in time for the morning of the second day. In fact, we were fortunate to catch a lift to the ground with the father of William Pucovski, one of the young Aussie batsmen. We are of course now desperate he plays for his country (principally so we can claim a close connection to an international cricketer).
As one walks along the perimeter of the ground, it bears a slight resemblance to Lord’s but upon entering into the stands that effect is lost. Much like Trent Bridge, Riverside excels in its simplicity, the rim of green trees acting as a background to the ring of white seats. The neighbouring Lumley Castle, despite looking small from the ground, adds a nice touch to the backdrop of the ICG. We managed to see a bit of Parkinson, England’s promising young spinner, bowling in addition to an enjoyable cameo from David Grant before heading South to the Midlands, as Warwickshire hosted Hampshire.
Of all the non-Lord’s Category A grounds, Edgbaston is surely the most stunning. Even when walking around the ground, one gets an idea of its size. The actual play however remains hidden from you until you mount the steps, reach the top, and are suddenly struck by its awesomeness. The spangly floodlights lean over with their e’s shining, and the stands including the deep blue of the pavilion (extremely similar to Old Trafford’s red box), create the impression the pristine outfield is being given the tremendous attention it deserves.
Our timing allowed us to catch the end of Hants’ innings, Dawson and Smith playing brilliantly to suggest that 300 was within reach. The run rate slowed however when Will Smith fell, as Berg slowed Hants down in order to play himself in, his first 2 off 9 in stark contrast to Smith’s power hitting. Nonetheless, a fantastic cameo from Chris Wood lifted Hants to the 280 they needed; it was a shame the crowd wasn’t larger to witness his 21 off 14.
The home side were pegged back almost immediately however, as Chris Wood again impressed in front of Sky cameras, in order to claim the scalps of Porterfield and Trott in consecutive balls. They slowly recovered, but suffered the disadvantage of being behind the Duckworth-Lewis Par Score, when ominous clouds loomed. The loss of Ambrose shortly before the first rain spell was a huge blow, as the Duckworth-Lewis Par Score soared. Whilst we had to then leave in order to catch a train, unfortunately missing the promising young spinner Mason Crane in action, we understand the rest of the game followed much the same format: Early wickets and rain cost Warwickshire the game.
Day 14 will take us on to Leicestershire, our penultimate ground as the trip rather sadly draws to an end.
A quick reminder: the aim of this trip is to raise money for Shooting Star Chase Hospice, Middlesex CCC’s official charity partner, who do tremendous work in bettering the lives of children and their families for kids with terminal illnesses. They need £9.5 million a year to maintain their brilliant service, and we would highly appreciate it if you could help them to continue their care, by donating here:
Or texting to 70070: RLOD50, followed by either £1, £2, £5 or £10.