Friday saw the Cricket Tour travel for a short trip to Derbyshire, which concluded the penultimate week of the journey. We did not manage to spend a great amount of time there, needing to catch a train to Manchester for the weekend, but we succeeded in catching a glimpse of Mark Footitt looking to stake his England place. He bowled well and with tight lines, despite still looking likely to miss out on a Test debut.
The 3aaa county ground itself is beautiful, if slightly unremarkable. Like some other venues which we’ve paid a visit to, it stands out less as a work of art, and more as an enjoyable place to watch cricket. It was sad to see that the Derbyshire crowd, whilst passionate, were rather few in number, and unlike the other RLODC games which we’ve visited, the ground was noticeably empty.
On Sunday, we paid a visit to Old Trafford in order to watch Lancashire host last year’s runners-up Warwickshire – a tall order for a Lancs side which had not yet passed 165 during their campaign. Indeed, batting first it took them a while to get going, the run rate remaining low as their batsmen threw away good starts. Nonetheless, Ashwell Prince held the first half of the innings together as he compiled a mature 82 off 87 balls.
It was Boyd Rankin who damaged Lancs’ hopes of amassing a huge total, as he ripped through their middle order with a match-winning spell. Rankin claimed the wickets of Prince, Horton and Croft as the home side only managed to inch seven runs forward. A late-innings masterclass from Alex Davies however restored some hope to Lancashire Lightning, his 73 off 59 made all the more impressive by an agonisingly slow outfield, and lifted his side to a defendable 265.
As Warwickshire began their innings, it became clear why they are such a strong side. Their batting was incredibly composed, never letting the required run rate or Duckworth-Lewis Par Score slip out of their grasp. On a pitifully slow outfield, it was all too easy for Varun Chopra to dig in and make 88 off 133. On a related note, the Lancashire groundsmen may want to rethink their outfield preparation – the majority of the game did not make for good viewing, and it was a pity to see good shots go unrewarded.
James Faulkner bowled well, having recovered from a poor batting display and an opening over which went for 11 runs, to end up with figures of 10-1-53-2. His presence also allowed for some fantastic ribbing from a boozed-up Manchester crowd, as choruses of “That James Faulkner, He Drinks When He Wants” and “That James Faulkner, He Drives When He Wants” rang out around the ground. Steven Parry however remained the pick of the bowling attack, his miserly spell giving him 10-0-30-2.
Whilst Warwickshire were in full control throughout the majority of their innings, the last few overs brought some worrying moments. As the away side slipped from 204/4 to 238/7, there was reason to believe Lancashire may have pulled the game back. But the strength and depth of the Warwickshire batting order saw them home in the end, Javid and Patel holding their nerve to claim two points for the visiting team in an all-round good performance.
Monday morning sees us travel across the Pennines, to Headingley – “home” of English cricket.
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.