There is something unerringly endearing about out-ground county cricket. For all the practicalities, the vantage points and the mod-cons that big stadiums offer, you just can’t beat being sat in a tent on the boundary edge surrounded by the covers on either flank.
Result wise however, it was the dampest of damp squibs as the heavens opened midway through the Lancashire innings and ended all hopes of a result.
Blackpool didn’t disappoint on their annual moment in the county calendar, offering oodles of charm and atmosphere for Lancashire’s Royal London One-Day Cup clash with Nottinghamshire.
A sell-out crowd packed in to Stanley Park, many of whom won’t get to see another game of cricket live all year, and lapped up every minute of the day.
How often will you see a straight drive fielded on the boundary edge by a man dressed as Pamela Anderson from her Baywatch days?!
It all adds to the charm, it raised a laugh around the ground every time the ball went in that direction as the locals relished List A cricket on their doorstep.
Even rain, and a considerable amount of it at that, refused to dampen their spirits. It certainly didn’t dampen Pamela’s, who took the opportunity to dive across the sodden covers.
The game had started in bright sunshine and Notts asked Lancashire to bat first. It looked a tricky pitch and Tom Smith was bowled by Harry Gurney for a duck.
Early progress was slow, with just 36 runs coming from the first powerplay. But soon Alviro Petersen and Luke Procter found their stride and proceeded to put on a century stand for the second wicket.
In fact, when the rain came the pair had put on 151 which was a record partnership for any wicket at Blackpool in 50-over cricket. But they were not to return, courtesy of several heavy showers across the afternoon which ended all chances of further play.
But the day wasn’t without its highlights. From a personal perspective, this ground brings back happy memories. As a young club cricketer, my first boundary came at Stanley Park (a well-timed nudge through the covers) and now writing about the finest players in the country playing on the same turf reminds you of the local cricket clubs up and down the land that are the very heart of the sport.
It’s too easy to forget that link sometimes when we are offered up the huge volume of televised games in big stadia sometimes every day of the week. But a rare trip to an out-ground serves as a reminder that the game is built on the club cricketers that play on this pitch every weekend.
Sitting in a media centre up in the Gods above the grounds is all fine and good. But you do end up feeling somewhat detached from the action. At out-grounds you feel a part of it, you can sense the buzz of the crowd, the pace of the bowling and can hear the crack of the ball thundering against the bat.
Sadly this was a day where action was limited, one of those frustrating days of watching rain pour down. Blackpool’s big day was ruined by the weather, but not before they had delivered a pleasant demonstration of county cricket’s out-ground charms.