This book is a celebration of the best of county cricket and the author does a fine job of narrating his readership through the epic finale at Lord’s at the end of last season. Having attended on three days, it was a welcome reminder.
Three points : I He seems to have had a rather variable relationship with Lord’s as a place to watch cricket. Thirty years ago when bacon and egg tie were high royalty, certainly some staff knew how to (un-)welcome non-members; but now from ticket office, through the Grace Gates to those at the tea-urn they seem as polite and friendly as a great many. The criticism of Lord’s as home of cricket seemed a bit misplaced.
II In reaching into the past for comparisons to last year he references Hampshire, who ‘astonishingly’ beat Gloucestershire on the last day at Bristol in 1977. Their openers then were Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge (both of whom made scores in the nineties in the match) and of whom it could reasonably be asked has there been a stronger pairing? Being fortunate enough to have seen the last day, it was pretty obvious that Hampshire were going to win from the mid-point of the innings on.
III What that game did have in common was that a county that had not previously won the Championship entered the final day with a fair chance, but ended it disappointed. There is an inconvenient question about the declaration last year which is under what circumstances, if any, were Somerset going to win? In other words when does a contrived finish become a fixed one; hopefully someone keeps an eye on the influence of betting patterns in order that others can write and appreciate Cardus.
Ordinary spectators with ordinary pockets paid £80 for a ticket for Test cricket at Lord’s last summer, £5 for the finale of the domestic season. Perhaps the county game just needs a bit more care and attention and hopefully this fine book will help it get it.