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Where are we?

By Grockle et al
June 7 2017

As I am on my way back to Bicknoller Towers in less than three days and the site requires an update I was going to muse on where we are.  Then I logged on to the aftermath of the Middlesex CC1 game and found out that Farmer White had already done that for me including some musings on the current state of the 'War on Terror' added in.  So...... with 'Farmer's indulgence.....

"Three days at Lord’s, two evenings in London and one day in Somerset with the commentary for the Middlesex match. 

It feels like a corner may have been turned or at least the corner is in sight. It didn’t feel like that as I walked into the ground at the Nursery End on the first day and peeked through the gap between the Compton Stand and the Grandstand to see the score at 20-1, Trescothick gone and Abell in the process of edging one through to the keeper. 

Uncomfortable memories of Horsham a few years ago floated by for there I had reached the ground with Somerset one down, a second fell as I bought my ticket, a third as I meandered looking for a seat and a fourth as I sat down. We were all out just late enough for Sussex not have to bat before lunch. 

At Lord’s I managed to find a seat on the Pavilion Terrace without causing further damage. I did though wonder why we had dropped Bess, brought in Davey and Groenewald, decided to have a toss, won it and then batted. One or two Somerset supporters I spoke to were equally bemused for the bat was being beaten a little too often for comfort. 

Some calm from Elgar and some sumptuously struck boundaries from Hildreth began to ease the anxiety until the latter drove at one and was spectacularly caught by Rayner at slip. Davies then edged defensively behind and we lunched at 78-4 and the questions about the batting and decision to bat grew in intensity. The scrutiny then eased when a local old hand announced in a manner that did not brook contradiction, “Always bat first at Lord’s. The pitch does a lot before lunch and dies after.” Captains always have a reason for their decisions and usually they know more about it than those who look on. And so it proved although not in time to avoid Trego edging past the stumps for 2 to fine leg before being caught behind next ball. 80-5. 

Lewis Gregory marched out to a silent groan from the Somerset contingent and promptly looked the million dollars he often looks at the start of an innings. In the Championship, at least, the million dollars has so often turned into a pocket of loose change as he drives, pulls or cuts apparently aimlessly at one not there for the stroke. Not on this day. His driving was immaculate, the ball screaming to the boundary. The ball that wasn’t quite there for the shot was left or defended. Discipline and concentration had found their way into his game. Elgar meanwhile was Elgar

And the weather was the weather. It played its part in the middle of the afternoon and Somerset ended the day just after three on 161-5. Hardly in the ascendency but not quite so deep in the mire as they might have been. I spent the evening watching ‘Love in Idleness’ by a resurrected Terence Rattigan. Like Gregory’s innings the play was a pleasant surprise for Rattigan was once given up as something of a lightweight. The dialogue was as beautifully and securely crafted as Gregory’s response to the pressure of 80-5. The plot was as amiable as the pitch on which Gregory was by the end playing, and brilliant comedic eruptions punctured the proceedings as stunningly as Gregory’s boundaries punctured the field. 

And so he continued the next morning and into the afternoon. For the first time this season, the Elgar Leach partnership at Old Trafford apart, Somerset found themselves batting in ideal overhead conditions on a batsman’s Christmas present of a pitch and for the first time in the best conditions of a match. They made it pay. Elgar was still Elgar. I am sure one day there will be an inquiry into where he obtains his runs for it is not easily obvious to the casual observer. Even the boundaries seem to be quietly stolen. His statutory six not enough to convince that he has scored quite as many as the scoreboard alleges. Gregory though leaves no doubt for when the ball is struck the result is classical, spectacular and conclusive. 

Middlesex had no answer apart from an occasional ball that did a bit from the Nursery End particularly later in Elgar's innings. The score mounted and batting bonus points, a poor harvest so far this season, were gathered in. 200-5. 251-5. 303-5. The match began to take on the shape of the 2013 match at Lord’s with the lower order blunting Middlesex. Perhaps teams should always bat first at Lord’s. Right down to the declaration our tail batted with application and discretion yet piled up the score at 4 an over. This felt like the Somerset of the second half of last season finding its feet again. 

And so to the ball. The Somerset pace quartet bowled with impressive accuracy, continuing the impressive bowling start to the season, to hold Middlesex to under 2 an over from 22 at the close although the Middlesex openers were less than ambitious and no wicket fell. It was though further evidence that Somerset were at last in business. A day of discipline with the bat and discipline with the ball and the smiles on the faces of the Somerset contingent as they left the ground spoke volumes. 

An evening amble along the South Bank from the Royal Festival Hall, where we had taken refuge from a nasty shower, towards the Millennium Bridge for a bus from St Paul’s was as idyllic as Somerset’s batting had been during the day. An evening on the South Bank or in the West End demonstrates that London is very much a vibrant young person’s city as diverse as the world it reflects. Having worked in it for over 20 years I feel as much at home there as I do in my Somerset hills and moors. Somerset is my home. London is my city. 

As we approached the old Bankside power station, now Tate Britain, I looked at my watch and discovered in my idyll it had raced round to 10.10 and realised I would miss the TV paper review I usually watch. Then a helicopter crossed the sky in front of us. Helicopters in the London sky are not uncommon even after dark. I particularly noticed this one though because it was travelling uncommonly fast. 

Then a few minutes later on the Millennium Bridge my gaze turned down the river towards Tower Bridge for there is a wondrous view that way especially at night. The lights, yellow and white, of the street lights and windows of buildings along the river’s banks, the window-lit outline of buildings in the City and Canary Wharf, the multitude of red lights atop the cranes that say London is a growing, living city all framing the floodlit Tower Bridge. I have looked at that view hundreds of times and it never ceases to move me and I never cross that bridge at night without looking at it. 

On Saturday night though it was different. The whites and the yellows and the reds were interspersed with five sets of stationary blue flashing lights a little way downstream. One set on the river and four across and above it. A woman hurried across the bridge from Bankside and asked if we had just come from London Bridge. We hadn’t but she told us she had. She had heard gunshots and the police were getting people out of pubs and restaurants and telling them to run away from the area. 

As we continued across the bridge towards St Paul’s police cars and ambulances, blue lights flashing and sirens wailing, streaked by. Four more streaked by in the few minutes we waited for the bus as people started to pick up the first news from their phones and us. The police are often criticised, sometimes with good reason, but that night they, and the other emergency services, were rushing in numbers towards the very real possibility of mortal danger. If you are ever in imminent danger you will be very grateful for our police. 

And then back to the hotel to the news although the full horror of what had happened did not become apparent until the next morning and is still emerging. 

And then it was off to Lord’s. London carries on at times like this. The shops were open, the tube and buses were operating normally, and people seemed to be carrying on normally although the atmosphere was quietly subdued in place of the all-pervading buzz that normally permeates London. Subdued and contemplative but as those chalked signs in black and white pictures of bomb damage in the blitz used to say it was ‘Business as Usual’ for those not directly affected by the incident or those close to them. 

I was on my way to work in London when the 7/7 bombs were detonated, one at Aldgate only a few trains after I had passed through. It was the same then. The tube and buses were closed down in the immediate aftermath but people walked quietly across London to get home that evening or to a mainline terminus perhaps a little earlier than normal after work until the buses started again. And then as soon as the service was resumed it was back down the tube to get to and from work for most. ‘Business as Usual’ or as near as could be. Awful, awful incidents but the response of Londoners, both those I saw and those I have seen in the media, then and now, makes me proud to have been once counted among their number. And this time such young people carrying on with such resolve. Our future is safe in such hands. And London is not alone. The people of Manchester have responded with similar resolve. 

Others in London may have different views of events and how Londoners react but that is how I saw and see things and I hope people do not mind me paying some tribute here. 

Lord’s added its own touch to the one minute silence held before the start of the afternoon session on Sunday. As at Taunton the teams lined up outside the Pavilion, although at Lord’s they faced the Pavilion, and the crowd rose as one. Then the silence was commenced and ended by the sounding of the bell which normally sends the umpires out. As at Taunton the silence was perfectly observed, intense and total. 

The cricket was business as usual. Somerset worked away at the Middlesex batsmen on a pitch no more helpful to bowlers than when they had batted. The accuracy though was resolute, the fielding tight and wickets were squeezed out of Middlesex considerably faster than they had squeezed them out of Somerset after the pitch flattened. Josh Davey stuck hard at it and deserved his wicket. Jamie Overton bowled fast, straight, economically and had one or two batsmen hopping. His spell which stretched before and after the second new ball and before and after tea was particularly impressive. He seems to me to be improving by the game. Tim Groenewald was his usual miserly self and Lewis Gregory was back to his knack of quietly taking wickets. He seems to take them as invisibly as Dean Elgar scores runs. 

Somerset’s innings on the final day was unpressurised after the first few overs at least as far as the team goes. A number of players were under considerable personal pressure though. Tom Abell responded best with 71* albeit the last few scored against recreational bowling. The young man has the potential I have no doubt to succeed as captain and batsman. Do not be surprised if he pulls it off. 

Indeterminate performances with the bat from James Hildreth and no great progress from Stephen Davies or Peter Trego leave concerns but until he was out in the 20s in both innings Hildreth at least looked the part more than he has in recent matches. Perhaps the corner is in sight for him as much as it is for Somerset. 

I thought about possible team changes as I watched the match. As the Middlesex bowlers were steaming in on that first morning bowling well in helpful conditions with the ball clearly moving and close fielders straining to pounce in the cauldron of first division competitiveness at its best I asked myself if I would want to see 19-21 year olds thrown into a ring of highly skilled and motivated cricketing professionals. Not more than one at time at that age I thought and if at all possible not until they are prepared and ready. 

A young new player will be singled out like no other especially in a struggling team. The first division is not a place, in my view, where you can try out young players without careful preparation. Preparation of the type which Adam Hose seems to have received and which will be planned for the younger batsmen. He has been given the number 6 slot in the 50 over team essentially, it seems, to make his own and he has, impressively, done precisely that. If there is to be a change he may be the best prepared, as far as any of us outside the management of the team can tell with our limited information, and would probably be best started at 6 so that he can settle and eventually find his best level in the team. 

As to the current team. It has just outplayed the County Champions. There are some signs of some individuals starting to turn a corner. This may just be the time for calm nerve and a little more patience. If there is to be change though it should be with the message that the slot any new player is given is theirs to make their own if they can and that they will be given time to do it. The resulting message to the dropped player is therefore their place has gone and they have to win it back if they wish to return. Who would be in the position of those with the responsibility for such decisions for if it is the case that young and untested players may wish to leave if they do not get a slot it may equally be the case with tried and tested players if they lose one.

As to my weekend in London the Saturday night and London’s response to it will leave a mark long after the match, perhaps the minute’s silence apart, has merged in with memories of many other matches."


Thank you 'Farmer'  I am sure we are all very grateful for the frist hand view of things within and beyond the world of cricket

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Where are we? (IP Logged)
07/06/2017 04:47
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:06:09:11:03:39 by Grockle.

Re: Where are we?
Grockle (IP Logged)
07/06/2017 05:05
I've closed the Lord'sy Lord'sy thread so that it can continue here under Farmer White's excellent summary. Please have a read and continue the debate here once our lords and masters have re-opened the thread. Yorkshire tomorrow. I hope to see some of you on Sunday Insh'Allah.


Re: Where are we?
AG on apple (IP Logged)
07/06/2017 12:43
Where are we?

In an Orwellian world: Four legs = our consistently competitive bowlers.

Two legs = our consistently poor batting group.

Re: Where are we?
AG on apple (IP Logged)
07/06/2017 12:45
Farmer - one wonders tô what extent batting with the ultra-resolute Elgar changed Gregory's normal approach?

Batting with the likes of Hildreth or Trego or Craig O may not encourage much caution..

Re: Where are we?
chunkyinargyll (IP Logged)
07/06/2017 13:20
Adam Hose is missing from the 2's match v Middlesex, which may be an indication he is in line for a first team call up. Bartlett, Allenby, Davies R are in the seconds however.

Re: Where are we?
AG on apple (IP Logged)
07/06/2017 13:33
I'm fairly sure he was playing earlier in the match so perhaps he really will be added to the first-team party.

Re: Where are we?
Farmer White (IP Logged)
07/06/2017 16:30
Quite possibly Elgar had an influence AG. They certainly batted a long time together. Who knows unless you are on the inside of operations. It was quite a performance though over several hours so whatever triggered it I think a good deal of it must have come from somewhere within. A real step forwad for him whatever the cause one hopes for he has never been so far into that territory before in the CC.

Re: Where are we?
AG on apple (IP Logged)
07/06/2017 20:20
He certainly hasn't. After the Essex debacle, the need to put a price on one's wicket probably became a major feature of all talks made by Maynard, Abell, Rogers et al on the subject of batting and it's great to see somebody take it to heart and rein themselves in so well. Well done, Lewis.

Re: Where are we?
chunkyinargyll (IP Logged)
08/06/2017 15:36
Looks like Pete Trego is the one to make way for Adam Hose. No mention on Somerset site of Trego being injured. By the way- is there some objection to linking to the official Somerset site? We link to Middlesex site all the time on MTWD, but note it is hardly ever, if at all done on Grockles (which is why I haven't done it)

Re: Where are we?
Angell Face (IP Logged)
08/06/2017 15:37
Trego absent from the squad to play Yorkshire. Noting Maynards comments, it looks as though Hose will get his chance at No. 6.

Re: Where are we?
AG on apple (IP Logged)
08/06/2017 16:09
Good to see Hose given his head. Hildreth lucky given that Trego got a great ball whereas he threw his wicket away. Trego needed to do more with the ball to keep his place, though and one can certainly see a logic to adding a batsman for an all-rounder who doesn't bowl to the standard that he once did.

Re: Where are we?
Mike TA1 (IP Logged)
08/06/2017 16:41
Chunky, Yes you can I normally say it's on the club website.

If I quote from the clubs website I always do a link to it.

Re: Where are we?
AG on apple (IP Logged)
08/06/2017 17:01
It used to be more or less banned, I think, because the club - at the time - refused to have anything to do with this site.

Re: Where are we?
Grockle (IP Logged)
08/06/2017 17:56
That was a long time ago AG in the time of Peter Anderson.

There's no real problem with linking to the official site - just that I don't see them linking to us all that often - we do use their squad details these days and there is a link to the SCCC site that is always open in the Links menu on the left hand side.

If they are saying something that is worth reading then there's usually a link. Anyway people can find their way there pretty easily anyway.

I don't think anyone is scared of putting a link up. There were those in the past who wanted to cut and paste whole chunks of text from other places and we've always asked for links instead in those cases.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:06:08:19:48:37 by Grockle.

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