Short pitch: sodden pitches
Cricketers in my adopted home in the north-west are no more at ease with the challenges of the English summer weather than anywhere else I have played. Up here, though, there’s a willingness, an imperative even, to get out on the ground, at any opportunity.
On Sunday, our team was thwarted. A wet, stormy night was followed, in the hours leading up to the match, by bright sun and brisk wind. The outfield was playable, but when the covers were rolled away, great damp stains revealed that the rain had blown through and under the covers. Match cancelled.
This evening a gale blew as eleven youngsters, including no.2 son making his hard ball debut, attempted a practice match. The wind caught a sightscreen and tugged it off the cricket field, up against the tennis court fence, behind which tennis players cowered, refusing to continue their match. Quick thinking by the junior coaches nullified the threat: by removing the slats that make up the screen and catch the wind. Both cricket and tennis matches continued.
There’s an advanced art of playing the weather in this region. I once turned up at a ground where the rain had been falling all morning. We waited in the car park for an easing of the downpour before dashing to the pavilion. There were puddles on the outfield and on the sheeting that covered, but probably wasn’t protecting the square. It was the clearest case of a cancellation to my eyes.
But our skipper had spotted something: the opposition were represented only by their captain. The rest were in the pub down the road, he claimed. We waited for two hours. Our captain realised that we just needed enough of a break in the weather for the toss to be held and the home team, numbering one, would have to concede. The stalemate was broken when the home captain started phoning his teammates (or, possibly, anyone he knew locally) to get them to turn up at the ground and force our captain into accepting a cancellation. As they arrived, we left, a glimpse of maximum points washed away.