illustration: Adam Poole
So, the dust has settled on the cricket season. Subsequently, said dust has been swept away by an army of diligent, dawn light-welcoming Polish polishers (who, frankly, could teach this LeftLion lot a thing or two about hard work), only for a whole new layer of dust to form in the interim, leaving everyone so deep in this metaphor that they don’t know whether they need a new broom to brush away the proverbial cobwebs, some Sneeze-E-Zee™ nasal spray to soothe the effects of an as yet not properly diagnosed dust allergy (which could also be a twisted septum, rhinitis, or miscellaneous wear and tear), or to begin a new life as far away from these words as possible.
Berate ye not our tardiness, as I think the good book probably says somewhere. There’s good reason. In the face of a breakneck modern media world of instant verdicts, banal, disposable quotemongering, and general blah (the three pillars of churnalism), Left Line and Length likes to ruminate, cogitate, formulate, delegate, procrastinate. In your face, Modern World.
Anyway, regardless of what’s happened to the dust, the cricket season is over. The best of the sunlight has effed itself off to the southern hemisphere, no doubt hoping to catch a bit of winter sun, while the Notts squad have doffed their cap to Old Skool refueling habits and had their annual fancy-dress tram-crawl piss-up. They now have seven months to do what’s known in the game as sort their shit out. Nothing less than a treble is acceptable. In fact, the quadruple. The Championship should be wrapped up by late August, allowing Notts to field a reserve team for the last three games while the stars head off to India to win the Champions League.
Notts on the lash
[insert joke about middle stump]
The last time your columnist deigned to keep you informed as to what was going on at Trent Bridge – and he is painfully
aware that this is your primary news source for cricket and thus that you may well not know they had quite a decent day out in that
London in late September – they had just been knocked out of the T20 competition
. After Somerset in 2011 and Hampshire in 2012, in 2013 it was Essex, with their traveling pissheads, precisely curated barnets, and vajazzled uvver arves
back in Chingford. Home quarter-final defeats thus proved to be like buses: shit and full of hooligans.
The season thereafter can be summarized by means of a few gestures (which unfortunately have to be rendered in the alien medium of words). First, there’s a massive yawn as Notts’ mid-season, mid-table mediocrity in the Champo leaves them with nothing to play for. Then, there’s a titter as Derbyshire, back in the top-flight for the first time in a decade yet winless after 10 of 16 games, suddenly put together a run of three wins in four. The titter becomes a trip to the shitter (not so much a gesture as a physical reflex) when it looks as though the team from NG might be Sucked Into A Relegation Dogfight. Notts come through it, though, but it goes to the last game, a travesty given the talent in the squad and something they ought to be a little embarrassed about.
To give it some context, Notts won a measly two Championship games all season (the least in the top division), both wrapped up by May 18, leaving over four months, twelve games, without a four-day win. Left Line and Length cannot be totally certain as to why, but he’s going to simplify the explanation to a single word. Bowling. With Andre Adams
under an injury cloud for most of the season and Ajmal Shahzad a pale imitation of the bowler he was as recently as 2011, Harry Gurney and Luke Fletcher toiled honestly but without enough zing to knock over Div One lineups. If the bowling lacks life, the TB wicket does too. And if the square is too dry as a result of drainage, they don’t have a frontline spinner to exploit it [yes, Indignant of Kimberley, I did see those two jaffas Samit bowled at Lord’s].
How times have changed. Five years ago, Notts had an attack of Sidebottom, Pattinson, Adams and pre-England Graeme Swann, and were often mocked for their supposed batting frailties ("an attack of Sidebottom"? Oo-err – Ed.). Today, the attack is akin to a man with no teeth trying to eat a curly-wurly. The bowling needs some je ne sais quoi. What that is, I don’t know exactly...
Smart money is on Mick Newell dipping into the market for a non-IPL-playing pace bowler – one who’s also unlikely to be commandeered for any of the other T20s mushrooming hither and thither, and coinciding with the English ‘summer’. New Zealander Trent Boult would be useful. Or Jackson Bird. Young, hungry and – offering zero with the bat – no T20 reputation as yet.
24 years? There is a light and it never goes out...
Anyway, despite the huff and puff of the Championship and the T20 loss to Essex – Essex! – it wasn’t all doom and gloom at Trent Bridge. No, Notts actually made it to a Lord’s final, having gone 24 years without a Big Day Out at HQ, the longest wait in all of county cricket.
Here’s the story of the final. Relive the highs and lows! Revisit the twists and the turns!! Get your limited edition souvenir set of multi-coloured fineliner pens!!!
Notts: x1·1··· | ·····1 | 1···1 | 12···1 | ·1·1·· | ··14· | ··2·4 | ·446·1 | 1·1111 | ·w11·· | 112w·· | 2··1x·· | ···1·1 | ··1211 | ··13·· | ·1··2· | x·11··· | w····· | ·424·w | 3··1·4 | 11···2 | 1131·· | ·····4 | 1····1 | ··1·1· | ·13·11 | ·61111 | 21113· | ·1·11· | ··1··1 | 441[4x]221 | ··14·· | ···142 | 1411·1 | 6w··24 | ·wx1414 | ·111x2 | 124144 | 411·w | ·2·41w
Glamorgan: ·11·11 | w··2·· | ···1·· | 4····1 | ·411·1 | 1111·1 | ··4·14 | 11··41 | ·11w·1 | 2·1·1· | ·21111 | 14··11 | 11121· | 114·1· | 1·111· | 2··4·1 | 12·121 | 1·1·11 | 4122·· | 21·1w· | 1··1·1 | 13·w·· | 1·11·· | w··1·· | 11·121 | 1····· | 111·· | 1·4·1· | ·1·311 | 1····· | wx2w1·4 | ·11··1 | w2w··w
As you can clearly see, it wasn’t exactly a thriller: 244 plays 157. It was exactly the sort of game you’d expect when a team of current or sometime internationals (with the exceptions of Steve Mullaney and Harry Gurney) square off against players from a county. Actually, three counties: Mid Glamorgan, South Glamorgan and West Glamorgan, which is something of an advantage until you consider that Notts have effectively annexed Leicestershire, an Anschluss not quite on a par with Hitler’s incorporation of Austria in the Third Reich, but still…
Anyway, much as Yorkshire once forbade themselves from picking anyone not born within the county borders (something the aforementioned Fuhrer might have solved by seeking to expand those county borders), Glamorgan have until recently constitutionally restricted themselves to having at least 70% of their squad bear the following seven names: Evans, Jones, Griffiths, Davies, Morgan, Llewellyn, and Rees (and occasionally combinations thereof). Like a heroin addict with manky veins everywhere, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
monk or monkey?
Still, Notts had their own selection quandary. People whose raison d’être appears to be getting their knickers in a twist duly got a touch frothy about Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, um, swanning in for the final, having had no part in the thirteen-game path to Lord’s (save a couple of tweets). Once the storm had passed and the teacup had stopped rattling, the no-brainer option was pursued. Selection became slightly easier when Jake Ball, Man of the Match in the semi-final win over Somerset, was ruled out with injury. This left only Riki Wessels of the regulars to miss out.
Captain Read, after a wretched summer with the bat (though not quite as bad as Alex Hales, who averaged 13 in four-day cricket), played the major hand and Samit Patel spun the first two balls of his career to dismiss key batsmen in Allenby and Goodwin, duly picking up the man of the match prize. Ale was drunk. Songs were no doubt sung.
Steve Archibald, the ex-Spurs and Barça striker who once said “team spirit is an illusion glimpsed in the aftermath of victory”, probably tickled his wee bawbag somewhere. As if to prove him wrong, the Notts players went out on an extended bender several days after the aftermath could reasonably be said to be over (do the math), thus proving Mick Newell right, as you can see from this leaked document:
END OF TERM REPORT
Hales – post-match hug at Lord’s was -8˚C but before he goes to the Hype-Pee-Ell, or whatever it’s called, he needs to take a long hard look in the mirror. No, scratch that…
Cowan – we gave him two months practice here and he repaid us with an Ashes golden blob that’ll probably end his Test career. Top man!
Wessels – Oh Riki, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind (but not enough to make the XI for Lord’s), hey Riki, hey Riki!
Lumb – If I was gay…
Taylor – They say he’s hit the glass ceiling. Must be a bloody low one. Medieval Japan, or somewhere
Patel – High-maintenance. Doesn’t do enough self-maintenance.
Hussey – Great servant. Need to find someone to sweet-talk the square-leg umps next year.
Mullaney – The Ute (of today could learn a thing or two).
Read – Like a frayed sofa: part of the furniture. Don’t ever leave me!
Franks – Bowling becoming dot burglary, pretty much, but he’s a stick of Outlaws rock. Cut him open and he bleeds to death.
Fletcher – Too much time on Fletcher Gate, not enough in the gym. Needs to wash his kit on a lower temperature, too. And tuck it in.
Adams – Remember to take him out of cryogenic suspension in March.
Shehzad – Remember to devote two days in Bradford looking for his mojo.
Gurney – Runs up like a frog on rollerskates but does the job. Batting ropey. “Bowl him a piano, see if he can play that”. Erm, he can.
Broad – No, never heard of him…
Swann – Who?
Phillips – Why?
White – Think he’s the ginger lad.
Carter – No, this one’s the ginger lad. That reminds me, must get Noony to be clear he’s giving me DVD tips next time he texts “Get Carter”.
See yous in April. Up the Stags.