Paul Edwards spends day three at the Riverside writing in the rain
I have serious doubts about saying this on a website read by Lancashire supporters but the fact that cricket can be interrupted by bad weather adds to the game's charm.
Our enjoyment is made more precious by the possibility that it could be curtailed for an unspecified period. Would we really welcome a summer that was nothing but warmth and sunshine? "Of course we would ! " reply my colleagues in the press-box, and their expressions reveal concerns about my sanity. I doubt it, though; I think five months of unbroken sun would eventually become tedious, like a fortnight of Christmas Days, or a life that was, indeed, one long holiday.
These thoughts occurred to me as I watched the gentle showers of early afternoon at the Riverside develop into the two hours of steady rain which eventually destroyed any chance Lancashire had of pressing home their advantage on Thursday. Until lunchtime, the day had been one of drizzle and drift. Gone were the batsman- friendly conditions in which Chanderpaul and Sutton had built their side's formidable total on Wednesday. Instead, we had slate grey skies, a chill breeze and Lancashire's bowlers steaming in with their tails up, in the expectation of making further inroads.
Part of the attraction of this game has been the very different weathers in which it has been played. Sutton and Chanderpaul had the opportunity to extend their partnership on Wednesday because they had battled through against the Durham attack when conditions were nothing like so favourable to them on Tuesday afternoon. They had been forced to earn their afternoon in the sun.
This can apply to bowlers too, of course. A seamer has to learn how to deploy his skills when the ball is hooping around and when it is doing absolutely diddly-squat. "As a bowler you have to learn to take wickets in all conditions," said Jimmy Anderson on Thursday evening. "I think the biggest thing for me - and I'm still working at it - is trying to figure out ways to take wickets when it's not swinging. When it is swinging, I can be dangerous, but when it isn't, I've not taken as many wickets as I could have. So I'm still learning about that and I'll continue to learn."
Part of the infinite richness of a game of cricket is explained by the diverse natures of the participants and the very different conditions in which they display their skills. Guyanans as different as Clive Lloyd and Shivnarine Chanderpaul become world-class batsmen; likewise, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne are regarded as two of the best spinners on the planet, yet they employ radically different styles and techniques. Each of these giants of the game have also had to cope with hundreds of vastly different pitches during their careers, and also a rich variety of weathers. Their capabilities in this respect have helped to raise them to the highest level.
"There was a bit of rain on the pitch today and that helped it to zip through a litle bit," said Anderson, thus revealing an advantage Lancashire had been able to use courtesy of Thursday morning's conditions. It may only have been a small point, but it was nevertheless revelatory of how the weather had affected the contest. Now, of course, I'll be disappointed if the game is washed out tomorrow, but by the same token, I'd miss the rain if it didn't threaten, or occasionally enhance, my summer's enjoyment.
Photo: Gareth Copley/PA Images