Paul Edwards loses out on the horses but witnesses a thoroughbred performance at Aigburth
It has been pointed out to me that I have written two pieces about the 2011 season and said nothing about trains. You must be wondering what is up with me. (Answers on a postcard are not required. Ed.)
Well let me begin with an update. The last time I travelled by Northern Rail - for Lancashire's Media Day - the whole purpose of the business seemed to have changed somewhat. The coach in which I sat appeared to me not to have been cleaned for a while, leading me to suppose that perhaps some sort of chemical experiment was being conducted. You know the sort of thing: you put a whole variety of germs together and wait to see what develops. It was a thought which perturbed me rather as we hurtled towards the metropolis. Instead of the Parbold Flyer, we may now have to contend with the Porton Down Pullman.
Except, of course, that for six County Championship games this summer I will be spared Northern Rail's tender mercies. The route from Birkdale to Aigburth is adminstered by Merseyrail, and jolly comfortable it is too. What's more, you even get a free entry into the Merseyrail and People's Postcode Lottery every time you buy a ticket. Now I suspect that my chances of winning an Apple iPad or a weekend break in this glorified raffle are approximately about the same as my prospects of bagging some goodies in the Reader's Digest prize draw, despite the fact that I am on the latter's short list so frequently. Nevertheless, I reckon it's the thought that counts.
The quest for my first million would actually have been helped if I had listened to Stan the Steward. It was he who gave the press pack three tips for the Grand National this morning. The nags to receive Stan's authoritative recommendation were Silver By Nature, Calgary Bay and Ballabriggs.
Now it has to be said that Stan's trio had an advantage over Chris Ostick's suggestion that I put some money on Dusty Carpet on the grounds that it was unbeaten. (Geddit?) Unlike my colleague Graham Hardcastle, however, I did not listen to the uniformed sage. I felt rather smug about this decision when Calgary Bay came a cropper at the third, but by the time the Bolton News correspondent was cheering Ballabriggs home, I was a tad less happy about my earlier caution. Still, I was pleased for Graham. Pleased for Stan, too. The moral of this story? Always listen to the stewards.
One matter on which I am very willing to take a bet, though, is that no millionaire's smile at Aintree will have been broader than that which spread across the face of Karl Brown when he reached his maiden first-class century. Brown has been around the Lancashire set-up for so long that it is easy to forget that the current game is only his seventh appearance in the County Championship. Yet the confidence with which he batted during his 278-minute innings yesterday recalled the assurance he showed in making a mere 40 against Kent in 2008. That innings was also played at Liverpool, the ground on which Brown made his second team debut in 2003.
Last season Brown's all-round contribution helped Leigh achieve promotion to the ECB Premier League of the Liverpool Competition. He is hugely respected in club cricket and his loyalty to Leigh is warmly appreciated at Beech Walk. So there could have few sights more in tune with the balmy Spring weather at Aigburth than that of Brown stroking the ball through the covers on the way to a landmark he will never forget. Even on a weekend which is likely to feature the feats of Sebastian Vettel, Rory McIlroy and that wretched nag Ballabriggs, Saturday afternoon belonged to Brownie.
Article is copyright of Lancashire CCC Ltd and must not be reproduced without permission
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh