Paul Edwards day 3 diary from Aigburth
"Could the owner of a silver Audi, registration number ML57VSL, please return to the vehicle immediately as it is causing an obstruction," intones Matt Procter over the Aigburth PA system? Cricinfo's Andrew McGlashan ponders adapting the announcement: "Could Hampshire's Nos 6 & 7 please return to the pavilion immediately as they are causing an obstruction." Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg are bowling outstandingly well with the new ball, but Sean Ervine and Michael Bates are batting with immense competence and the tension is mounting, even in a game which has nearly two days to go.
How did cricket writers cope before the advent of the internet? Very capably, of course. What recourse to technology did J. M Kilburn, Alan Gibson or R C Robertson-Glasgow have? None, apart from radio, is the answer, yet one is frequently in awe of their match reports. Two of the best anthologies I've read recently are Sweet Summers, which brings together many of Kilburn's pieces for The Yorkshire Post, and Of Didcot and the Demon, which is a collection of Gibson's work for The Times (Both books are still available.) The curious thing is that the two writers could not have been more different: Kilburn once declared that he attended a match "to write about the cricket" whereas Gibson's reports frequently mention the cricket tangentially, preferring instead to inform his readers about the place where the game is being played, his travails on the train, the birth of kittens etc.etc. What both books have in common is that neither is loaded with statistics or, indeed, quotations from players in the sweaty aftermath of battle. I rather suspect the work is so good because it is not cluttered with those things. One wonders whether either type of writer could prosper in the current journalistic climate. I fear I know the answer to that one. Never mind. I warmly recommend both books to those visiting this website. Sometime in the autumn I will offer a list of ten or a dozen other works which I have enjoyed - and I'll also ask readers to recommend their own choices.
Nevertheless, the provision of up-to-date scores on the internet makes the analysis of the changing situation in the County Championship all the easier. As Gary Keedy and Simon Kerrigan work their way through the Hampshire batting, the lap-topped press corps and anyone else with an up-to-date mobile phone can assess the effect of Lancashire's progress on the Division One table and link it to the games taking place at Edgbaston and Headingley. While the permutations are not endless, they are so numerous as to prompt lively debate.
Depending on the weather and the state of about three games Lancashire have moved from being outsiders for the Championship to being nailed-on certainties to win the thing, and then, having briefly been outsiders again, now see their odds shortening. Taunton's hotels and b&bs are doing brisk business, all bookings being made with the possibility of free cancellation. The Times correspondent has narrowed his choice down to about twelve establishments and may soon be interviewing the proprietors of places where he might stay. The man from the Manchester Evening News and his redoubtable photographer are staying at a farm. Phileas Fogg and Passepartout meet The Archers.
Lancashire may not win the 2011 County Championship. A late clatter of wickets at Edgbaston has made the achievement of victory tomorrow almost a necessity. Nevertheless, it would be a shame if any cloud of disappointment obscured the wonderful enterprise displayed by Paul Horton and Stephen Moore this evening. Their 168-run first-wicket partnership seized the game by the scruff if its neck and has given Lancashire the best of chances to force a win. It was the stuff of champions. Very soon it'll be down to the bowlers.