Lancashire's players left Cheltenham at about seven o'clock on Sunday evening. Fourteen hours later most members of the Old Trafford squad were already practising on the Aigburth outfield.
Factor in the travelling time, tip in some sleep, add a little more for luxuries such as breakfast and you have an interesting reflection of the life of a professional cricketer in 2011.
I wonder how footballers might react if they were required to play two matches in less than a day; actually, I think I know pretty well what their response would be.
Yes, I know the comparison is not exact: having made 97 not out yesterday, Paul Horton may not bat at all this morning, but he will then have to concentrate at first slip in the expectation that a catch will come to him every ball. He also knows that a chance may not arrive at all or, more likely, might arrive once or twice in 90 overs. None of these considerations can affect his approach to his work in the slightest
But as I am writing this, the news has come through that he will, indeed, bat. Yesterday evening he was manoeuvring a white ball to all parts of a biscuit-dry outfield and helping Lancashire Lightning to score at 7.25 runs an over to beat the glorious Gloucesters in glorious sunshine. Today he must go out and face a red ball bowled by Warwickshire's seam attack in conditions which are untypically gloomy for Liverpool in 2011. If he is 30 not out at lunch, he will have done his job. Almost regardless of how he gets on today, it seems to me that Horton and his ilk are skilled men, even though they are wont to brush aside any comments about their schedule by saying that all they do is lead the life of English professional cricketers.
Lancashire's players are not on their own, of course. Earlier this summer Yorkshire's players had games at Liverpool (May 18-21), Worcester (May 22), Taunton (May 24-7) and Sussex (May 29-June 1) Wonderful grounds, of course, and very much part of the fabric of English county cricket, but I doubt whether Andrew Gale and his men had too many opportunities to appreciate them. Rumour has it that when the squad returned home, the WiFi was working at Headingley. But no, they would have had to clear off and play a five-Test series on Mars for that to happen.
We love it too, of course, we writers who are also members of county cricket's five-and-a-half month travelling circus. Every tight deadline, every early morning start, every occasion when we blearily confuse the toothpaste with the shaving foam before catching the Parbold Flyer to Manchester. (Actually I may be stretching it a bit there.) Yesterday I was sitting high in the pavilion of Cheltenham College writing about Lancashire winning a Clydesdale Bank 40 game against the dreamy background of that famous chapel and those blue remembered hills. Today I am sitting in the press tent at Aigburth and it is raining hard. It is the land of found content - and I know it. Thank you.
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article is copyright of Lancashire CCC and may not be reproduced without permission