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Saunas, Balloons and Sunshine

Saunas, Balloons and Sunshine

Paul Edwards suffers a day of contrasting fortunes covering Lancashire's Championship clash with Nottinghamshire

            The seasons continued to clash and grate against each other at Old Trafford today. As the rain teemed out of a leaden sky and smacked hard against the windows of the press-box this morning, only the sight of the used wickets on the square would have caused you to doubt that we were deep in November. The puddles on the outfield would then have been of little consequence at a time of year when the cricketers were either abroad or practising indoors.
 
            Yet by early afternoon, summer's warmth had returned, however briefly, and extensive drying-up work had begun, the whole operation assisted by a strong wind which tugged and tore at the county's flags atop the stands. By 4.00 the cricket had restarted under the bluest of skies and it was only to be interrupted by the glare of the sun.
 
            "If they go off because of good light, it will do my head in," emoted Charles Colville on Sky, not perhaps realising that "sun stops play" has been a regular occurrence at both Derby and Old Trafford in recent years; it is partly why they rotated the square through ninety degrees at the County Ground last year and will do so at Old Trafford this fast approaching autumn. It should be pointed out at this point that Lancashire's official historian Malcolm Lorimer has repeatedly suggested that the inflation of a mighty balloon - the Lorimer Dirigible, perhaps - at the Stretford End would block out the sun when necessary, as well as offering sponsorship opportunities for imaginative businesses and trips for daring supporters. His idea deserves a wider audience.   
 
            Meanwhile, outside the press-box windows there was another reminder of the season of the year as endless lines of football fans, the Glaswegian, the Mancunian and the more cosmopolitan, trooped towards their particular shrine for a couple of hours' devoted worship. I hope they enjoyed their sport but I just wish football wasn't such a leviathan, consuming all other sports and gobbling up the column inches in every newspaper.
 
             But I had better cease this compaint, for I have no wish to sound curmudgeonly this mellow evening. I have seen more cricket than I expected to see, I have been reminded of Gary Keedy's excellent form, and in the luncheon interval I bought a few volumes at Honest Mal's Bargain Bookstore in the library.
 
             All these glories took my mind off the unpleasant sauna I had endured this morning, courtesy of - you guessed it - Northern Rail and the Parbold Flyer. Now you might think that a commuter train which is regularly overcrowded requires the addition of few extra coaches. This seems not to have occurred to anyone at N.R., and so every day we sit, we stand and we sweat, cheek, as it were, by jowl. One morning there will be a popular protest; until that day comes, Meols Cop, Gathurst and Appley Bridge are truly the stations of the cross.


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