August 29, 2012

LV= County Championship, Wednesday August 29

3.40pm: Les Smith at Yorkshire v Gloucestershire

3.40pm: Les Smith at Yorkshire v Gloucestershire

When the umpires walked out to take yet another look at conditions, it was nothing but a formality. While they and the players took their early tea, more steady rain set in. So finally the diehards in the Trafalgar Square Enclosure, who have sat with incredible stoicism for hours watching the rain fall, are packing up their sandwich boxes and heading off to their guest houses and homes, with the dregs of a wet afternoon to fill and hopes, no doubt of,something better tomorrow.

3.05pm: David Lloyd at Somerset v Surrey

Well, not quite ‘it’ as it happens. With the rain absolutely hammering down, Pietersen and two Surrey colleagues wandered onto the sodden outfield in training gear to embark on a series of shuttle runs.

Drenched does not begin to describe their appearance after a few moments. Oh well, it takes all sorts...

2.45pm: David Lloyd at Somerset v Surrey

Well, we have had some more rain. And, sadly, that is it for the day.

2.50pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Durham

Yet another shower has just interrupted another inspection from Martin Bodenham and Nigel Cowley, the umpires, and they have consequently abanonded play for the day.

2.30pm: Les Smith at Yorkshire v Gloucestershire

Still no play here at North Marine Road. Umpires David Millns and Steve O’Shaughnessy have just been out to take a look, and as they arrived at the middle light rain began to fall again. So it’s an early tea at 3.10pm, then the umpires will try again. Steve O’Shaughnessy, clutching like all of us at whatever damp straws are within reach, says that it’s been dry at Wetherby for an hour and a half, and that’s where Scarborough’s weather is coming from. Perhaps, then, we will get some cricket, but it doesn’t look promising.

2.30pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Durham

Another shower, this time a heavy one, has all but ended any chance of any play today. While both teams will be disappointed, given the finely-balanced state of the match, it has at least allowed them to witness the momentous press conference from Lord’s. Players and officials were noticeably absent from the outfield while Messrs Strauss and Cook told the nation about the change of England’s Test captain.

Peter Moores, Lancashire’s coach and England coach for two years, was sympathetic towards Strauss’ decision but having worked with Cook during him time as Academy coach, believes England have found a natural successor.

"Good captains care as much about other people as they do themselves and that is what Andrew does,” Moores explained. “He is a very good player and as a leader he moulded a team and to be involved in three Ashes-winning series is something not many people can say.

“Like most good leaders, he is consistent, trustworthy, has a very good cricket brain and has formed a good partnership with Andy Flower. He will look back and has probably picked a good time to go.”

“They have a really good replacement in Alastair Cook, a person of the same ilk so I think there will be an easy transition. Alastair has had leadership qualities from the moment I have known him, definitely. The first time I saw him was when I was England Academy director.

“He has always had high integrity, is a very straight bloke and is an exceptional player. You can’t underestimate the quality of player he is and how he has handled himself through his early years of international cricket. Being one-day captain, this is a natural progression for him and now he has a decent period of time before next summer’s Ashes to get started.”

Strauss' great friend Paul Collingwood, however, struggled to conceal his amusement when it was suggested that he may become a coach in his retirement. “He’s certainly more of an administrator or an organiser rather than someone who would give you throw downs,” he said.

“His throw downs were absolutely shocking, anyway, because he always got that bit of turn as he was throwing them at you. He’s good at receiving throw downs, but not very good at giving them.

“I think what happens all through your life is that you learn about the game and your experiences of playing around the world and it would be a shame if he didn’t pass on those experiences to the next generation. Whether that will be in coaching or in an administration role, I’m not sure, but I’m sure we’ll see him in cricket again.”

1.45pm: David Lloyd at Somerset v Surrey

The sun is out, albeit it a bit sheepishly, and an inspection is planned for 2.45pm. Only guessing but I reckon we are two hours away from play, at best. And that’s if we don’t get any more rain.

Anyway, KP has headed for the indoor nets. The word is he will not be breaking his silence any time soon.

1.40pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Nottinghamshire

Were there anyone still on the ground at Edgbaston, apart from the few stragglers in the dining room, it will have come as a surprise to none of them that there will be no play today. There are large areas of the outfield under water. There has been so much rain here this summer that the ground is almost literally saturated, i.e. there is no capacity for any more to be absorbed.

Ashley Giles has been paying tribute to Andrew Strauss and also answering questions about who might step into his batting shoes at the top of the order. He would not name names but hinted strongly enough that the Lions line-up was the place to look for clues.

1.20pm: Les Smith at Yorkshire v Gloucestershire

At lunchtime yesterday there were 4,128 spectators inside the ground at North Marine Road. This lunchtime there are approximately 4,000 fewer. The players took an early lunch at 12.30. The serious rain has passed but it’s still spitting, and there is a big drying up job to be done. Umpire David Millns was studying the online weather radar half an hour ago, and it didn’t look pretty.

Down the road there is a café which was heaving at 11.30 with cricket followers enjoying a late breakfast, and a steward tells me that the indoor bowls club opposite was also choc-a-bloc. Even the seagulls which swelled the crowd yesterday have made themselves scarce.

Apparently England need a new opening batsman. Joe Root would be a popular choice in these parts. He has nearly 700 first class runs this season, Yorkshire’s best, and has been compared to Geoffrey Boycott by the great man himself.

12.45pm: David Lloyd at Somerset v Surrey

Particular sadness here over Andrew Strauss’s decision to retire from all cricket – well, he did score a century for Somerset against India at Taunton last year following a one-match loan move to the West Country.

But, seriously, the players of both Somerset and Surrey watched Strauss’s press conference on TV in the Andy Caddick pavilion, behind locked doors. No-one is allowed to get near KP at the moment, you see.

Marcus Trescothick, Strauss’s long-time opening partner with England and a close friend, emerged to say: “I wasn’t surprised by the developments although I was hoping Andrew would continue as an England player.

“I’m sure he would have liked to go out on a high by beating South Africa and keeping the No 1 ranking but sadly that didn’t prove possible. I don’t believe the Kevin Pietersen issue had any effect on his decision – I’m sure this has been part of his planning for some time.

“I wish him nothing but the best for the future.”

As for the chances of any action here, the weather is looking a bit brighter. But only a bit and the covers remain in place.

11.25am: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Nottinghamshire

It is raining steadily on already saturated ground at Edgbaston so the chances of play in the foreseeable future are non-existent. Possibly not until tomorrow.

Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, is almost ready to concede defeat in the title race. He won't be whingeing about England calls tearing into his playing resources either. "If we can blame anything it is the fact that we didn't win games when we had a full strength team available," he said.

He was referring in particular to matches against Middlesex at Uxbridge and Sussex at Trent Bridge in July, when Nottinghamshire were in good positions but could not take advantage. In both matches, significantly, Andre Adams did not take a wicket in the second innings.

11.15am: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Durham

There might be some fancy press conference at Lord’s later today, but there are far more pressing matters at hand here in Merseyside. One of the supporters here at Aigburth, who is no doubt an Evertonian, is convinced Kenny Dalglish has been spending his time since leaving Liverpool advising Lancashire and is therefore responsible for their current struggles in Division One. Then again, he is the same cricket fan who once told me that Prince Harry was barred admission for one game at Aigburth last season, so make your own judgement on his relationship with reality.

While the England and Wales Cricket Board prepare to confirm the inevitable around mid-day, the ground-staff are busy looking busy, congregating in the middle and displaying the type of body language that every cricket fan dreads. Umpires Martin Bodenham and Nigel Cowley have already announced there will be no play before lunch and are planning to inspect at 1.00pm.

By then boredom may well have set in for the few people at the ground, although not at the refreshment stall, who are reporting a brisk trade in bacon butties, not least from the press tent. After an enthralling opening day, both sides would have been keen to continue with Lancashire chasing the victory that would help their relegation struggle and Durham chasing a county record fifth successive win, which have all been achieved under the new captaincy of Paul Collingwood.

Should Durham beat Lancashire and overcome the weather over the next few days, it would be the eighth time a county has achieved such a landmark since the county championship split into two divisions in 2001. The most recent occasion was Surrey, who won five in a row from August last year to April this summer, while Northamptonshire are the only county to have achieved six successive wins back in 2003.

11.15am: David Lloyd at Somerset v Surrey

Penny for your thoughts, KP. It is persistently raining here, and has been for a couple of hours, so no play for quite some time. And that means everyone, including Kevin Pietersen, no doubt, is busy wondering what today’s press conference at Lord’s will bring.

Assuming the speculation about Andrew Strauss standing down as England captain is correct, Pietersen will be pressed for a reaction – given the shenanigans of recent weeks.

Pietersen, who scored that wonderful 163 yesterday, has maintained a vow of silence over the last fortnight. Will that change later today?

As for the introduction to this blog, which asks whether we can expect any other resignations today, well... I’m considering quitting this camping lark. Going under canvas, as I have done a few times this ‘summer’, is all very well when the sun shines. But tramping through wet fields when it’s lashing down (as happened this morning) may not be as much fun as some people crack it up to be.


11.10am: Les Smith at Yorkshire v Gloucestershire

Good morning from North Marine Road for the second day of a match that is intriguingly poised. Yorkshire supporters are willing their team to press on from their overnight position of relative prosperity in search of one of the two wins from the last three games that coach Jason Gillespie reckons will mean mission accomplished in Division 2 of the County Championship.

Unfortunately those few who have turned up are going to have to wait a while. It’s lashing down. The young steward whose job is to prevent spectators walking behind the bowler’s arm at the Pavilion End made her opinion of her job admirably clear and forthright when I wished her a cheery good morning a few minutes ago. Why she’s standing there is a mystery, because there’ll be no bowling from either end in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, in the press box, prompted by the selection of Dean Elgar by South Africa, we’re busy selecting an eleven of first class cricketers who share their surnames with composers of classical music, and we could do with some help. One of our batsmen is Matthew Hayden, and we’d prefer not to cheat.

10.45am: Andrew McGlashan sets the scene on quiet day

Morning everyone. Have I missed any news? So, it appears that Andrew Strauss’ international career is about to draw to close. But never mind that, who’s going to win the County Championship? Warwickshire are certainly in control now with Nottinghamshire losing half their team to England calls and injury. However, Warwickshire got close last year and couldn’t seal the deal. Will that haunt them?

And at the other end of the table Lancashire and Worcestershire are trying to keep their head above the relegation waters. Tom Smith went from basher to blocker yesterday and Lancashire were hugely grateful for that while Daryl Mitchell fought hard for Worcestershire. Meanwhile, Surrey were boosted by you-know-who with a fantastic hundred.

I’ll leave you in the capable hands of our county correspondents who will no doubt after some input on the big news of the day. Yes, of course I meant those crucial bonus points. What else would it be?

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo