Match survives despite absent scorer
Northamptonshire 438 (Keogh 221) and 135 for 3 (Sales 66*) drew with Hampshire 545 (Adams 218)
The final day of this match predictably ended in a dull draw, watched by all too few spectators. That there was any play at all was not just as a consequence of an improvement in the weather. The ECB, had it decided to stick rigidly to the Laws of the game, could have ordered the umpires to bring proceedings to a close and to re-start this contest on the same pitch.
The reason being because one of the two official scorers, Tony Weld of Hampshire, was taken ill and returned home. There was no replacement for him.
Tony Kingston, representing Northamptonshire, had to score for both clubs for the entire day, using one computer. This is contrary to Law 4 (The Scorers) which stipulates the appointment of two scorers. Indeed, the "notchers" or "chalkers", as they were known, have long been considered integral to the staging of a cricket match.
A scorer for OPTA, supplying data, continued to operate in the same scorebox here but did not take over Weld's work as well. Hence, in theory, the umpires, Martin Saggers and Steve O'Shaughnessy, could have insisted that the match be restarted and another four days allocated.
What occurred instead was that Alan Fordham, the ECB's Operations Manager, "used his discretion" to ensure this fixture was completed. "The alternative," according to a spokesman, "was to end the game." Tim Tremlett, Hampshire's Cricket Secretary, spoke to the umpires and contemplated scoring himself, but had other work to consume him. Asked if he had contemplated contacting Vic Isaacs, the club's long-serving former scorer who lives near the ground, he said he would not be taking up that option.
Isaacs would have been the obvious replacement in that his 31 years service with the club remains a post-war record and he continues to score in local club matches. Yet he fell out with the club and Tremlett, his "line manager" as he called him over the public address at the end of his final match in 2006. It was anticipated that Isaacs would be granted a Benefit year by the club the following season, but instead Rod Bransgrove, the chairman, imposed a ban on his attendance. Isaacs' son, Richard, who scores for Sky, said his father would have been happy to be called up if asked.
There have been other instances of clubs being without their scorers, if not for an entire day's play. Mike Selvey, the former England bowler, recalls a match at Tunbridge Wells in which both the Middlesex and Kent scorers, Harry Sharp and Claude Lewis, did not pick up their fountain pens in the first half hour of the second session because they were having such a good lunch. When Lewis wanted to go to the lavatory at other times, Derek Underwood, whom once he coached, would fill in his scorebook. Computerisation brought all this to an end. Kevin Baker, the Hampshire analyst, will stand in for Weld for the club's Yorkshire Bank 40 semi-final against Glamorgan.
The match itself started half an hour late owing to rain and was concluded with a declaration by Northamptonshire at 4.20 pm. Hampshire, no doubt, would have preferred an earlier finish given their looming semi-final. Maybe the ECB could have done them a favour in bringing about an early conclusion, after all.