Mitchell passes 700 Championship runs
Worcestershire 67 for 0 trail Kent 258 by 191 runs
Patience is its own reward, goes the saying, and one rather needed to believe it on the third day at Tunbridge Wells. Self-improvement had to fill the space normally occupied by unsullied pleasure when play was finally called off in late afternoon.
Not that the day was a complete washout; that would have been too simple. Instead, a clutch of loyal punters and corporate entertainees waited until 3.45pm for cricket to get under way. By that hour the effects of Monday's downpours had been mopped up and the latest rain had abated. Umpires Jeremy Lloyds and Steve O'Shaughnessy, who must have inspected the square and its surrounds at least half a dozen times on Tuesday, were rewarded when Darryl Mitchell leg-glanced Robbie Joseph's first ball for four and clipped the seamer's second to the square leg boundary.
Their persistence apparently justified, the diehards gathered in the Bluemantle Stand settled down to watch 44 overs' cricket. Perhaps such complacency was their first and final error. A mere 15 balls and 11 runs later the rain returned, as if reinvigorated by its brief absence. Just 20 minutes later the players were making for their cars and coaches.
"We can do very little on days like today," Mitchell admitted, whose final single on Tuesday at least gave him the consolation of reaching 700 County Championship runs for the season - the leading tally in the country. "The lads have iPads and iPhones and some of them will mess around on the internet. Other than that, you just try to amuse yourself and pass the time.
"As an opening batsman I've been in this sort of situation a good few times before, so I normally switch off and only worry about batting when we get a start time. We generally get 45 minutes' notice and that's more than enough time to get your head around batting."
Even for those without pressing professional concerns, the hours before cricket began had to be filled somehow. One or two decamped to the racing at nearby Lingfield Park; most, though, read their papers, ate their lunches, and waited.
Yet there are worse places than Tunbridge Wells to watch the rain come down. Indeed, the town which takes its name from the famous chalybeate spring has been a social centre since the early 18th century.
"Company and Diversion is in short the main business of the Place", wrote Daniel Defoe of Tunbridge Wells in his Tour Through Great Britain and Ireland (1724-27) and for long periods of the third morning and afternoon visitors to the Nevill Ground had to hope that similarly diverting fellowship was present nearly three hundred years later.
Fortunately, club members in this part of Kent are nothing if not welcoming and the catering is little if not generous. The CAMRA tent did good business on Tuesday and the home side's omission of Bollinger on the first morning did not portend parsimony. Nearby lanes such as Madeira Park and Cumberland Walk suggest leisured ease and relatively few of the houses are numbered. Name-plates like "Cedars" and "Oaks" lie at the entrance to long drives, at the end of which, large houses hide behind many trees. One would not be surprised to discover that prospective postmen are interviewed for their situations. Even the portaloos on the Nevill Ground offer an expensive brand of handwash and moisturiser.
As for the cricket, the players' concerns on the final day will be more prosaic and professional. "I'd agree this is a game for bonus points," Mitchell said. "I think it's destined for a draw but if we can bat very well tomorrow we can come out of this game with 13 points."
The Worcestershire skipper will not be alone in hoping that he gets the chance to gather such modest riches. Not since 2008 has a four-day match at Tunbridge Wells been uninterrupted by rain. This festival, and the people who run it, deserve rather better.