Bowl-out threat looms in Old Trafford quarter-final
Lancashire v Glamorgan - No play; match to take place Saturday
What did Steven Cheetham do on July 29, 2009 which Mark Chilton, Stephen Parry and VVS Laxman could not quite manage?
It is a question which might provoke a few bizarre responses yet the correct answer remains a source of pain for Old Trafford zealots. The prosaic truth is that Cheetham was the only man to hit the stumps five years ago when Lancashire's T20 quarter-final against Somerset had to be settled by a bowl-out in the indoor school. Somerset won 5-1.
Memories of the gang that couldn't shoot straight were revived on Friday evening as Manchester's two-week heatwave ended with a vengeance and the Old Trafford outfield was covered with large puddles which removed any prospect of play in the first NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final.
The plan now is to try again on Saturday with a scheduled start time of 2pm although as large a window as possible has been set aside and a five-over game could even begin under floodlights as late as 8.57. However, there seems only the remotest possibility of playing the game at Old Trafford on Sunday even if the grim weather forecast for the reserve day proves to be accurate.
"We're doing everything we can to get the game played on Saturday," said Lancashire's director of cricket Mike Watkinson. "We have as big a chance as possible of getting the game through then. We have a Test starting on Thursday and the quality of the playing surface is crucial for us. We think we have a good pitch out there and we are mindful of wanting to protect it. It would be fantastic if we can avoid playing on Sunday and we've tried to shut it off as an option."
"Strictly speaking you shouldn't use the ground nine days before a Test Match, so we're already into that period," said Watkinson. "There was also the great left field idea that we could move grounds but I don't think there'd be anywhere in the county with a surface good enough that had avoided the weather. So what do you do? Ring Trent Bridge and say: can we play a double header?"
It also seems that umpires Jeff Evans and Peter Hartley may be prepared to try and fit a game into any window strongly suggested by the weather radar rather than start a 20-over game only for it to be curtailed by the weather and be left with as a bowl-out as their only option.
If a bowl out is held, any registered player from either county can participate in it. This raises the possibility that Lancashire's four-day captain Glen Chapple could send down two of the ten deliveries. There is even the highly remote chance that Andrew Flintoff, who is currently recovering from a calf strain, would be called up to bowl off a couple of paces.
The possibility of a bowl-out may not depress Glamorgan's players too much. Their only experience of cricket's version of a penalty shoot-out goes back to the Tilcon Trophy at Harrogate in 1987, when Worcestershire were beaten in one ten-ball showdown but Gloucestershire emerged victorious in a second, one of the successful bowlers being the unlikely figure of one RC "Jack" Russell.