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County Diary: Somerset members grumble after Cornish's pasty purge

Taunton in all its glory Getty Images

Our correspondents bring you the latest gossip from the county circuit as the 2019 season gathers pace

It would have been perfectly understandable if Somerset members in the Long Room of Colin Atkinson pavilion had wanted to celebrate their county's first victory of the season on Monday by buying a cider at the bar.

But if current plans go ahead, those supporters who want to enjoy a home-made pasty with their pint may find their collars felt by a West Country gauleiter.

Somerset's chief executive Andrew Cornish announced at a forum on Saturday evening that an executive decision had been taken that members would no longer be allowed to consume their own food or wine in the Long Room.

Not surprisingly, this diktat has not gone down well. It would seem that any profit made by the club's catering outlets as a result of the move will not outweigh the ill-feeling caused among loyal members who have already paid top-whack subscriptions.

The club say that the complaint originated from the members themselves, some of whom were unhappy at pack lunches being consumed in a "premium" area of the ground, and it will be put to a vote as to whether food from home can be consumed on the balcony. However, if the ban is enforced, it looks like another example of cricket loading both barrels and taking careful aim at its foot.

The other, more ironic consequence, of course, is that the only pasties available in Somerset's pavilion will have to receive Cornish approval.

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Lancashire supporters arriving at Emirates Old Trafford for next Wednesday's Royal London Cup tie against Worcestershire may notice a familiar voice on the public address.

The long-serving Matt Proctor retired last September and has been succeeded by John Gwynne, who will be most familiar to younger sports fans as one of Sky's football reporters or as a darts commentator.

However, Gwynne has needed little persuasion to return to Old Trafford as often as possible in recent years. Since he stopped being a cricket correspondent for the BBC in the North West, he has become well-known as an MC or interviewer at benefit dinners and he now has the prospect of spending his summer at Manchester, Liverpool and Sedbergh.

Only one question remains: will Gwynne be able to conceal his full-throated ecstasy if a batsman is dismissed for … one hundred and eighteeeeeee?

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The County Championship might be under permanent threat but at least it has entered the 21st century in terms of WiFi availability.

All 18 counties now offer WiFi on their grounds thanks to a tie-up with Sky. We tested it at Trent Bridge last week and it was surprisingly fast - perhaps because not everybody has cottoned on to its existence.

Just what you need to ensure you can message your thoughts to our County Cricket Live blog without using up your data allowance too quickly.

We couldn't help a snigger or two at the incorrigible optimist Paul Nixon as he assessed Leicestershire's chances on the eve of the season.

Nine players out, four in suggested a tough season ahead for the Foxes but Nixon overflowed with praise for Leicestershire's prospects and, in particular, their new signing from Derbyshire, the seam bowler Tom Taylor.

"Could be in contention for an England Lions trip by the end of the season," said Nixon, so impressed was he by Taylor's winter improvement.

It appears we laughed too soon. Taylor took career-best stats of 10 for 122, promotion hopefuls Sussex were beaten at Hove and Nixon's optimism was vindicated.

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Perhaps the most surprising sight at Lancashire's Media Day was to see Matt Parkinson virtually fully recovered less than a fortnight after being struck an horrific blow on the jaw by Surrey's Mark Stoneman during a T10 Festival at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

Parkinson, a 22-year-old leg-spinner who has been tipped to get an England call-up, was taken straight to hospital in Dubai where scans revealed no broken bones and the deep lacerations in his jaw were repaired by a plastic surgeon.

Merely to escape with nothing more than stitches from such a life-threatening incident seems faintly miraculous but Parkinson is clearly made of stern stuff. And the astonishment at his availability was not confined to the media. "That ball couldn't have been hit any harder," said head coach, Glen Chapple.

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In addition to the new players and refreshed ambitions on parade at Trent Bridge, this most splendid of county grounds is showing off another elegant architectural addition in the shape of the two-tier upwards extension of the central section of the Radcliffe Road stand.

The project, which began in 2017, is now finished, providing extra broadcasting suites and hospitality areas, plus a swish new restaurant, under a stylish curved roof.

Nottinghamshire have hired a Michelin-starred chef, Nottingham-born Tom Sellars, to ensure that the new eatery, which has been named Six, meets the highest standards of contemporary fine dining. (Sadly, he won't be supplying the press lunches, although that's not to say the first-floor dining room doesn't look after us very nicely).

Diners who do plan to eat there will need patience and deep pockets. Already, more than 2,000 foodies interested in such offerings as gin-cured chalk stream trout with cucumber and oyster emulsion, Packington chicken with asparagus, morels and wild garlic, or native lobster with lobster bisque and lovage, have been added to a priority booking list for the 40-seat restaurant. Last Friday and Saturday's sampling menus were fully booked at £150 per head.

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The ECB network correspondents are grumbling because they were asked for a letter of assignation before being issued with their press accreditation for the new season … even though their employer is the ECB.