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Dreaming in the shires

Bono of U2 Getty Images

I'd taken a day off work to queue for this ticket. Lancashire v Yorkshire in the County Championship, day three - they don't come much bigger than that. The War of the Roses.

One way or another, almost every page of this morning's newspapers was given over to the County Championship. The back pages were all about this match. The front pages were devoted to the ongoing negotiations surrounding the next TV deal. In between, the gossip pages only had one focus - cricketers.

Kent's captain and star batsman, Rob Key, had been spotted with Beyonc the night before and the tabloids were trying to make out that there was something going on between them. It wasn't the strongest story. It was clear to everyone with half a brain that the pop singer was merely basking in the reflected glory of one of the world's biggest stars.

Picking my way across the stand towards my seat, I could feel the excitement in the air. Children holding "dot ball" signs gabbled on about bonus points and declaration targets, as kids are wont to do. Who could blame them? In my white replica Lancashire shirt and tank top, I felt like a child myself. I could barely wait for my heroes to emerge.

Eventually, after what seemed like hours, there they were, two of the biggest draws of the County Championship, Mark Chilton and Glen Chapple. The crowd roared as they approached the middle, and the white noise washed over me as if a dam holding back a man-made reservoir of emotion had broken.

"Play watchfully!" shouted a boy from the seat next to me. "Take a few overs to evaluate conditions!" shouted a woman next to him, who I took to be his mother.

They weren't disappointed. Every time Chilton unveiled his trademark leave, the bursts of music that greeted them were all but drowned out by the fans. I'd never experienced anything like it.

The two batsmen gave a masterclass in the art of accumulating runs without risk, which was nothing less than the occasion deserved. When the declaration came, it was greeted by hundreds, if not thousands, of fireworks, and the crowd chanted "L-C-C-C L-C-C-C "

During the innings break, the MC pointed out Bono, who was sitting in the VIP area. The crowd cheered dutifully, but they knew that someone even more significant was about to grace the event with his presence. When he emerged, the noise reached a peak, the like of which can rarely have been heard on this earth.

I could scarcely believe my eyes. There he was. In the flesh. Making his way around the perimeter of the pitch, shepherded by a team of bodyguards, was the familiar figure of Lancashire's chief executive, Jim Cumbes. A girl two rows in front fainted.

A little while later, the teams re-emerged. "Make early inroads with the new ball!" shouted my neighbour, excitedly.

Lancashire succeeded in taking five Yorkshire wickets before the close of play, seemingly heeding the "exploit helpful overcast conditions" signs that were being waved at them throughout. They could have had more if it hadn't been for National Banking Solutions Bad Light Stopped Play. It had been a spectacular day.