Ah sod it. Back to school after a Bank Holiday is never good is it? Particularly when the Bank Holiday in question prompted scenes of Mediterranean abandon, as beach goers across the country ended up looking like extras in an advert for Dulux paint’s ’Volcanic Red’ series. With our brains fried and frazzled by the record breaking sun, it’s time to knuckle back down and find out what the 5 lessons learned this week are. Sunglasses off, ties straightened and shorts back in the drawer; ding ding there goes the dreaded bell…
Yes I know what you’re thinking. C’mon sir, history really? Why do we want to learn about things which happened ages ago? Who cares how many wives Harry (VIII, not our soon to be wed ginger, suits wearing royal) had, why Victoria wore black for so long (trendsetter for goths everywhere) or whether Lizzie I ever popped her cherry (I’d give my right armada to know)? I’ll tell you why. History matters; the past can teach us so much about the present. It’s interesting, intriguing and so full of drama the writers of Coronation Street look naff in comparison. And over the past few days an event occurred which will go down in history for thousands of years. We had a sunny Bank Holi… no I’m not going to be THAT obvious!
Durham County Cricket Club won a match after following on for the first time EVER. I know right? History is never boring. In scenes of jubilation Wellington in the wake of Waterloo would’ve been proud of, the northern county transformed a 256 first innings deficient into an incomprehensible victory. Following on, after failing to reach even a third of Leicestershire’s first innings total (440), Durham slipped to 345-8; meaning the visitors would need less than three figures to win.
In times like these, heroes are born. When all around them bodies lie ripped to pieces, morale is shattered and not even Paul Collingwood offers resistance, one man is destined to make a name for himself. That man was James Weighell. With bat in hand Weighell was ferocious; like Maximus in the arena he chopped balls left and right; fearless against the Leicestershire attack with an invaluable 38. In Durham being out for 403, the Foxes only required 148 to record a first win in two seasons; history was on the line for them too. Weighell though had other ideas and sent the batsmen away with tails between their legs. He was superb gathering 7-32, ably supported by Chris Rushworth who snaffled three. In the end Leicestershire could only manage 101 and in one of the most historical victories in county cricket were outfoxed by Weighell and his Durham teammates.
Following on from history it’s time to open your legal textbooks to page 329 and the chapter entitled ‘The Lawful Requirements of Following On.’ As you’ll see in paragraph 2, rule 13, clause 2; ‘In each round of county cricket it is improper, nah illegal for more than one team to gain victory in a match through following on.’ Well folks this week, in an unprecedented occasion, the rule was officially broken! The perpetrators of the crime were Yorkshire who stole victory from champions Essex in a bizarre game at Chelmsford. Bizarre in the sense that pretty much everything happened.
First up we witnessed the lowest score of 2018, as the visitors were skittled out for an illegal 50 runs. Yep you didn’t read that incorrectly… 50! Four batsmen were skinned alive for 0, including returning England captain Joe Root. In his first county innings the doe eyed Root was like a deer caught in the headlights, run over and then eaten by the driver. Overseas ‘star’ Pujara fell from the sky, bringing Bairstow and three of his other single digit scoring teammates with him.
The Essex attack was sensational. Sam Cook reached boiling point with the dismissal of Root, Porter opened the door pinning Pujara LBW and Siddle bowled like a man free from the restraints of a woolly hat. Cook’s 5-28, his best figures, were only outdone by the Aussie giant who had a remarkable spell of 4-7. Yorkshire batsmen were locked in jail for crimes against batting.
However as is the case in any legal trial, the defendants then proceeded to have their say. In scenes reminiscent of OJ sheepishly trying on a glove, Yorkshire managed to bowl out Essex for just 142. Thereby meaning that by the close Yorkshire were beginning their second innings and twenty two wickets had fallen. Those 92 in arrears were soon eaten up, largely through the promotion of Jonny Bairstow to opener whose bat, on his way to 50, made Essex fielders cover their ears in frustration; such was the gorgeous crack as he hit five boundaries. He was closely followed by Harry Brook who was magnificent in his patient innings of 124, whilst Pujara and Root also made contributions. The scene was set for Essex to chase down 237 for a victory which seemed unanimously nailed on after the first morning.
But no. Essex pleaded guilty to ‘collapsitis’ and were soon 55-4. Like a lying criminal stringing out his story they limped on to 114 before three wickets for no runs, caused them to hold their hands up and surrender. Detective Inspector Steve Patterson cracked the case with career best figures of 6-40, including trapping Tom Westley for his second duck of the match. He was ably supported by DS Ben Coad who caught the final three wickets, as the Eagles had their alibi clipped for 146.
This was an astonishing case where, had you not bothered paying attention after the first morning, you would have presumed Yorkshire would get thrashed. The remarkable turnaround disproves that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. For this result was impossible. Far from elementary, my dear Watson.
3) Science (or to be more accurate, Biology)
The human body is a wonderful thing. We can do all sorts of incredible feats, from somersaults, to leaping out of planes, to convincing ourselves having five shots of whiskey is a sensible idea. But this week, I challenge you to find a better example of somebody performing an incredible feat than that of Marcus Trescothick playing for Somerset. The Benjamin Button opening batsman defied biology and aging to play a brilliant innings against Lancashire.
With all the shots in the book and fleet of foot running between the wickets, which put his partner young Matty Renshaw to shame, Trescothick was brutal in demolishing the Lancs bowling attack. Anderson (more on him later), Bailey, Mennie, Parkinson; each attempted to unseat the 43 year old, none succeeded. Driving his way to a half century, Tres looked in complete control of the morning’s play at Old Trafford. Unlike many other men his age who are struggling with mid-life panic and purchasing Porsche’s at the double, Marcus simply rolled back the years and enjoyed himself. Yes, he may look more filled out and requires specs to see the red cherry, but this was undoubtedly Tres at his best. A fine wine, amongst WKD’s.
The saying ‘the mind is strong but the body is weak’ then became exceptionally relevant. Chasing down a century on 95, the opener clipped a ball into the leg side and set off for a run, only for the right ankle to completely give way, causing a topple to the floor that was heard back in Taunton. Trescothick wanted that run but alas, his weak foot bones failed him and he lay crumpled on the earth. Ten agonising minutes went past as the Somerset physio massaged, cajoled and willed the ankle to heal. Alas, it appeared our mighty Abraham was finally beaten. Eventually Trescothick stood but it was abundantly clear his body had let him down, for he limped around the crease.
Just five short of his sixty-fifth first class hundred there was no way anybody, let alone hisbody wold stop Marcus Trescothick. Three balls later the hundred was reached and Tres proved his sheer bloody mindedness could overcome any biological problem. It didn’t matter he was out next ball. He’d beaten his body (later emerged it was a broken foot!) and in the process has now scored a county hundred in every season since 1994. An awesome achievement which would have him jumping for joy… if he could.
Alright I’ll mention it. How bloody awesome was the weather over the weekend? From whinging about six out of eight games being rain affected draws last week, it appears somebody received my message and got their leaky shower fixed. May Bank Holiday saw record temperatures around the country, averaging nearly 28 degrees. 28 degrees, in May? I’m back to believing global warming exists now! Crowds surged to the beach, or if you live in a city centre, to any teeny patch of grass you can lay your shorts clad ass onto. The drooling smell of BBQ’s wafted on the slight breeze; thirsts were sapped with gallons of ice cold refreshments; backs slathered in sun lotion. And a few people went to the cricket.
I say a few; I mean a heck of a lot of people went to their local county ground. Against a backdrop of unceasing blue sky and molten sun, there really is nowhere better to be then lying back and enjoying the cricket on display. If it was the first time you visited this summer you would’ve learned quite a bit. For instance, how Dane Vilas of Lancashire appeared super human as he barely broke a sweat in hitting 235*, or Ben Brown put in a captains performance in anchoring the Sussex chase against Middlesex.
There were drink breaks aplenty, sweat bands soaking up buckets, Mr Whippy’s melting two minutes after being made. For once we had four uninterrupted days of county cricket, leading to every game in division two finishing in a positive result. It was fun in the sun; who needs Andy’s flaky ideas, with weather pulling in crowds like this, cricket is a magnum sport. But as any geography nerd knows, prolonged periods of sun always, without fail, lead to rain.
That four day tan you were working on? Forget it mate. It’s over.
You know that good looking, Burnley born, Lancashire bowler with over five hundred test scalps to his name? The one who models for Elvis Jesus. Yeah? Well Lancashire supporters don’t. Instead, opening the bowling on Friday was a platinum blonde haired punk who looked like he’d just stepped out of a Maroon 5 video. With hair as bright as the sun he was bowling into, this guy was clearly not James Anderson. Especially when he finished the first day with 0-70.
His appearance had every single Lancs member feverishly pouring over their scorecard to double check there wasn’t a new signing. So many questions swirled around the old folks’ brains as they sat speechless. Was it Anderson’s long lost Scandinavian brother, Jonas Andersson perhaps? Had he finally lost the plot and seen one too many grey hairs? Could this be a bet by his team mates, like the time James Vince was dared by his England mates to get out edging every time?
Whatever the reason, let me tell you, it ain’t pretty. Although a rumour circling on the cricket grapevine appears this is Jimmy’s audition to be the front man of the soon to be formed TMS rock band, alongside Charlie Dagnall on bass and Henry Moeran on lead guitar. Either that or as part of a tribute act to Blondie. Sure he’ll be hanging on the telephone for that call. What a hairy pun to end the article on. Think I’ve just dyed inside.
Well let’s hope there’s a little nugget of gold (still doing Jimmy’s hair) which you’ll remember from our 5 lessons this week. If not, glad I wasted my time on you. Homework this week is to find all the countries England was hotter than on Monday, break a bone whilst playing sport and read all the Sherlock Holmes stories. Now I’m off to find out if ‘A Study in Scarlet’ was really about red wine. Class dismissed!