WARNING – This match report contains some mention of the actual cricket. Trust me, it’s relevant. Those who are easily upset should discard this report now.
Bert Jr and I returned to Old Trafford on day four. This time, we sat in the pavilion. At lunch some rather friendly old men helped Bert get to the gate, and the stewards helped him get some autographs. Everyone was most helpful and very nice. He got three England bowlers (Onions, Plunkett, and Anderson, who was doing some exercising), plus Mark Chilton and crucially, Mark Davies. Bert practically pushed Graham Onions out of the way to get to Davies, which probably put Onions in a bad mood – a mood not helped later by Mark Chilton throwing a bucket of water over him from the balcony, or by his subsequent dropping from the England team.
A chap behind us asked if he could see young Bert’s autographs and then did that perfect old man thing of being very excited about it. Bert loved it, although even this fellow couldn’t quite build up suitable enthusiasm about Mark Davies’ autograph. They discussed who had the best handwriting (Anderson) and who had the worst (Oni-squiggle).
Cricket Alert! – The match ended in a draw, with the umpires taking the players off for bad light in perfect conditions.
I mention this because I thought it was the perfect end to a young lad’s introduction to county cricket. A dull result, no exciting climax – and all for mystifying reasons. Bert made the valid point that he could still see perfectly well. I suggested that he make this point to Neil Mallender, but there was a queue of Lancashire members trying to do the same.
When we got home, Bert explained the ending to his mum, who was genuinely confused. This made Bert feel like he was in a special club; that club of people who understand why a four-day match can be allowed to dissolve into nothingness because some ex-England bowler couldn’t see properly. He told her that she would never understand and that therefore it was dad who had to take him to more cricket. Result!
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