Lancashire are still not quite relegated

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Scan the homepage of this website and you could easily reach some incorrect conclusions. The post about Alastair Cook has attracted 50-odd comments, so presumably that’s a hot topic, right? Not really. The vast majority are about Lancashire v Middlesex, a relegation dogfight (involving different breeds) which seems to be capturing the imagination.

Humans are prone to perceiving events as if they’re stories and from that perspective the 110th over of Lancashire’s first innings would seem to have been crucial to the narrative. With seven runs needed off it to preserve first division status for at least another day, the mighty Glen Chapple slogged a six and then wangled three more off the next ball.

It was the moment when the protagonist is down and almost out and the fact that our hero lived to fight another day surely means the story must now culminate in triumph. Except that’s not really the case. Like one of those foreign language films about a goat herder that you record on the basis that it’s supposed to be really good, but never actually watch because it also seems massively depressing, this final chapter of the 2014 season could just as easily end up describing a very slow demise.


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  1. I am sure that this Lancashire v Middlesex match, to the neutral first class cricket lover, is the epitome of fascinating long form cricket.

    To those of us who also love Lancashire or Middlesex, it is a living hell and shall continue to be so for several more hours.

    I said elsewhere that neither team deserves to stay up really and I still mean that.

    Bert and KC have been jesting over the last few days about Lancs’ inability to bat. But of course Middlesex’s bowling has inexplicably fallen away since we topped the table in May, consistently failing to finish sides off.

    Middlesex can rue their luck a bit (when was the last time an entire four day match was washed out as happened at Merchant Taylor’s this year, condemning both sides to a miserable 5 points each – where even one day of cricket normally assures you 7 or 8). Middlesex can rue the careless deduction for slow over rate in the very first match of the season which might prove to be the very couple of points that condemns us. But in truth, when you are top of the table in May and then win jack-shit for the rest of the season, you don’t really deserve to survive, any more than the differently hapless Lancs.

    I’ll try to get some work done.

    1. Murtagh has been consistently good. Finn has been Finn levels of consistent. TRJ started the season well, ended it reasonably, and completely fell apart in the middle. And I don’t know what’s happened to once-upon-a-time shining star Ollie Rayner.

      Murtagh has had to pretty much carry the bowling, to the extent that among the others, Neil Dexter has a reasonable number of wickets. That would all be fine if Middlesex’s Middle order was “the Sex”. But it’s not.

  2. Given I read this blog regularly and don’t follow county cricket on account of being a Kolpak reader, I feel left out during these discussions. I have decided to rectify this by adopting a county and supporting it with extreme passion. Much like many of my friends in India supporting football. Which pisses me off to no small extent. The next question, then, is which county. Given my distaste for anything that ends in a ‘shire’ and caution for things that end with sex, I’ve decided to go with Kent. I’ve no idea who they are or if they’re any good, but I saw the scorecard today and they’re 95/4 chasing 448. I don’t see anything wrong with my choice, and plan to learn all about them before the next season begins.

    1. A great way to choose a supporting team. It also allows you to support Somerset in Division 1, and therefore take an interest in both divisions.

      Do note that, if you become a Somerset supporter, it will be obligatory for you to develop a huge crush on Peter Trego, including constantly bemoaning how he should have been in the England setup.

    2. I decided to do the same thing, except my decision was based on which ones we have rough approximations of in America. I ended up settling on Hampshire, for New Hampshire, a state I kind of like.

      With that said, why haven’t England picked James Vince in the ODI side? Also, something about Adam Wheater. What else do I need to do to become a proper Hampshire supporter?

      (I reserve the right to add Sussex as a second-favorite should they ever play in a different division from Hampshire)

  3. 150 for 6.

    This match keeps drifting towards Middlesex before Lancs bring it back to the middle. At no point has Lancs really been in the driving seat (Note to Middlesex fans: that doesn’t mean where the chauffeur sits).

    KC’s point about narrative is correct. What is keeping us Lancastrians interested is less to do with the probabilities in the match, more the feeling that a story of epic proportions is about to be written. History demands nothing else. Part One – The Ballad of Freckly Glen – is done. Part Two doesn’t have a name yet, but I fear it’s working title is Terror In The Twilight.

    1. I’d actually argue that Lancs. are in the driving seat right now, with Middx having not much of a lead and their hopeless tail hung out to dry.

      Of course, that relies on last-innings pressure not getting to Lancs.

  4. This is great. Lancs are going to have to go for it, whatever they’re set. Even if it’s 300 from 15 overs.

    Unleash the Buttler!

  5. Haha Bert with your chip butties flat caps jellied eels etx, we’re 200 ahead now and if we can just make it to tea I reckon we’re safe… And we do exist, hounslow, harrow, bedfont, all these places are in the mighty ‘sex, just ask the boys at the Royal Mail and also oasis shah!
    Jeffy ( tossing Panama hat into the air making my driver crash!)

  6. Tea.

    204 for 8, with 37 overs remaining. Losing 2 for the innings change, that’s 35 overs to get two wickets and 220 runs (say).

    For Lancs to stay in this, they need to get the last two wickets inside five overs. That would give them about 220 to get in 30 overs, which is 7-and-a-bit an over. Factoring possible bad light into things (it’s sunny, but it’s also September), Lancs needs to go at T20 pace from the start.

    I would open with Buttttler (because he scores fast) and Chapple (because he has The Force). Then we will win.

  7. Bert, it’s all over. No one can go at that pace without any one day fielding regulations. We southern pansies are staying up)
    Jeffy (asks driver to throw panama hat in the air on his behalf, again)

    1. Guardian:

      “But as things stand, it looks very much as though Middlesex will be staying in Division One, leaving Lancashire to reacquaint themselves with the great cities of the east Midlands – Derby, Northampton and Leicester – in the summer of 2015.”

      Northampton and Derby aren’t *really* cities, though, are they? i.e. Northampton isn’t, and Derby hasn’t been for much longer than I’ve been alive)

    2. That and the chance to neglect up-and-coming England players, internationals, etc.? Lancashire must be wondering why they bothered scoring runs at all. Perhaps they wanted to sign Adil Rashid or something.

    1. I think we should correct a couple of assertions made by Bert yesterday. Firstly, he described Glen Chapple as a “Freckly Ginger Smurf”. I can see from the picture that Mr Chapple is now a freckly grey smurf. I find the distinction important.

      Bert also wrote, “Ged and KC are presumably hiding behind the sofa. Different sofas, probably. I tend to see Ged as having a Chesterfield sofa in burgundy leather, KC more a futon from Ikea.”

      This is sofa/futon business is a hopeless piece of stereotyping, as I am a futon dude and it seems that KC is a sofa dude.

      Moreover, the positioning of the futon in my living room does not lend itself to hiding – indeed I’d probably do both myself and the rather fragile futon a mischief if I tried to pull it away from the wall. Further, hiding behind the futon would be an even more bizarre reaction in my household than in most, as the futon is in the living room but the only television is in the bedroom.

      I just felt that the KC reading public needed accuracy and closure on these vital points.

    2. I’d expect a salt of the earth Northern type to have a settee or a couch, not a sofa. How terribly U.

      You’ll be telling me that KC has breakfast, lunch and dinner instead of breakfast, dinner and tea (or supper?) next

    3. We do tend to say settee, actually, while our day is shaped by breakfast, lunch and tea. Maybe cricket is responsible for that.

  8. Division 2 is better than Division 1 anyway. 2 is always better than 1, like with vanilla slices, and sex. I wanted us to lose really.

    Next season I think this website should concentrate on Division 2, where the action is.

    1. The real problem with Division 2 is that the tension in the table is all one-sided. In Division 1 both upstairs and downstairs compartments matter. Bottom end action is in many ways more exciting – the thrill of bouncing up and down, in and out of the relegation zone, trying to grab survival by the balls before the deep, sweaty hole of the dropzone swallows you whole and welcomes you to the little death of Not Playing Proper Cricket for, at least, next summer.

  9. Vanilla Slice
    A term used to describe a very very very very beautiful lesbian. Originated from the Manchester lesbian hang out, Vanilla.

    1. Vanilla slice – a term for some custard between two pieces of sweet pastry, as served in pie shops from one side of Wigan to the other.

      I don’t know what any of the terms you use to describe one mean.

    1. No.

      Who does the “top” side in Div 2 play (that being the highest placed of the relegated tens) as season opener?

    2. At least Leicestershire will be (joint) top of Division 2 for the next 6 months or so. They always seem to better in the winter half of the season.

  10. I’m not really into the sleep thing so I wrote this poem to pass the time. It only confirmed a previous hypothesis. FELONS.

    Lancashire aren’t relegated, they escape. So this is all redundant.

    The mournings continued into the night
    ironically enough, some would say, as
    these cryings were not ordinary, not customary
    for such an occasion, yet were not like the scorn
    poured by warm lips upon the cold. Yet
    despite these qualms, the cold persists
    unconcerned, like Leicestershire. And perhaps
    it too shall visit Lancashire this season,
    and let its pregnant blossoms clarify. Unlike
    Leicestershire, a dark place covered with overgrown weeds
    just to make some nefarious accusation. O,
    the ludicrous company Lancaster must have to keep
    says the pointless, ephemeral meadow, before
    remembering Yorkshire, and thinking this move within reason,
    “- the sight of the sea is the first convincing word, even
    the gullible sunflowers had grown cold. -” (contemporary Indian poetry is now irrevocably altered.) But then
    when rain can light a forest fire, what worth is man? The
    point of these negative pastoral // country images is simply
    to illustrate Lancashire’s plight
    which is
    And, perhaps, slow, to some more understandably.
    Shall none remember their charge, shall
    their performance against Northamptonshire, better
    than England could ever perform in
    tests be forgotten? Never, yet
    who shall record them? Shall Usman
    Khawaja always be forgotten, though given
    this one chance to shine outside the
    company of greats such as Finch, who
    forever keep them within the shadows? Is this
    the end of sledging? Cricket is a match
    of glorious uncertainties. Or is that
    the wrong’un for the situation, asks a leg-spinner
    commenting on current affairs? The
    voices of the past proclaim a sustained lineage
    of boring teams, never forgotten and always
    spoken about, so written and so done. Let
    Warwickshire mock the defeated in trivial
    regions of their existence, (7) and let
    champions crow for a while, yet
    Lancashire have fulfilled all that
    they set out to do – and this is
    their malicious swan-song, beautiful in the autumn snow
    when it falls early, slowing the current
    of each sea – such as it is. Lancashire
    is an English culture, used to mourning
    its own, but as Indians there’s really
    not much point to this kind of thing,
    so this has no real emotional climax
    just parables and tales like this: ‘A ceiling?
    That’s like a wall, right?’ says a wave,
    as the ocean mocks your whole life. Balladeer
    wished that they were that good, but they can’t be;
    isn’t it just the best thing ever? Exclamation mark,
    everyone should know this I’m going to Venezuela,
    an angle you might not have heard (call it a revelation of a sort). Fair
    enough, says Lancashire, but the pigeons
    cry horridly into the open night, seeking
    some sort of metaphor that would
    reduce it to a better plotline, but you’d never hear their story either
    and everyone’s too busy learning
    to obey, surprisingly Agathangelou, strolling
    over the hills in order to run from
    Luis Enrique, would not begrudge the
    politicians their inferior knowledge of politics – it’s
    all metaphysics, really, says India before
    going and worshipping cows and oceans
    and sacrificing things to fires and things. Lancashire!
    Your success was untainted by failure,
    and the first England XI. It shall shine beyond
    this world of pain, until it returns, in
    whatever language, whatever lands, wherever
    it was it shall be always. Although still no
    voice breaks the silence, or speaks of
    Lancashire with clarity, yet let the mind
    unfurl its truth with the words that everyone
    is waiting for before branding this
    a morality play. I hide myself within my flower
    so that they’d shut up, but they keep praising my modern verse. Mais, que
    sera sera? (I noticed.) Liam Plunkett, for one, agrees
    that Lancashire could have stayed up, and
    thinks that Jimmy Anderson isn’t really
    dedicated to the rural places or whatever it is, so shall be taking leading
    the England attack upon himself in the
    next series against Australia. Nobody’s
    into that nowadays, leading to disquiet. Something
    like that. (‘The sequel to this series depressed me, one star,’ Gary Ballance staking his claim as a great England batsman at one-down. ‘Too soon?’ says Ashwell Prince mocker of all Spirits of Cricket.) Yeah, we’re just really sad
    about the Lancashire relegation thing. At
    least we didn’t lose the rose wars or
    something, Yorkshire only succeed due
    to the T20 era of cricket led by Lalit Modi
    who doesn’t even try making fun of the Trojan war,
    and is below even Ironic Richard XXX in the International
    Archetypal evil + violence league or whatever. So
    I mean we’re trying to return to the point, i.e
    Lancashire, although you seem uncertain. What is Lancashire?
    I mean, it’s not as bad as St. Andrew’s, you know what I’m saying,
    so why are these hypocrites praising the Warwickshire
    Bears for the same reason, ye bounders allowing
    Christianity to slip into the post-modern
    loathing whose worst possessors are mercenary teams’ captains, where the
    other is sought out in its only two remaining
    vestiges, in an age which reduces English Cromwellian swagger //”
    to hot air and denying itself to praise a wedding dress. All
    bark, no bite. This <-
    is England without Lancashire in the First Division "//
    but never mind the bollocks Shall Simon Kerrigan never
    bowl another Chinaman, or shall half a team ever sound this Australian
    in the County Championship ever again without
    being Australian or at least being vague about such things
    or shall there not be another team with leg-spinners who never
    spin but are horrible batsmen like the rest, a team which could
    actually develop English leg-spin into an art, says a dead man, ranting
    with tears in their eyes at the beauty of Lancashire's season. Where else
    would a team give up 9 wickets in an easy chase just for a song? Dedication
    is much valued by dead people who are alive, so there is that virtue.
    Honestly we thought we'd just say something about Hegel but
    we lost our train of thought**, but the general point
    was something about how Yorkshire is just palaver, but even then
    the state of things is generic enough sometimes that it
    does draw the rest of the situation into question, or that
    greater thinkers always realised that things were inverted and
    that the reduction of humans to objects would eventually spread
    everywhere without differentiation or cause, but who wants to know?

    ** due to despair.

    At least you could discuss dogs. That's all that's left in the County Championship
    now that the pigeons and sheep are all gone, the invasion
    is so complete that WHAT AM I SAYING. I NEVER MEANT TO SAY THAT.
    But I mean singing isn't an obligation this isn't the 1700s. That
    others might think so doesn't affect me and I don't think much of it.
    Honestly there isn't much to mourn about Lancaster leaving the Championship,
    is there. Perhaps there was a purpose to this. Like, there's
    a sort of order to it, but it's also slightly obscure and really I'm not sure
    like this is a cricket thing cricket involves contingencies and so
    the words are random? The theory of robotics has never come this far and
    shall never be this interesting again. Normal robots are inherently bad at things because reality is prepared. But I mean we do support England.
    They did beat India 4-1, and with character. // This
    became elaborate, at least the name should qualify
    that kind of thing somewhat, so we can go
    with something like 'The Oars of Eras,' that would be quite
    unserious and give off the kind of impression you want
    to give if you're intending to get lost in a crowd, but
    you see poetry is different lyk the song of mynahs and crows
    from the din of Western life. Imagine, for
    instance, a play beginning with a statement
    that the audience wouldn't care about,
    until this fact becomes visible, then continuing
    'Hello Cruel World' accompanied with dancers
    and a stage the length of an archipelago, are
    you satisfied? I think the point of England
    is simply to take the art out of cricket, nothing more
    and nothing less. But without Lancashire
    in the First Division, what's left but to say controversial things
    about our captain, such as that they tend to write things like eg.:

    In a sense you can never run away from the accusations of others,
    but you can write the most modern thing possible
    to report things which are happening, because really
    people probably learn about Lancashire's results from better sources
    than they learnt anything in school, as has been said long ago.
    I'm trying not to touch a nerve here with the 'wall' thing, but
    essentially the County thing has turned into the equivalent of Facebook
    without Lancashire, the worst possible end to a season of cricket,
    yet redeemed by the ECB, always to be counted on, with almost the best
    possible end to our seasonal destruction of players' lives and families.

    Honestly the ECB is the most villainous you can be without acting like a 1940s racist.

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