Ball One – Rory Hamilton-Brown is changing the bowling after every over. His intention is to avoid the possibility of batsmen getting set early in their innings and racing to 40 or so. Of course, as is so often the case in cricket, it cuts both ways, as it’s tough for the bowlers to get set too, especially when the run-ups are damp and the full figure of Mark Cosgrove looms at the other end.
Ball Two – There’s a decent crowd in considering that there’s been a lot of rain about and it’s chilly. After last night’s good turnout at Lord’s, it shows that there’s an appetite for Twenty20 cricket in London. But the miracle of 2003’s T20 crowd – women, kids, men who would never have considered a whole day watching the cricket – appears to have run its course, with a much more traditional audience pitching up for tonight’s fare. Mind you, at 25 quid on the gate, it’s an investment these days – not like the tenner for a bit of hit and giggle it once was.
Ball Three – Good to see KP playing county cricket. It’s sometimes claimed that KP has a poor attitude to domestic stuff, but not from those with whom he plays. He was in the game early tonight, as he so often is, with a sprawling fumble in the outer that raised a few Welsh-accented jeers on the popular side. He transformed jeers to cheers when standing stock still right on the boundary to wait for a catch that he effected with excellent concentration and good hands. He cuts quite a different figure from the one with the skunk hair who made an unforgettable 158 here six years ago. Six weeks is a long time in the life of KP – six years is an eternity.
Ball Four – Grounds drain remarkably quickly these days – some of us remember a day’s play being called off under clear skies at 1.00pm – but at The Oval, there is a real palaver in getting the covers off the field. As flat sheets, they hold a lot of standing water and get very heavy making them difficult to manoeuvre. Twenty minutes in and there’s still a lot of pulling and mopping going on.
Ball Five – There’s a hundred quid for anyone in the crowd catching a six. There might be rather more than that if someone is injured trying to catch the ball and sues claiming that they were tempted into risking injury. And London isn’t short of lawyers to press the case.
Ball Six – Chilly and dark and now raining too. We seemed to have swapped April for June in 2011 – something that has made for a tremendous first half of the County Championship but is giving chief executives palpitations as forecast T20 gate takings dive.