A happy Easter to you all.
The animal kingdom is traditionally well represented in depictions of Easter (rabbits, chicks) as are flowers (the daffodil), but I feel our friends the vegetables get a bit of a raw deal. So here, from a blog that usually celebrates locally sourced, seasonal sport is a selection of what may well be local sourced, seasonal Spring vegetables (in fact an “impressionist pond collage of vegetables”, borrowed from Tessa Traeger’s photography for Arabella Boxer’s ‘A visual feast : the year in food’).
So, Happy Easter again and bon appetit!
Leicestershire v Leicestershire, Grace Road, 1st April 2015 (Intra-club friendly)
Is Winter over? Is Spring here? Has the season started yet?
I can report that a crowd of many tens turned out at Grace Road on Wednesday in search of answers to these questions. According to the time-honoured ritual, that lovable ol’ marsupial Punxsutawney Cozzie was expected to emerge from his burrow. If he stayed out, Spring was here – if he returned to the warmth of the pavilion, then not.
After an hour of warmish sunshine, things were looking good. Cozzie emerged at about 12.30, sniffed the air and played a couple of strokes …
before (showing a commendable turn of speed) he was driven back by a sudden hailstorm.
Hopes rose again after an early (though never too early) lunch …
… but were dashed again a couple of balls later as he, very sensibly, turned tail and headed back to his burrow.
So, when will the season start? Maybe next week, maybe …
(I should point out that, in spite of the adverse conditions, I did see 20 overs of cricket. Some consider that a whole innings these days.)
How long to go before the start of the English cricket season? Hard to say. Officially, it starts today, with the MCC v Champion County fixture, but, as that is taking place in Dubai, it can hardly be counted as the start of the English season. Leicestershire played their first publicly observable game (against Leeds/Bradford MCCU) last Thursday at Grace Road, but, as that was a pre-season friendly, it doesn’t really count either. Nor will their other pre-season matches, such as their visit to the Parks to play Oxford MCCU, so their season will officially begin at Fenner’s against Cambridge MCCU on the 7th April. This, you see, is not just a pre-season friendly, it’s an
M&S MCC friendly (and First Class, to boot).
To confuse matters further, an England touring party -like silly geese flying South for the Summer – is about to set off for a tour of the West Indies.
My personal season (Gods willing) is due to start on 1st April, with an intra-squad game at Grace Road. That clearly has no official status at all, but it’s my season and I’ll start it where I please. Sub-professional cricket tends to operate to a saner schedule, one more in tune with the changing of the seasons, and I think the first club game is still a little way off. I’m pleased to report, though, that life is visibly returning to that corner of the earth and the heavy roller has already been in action on the square at Fairfield Rd., as glimpsed this morning through the gap in the hedge:
In setting my Grand Christmas Quiz, I see I may have implied that Lord Harris had a memorial garden dedicated to him in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral. A return visit yesterday reveals that my memory was imperfect (I may have been confusing the genuine Cathedral with the “Cathedral of Cricket“, where I believe he does have a kind of champagne-garden named after him). What is in Canterbury is a cloistered garden of remembrance for the “men and women of Kent who fell in the Great War“, which “by his help was made”.
The garden itself struck me as an austere (indeed monastic) space, though that may have been the effect of visiting in late afternoon on a cold day in March.
It also features a number of enigmatic stone inscriptions that might have strayed in from Little Sparta, such as this:
I doubt that these additions would have met with the approval of His Lordship. I also, sadly, doubt whether it is true that he is “held in grateful memory by all lovers of cricket and field games”. Even those who don’t confuse him with Lord Hawke (the Archbishop of York to his Canterbury) are more likely to remember him as reactionary, imperialist and autocratic, a high Victorian who lived on into the Jazz Age, and accused Percy Fender and Lionel Tennyson, for instance, of “Bolshevism” for refusing to lead their teams out at Lord’s from a separate entrance to the professionals (a practice which, contrary to popular belief, was not common elsewhere).
I also, personally, doubt whether any man could have been quite as one-dimensional as Harris is conventionally portrayed. In fact, anyone who genuinely fancies themselves as an “alternative” cricket-writer could do worse than attempt a rehabilitation of his reputation.
(On the subject of memorials in Canterbury, I rather liked this homelier example, a horse-trough turned flower bed in the high street:
The allusion here is to Job 39:21 “He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.“)