Third Man is about his cottage early this morning moving the clocks forward. There is a spring in his feet. After all these years this day in March remains the best day of the year. Young people everywhere will have an extra hour of daylight to finish their games of cricket tonight.
To the Green beneath Beacon Hill we would go, the Danes, that is Mark left arm slow and Peter the acrobatic ‘keeper, Sam Eddings right hand bat, Bunny Burnell off-spin, Rob Barnard right hand bat, Richard McIlwaine, right arm rapid and Third Man jack of all trades, to chalk fresh stumps against a wall and start their new season.
But Backwatersman has reminded him that this is an inaccurate recollection.
This should have read: To the Green that afternoon strode Sainsbury, Harrison, Marshall, Burden, cousin Barnard, Shackleton, and Livingston. Hampshire claimed the extra hour to beat Kent despite a fine and inevitable century by Cowdrey.
In Yorkshire and Lancashire streets free of traffic became Headingleys and Old Traffords. In Guildford, Taunton and Market Harborough odd sets of stumps were pitched or jerseys piled high in parks where matches with sides that fluctuated in numbers from three to thirty three were played until darkness finally settled the score.
Yes, in the year Twenty10 in Nottingham, Chewton Magna and Hartlepool, Tendulkas will play with Pietersens, Lees with Gibbs, Sangakkaras with Gayles. The shots will be outrageously daring, the actions suspect, but the game will be the game.
IPL administrators, umpires, players and commentators carry huge responsibilities. Like it or not the fate of our game is in their hands and it will be the spirit expressed by these wonderful players, facilitated by the administrators and guarded by the umpires; the comradeship, the enjoyment, the mutual respect that they all display over these six long weeks; that will matter.
The signs are good not bad. The signs would be better were sides to include good players from Pakistan.
As Yeats commanded, so all lovers of cricket command of them; ‘Tread softly because you tread on our dreams’.