Third Man had planned for today the first part of a two-dayer on Doug Insole’s Test career, but arriving yesterday at Old Trafford at 5.30 he found Prince and Chilton peering into the gloom as the Danish English quick Amjad Khan tried hard to make good use of the conditions.
Umpires had clearly been instructed to act in the best interests of the small crowd. Carrots must be on the menu at Lancashire as Prince and Chilton struck boundaries either confirming the umpires’ evaluation that conditions were fit for play or suggesting that the Kent bowling was innocuous.
This ball to Prince, snapped on the telephone camera (can’t you tell), sailed over the batsman’s head and beat the poor keeper for four byes.
Ten minutes later a mixture of rain and total darkness sent the players feeling their way to the dressing rooms.
Kent, always style icons, had chosen to drive to Manchester in personal cars. Third Man, a stranger to C21st county cricket, was interested to note that the Ford Escorts and Mondeos of former days have been swapped for massive black all-terrain Jeeps and Cherokees which must be just the thing for journeys to off-road grounds like the Riverside and the Rose Bowl.
Players now keep their daily effects in neat little flight cases that they wheel to and from these gas guzzlers which sometimes can’t reach the pavilion steps. Makhaya Ntini looked like an international lawyer crossing the Terminal 5 departure lounge but in training kit.
Third Man is also told that at the end of the day players take their ‘flannels’ tie knots in each leg, fill the resulting bag with their laundry before sealing the top by pulling the waist cord tight.
If this practice hasn’t reached your dressing room, this may be your chance to uptrend the young bloods. Remember, you read it here first.
Lancashire are 175 runs ahead of Kent and have seven second innings wickets in hand. The game is moving on.
Tomorrow it will be back to the Fifties when Insole, who finding himself persuaded to tour South Africa as Vice Captain of the MCC side and believing his old cricket bag wouldn’t make the trip (as they say in racing) borrowed an old ‘coffin’ from Stuart Surridge – the person, not the kit company.