Living with Depressional Rain – England v Sri Lanka Test 3 Day 1

An anorak has two meanings for the British.

They use the word as slang for a person who has a very strong interest, perhaps obsessive, in niche subjects. Vitally, this interest may be unacknowledged or not understood by anyone else.

Originally the word comes from the Caribou Inuit and today it has been coerced into service as a description of a waterproof jacket with a hood and drawstrings at the waist and cuffs.

Wikipedia includes a several thousand word article on ‘the anorak’ in the garment sense of the word.   This is an example of an anorak writing about anoraks. 

Those who do not live on or have never visited our ‘precious stone set in a silver sea’ may not have encountered the word.  But at an English cricket ground the anorak in both senses of the word is omnipresent.

Who else but an anorak would pay forty pounds sterling or more to sit in the rain under an umbrella wearing a plastic piece of clothing (with hood and drawstrings) not daring to move for fear that their seat will never ever dry out again?

Two hundred years ago this area of Hampshire, a short ride from the docks of Portsmouth, supplied the Royal Navy with oak and man power for their ships. Press Gangs visited the local inns, ‘pressing’  unwary young men into a life on the ocean waves.  

The crowd of allegedly 10,000 at the Rose Bowl on the first day of the third Test between England and Sri Lanka were all volunteers.  They had freely given up most of their rate* to hold fast to their seats throughout a day when short sharp spells of cricket punctuated the flow of rain borne in by a by a steady sou’wester.

Only 38 overs were possible during the day when,  after a delay to the start of play of an hour and a quarter, England won the toss and needed no coercion to invited the Lankans to take the weather board   bat first. 

By this they meant  ‘would you care to experience a frustrating and difficult day of interrupted concentration and further pounding of your delicate fingers by balls rising disconcertingly from the hands of the three masted vessel that is our bowling attack; viz: Titch Anderson (6ft 3in), Twiggy Tremlett (6ft 7in) and Narrow Broad (6ft 5in)?’

The openers, Tharanga and Thirimanne showed excellent technique as they navigated in these alien conditions, steadfastly getting everything behind the ball. 

Sri Lanka so nearly made it to the safe haven of the first of a number of interruptions in play without loss, but as an umbrella or two was unfurled in the crowd and two balls before rain brought the morning session to an end, Thirimanne edged to first slip, where the skipper accepted the catch.

After a long and, for the crowd, frustrating interval in which they enjoyed some sunshine if not any cricket, the umpires finally pressed the players back into action.  

With Broad now out of the attack, the foremast Anderson and the main mast Tremlett compelled the ball to swing. 

Anderson is marvellous to watch.  Only the slightest lowering of the jibboom arm publicizes the difference between the away-swing and the in-swing.  But it was Tremlett who produced the perfect shape to trap left handed Tharanga ‘leg before’.

Sangakkara, the acting captain for this match, knows full well the feeling of waking up with a sore head, press ganged into a voyage he never wanted to undertake. Rather than withstanding the rigours of a rough passage, he soon jumped overboard, driving with no regard for safety or duty at a wide delivery from Tremlett.  Further interruption for rain. 

Mahela Jayawardene received a brutal delivery from Anderson and was caught behind by Prior.  Another interruption for rain.

It should be said at this time that geographers have identified three broad types of rain, convectional, orographic and frontal, depressional or convergent.  The anoraks could be forgiven for believing that they were experiencing all three types in a single day, but that is one of the effects of the depressional rain they were actually and on the whole genially suffering.

On the pitch, Samaraweera was also showing considerable geniality given the uncomfortable nature of the conditions  and during the last and late session of play, graced by a mocking evening sunlight, he reached a creditable 24.  He was assisted by an able partner in Prasanna Jayawardene with whom he took the score to 81 for 4.

Apart from their captain, the Lankans, who might have lost many more men had the England press gang been more alive-o, showed considerable resolve, as did the few hundred anoraks who, in enduring to the end, also deserved warming applause.

WARNING: Prospects for Day Two look even worse.  Do not expect any play at all!

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