Nottingham is justly famous for boots. That is not just for Boots’ the Cash Chemists, but for boots the footwear.
It was back in the 1860s when the Squire first noticed the ease with which young Sam Biddulp kept his footing.
An impertinent batsman, unaware of His Grace’s reputation, had dared to sashay down the wicket to Him.
In response, the Squire directed the delivery down the leg side beyond the reach of the upstart. As quick as a flash, Sam B had stepped to leg and in one flowing movement had taken the ball in his gauntlets and removed a single bail as a skilled surgeon might have removed a diseased testicle.
“Fine work Sam, but how on earth do you keep your feet on such hard ground?”
Hobnails were then state of the art in providing the cricketer with the grip necessary to excel at the game but in fine weather, on baked earth, these often behaved like roller-skates.
Sam had winked in reply, discretely revealing to the Squire a dainty pair of boots made from the finest white Cordovan leather, from the soles of which protruded a bevy of long nails with small flat heads.
“I ‘ad young Sam Foster knock these up to my specifications, Sir. And our blacksmith Tom Towel forged these here special spikey nails.”
As Lilley and Thompson found a hundred years later, it was Foster’s that made an advance in fast over-arm bowling possible.
Since then, the Squire has without fail bought his cricket boots from this self-same Nottinghamshire cordwainer.
These days the annual end of season trip to Foster’s workshop to have His old boots repaired and new ones fitted necessitates a trip in the Type III back in time 150 years to the cordwainer’s establishment in the Nottinghamshire village of Sandiacre.
It is for this reason that Third Man’s observations on the first of the five ODIs between India and England was interrupted when India were in the vulnerable position of 123/4 at approximately the halfway stage of their innings on a wicket of disconcertingly varying bounce.
“Come away from that television, Third Man. They’ll be all out for two-twenty by the time we return,” commanded the Squire.
Booted and kitted, as it were, the Squire and Third Man returned to find India had in fact scored 300/7 in their full quota of 50 overs, the estimable Dhoni having scored 87 not out in 70 balls using to considerable profit that ‘shovelling’ technique uniquely suited to low bounce and anaemic Yorkers that lack their full ration of red blood cells.
Where India on this Hyderabad wicket played pace by getting back and across and straight, and spin late and with the turn, England, full of indignity towards the unpredictable bounce, soon lost patience and persistently playing across the line or against the turn, embarrassed themselves with a faltering reply of 174 all out in 36.1 overs.
The enjoyment of the rout was all too evident on the faces of Ghambir and Raina asEnglandstruggled even to cope with the jesting deliveries of Virat Kohli.
Rebooted India are back home.