Twenty20 cricket is upon us and we are swamped with images of swashbuckling batsmen, fearsome fast bowlers and sun drenched bikini clad spectators cheering on the festivities. What we have been dished up so far leaves this imagery somewhat wanting. It is safe to say that in my thirteen years in this country, this is by far the worst summer of cricket weather I have ever experienced.
I tend to judge my form as a batsmen by the number of books that I read. It is important as a professional to be able to switch your mind off, to relax and unwind, so that you are fresh and ready for the intense concentration needed to perform well. For me there is nothing like a bit of Tom Clancy, Michael Connelly, or Clive Cussler to transport me from the emotional ups and downs of professional sport, into the virtual worlds of goodies beating baddies, normally against unfathomable odds. So far in 2012, I could feasibly start my own library.
This is in part due to a lack of championship runs, however innings in general are so short there is barely enough time for Dirk Pitt to simultaneously diffuse the nuclear bomb, shoot the villain, and carry the distressed maiden into the sunset, before I am donning my whites for another session in the field. But this has more to do with the fact that we have spent more time playing dressing room cricket than the real thing so far this ‘so-called’ summer. Some of my team mates are becoming more adept at FIFA 2012 than delivering a toe-crushing yorkers.
In all seriousness yesterday has brought one thing to mind, and that is the notion of what constitutes a field being fit for play. Umpires have the sole responsibility for managing the match and they alone decide on when we can or cannot take the field, whether for poor light or bad weather. As a player there are two fundamentals. Honesty and consistency. Consistency for me is what I would like to touch on now.
We played a Twenty 20 match the other night against Derbyshire Falcons, where it rained persistently from the second ball. It came in bands, varying from a ‘mizzle’ our slang for light drizzle to ‘steady duke’ (ie. heavy rain). If we had been playing a four day match we would have come off after four balls. In a CB40 match we would have lasted about 11 overs, but because it was a Twenty20 we stayed on the field until things had descended into a wet t-shirt competition by the 31st over.
It does not make sense to me how depending on the format of the game, the standard for a field being fit for play changes so dramatically. How can it be that a more dynamic, higher intensity match like Twenty20 can be played in conditions where you can hardly stand up in driving rain and wind, but in first class cricket the slightest hint of foul weather and I am reading about Harry Bosch unravelling the latest homicide?
I am all for providing entertainment for the crowd. They deserve us to make every effort to play a competitive game of cricket, but at the moment the lines of common sense seem inexcusably blurred. I am sure that the few people that had braved the elements last night to watch our match, would have preferred to be eating a meal in the warmth of their home watching Euro 2012 than to see us slide around the field tempering our skills to avoid injury.
All this is beyond our control as players, and all I hope for is that this inclement weather disappears soon so we can all enjoy the summer sun. Hopefully I will subsequently be spending less time reading about Jack Ryan single-handedly restructuring American politics and its foreign policies. All in a days work.
Stephen Moore of Lancashire CCC & England Lions is exclusively represented by Total Sport Promotions Ltd - www.totalsportpromotions.com