Goodbye summer. Hello summer

Damn all press releases. Damn them all. It’s October and already Durham have offered their tickets for next summer’s internationals. It’s all too fast – slow down. Admittedly I’ve had a forgettable day and am even more cranky than usual, but this is just daft. It’s CONKER SEASON YOU FOOLS.

Reminds me of my former life in the NHS when the “Christmas menu” would be sent round…in about bloody April. And they never offered bread sauce, either.

Ottis Gibson’s ten

Well done that man. I remember Richard Johnson taking 10 for 45 in 1994 as though it were yesterday. Middlesex members and fans all thought we had yet another brilliant fast bowler in the making – and I seem to remember Ray Illingworth also agreeing when he said he had a “heavy ball”, an expression which I’d not heard before back then. Johnson was, from memory, picked for the South Africa tour before one of his many back problems surfaced.

Anyway. Gibson is not going to be going to South Africa, or anywhere else for that matter, for he’s the wrong side of 38. But that only make his achievement all the more special and memorable. Go on, West Indies…do the unthinkable and give him a call-up, just for fun.

Full list of the 79 bowlers to have taken all ten wickets in an innings available at Cricinfo.

A day for umbrellas

Someone needs to find Chris Adams and ensure that he is in no way performing any kind of rain dance. After a morning deluge washed out Thursday’s play at Old Trafford as well as Edgbaston, Lancashire’s chances of staying level in the title race are becoming faint. With Sussex sitting out this week’s round, they have been unhampered by the bad weather. Mark Chilton’s men, on the other hand, have now suffered two games running, with good performances against Warwickshire going to waste for the same reason. Requiring maximum bonus points and victory to grab top spot, they have only taken four Durham wickets, and are running out of time.

At the other end of the table, Yorkshire will also be rueing the lack of play in today’s Division One matches. With their two remaining bats skittled in what little action they saw at Headingley, the win Craig White’s side desperately need will be a hard task. The last thing they will want to see is third from bottom Durham holding on for a draw, especially as they will be playing each other next week. Maybe they will take some heart from the fact the only Harmison they will face will be batsman Ben – his older brother has been ruled out as a precaution.

All very football

Whilst England’s summer is now over, the domestic leagues still have a few more matches left to play. In fact, play will continue as far as September 24th, with the new Pro40 playoff to decide whether there will be a third team relegated.

Interestingly, it seems that two of England’s names on the injury list may yet still get a last first-class game this season. Lacking the necessary match fitness to feature in the battle for a place in the last round of the County Championship, with Durham and Lancashire facing competitive matches, Duncan Fletcher has suggested that Liam Plunkett and Jimmy Anderson might well make use of the county loan system.

Not one of the most well known of contract loopholes, the idea was introduced by the ECB in the pre-season of 2005 to allow more England-qualified talent to emerge. Similar to the loan rules that govern football, domestic players may sign for a short period with another county, though they may be recalled at any time if guaranteed first team cricket by their own county. Fletcher hopes that the pair may be able to take the field for counties playing dead-rubber matches, possibly in an attempt to ready them for potential spots on the Ashes tour.

How to say Chester-le-Street

Chester-le-Street is where Durham play their cricket, and the BBC have just writted a post on how to pronounce it. Not tricky, you’d have thought; it’s not a Gloucestershire or Leicestershire (Glue Kester Shire, Lie Kester Shire). However, the Beeb say Chester-le-Street is pronounced as follows:

“Our recommendation, based on the advice of people who live there as well as published sources, is CHEST-uhr-li-street – the first part rhymes with ‘westerly’. Most English placenames with ‘le’ in them are pronounced in this way, rhyming with ‘me’ rather than the French-sounding ‘luh’.”

Bunkum. I pronounce it with the French-sounding “luh” – doesn’t everyone else? Can any Durham folk confirm either way?

Muchly ta

Lara’s 501

Thanks to Ryan for pointing this out. 12 years ago today, Brian Lara struck that incredible 501 for Warwickshire against Durham. I was at school at the time, a mere 12-year-old, and I remember my Dad picking me up at about 6pm.

Back in those days, the mobile phone was a distant dream. Only rich yuppies (remember them? Ah, the 1980s…) could afford the breeze-block Nokias, and even then they had no one else to phone. So I clearly remember my old man shouting down the drive, as I was making my way up it, “Lara’s gone mad Will! 500!” Obviously I thought he’d finally lost the plot, and peered into the back windows of the car for the Men In White. But they weren’t there. After completely refusing to believe him for the entire 10-minute car journey, the radio came on to confirm my worst and best fears.

I didn’t know what to think. After his 375, which incidentally was made on the tour which first sparked my interest in the game, it was plain as day that he was an extraordinary cricketer. But the 501? It took the biscuit – and I couldn’t help thinking “Well it’s Durham for God’s sake. Durham.” And back then, Durham really were very Durham, not the chirpy, confident side of 12 years hence.

Where were you when he did it?

Ben Harmison hits 100 on debut

Ben Harmison, brother of Steve – who has been mentioned here before – hit a hundred on debut for Durham today. Be interested to read the reports in tomorrow’s papers.

Onions

Graham Onions plays for Durham. Graham Onions!

UPDATE, September 2006 – Onions called up to the England one-day squad. Click here.

Durham part with A Pratt

Chuckled at this headline on the BBC today, reporting that Andrew Pratt had left Durham (to become a plumber):

A Pratt leaves Durham

I guess it’s inevitable, with a name like that, but it’s not very BBC to join in the mickey-taking-ness!

World class facilities. Mine field pitches

Watching Warwickshire v Durham, Ian Botham made a good point about the pitch – which is quite obviously a mine field, as Durham are 32 for 6. Durham have improved their Riverside ground beyond recognition – it’s one ground I would love go to. As have, of course, Hampshire at their Rosebowl ground. Both of these have world-class facilities, both receiving millions in funding – yet both pitches are mine fields. While these two counties have forced the improvement of other grounds, such as Leeds, to reach their lofty standards, their pitches need improving if they are to ever be granted the honour of regular Test matches. A great shame – you’d think that the pitch would be the most important aspect of a ground’s regeneration; it seems all the glitzy, shiny, corporate bullshit is more important these days…