The day they held a tour match and no one came (including most of the players)

“The Pakistan tourists are coming!” screams the splash page for the Leicestershire County Cricket Club website. “The team features Shahid Afridi… wicket keeper Kamran Akmal and leg spinner Danish Kaneria… opener Salman Butt and Mohammed Aamer…”

Well, out of those listed only Salman Butt was playing, captaining a 2nd string Pakistan team against a 2nd string Leicestershire team (Nadeem Malik captaining, 30-year-old Steve Adshead with the gloves). Two days with a maximum of 100 overs per innings – this was only ever going to end in a draw, but it was a disappointment to the small number of us who did turn up that there was no Afridi, no Akmal brothers, no Mohammad Aamer: it was all a bit of an anticlimax, to be honest.

Having a nice sit down

Having a nice sit down - it was that kind of day

Contrast this with an almost full-strength Australian side playing at Derby on the same days, and the rumblings of discontent were audible among the usual suspects who turn up (rain or shine, including yours truly).

It would help if the club advertised these things better. A small advert in the Leicester Mercury ain’t gonna pull the crowds in. There was the same low attendance for the West Indies tour-match last year due to lack of advertising, which compounded itself farcically with the start day being rescheduled to a day earlier than originally advertised on the club website,  resulting in marginally better attendance on Day 2 as folks who’d booked the day off work in advance rocked up and wondered why play had already been underway for a whole day.

The thought also did occur to me that there would have been a delicious irony had Australia played at Leicester instead, given Ricky Ponting’s much publicized love of the city, but never mind.

It wasn’t all exactly thrills and spills, but then I’m usually happy as Larry sitting on a bench in front of the Meet digesting my sandwiches during a particularly somnolent lull in play during a 4-day county game, the run-rate flat-lining, eavesdropping on the old codgers arguing over whether Sobers or Miller was the better all-rounder, has anyone seen Pete and is his sciatica improving, and  how scientists have discovered watercress can cure cancer, apparently – enough to keep me occupied. I felt sorry though for the occasional visitors and the clutch of Pakistan fans who turned up – young kids, some teenagers, a couple of families – in all likelihood with the hope of seeing Afridi et al do their stuff.

Saeed Ajmal bowls

Saeed Ajmal bowls

The day wasn’t completely devoid of anything interesting – Greg Smith, returning from completing his studies at Durham University, signalled his intent to challenge for a place in the 1st team with a useful knock of 87 before being skying an easy catch to Saeed Ajmal at square leg, and Josh Cobb was involved in a farcical runout when looking set on a score of 23, which included 5 fours. Wayne White again proved his value to the side, finishing on 65*.

Josh Cobb

Josh Cobb looked in good touch before being run out

I didn’t go to Day 2, but by all accounts I didn’t miss much: Leicestershire closed their innings on 296 and their bowlers toiled all day for little reward, with four out of the seven wickets due to the Pakistan batsmen retiring to give someone else a hit.

So what did we learn of Pakistan’s form going into the first Test at Lord’s on Tuesday on the basis of their match at Grace Road? Not a heck of a lot. What did we learn from Australia’s match against Derbyshire? That Chris Rogers should probably be playing in the Australian Test team.


2 Responses to “The day they held a tour match and no one came (including most of the players)”

  1. Wes ~PFCNFS~ says:

    Wow I didn’t know the turn-up was *that* poor. This is probably what you call misleading ads, you should have got your entrance fee back, alright, one could argue that Salman Butt enhanced by Saeed Ajmal is worth quite a lot… Well, at least you’ve enjoyed the conversation 😉


    PS. It is true that AUS played against Derby and Middlesex with nearly a 1st string line-up but they found anyway that the tour lacked proper warm-ups, so obviously they grabbed any chance they could get hold of. Oz work ethics…

  2. legsidefilth says:

    Hi Wes!

    The banter is admittedly one of the great attractions of County cricket – though I sometimes think to myself: “Yeah, that will be me in 2048… Jesus!”

    Thankfully no refund needed as I got in for free being a member, but yeah it did strike me Australia were approaching their preparation with perhaps a tad more vigorous work ethic…

Leave a Reply