VIEW FROM THE BLUES: Frustrating bore draw rounds off the home season

Rob Newton (left) and Adam Rossington have endured below-par seasons
Rob Newton (left) and Adam Rossington have endured below-par seasons

So the joke goes that the comedian comes on stage, tells a gag, and there is utter silence.

Then, after five torturous minutes he hears what he thinks is applause through the darkness. ‘Thankyou sir’, he replies.

The guy in the gloom retorts that he was hitting the bottom of the sauce bottle! That is what it has been like watching Northants at home in the championship over the past three years, a period in which the team has won just four matches.

The coach and captain have to be bolder.

This week’s visit for that final home match of the season saw fifth-placed Northants entertain fourth-placed Glamorgan in the battle for third place, held by Essex.

The Glamorgan captain didn’t fancy it between the showers and kept the players off the park so we saw just eight overs on day one.

Day two wasn’t much better. We are told players and umpires value first-class cricket above all else, but clearly not here, refusing to play in bright sunshine. It was embarrassing and the supporters let them know it.

If it had been Twenty20 they would have played, end of.

If one of the teams needed points to go up, they would have played, simple as.

If the match was on the television, they would have played.

Was the health & safety issue because Rory Kleinveldt was trundling in and bowling at 75mph?

Maybe the 60 or so spectators present presented a crush risk? Whatever it was, it wasn’t for cricketing reasons.

Just 30 overs were possible on day two as Kleinveldt earned himself his fifth five-for of the season and his 55th first-class scalp.

I don’t think anyone expected him to be that reliable and penetrative in a team not particularly going for it in the championship.

David Lloyd closed the day on 64 not out in Glamorgan’s from 166 for six.

The rain that was promised to wash out day three arrived late, and almost two sessions were possible, but the umpires were as pedantic as ever with the light, seemingly prepared to come off when a cloud passed in front of the sun the mood they were in.

Olly Stone enjoyed bowling all morning and took four wickets with his ever improving medium-fast seam bowling.

Olly does pop one or two down the leg side when he tries to bowl too fast, but we are lucky to have him.

His selection for the England performance camp in the winter and some solid conditioning in the next two years will see Northants have a genuine 50-60-wicket-a-season English born fast bowler, especially with no David Willey to claim the new ball off him.

Glamorgan closed on 233 for nine, with a career-best 91 for 23-year-old Lloyd.

Decreasing light saw Northants wobble pass the follow on like a drunken giraffe before the fastidious umpires dragged them off in fading light yet again, well before the deluge arrived.

I really do think the decision to carry on in bad weather should be down to the batsmen first, and then the umpire and the bowler last.

I just don’t see the benefit of delaying play in end of season games for petty reasons.

A well known ex-umpire watching on also thought they were poor all match.

During the Northants reply, captain Alex Wakely became the second top run-scorer for Northants this season with 744 runs with a stylish 50.

Supporters’ player of the Year Ben Duckett is in third with 727, and Rob Keogh remains out in front with 844.

It’s been a while since Northants batsmen scored 1,000 championship runs but Keogh is going to be that guy one day.

Adam Rossington and Rob Newton have been the big disappointments this season, averaging under 30, which is not good enough for their ability levels.

Rossington losing the gloves to Duckett has seemed to unsettle his confidence.

Josh Cobb, on the other hand, his impressed in all formats and looks set to play in all 41 games this season.

So would the captains get a game on for the final home day of the season and entertain the fans in the best weather of the four days with Northants at 128 for five?


David Ripley says the Glamorgan captain wouldn’t agree on the two declarations, and clearly felt vulnerable on their overnight score.

Northants batted out the innings to groans for 277 on a pitch still offering chances, but one or two bowlers struggled, with the uneven run-ups producing a lot of no balls.

On that green keeping issue, the number two groundsman is retiring this year and taking with him a lot of experience.

We can only hope the others can cope without him, a very knowledgably and approachable guy.

Another familiar face down the ground also no longer with us is Ricardo, who passed away this month after suffering a stroke.

Ricardo was often the most entertaining thing down at the ground during championship matches - how can you not like a guy who dresses up in a tutu and pompoms?

Keeper David Murphy may well have signed off his Northants career with a pugnacious unbeaten 59, and his replacement Rossington hitting a breezy 58.

I know which one I would want as our reserve keeper.

Re-employ Rossington as batsman only, and Murphy can stay. He is a very popular player with the fans and the best gloveman of the three.

Glamorgan batted out the remainder of the day to close on 99 for three for the most irritating draw for a long time, and two teams simply playing for league position.

This is exactly why the ECB are getting tired of the second division’s existence.

Only two teams have really tried to get promoted this year, and they are the Test match ground teams and 60 points clear.

In fact, all seven of the traditional Test ground counties are in division one now.

If the ECB had the bottle, they would have closed off the top league with eight teams and called it a premier league.

But they haven’t, so it’s the same again next year with gruelling road trips for the players, 16 dead championship matches for Northants, and the season once again coming down to how good or cruel the weather is on the Twenty20.