LIGHT'S OUT: Sun comes at the right time for first cricket friendlies
THE cricket season starts here! Gloucestershire begin their pre-season friendlies this week and the sun has come out at the right time.
It is not results that matter in these matches, individual performances being more important. Special attention will be paid to Jack Taylor, now the ECB have passed his bowling action and also Ian Saxelby will be nursed along.
Injury-prone Ian has been with us for six seasons, but in that time has played in just two Cheltenham festivals. He deserves better luck.
This is the season when it is hoped our young bowlers will kick on and performance will match promise. Craig Miles did exactly that last season and if Liam Norwell stays fit and the younger Taylor, Matt, play as well as they can all should be well on the bowling front.
If Hamish Marshall and Alex Gidman, both of whom can now be called veterans, show the form of last season, runs should not be a problem as captain Klinger is sure to lead from the front.
Not many of our horses did at Cheltenham! Perhaps the morning fog blurred our vision and a few cautious investments were total failures. Not so the Festival itself, which goes from strength to strength.
Cirencester Town and Forest Green battle on in their promotion quest. There are still 33 points to be won by the New Lawn side and the Pennock promotion push is still on course. Nine points won from the last four games is a reasonable return. Frustration, however, was the word last Thursday when a determined Braintree team came and won. Their splendidly organised defence kept Rovers out and it was probably the worst game of the season. There were several Cirencester faces in the crowd and their rueful words to me can be summarised as follows: “It is all your fault, John. You have got us here on false pretences."
My reply is simple – keep the faith. Anything is still possible.
The sun is not just welcome for cricketers and gardeners. Every time I venture forth I see lycra-clad cyclists of all ages, shapes and sizes. As far as Olympic legacies are concerned there is no doubt that cycling is more popular than ever.
Recent legislation now allows for local roads to be briefly closed if cycle races are taking place. This happened in the Malmesbury area a couple of weeks ago. It was cheerfully accepted by motorists, and in any case who is in a hurry on Sunday mornings?
It was suggested to me on Sunday morning that I would be watching Liverpool play Manchester United that afternoon from the comfort of my sofa. No chance! What interest is there to a local sportsperson watching two distant northern sides, with too many overseas players?
Mrs Light and I would rather wander around Westonbirt Arboretum, potter in Cirencester Park or perhaps visit Eastleach to admire the daffodils. This good weather must not be wasted.
It has caused us both to look at the county cricket fixture list and plan our away trips. Derbyshire and Surrey head the list, the hospitality at the Oval being first class. It cannot surpass Derby, however, where the puddings on offer for visitors are outstanding.
Last time we visited, an Eve’s pudding and a summer pudding were demolished with relish. Visiting other counties as president is both a privilege and a delight and I intend to make the most of my final year. Happily, Yorkshire are not among our opponents, Dickie Bird is taking over the presidency from Geoff Boycott and I am not a good enough listener for such company.
They do not always get everything correct in the white rose county. Visiting scouts sit in the row in front of the FGR press area. On Thursday evening one had come from Sheffield Wednesday to watch Wes Burns play. Wes is not a FGR player. In March last year he was on loan from Bristol City. We have not seen him since!