Five o’clock. Sharp and very cool shower. The Glammy players, out having what seems a very informal net, are unmistakeably wincing. The groundsmen are cursing. The sky suggests it may change.
It does. Twenty past and the clouds are still swarming to my left, over and behind the pavilion – in fact over and beyond everywhere. Clouds. Now though, they threaten a good deal less.
Glammy seem relaxed: nattering or stretching.
The opposition are going through a batting drill where throwdowns are launched from about twelve yards, rather than twenty-two – presumably to cheat the senses and buy time for the bigger challenge, the longer distance. Hogan and Rudolph and co operate nearby, in their own world; building. I like these moments.
Set warm-ups are marked out: the strength and conditioning stuff precedes. Lunges. Choreographed stretches. Directed, building towards dynamic movements – hurdles, half-sprints then seamlessly into football.
I happen to know football so I could (if the mood took) dismember the footie confidence of some of these pro athletes. (Some of them are hopeless). But they seem to love it – or get into it – and it’s visibly, audibly a larf as well as a way towards freer movement. There’s good, smiley energy about. The coach is laughing.
Post the Swalec Champions League, it’s concerted fielding practice, for both sides. Gearing up and focussing. Long high catches and sharp pick-up and throws.
Run their best batsman out! GET KLINGER OUT!!
That’s what I’d be bawling – in fact I may be, in the Press Box as the adrenalin begins to fizz.
Out there, quietly striking moment(s) as Klinger, the Gloucestershire skipper and batting lynchpin tai chi’s alone at the crease; dancing, cutting, driving; visualising the shots. I can feel them as he does it: it’s real.
Finally we are left with Croft overseeing Van der Gugten and De Lange’s game-intensity bowl-off. Van der Gugten, in particular, steaming in hard and targetting middle stump – with off and leg splayed out, enticingly.
Glamorgan win the toss and choose to bowl. There’s a shower before they can.
As the players enter the pitch… it’s horrible. Back to that coolish, hardish squally autumnal garbage. Cruel. Glamorgan adjust their caps and race boldly, purposefully to their positions. Van der Gugten will open up.
First ball a wide down leg. And the second. Not much in either but not what you want. Followed by an angry short one. Four off the over.
Hogan. Second ball, wide down leg. Note square leg and third man deep for both opening bowlers. No early aggression from the batsmen. Salter nearly pouches a full-length dive at point: can’t hold on. Half-chance at best. 8 for 0 after 2.
Finally Mustard finds the boundary, straight, off Van der Gugten, who is bowling quickly – or at least getting great carry. Rain has cleared, lights are on. Mustard steers a six wristily last ball of the third – 18 for 0.
Klinger booms one straight off Hogan but it plugs, comically, in the damp and he can only run two. This surely cannot be a hugely high-scoring affair – the air is chunky and cool, the ground inevitably still moist. Wisely, despite not looking that swift, the Gloucester openers grab their share of quick singles where possible. We are 36 for 0, off 5.
Wagg, coming round, starts with a legside wide. Marginal again but not a theme Croft will be revelling in. However there is a relative lack of fireworks, considering Klinger’s reputation for vulcanism. Wagg notably drops his pace (or varies it) and 45 for 0 off 6 feels… even.
Salter takes a steepler confidently to get Klinger – Meschede the bowler. Next ball is a shocker of a full-toss, summarily dismissed for six by Mustard. 54 for 1, then, off 6.
Salter round the wicket to the left-handed Mustard. (Got to be a condiment-related joke on there). No major dramas.
Meschede gets three consecutive overs but Glos seem to be able to pick him off, despite his ability to mix things up. He didn’t feel all that convincing, to me, his goodish figures flattering him somewhat.
Salter on the other hand seemed pretty tidy – but inevitably Mustard picks him up over long on for six, as I type these words. A further four from Cockbain rather spoils the off-spinners figures. 0-28 off 3.
Ingram steps up to bowl the fourteenth. Claims a wicket – again nonchalantly taken out in the deep by Salter – for six runs scored. Then de Lange.
Ingram’s legspin takes some tap, unsurprisingly, in the sixteenth, as Gloucestershire look to up the ante. Donald drops a regulation catch off de Lange in the next and after seventeen the visitors are 129 for 3.
Thereafter Donald almost makes amends with a good, forward, stooping catch, first ball of the eighteenth – Hogan the bowler. Later the lanky Australian strikes again with a stonking yorker but the detail drifts because it’s gone grey and cold and sinister again…
Hogan claims a third victim in the over as Perera steers to deep mid-off, where Miller calmly obliges. De Lange takes the nineteenth, pumped and quick.
Hogan, it is, who has further success, though – bowling Roderick then effecting the run-out of the incoming Taylor. Suddenly it’s 145 for 8. Hogan claims his five-fer with the last ball as Taylor is caught at gully.
150 for 9, which feels frankly difficult to judge – Glamorgan having done generally well, Gloucester having done… similarly.
The reply. Donald bangs the first delivery from Taylor for four through midwicket, the second is tickled straight behind for four more and the third is dispatched behind square. Wow. Oh – and it’s raining. To a slightly worrying degree. So Glammy will look to stay ahead.
Next, Donald is undone, mistiming and fending disappointingly to mid-off (did it stick in the pitch? He seems to imply so). 19 for 1 off 2. In comes the ‘worldie’, Ingram. Conditions are not good.
Ingram strokes his first ball elegantly for nought but the second emphatically for four, over extra cover. But conditions are tough. Maybe the lights make it seem more dramatically unhelpful than it is… but it’s not helping anyone. Given the rivalry here, a rain-affected game would devalue any bragging rights significantly.
Rudolph is yorked by Perera. The umpires talk… and we’re off. There is some disquiet – on and off the pitch. 32 for 2 off 5.
There follows a minor classic in rain-dancing. It’s clearly off due to rain then entirely feasible then it rains. Then umpires have a look and we’re on at 9.15… then it rains. Meanwhile Glamorgan are 5 runs down on the Duckworth-Lewis. We wait – some resigned, some tense, all helpless.
Twenty-past nine and the umpires have rightfully called it off. Some of us have just missed the last train home. Klinger won’t care… and good luck to him.