Flintoff plays at Lord's

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A Flintoff played at Lord’s today but it was not, alas, Andrew.

John Flintoff (no relation) represented Sassay in the Village Cup Final. His team from North Yorkshire beat Shipton-under-Wychwood of Oxfordshire by seven wickets in the best Village Final that I’ve seen since I first attended this match in 2004.

The cricket was of a very high standard. There was some brilliant batting, notably 38 runs from 13 balls by Jason Hunt of Sassay, a scoring rate that would be considered outrageous even in an international 20/20. John Barclay, the charming and highly amusing President of MCC, said at the post-match presentation that it had been “the real thing.” The photo above shows how spread out the Shipton field was because of the big hitting – no slips needed for all those hits square and forward of the wicket.

Shipton won the Cup in 2002 and 2003 and has probably been the best club side in England over the last decade. Kudos to Sassay for this fine achievement.

During the lunch interval we were allowed onto the playing area – a rare privilege. I cannot recall being onto the outfield at Lord’s since the England vs. West Indies Test in 2000, when I was briefly stood next to Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose. They were both about a foot taller than me. No such giants today, though some of the Shipton and Sassay players were probably a foot wider than me.

The pitch shown above is the one that will be used for Saturday’s 40-over County final between Somerset and my beloved Warwickshire (hurrah!). It will also be utilised for Monday’s England vs. Pakistan One Day International, which will be the last match of the year at Lord’s. From 21 September on I will have to console myself with members’ dinners and visits to The Oval library.

Notice how bare the pitch is – a grass covering would be fatal for batsmen at this time of year – and how it is being rolled to make it as flat and batsmen-friendly as possible.

I saw the last hour or so of the England vs. Pakistan match at Headingley on TV. That wide by Umar Gul in the last over was rather suspect, non?

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