OK – let’s be honest. Three straight championship defeats isn’t the kind of return we were all hoping for from the reigning champions. Given that the fixture list spared us from early season meetings against Somerset, Durham and surprise package Lancashire, I did anticipate we’d be up there, or thereabouts after the first seven matches.
But talk of our season already drifting off towards a disappointing conclusion is both premature and inaccurate - as I’m still very confident that an injury-free run-in will see us up amongst the challengers.
As Sepp Blatter said this week, “Crisis – what crisis?”
"Chernobyl is a club cricketer and Dave told me he was christened that, because he’s a slow reactor."
I watched old Step Ladder’s smarmy press conference on the superb flat-screen TV in my hotel room in Wusta (As a simpleton I’ve always spelt it that way, to avoid confusion. Imagine an American trying to pronounce our latest opposition – Wor – cester – shire. I prefer the Al Murray Pub Landlord full-on approach – Wusta!)
Apart from the TV, the best feature of the room was a superb painting which caught my eye as soon as I first entered. ‘Play at the New Road Ground’, it was entitled – and the more I wandered around the town, the more I realised that Wusta is a hotbed for cricket fans.
Virtually every shop has some reference, poster, picture or sticker for the county side – and those that didn’t were offering equal support for the Warriors, the local rugby union side that has just gained promotion to the Premiership.
To confirm my early thoughts, there was even a cricketing memorabilia fair at the ground on the first day of the match – and I’ve rarely seen so many stalls – chock-full of cricketana - books, bats, shirts, postcards, autographs and more.
I have to say it was really, really good – and I’d love to think we could come up with something similar at Trent Bridge. Graeme Hick, Glenn Turner and Basil D’Oliveira are the three former favourites that are still idolised at Wusta - but we’ve got enough of our own heroes, haven’t we?
Sharing commentary duties with BBC Radio Hereford and Wusta’s Dave Bradley has been a joy this week, especially when he’s been telling me stories about his mate, Chernobyl.
Chernobyl is a club cricketer and Dave told me he was christened that, because he’s a ‘slow reactor’.
On a trip to Ludlow (forty miles away) he was persuaded to run up the side of a mountain, promised that he could see Wusta Cathedral from the top – needless to say, he did it – but couldn’t!
He refused to try something similar on a trip to the Lake District but did go on an end of season tour to the Isle of Wight – given lots of lists of Duty Free to buy!
Dave tells me that Chernobyl’s brain is totally uncluttered by knowledge!
During the match itself we had a spell where Damian Wright was bowling to Chris Read. I commented that there used to be a radio show called Read and Wright, featuring the DJ’s Mike Read and Steve Wright)
Dave reminded me of a recent governmental advertising campaign to cut down on illiteracy. It read, “For those of you that struggle with your reading and writing then please send us an email at the address you’ll find below.”
The second day of the match was totally washed out by rain but you may be interested in the origins of another well-known cricketing phrase.
Many years ago two rival villages met for a game of cricket – and took the opportunity to build some friendships.
Halfway through the match everyone adjourned to the local hostelry, where the publican had thoughtfully provided a case of light ale for the players.
Unfortunately, the ale was off and midway through the second innings everyone was so ill that they abandoned the match.
It was the first recorded case of ‘bad light stops play’! (I’ll get my coat!)