On Friday night I went to the Tribal bar near home with Gavin for tea and to watch the Luton v Middlesbrough game. I had a spicy burger, fries and some huge onion rings – magnificent! It was a really entertaining game too, the Hatters played some decent football and could have won but for a goalkeeping howler from their record signing. 
Harpreet Singh in action for Barnsley for the last time in 2019 
The multi-tasking cricket manager - caption for the roller side panel? 
On Saturday morning I had a couple of coffees in Beverley with the family before setting off for Barnsley. The haddock and chips from Shaws’ were fully up to standard and I sat eating in the sunshine at Shaw Lane, watching Sheffield Collegiate lay the foundations for a good score against Barnsley. But at 146, both Sam Hunt and Shaaiq Choudhry fell to Oliver Jackson, and the innings subsided somewhat. It is no surprise to see Olly near the top of our bowling averages – he is undoubtedly one of the best slow bowlers in the league, and we all know that a good slow bowler is a match-winner. 
 
In reply, Barnsley lost Boeta Beukes at 40, but Harpreet Singh joined Jon Trower and their stand of 133 took the home side to within two of victory. Harpreet was playing in his last match for the Griffins this season and it is appropriate that he went out on this winning note against one of our top sides – he has been an outstanding import for his club and the league. He returns home because he still has international ambitions, and wants to play himself into contention. I know that at Shaw Lane they wish he was available for the full season, and it is frustrating for them because they now have a real chance of putting Doncaster under pressure. But we have seen many overseas players who stay with clubs for full seasons whose contribution is nowhere near what Harpreet brings in 13 games or so. Whatever the future holds for him, I wish him all the best, and I hope we see him again. 
 
Hallam’s excellent win over Wakefield Thornes at Field Lane takes them off the bottom for the first time since May. Richard Storer said to me before their win over Cleethorpes that they were going to win all their games up to the end of the season – he might have had his tongue in his cheek, but they have made a great start towards that, and we look like having a real dogfight at the bottom of the table. Cleethorpes’ win at Baxter Field was their first since 27 May, and will give them a lift for the crucial last five games. Whilst Wickersley’s win over Aston Hall takes them nearer to safety, it pushed the Green Lane side deeper into trouble. 
 
I left Shaw Lane just in time to beat the football traffic and made the trip to Hayling Island in three hours forty minute, including a short stop – where I nearly got embroiled in a ‘road rage’ episode between the cars in front of and behind me. The one in front stopped to let out a passenger outside the doors to the services, bringing us all to a halt, and the one behind took exception. The man who emerged from the car in front was a huge Sheffield Wednesday fan, and when he glared menacingly at me, I had to gesticulate furiously that it was not me with my hand on the horn! 
 
Beaulieu was excellent – a fantastic range of old cars that brought back so many memories. Joe, Kirsty’s cousin, was more into the supercars – but I was happy to pass on them and prevent further damage to my already inefficient eardrums! We drove back on Monday morning in time for me to be at the University in time for the afternoon session – but it took over six hours, including a couple of stops, this time. 
 
I was at the university again on Tuesday morning, then got some cricket work done. On Wednesday I came down to London by train to stay with my old pal, Malc. I always look forward to spending these few days down here every year – but I am very sorry that this year they clashed with our MCC v YSPL u23s game. That evening, Malc and I went out to a micropub in Winchmore Hill for a couple of pints before meeting his wife, Jackie, at a very busy Greek restaurant nearby. 
 
Yesterday we were at the Great British Beer Festival; we go and meet friends there every year – it is a good social occasion more than anything else. We went for breakfast first and arrived around 1.15. There is a huge range of ale on offer, and I try a few halves of new ones before finishing off with two or three old favourites. None of the beer I had was outstanding, and it is not cheap, but the company was very good. 
 
My former work colleague, James, left work early to join us. We were talking cricket, and after we had covered England’s disappointing start to the Ashes (which is completely understandable in my view – why do we have to play a World Cup and an Ashes series in the same season? why do we play players that hardly play any first class cricket in test matches? why is the county championship relegated to being a filler between one day tournaments’ instead of providing essential practice for test players?), we then moved on to the ECB participation agenda. 
 
James has a young son, Johnny, who became hooked on cricket after his dad took him to Lords and he got involved in an informal tournament for young players on the playing area, and on another occasion he met and had some informal coaching from Nathan Buck – so in addition to wanting to play at any opportunity, he wants to go to see Northants play at Leicester this weekend! Can the professional game do more to encourage young players? James points to the fact that football and rugby clubs make school visits in his area – but not cricket clubs. Also that on so many weekends there is nothing going on at first class grounds. There is also co-ordination between other sports who deliberately schedule some events close to others to encourage spectators to move from one to another – I saw this at Headingley years ago when many rugby spectators stopped for a drink and watched a Yorkshire League game. He believes that it is interactions with the first class players that fire the enthusiasm of young players and that that cricket is wasting opportunities. Chris Froggett always makes a similar point about cricket not being on free-to-air TV. 
 
Before we left for Olympia I had been in touch with Steve, who assured me that all was in order at Abbeydale and that the weather was good. He sent me score updates during the day, and whilst our lads ultimately came up five runs short against a strong MCC side, they gave a good account of themselves, and I hope they enjoyed the day. 
 
Today, I am meeting another old friend for lunch in Bedfordshire before journeying home, and on Saturday we need to be in Barnsley around lunchtime, so we’ll go down to Field Lane in the afternoon. 
 
Till next week, 
 
Roger 
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