Yesterday there was just a groan when it was announced that Glamorgan, the visitors for Warwickshire's opening Championship match of the season, had won the toss and would bat. It was mirrored in an uncommonly crowded press box where someone called for a taxi and the rest reflected on the perversity of cricket.
Brian Lara's debut had brought a Test match-sized media contingent to Edgbaston and 2,000 spectators in the stands. Pretty good for a Championship match locally but hardly evidence of Laramania sweeping Birmingham, a point underscored by the few spectators of Caribbean origin. After the previous night's relegation dogfight at the Hawthorns - watched by 10 times as many - the current local hero is Steve Claridge of Birmingham City.
Even so, Lara quickly became the most intently watched slipper since Cinderella fled the ball. As Glamorgan proceeded at a turgid pace he slowly piled on the sweaters, joked with wicketkeeper Keith Piper and fellow newcomer Richard Davis, and wondered what he had let himself in for.
Then, after several attempts to catch the skipper's eye by bowling his leggies in the field, Dermot Reeve brought him on for an over before tea. The over reflected career figures of 1 for 103 and provoked the thought that if fantasy cricket really existed it might consist of Lara bowling to himself.
After Wednesday's hype, the county's marketing department appeared to have gone for a long lunch. There were no rum punches on offer at the bar nor rice'n'peas and pumpkin soup on the menu. More surprisingly, they had not even managed to rush Lara photographs into the club shop.
It was left to Ladbrokes to maximise the opportunity. They had Lara at 4-1 to be first to 1,000 first-class runs and 10-1 to top the national run-makers. More popular on such a perverse day was 6-1 to make a duck. Yesterday, like Lara himself, it was a non-runner.
Report, scoreboard, page 38
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