Crawley flourishes in a new era

It was blissful here yesterday as the English cricket season, enjoying its earliest start ever, began its first tentative steps into a new century. The scene, as Cambridge University spent the day chasing leather, may have looked familiar, but it was deceptive for there are vast changes afoot in all areas of the game. While the wisdom of two divisions and the new centres of excellence will all take time to digest, traditionalists were greeted with the immediate news that Lancashire, who declared on 364 for 3, are to wear fleeces in place of the old traditional woollen sweaters.

In the event, they did not really need either. The spring sun shone with enough warmth for spectators to shed their outer layers and as John Crawley, Lancashire's captain, went about recording his 33rd first-class century, all seemed well with the world. Only Michael Atherton, returning like Crawley to the place where the foundations of his reputation were laid, could claim otherwise, although he would have a tough job finding sympathisers after edging an innocuous looking ball.

Atherton, having got off the mark with what county pros used sneeringly to call the undergraduate's banker (a thick outside edge for four to third man) managed another streaky boundary, before pushing half-forward to Charlie Pimlott and snicking a low catch to the wicketkeeper, Malcolm Birks.

Pimlott, a third year law student at Downing (Atherton's old college), has no plans to play county cricket, hoping instead to become a barrister. Afterwards he admitted that the scalp was definitely his most prestigious. "It was a fairly ordinary delivery, though," he added. "Just straight and full."

The other bowlers dealt in much the same fare, which is meat and drink to Crawley. Providing Lancashire's new coach, Bobby Simpson, can overcome Crawley's failings outside the off-stump, he could yet make his way back into the Test selectors' minds.

Against this kind of attack, which, Pimlott apart, would probably not make a decent club side, Crawley was punishing, and he shared in two century partnerships - the first with Joe Scuderi, the other with Neil Fairbrother. Apart from one or two sloppy moments, he looked unbreachable and his demise after tea, stumped off Quentin Hughes, looked suspiciously sacrificial.

Scuderi, who made a pleasing half-century before edging a wide one, is an Aussie who qualifies as a home player by dint of an Italian passport. A stalwart for South Australia since the 1980s, he also played for a number of years in the Lancashire league. Now, at 31, he finds himself contracted to a county for the first time and a First Division one at that.

Fairbrother, who made an unbeaten 69, tootled along like the old pro he is, while Andrew Flintoff, looking fit after breaking his foot in the Cape Town Test four months ago, made the most of an early let-off by thumping 80 off just 35 balls, including four sixes and 10 fours. Together they added 100 in 10.1 overs as spectators were scattered with a flurry of boundaries mainly from Flintoff.

Technically this will be the last season that Cambridge University will play first-class cricket. They along with Oxford, Durham, Loughborough, Cardiff and Leeds-Bradford, have been chosen as centres of excellence by the ECB. For some, Cambridge has already proved itself, providing fine Test players like Atherton, Peter May, Ted Dexter and Phil Edmonds.

Under the new directives it merges with Anglia University and build an indoor school. It will cost money and change the landscape, especially as part of the ground has been sold to pay for the project. For some it will be a bitter pill to swallow but if it provides a Dexter or two every few years, it will be worth it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine