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Mixed feelings - by Big Bri

The news that Hampshire had won the battle for the services of Sam Northeast next season produced mixed feelings as, yet again, I was struck by the current attitude to long term loyalty.

The player was captain of Kent, a county side who over countless seasons have been battling against financial problems and have been forced to rely on local players. Indeed they could boast a side of almost totally homegrown players at certain times of the season.

Sam Northeast had become synonymous with the county in many people’s eyes, much in the manner of the Cowdreys in past times; but these attitudes no longer apply.

In a week where England welcomed back Ben Stokes, and Adil Rashid announced he is no longer available to play red ball cricket for Yorkshire, the ongoing changes in the game are bewildering to this old codger.

Rummaging through the local charity shops last week in search of plunder I chanced upon a recent numbered and signed cricket print by Terry Harrison of The Village Green at Tilford.

It had it all; village pub, cottages, spectators in the shade under spreading oak. But best of all there was a real representation of a cricket match in the foreground, so real one could almost hear the sound of the ball on willow. It was irresistible and for the price of a few pence it was mine.

Later in the day a telephone call from an old cricket colleague advised me that his teenage son who plays at a high standard locally had never played in whites with a red ball in his life.

The romantic image of the great game is disappearing fast and I had better get used to it.

So a big welcome to Sam Northeast who ever since his early days at Harrow School has been, throughout his career, a celebrated batsman who never seemed to fulfil his early promise.

I was surprised to find he is only 28 years of age and perhaps his best years are round the corner as he brings a wealth of experience to the team.

Then to add insult to injury, after a positive assertion by no less a source than the “The Thunderer” that the Ageas Bowl would get an Ashes Test, came the bad news that in the conceivable future they would only have the odd one day match and 20/20 games.

Having yet again despatched West Brom out of the FA cup it is to be hoped that the same treatment will be handed out to Burnley on Saturday.

There were quite a few positives from the cup game, not least the change of luck as the ball hit the crossbar and was then cleared off the line.

There appears to be a cyclic character to good fortune and it is to be hoped that the worm has turned for Saints. A football chairman whom I asked about his new manager replied that all he ever wanted was “A lucky one.”


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