5:08 PM ISTPaul EdwardsClick here for drip-by-drip updates from day two of the Vitality Blast Finals WeekendSaturday’s cricket was finally knocked on the head around six o’clock. The phrase was a colleague’s but a metaphor linked to putting a nearly dead fish out of its misery seemed perfectly appropriate. However, the ECB had a surprise for us all. If no cricket whatever is possible today we will not go straight to three bowl-outs but will foregather for another of these delightful Eisteddfods on Wednesday. For the avoidance of doubt, that is Wednesday, October 7.”Groundhog Day” said the chap from the ECB. It seemed a reasonable assessment, albeit somewhat lacking in originality. Those of us who envisioned a succession of Vitality Blast Finals Days being scheduled deep into the autumn and were already of a sadly irreverent bent were reminded of the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 13 Verse 8: “Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and for evermore”.Yesterday I arrived at Edgbaston for the last day of the season, presented my credentials, had my temperature checked and was admitted to the ground. Today, ditto. Wednesday? These exceptional days make people doubt themselves. One remembers the 1945 portmanteau horror film Dead of Night which begins and ends with an architect played by Mervyn Johns arriving at a house and discovering he has met all the guests in a dream. That Ealing Studios movie is rightly regarded a classic and features a blood-freezing portrayal of a schizophrenic ventriloquist by Michael Redgrave. “The merging of dreaming and reality is what becomes truly terrifying,” wrote Philip French in The Guardian. (Connoisseurs of great writing and another classic may note that the Redgrave portrayal is, I think, referenced by Russell Lewis in “Neverland”, the last episode of season two of Endeavour.)ALSO READ: Musings on an under-dressed statue on a Birmingham city-centre roundaboutEnough of this, you might observe, and you are probably right. But you can surely imagine my relief as I watch the Edgbaston groundstaff shifting the covers that surround the square and beginning the preparations for some sort of Finals Day. No one has a clue what sort of event will be possible. The umpire Mike Burns has said they won’t start unless they can get three games in. Fair enough, of course, but the length of such games has yet to be negotiated. One would have thought that two eight-over semi-finals and a 20-over final would be an exceptional outcome given that Birmingham has been visited by one of the plagues of Egypt this weekend.Of course, one of the hallmarks of great ghost stories is their ability to suggest the return of calm only to inflict more terror on the reader. I say this only because there was a light shower a few minutes ago, although it was not sufficient to force the fat-chewing coaches from the outfield. But any suggestion of further dampness currently brings on the ab-dabs. The rain’s stopped now. My guess is that we will get a Finals Day in today and that the affair will not be resolved by a bowl-out. Edgbaston is beginning to resemble a cricket ground once again. Then again, maybe I am just taking refuge in optimism. Anything to stop me thinking about Michael Redgrave and that bloody doll.It’s started raining again.
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