Rain Stopped Play

Rain stopped play is not something that is associated with running, particularly cross country a discipline where rain and mud are generally considered a positive feature. So it was rather surprising to receive an e mail on Friday confirming that that Saturday’s fixture in the Kent Cross Country League in Danson Park had been cancelled due to a waterlogged course and concerns about damage to the park which would have impacted on other park users.

While disappointing, it is understanding and shows the problems of finding suitable venues for cross country races. So instead, I headed out this afternoon to do a tempo run around the perimeter of Sutcliffe Park. The Quaggy runs through the park had clearly flooded last weekend and its level was still higher than the path alongside it.

There was still the very last vestiges of autumn colour on the edge of the athletics track, the yellows glorious in the afternoon sun.

My own disappointments pale into insignificance with events in the sport that ‘Rain stopped play’ is more generally associated – cricket. That sport had a tragedy this week, with the death of the Australian Test cricketer Phil Hughes, struck on the neck by a bouncer, which just evaded the protection of his helmet. I have’t played for years or been to a game for a couple, but his death touched me greatly, particularly listening to the veteran Australian commentator Jim Maxwell announcing it.

There was a piece by Tom Fordyce on the BBC website that perhaps explains it ‘Elite sportsmen are our real-time superheroes, capable of physical wonders beyond the rest of us, seemingly unbound by many of the same biological constraints.’ They are the people we aspired to be when younger, but without their talent and commitment we remained ordinary sportspeople.

The sporting community’s tributes #putoutyourbats has produced some moving images, and recognition that bowler who innocently delivered the fatal ball, Sean Abbott, will probably suffer for the rest of his life. I was going to dust down the family bat, but the tribute left at the side of the pitch at Swansea (picture from The Mirror) by the Palace and Australia football captain Mile Jedinak seemed so much more poignant.

Hughes, P 63* RIP


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