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y My firs rst st-class ss debut wa was a pro roperwas er wash-out h-; CRICKET MAIL sports reporter Gregg Evans decided it was time to break his duck and go to watch his first county cricket match ... but rather than being bowled over he was sent batty by the terrible weather.

TRUDGING through the Edgbaston car park and into the concourse I noticed an avid Bears fan who gave me great hope.

It was an elderly-looking man armed with a cooler bag and seemingly more optimistic than the guy staring back at him - me. We exchanged pleasantries - our encounter on day two of Warwickshire v Derbyshire very short and sweet - and when he passionately roared: "I'm really up for this today" I quickly put to the back of my mind an early-morning text message from our cricket man Brian Halford bearing the words 'I'd give it a miss if I was you'.

He was referring to my first visit to a county cricket game - something that had been long overdue. But, ever the optimist, I politely ignored his Met Office-related advice and made my way down to Warwickshire CCC, where I stumbled upon the aforementioned supporter, my beacon of hope.

Now, I've never been known for my ability to successfully judge other people's age but if I said this fellow was 70 I'm confident I wouldn't be too far out.

With that in mind, I thought Brian's 13-year spell as a cricket reporter at the Birmingham Mail would leave him slightly less experienced than the old gentleman himself. Yet those of you who read his regular contributions and follow him on Twitter will know he's a man of great knowledge.

And also a man who's been there, done that and got the waterproof jacket to prove it.

Brian knows just how miserable life can be when the clouds make their way over from Balsall Heath and wreak havoc on a day's cricket... as do the Bears' playing personnel.

So, after choosing not to listen, it was only fitting that I suffered similar frustrations. Football, of course, is a completely different ball game, as I've found out over the years.

Barring freak weather conditions top-level games almost always go ahead as planned.

So when I watched drizzle lighter than Warwickshire's deprived attack last week rule out the entire day's play, annoyance kicked in.

What I found even harder to deal with was the waiting around to see whether play would start... oh, and the sorry sight of groundstaff covering up the wicket.

"It's not a 90-minute game like you're used to, son," reminded an old hack who has probably seen more wash-outs than I've had hot dinners.

It could have been worse I suppose - at least I got to see the warm-up.

I will undoubtedly get another chance to witness cricket at its best but Warwickshire could well suffer for the downpour, even at this early stage of the season.

The match never recovered as rain claimed 235 overs in all so the reigning champions earned just seven points while their opponents stole a march in the title chase.

Weather plays a major role in the overall standings but the Bears are certainly doing their best this week to make amends.

And if the optimism from the stands can find its way to the wicket they could well be in for another successful season.

How much of it I will witness remains to be seen.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 19, 2013
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