Somerset County Cricket Club play in the one day cricket cup final next Saturday at Lord’s. It is good that they have retained their proper county name instead of adding words that have nothing to do with cricket. Somerset have never won the county championship, the premier prize of county cricket. There have been times when they came very close, losing out in the last minutes of the last day of the competition in 2010 and 2016 (losing only by a statistical quirk in 2010), but the title has eluded them for more than one hundred and forty years. The team forty years ago was particularly strong, losing two one day competitions in a final single weekend in 1978, before winning the respective competitions in a final weekend of the season the following year. Three more one day competition titles were to follow in the next four seasons, and one day titles in 2001 and 2005, but the county championship was always beyond them. A commentator on their prospects for the 1981 season said they lacked the consistency to win matches on “wet Mondays in Chesterfield.”
Chesterfield is a very fine town and a fine place to be, even on a wet Monday, but the image has remained of a cricket team trying to grind out a result on a pitch that is greasy, with a ball that is slippery, in humid conditions, under grey clouds, with a handful of hardy spectators dotted around the stands. It is an image of gritty resolution and plodding forebearance.
The metaphor of “wet Mondays in Chesterfield” has often been useful in getting through daily work. Flamboyance, beauty, and significance are rare commodities, life is mostly unremarkable, like the Monday of a county championship match.
There is heavy cloud cover this evening, a deep slate grey colour fills the sky towards Yeovil. The light has faded early, it is dark enough to stop play at a cricket match. If the umpires took the players off now, there would be no resumption of play today
Like Somerset on their “wet Mondays in Chesterfield,” there are probably more defeats or draws in ordinary daily life than there are triumphs, but the game is still played because, one day, the elusive might be reached; perhaps, one day, the long awaited victory might be achieved. Somerset will hopefully triumph on Saturday and go on to win a first county championship at the end of the summer – and the mental picture of wet Mondays in Chesterfield will remain as a reminder that the game is there to be won.