0 The crowds and cash are in short supply: Is it time for county cricket to up stumps?

While our Test team roars to the top of the world, county cricket is on its last wicket stand. From the empty stands of Kent at Canterbury, Philip Robinson writes a sad obituary

St. Lawrence Ground, Canterbury of Kent County Cricket Club. Kent were relegated from Division One of the County Championship last season and now sit slumped in the bottom half of Division Two

St. Lawrence Ground, Canterbury of Kent County Cricket Club. Kent were relegated from Division One of the County Championship last season and now sit slumped in the bottom half of Division Two

It's 12.30pm. The sun is high and beating down on the St Lawrence ground. A seagull wheels overhead and is chased by its shadow darting across the grass below and through the alabaster statues of cricketers in their whites. The leaves of the chestnut trees that edge the ground ripple in the breeze, and there's the rustle of home-made sandwiches emerging from greaseproof paper.

Deckchairs, with picnic tables beside them, are pushed up to the hoardings. The sparsely populated terraces in the stands look like a library where only the bookends remain.

There's a sudden movement. A gangly young Kent pace bowler thunders to the crease and sends a ball skidding to the Derbyshire batsman's toes. A flash of the bat and a knock. Spectators' heads jerk up from newspapers and Playfair cricket annuals as the red Tiflex ball bobbles over the boundary rope. With a mumble they then drop back to their crosswords and cricket books, tumbling into the pages of statistics like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Both Derbyshire opening batsmen are closing in on their half-centuries as the barman in the Colin Cowdrey stand dips a cloth into the otherwise unused champagne bucket and washes down the seats that line the terrace. From this lofty position you can see a lot of empty seats and only a smattering of spectators seated on camping chairs along the far boundary.

St Lawrence has been a cricket ground since 1847. It was long famed as an idyllic spot to watch the game, but times have changed. The whine of angle grinders and circular saws now cuts through the morning's play.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2003945/English-cricket-The-crowds-cash-short-supply.html#ixzz1PhhjyphX

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