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Pinky the Panther’s Diary 2012 – Part 1

Hello and welcome to Pinky’s T20 diary 2012! After a winter of hibernation since last year’s Finals Day, and a few months of four-day and forty over cricket, the T20 competition finally started on Thursday night, which meant I was able to take to the field for the first time this season! And if my excitement wasn’t enough already, the Middlesex Panthers were taking on our south of the river rivals Surrey!

My day started, as always, with a 5 mile run. I’ve spent the winter keeping fit, in preparation for my mascot races during the interval of our home T20 games, and of course to prepare me for the Mascot Derby at Finals Day, which this year will be in Cardiff. After my run I took to the gym, having been given a personalised fitness program to work on by Middlesex strength and
conditioning coach Luke ‘Jarhead’ Woodhouse. I’ve been working closely with Jarhead over the winter, and he’s helped me reach the same fitness levels as the Middlesex players (although having seen some of them, I’m not sure if this is a good thing). I’m now so fast I can run from the Pavilion to the Media Centre and back in the time it takes for Ollie Rayner to solve a tricky maths problem or Paul Stirling to eat a Mars bar!

As for the team themselves, I know they’ve also been in practice ahead of the T20 matches. After a disappointing campaign last year, they’re all determined to turn it around and continue their great start to the 2012 season. New signing, and previous T20 winner Joe Denly has come in from Kent, and with both Gareth Berg and Dawid Malan (who were injured for most of  last year’s T20) back to full fitness, our team looks a lot stronger, and we have a real chance of going far. Sadly our overseas signing Lasith Malinga has had to pull out due to injury, which is a real shame. I’d been practicing my ‘slinger’ delivery to celebrate whenever he took a wicket, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to fulfil his contract. However, after a chat with our other overseas player Chris Rogers, I’ve been practicing a shuffle across the crease with my elbow over my face for every time our unorthodox Aussie manages to play one of his trademark back-foot blocks. I’m sure all of the crowd will be joining in in no time!

While the day started in bright sunshine, as the afternoon progressed it got much cloudier, and by the time it came to do the toss it had got very grey and drizzly. My first job of the day was to help out with the toss, and unluckily Middlesex captain Neil Dexter lost it, and we were forced to field first. However this didn’t seem to upset the Panthers, with us racing out of the blocks, and reducing Surrey to 32-4! However, this was the signal for rain to fall, and after the players returned, Surrey’s Gary Wilson and Matthew Spriegel recovered with a big partnership, which got them to 149-4, with both men recording half centuries.

After all of my preparation over the winter, I was raring to go for the mascot challenge at the interval, but because of the rain it had to be cancelled! I was so disappointed, both because I missed out on clowning around on the Lord’s pitch, and because I just love to entertain the crowd! Luckily I was still able to do my two laps of the ground during the game to say hi to all of the Middlesex fans (and a few Surrey ones too), and to pose for pictures, sign autographs and give people high-fives! It was great to see so many of you – even if a few of you did try to pull my whiskers off – grrr!

After a good start to their chase, Middlesex lost a few quick wickets, and fell a long way behind the Duckworth Lewis. When the rain eventually came after 16 overs, we were sadly 28 runs short of the D/L par, meaning Surrey won the game. The rain and the defeat meant it was a disappointing end to our first T20 game of the season, but hopefully the Panthers can pick themselves up and recover – there’s still a long way to go!

The perfect place to start of course is today in our next game. Sussex are the visitors, and as its Father’s Day there are a few
treats for the crowd! There’s going to be a fairground on the Nursery End, complete with a hook-a-duck stall, and a coconut shy! My good friend and Sussex mascot Sid the Shark will be there, and I’m looking forward to having some fun before the cricket starts! The gates open at 12.30 – so get to Lord’s early so you and your family can enjoy all of the entertainment that is on. It’s the perfect way to treat your dad on Father’s Day! I’m hoping my dad (Perky the Panther) will be able to come along, but since his unfortunate accident with the tuba and the alarm clock he hasn’t been able to get out of the house, so we’ll see. Either way, I’ll be there, and I hope you can join me for what I’m sure is going to be a great day! And hopefully the team can perform on the pitch and get us a win that will make the day extra-special!

Until next time,

Pinky



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