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Trent Bridge washout

06/24/2012

“Very loud. And very blonde”. One of the Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club members is giving me her opinion on the girlfriend of one of the Nottinghamshire cricketers. If there was such a thing as a cricketing WAG they would receive short shrift in these parts. We’re in the Trent Bridge pavilion, nursing pints of Olde Trip and gazing out of the window at a rather dismal scene. Afternoon sunshine has given way to a series of squally showers that have swept across the ground since 4pm. Now the rain is steady and the prospects for any play are receding.

The ground itself looks superb, one of the best sporting arenas in the country. Since the turn of the century it’s undergone considerable redevelopment to bring it up to the standards required for test cricket. Old and new co-exist with a certain style, including the Fox Road stand to the right, with its roof shaped like an aircraft wing, which has won awards for its architectural excellence.

Usually this would be one of Nottinghamshire’s biggest games of the season. A Friday evening Twenty20 clash with local rivals Derbyshire. A few years’ ago the same fixture attracted a crowd of 9,000 to see Luke Sutton guide the away team to victory in a low scoring game. Today there’s a smattering of spectators around the ground sheltering from the rain. A few hundred at most. Some have probably been deterred by the weather forecast, whilst others are dashing home from work for the England football match on the box later.

Up and down the country the county cricket season is being played out, weather permitting, in the shadow of Euro 2012 and endless back page football transfer speculation. Aside from Sky, media coverage of the county game is minimal. A far cry from the days when the BBC showed 40 over matches on Sunday afternoons together with regular midweek matches from the other one day competitions.

Trent Bridge today is probably not the vision that the England and Wales Cricket Board had of Twenty20 cricket when it all began in the summer of 2003. All the talk then was of swelling the coffers of county cricket clubs by bringing an abridged version of the game to the masses. Give them a bit of excitement, razzmatazz and a contest that doesn’t go on for days and they’ll be queuing round the block to get in.

Earlier at pitchside a man with a microphone announced that the Ukraine v France Euro 2012 match had been suspended due to torrential rain and thunder and lightning. Even the cricket weather can’t compete with the football weather. There are no such fireworks here. After a brief drier interlude and a bit of football keepy-uppy involving a couple of the Nottinghamshire players, the rain returns and the microphone man decides to play us Singing in the Rain and that Rihanna one about brollies. Most people are getting fidgety wondering how long it’s going to take for the umpires to call the match off and if they’ll have enough time to make it home before the England match kicks off.

In the pavilion it’s all cool boxes, corporate-sponsored umbrellas, puzzle books and copies of the Daily Express. The age range is mostly over 50. Most have been following cricket for years, turning up in all weathers for midweek county championship games, the lifeblood of county cricket clubs across the country. The sort who can tell you Eddie Hemmings’ bowling average in the championship winning year of 1981 and if their friends Colin and Barbara from Southwell made it to the Glamorgan game in the same season. They don’t need a short blast of Robbie Williams or a piece of cardboard with numbers on it to tell them that someone has just hit the ball to the boundary. Football supporters often describe themselves as a “big” fan of a particular club because they never miss one of their team’s matches on television. In comparison, these cricket supporters are off the scale.

Eventually the inevitable happens. Match abandoned, one point each. Most people make for the exits, but we’ve still got half a pint left. A group of Derbyshire supporters come over and soon we’re chatting to the dad of the young Derbyshire wicket keeper Tom Poynton about the club’s resurgence this season. He attributes it to the new coaching set-up under former player Karl Krikken. There’s a more relaxed air about the place which has allowed young local players such as Tom Poynton, Dan Redfern and Ross Whiteley to flourish.

Half an hour later, the pavilion bar closes and we’re heading out of the ground. The local pubs like the Larwood and Voce are doing a roaring trade. I’m not sure how many of their customers would recognise either of the names from Nottinghamshire’s proud cricketing history but that doesn’t matter. There are two big screens, the beer is flowing and the match kicks off soon.

Three days later and I’m on the London Underground heading to work on a similarly miserable day. There are regular announcements of severe delays on the District Line due to a “person under a train” at Wimbledon Park. Later we find out that this person is another young cricketer called Tom. Surrey’s Tom Maynard, one of the most promising young batsmen in the country and undoubtedly a future England prospect. A tragic loss of a young life. There are scores of messages on Twitter from the cricketing community but sadly very little coverage on national TV or radio. Next season’s football fixtures appear to be more newsworthy on the likes of 5Live. The football bandwagon rolls on.

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From → Sport

One Comment
  1. Peter Chapman permalink

    Very good! I look forward to the next installment!

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