How Trent Bridge Won 2013 and 2015 Ashes Tests

Featured News | 15th November 2011

Pacing up and down the room in his office that looks out towards the resplendent Radcliffe Road Stand, Derek Brewer waited anxiously.

He didn't have to wait for long.

The phone rang and as the Notts chief executive picked it up, he was soon hearing the news he had been longing to hear.

Trent Bridge was to host a 2013 Test match – and, even better, one in 2015 as well.

It was the best possible result the club could have been granted by the ECB and a reward for meticulous planning and hard work from a raft of staff, supported by the sporting, business and political community.

Not surprisingly, considering the project has been so key to Trent Bridge's future, it brought a sense of relief for Brewer, as well as pride.

He was naturally delighted to gather the whole staff together a couple of hours later and let them know of their successful bid over a glass of bubbly.

After so much graft from so many people, a moment of brief celebration after such a major coup was well deserved.

"It was a call from Gordon Hollins (the ECB's managing director of events – county business) that only took a few minutes that told us the news. He obviously had calls to other counties to make," recalls Brewer.

"He said we had won the gold package and after a brief chat about other things, that was it.

"It's probably in our make-up as a club that we never shout from the rooftops about things.

"Our way of working is to get on with the job and do it to the best of our ability and hope that our best is good enough.

"But it was a really fantastic thing to be able to get everyone together to tell them we had been successful – and that it was only down to all their work that we were able to submit such a strong bid.

"It was the first time this bidding process has been used, so we really had no idea in this instance how we were going to go when the call came.

"I have always took the view the best policy is to under-promise and over-deliver. We knew of the huge support behind us but there were no guarantees.

"This is the best thing I have ever been involved with in business, it's superb for us. Trent Bridge has never had a programme of matches like it.

"But we also recognise that for every winner there is a loser and just as on the field, there is a fine line between success and failure.

"It came out on the right side for us this time and that really has been down to a real team effort.

"It struck me when I drove into Manchester a couple of weeks ago just how big the place is.

"I'm proud Nottingham will remain at the forefront of the world game when the competition is so high from them and also Birmingham and others."

In terms of the overall importance in winning consecutive Ashes series to the history of the club, Brewer, even on reflection, finds it difficult to place.

For him, it is the latest piece of a jigsaw that goes back well before his arrival at the club in 2005.

He said: "It's really the latest stage in a masterplan, a strategy, that has been well thought out for the last 20 years and the committee must be congratulated for that.

"There have been many important stages in the past. In Mark Arthur's time the money was raised to put up the iconic Radcliffe Road Stand, without which we wouldn't be here in this position now.

"Getting the money to develop the ground in recent times, including the scoreboard and floodlights, was clearly important, as was the Hound Road stand going back to 1993.

"The reaction we have got has been first-class – this clearly means an awful lot to an awful lot of people.

"To be successful has had a major economic impact and on our reputation."

The journey to this point for Notts essentially started from the moment they discovered they would not host Ashes cricket in 2009.

But once the bidding process was finalised by the ECB, work on the bid itself started in earnest early this year.

Brewer and another member of the bid team, Tracey Francis, began by drumming up support from the business community across the county.

"We took the view from the start that this should be a bid on behalf of the county, city and borough, rather than just a bid from Trent Bridge," said Brewer.

"We did something like ten to 15 presentations during that time, including a couple at 7am in the morning, in all areas of the county.

"That enabled us to garner more than 120 letters of support for the final bid, each one stating individually the benefits."

By early March, Brewer and deputy chief executive Lisa Purshouse were busy writing the bid document that amounted to more than 250 pages.

Their work continued despite a visit to foreign climes for Notts' involvement in the 2011 curtain-raising game against the MCC that was their honour as reigning county champions.

"We started before flying out to Abu Dhabi and continued during our times overseas," said Brewer.

"I can't overstate how outstanding Lisa was in her part in putting the document together."

Bids had to be submitted to the ECB by June 5, but still the work of Brewer and his team was not done.

They were keen to make their bid that little bit different from the rest for their final presentation on August 5.

Brewer said: "We came up with the idea of making three DVDs to support our written bid.

"The first was with Jane Geraghty, chief executive of the Notts Probation Trust, explaining the work we have done with ex-offenders.

"The second was with our 12 key stakeholders, from local councils leaders and chief executive to the Chief Constable of Police. Their moral support has been tremendous.

"The third was something we put together the morning after the Sri Lanka one-day international.

"We had left Trent Bridge around midnight after that game but I went down the next morning with Michael Temple and the team from Affixxius Productions to camp out on College Green, Westminster.

"There we managed to get nine of 11 Notts MPs providing their support, as well of House of Lords representative, Lord Patel of Bradford.

"At the presentation we tried to let these third parties tell our story because we felt that would be much more powerful."

Powerful the message clearly was, with Notts beating Warwickshire's Edgbaston and Lancashire's Old Trafford – both of which have seen massive, recent investment – to the double Ashes package that also includes an India Test in 2014.

Brewer knows the reasons for Notts success cannot be pinpointed because they are so numerous.

But he does believe careful attention to detail has been key.

"As we have found staging Test matches, it's the small things that make a big difference," said Brewer.

"I would like to think the work in the community has made a difference and our reputation for friendliness, as well as the quality of the facilities and, with the hard work of Steve Birks (head groundsman), the pitches.

"It's also a question of everyone working together. We are not a club with a benefactor but a members' club which has to strike a balance on and off the field.

"But we have a strong relationship between the executive and the non-executive committee and the chairman and vice-chairman have been fantastically supportive.

"But this is not a time to rest on our laurels. Now we have to go again."

A note of caution from Brewer that has served the club well under his watch – and should continue to do so in challenging times ahead.

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