20/20 VISION

7 June 2009

Vol 4

First wave ….

After the shock of England getting orange squashed in game one, the stage was set for Trent Bridge’s first game in the tournament and the second day of World T/20;  India were due to play Asian near neighbours Bangladesh in what promised to be a lively curtain-raiser.

My son and a nephew were going to watch the match from the hallowed seats of the Pavilion whilst I was beavering away at the media centre.  I had to be at the ground well ahead of start time so the boys went off to check out England’s football match against Kazakhstan.

We got our first sight (and sound) of the crowds as we approached Trent Bridge even though there was still three hours to go before the first ball.  Indian flags and face paints dominated but the Bangladeshis were well represented as the better part of 20,000 people descended on the famous old ground.

I was checked in by a burly hi-vis jacketed steward armed with something that looked like a supermarket barcode reader – and that’s exactly what it was;  he scanned my accreditation, verified that I was who the card said I was and let me in to find the Media Centre.

Up at media reception we were given a swift briefing on what was expected of us as volunteers, and thus representatives of Nottingham, the ECB and the ICC.  There were to be perhaps as many as a hundred press people to be accommodated so plenty of care was needed to ensure that they got the seats, services and facilities to enable trouble-free reporting.

No sooner had we done that initial brief than I had to scoot off to the TBI entrance to do a piece for BBC Radio Nottingham on the atmosphere, the work we volunteers would be doing and the challenges of the tournament.

The ‘Volunteer Guide’ that we were all given as we checked in for the first time stresses the collective role of the volunteers as ambassadors for English cricket and the need to deal with all our visitors in a positive, inclusive and welcoming manner.

Judging by the crowds at Trent Bridge on Saturday that will be a pleasure –

They were fantastic!

‘Buzz’ does not do the atmosphere justice.  In more than 20 years of coming to games at Trent Bridge I have never seen a crowd so full of fun, noise, enthusiasm and passion for the game.  And I was there on that memorable Saturday of the 2005 Ashes Test, there when England posted their then record one-day score, there when Alan Lamb’s ton inspired England to a one-day tie with Australia.  But nothing has matched the atmosphere last weekend, simply brilliant.

At various times, I was on media reception, working at the media gate, escorting press cameramen and women, stewarding in the main press box and the overflow box and down in the converted Squash Courts where film and broadcast equipment was stored and where, after the game, the press conferences would be held.

Wherever you were on the ground, the cheers, hooters, chants, music and signing came through loud and clear.  I reckon Dhoni got a bigger roar just for winning the toss than most Test-winning skippers have heard here;  a roar almost matched by the one that greeted the announcement that the Windies had thrashed Australia!

Even at the points in the ground where you could not see the field of play, we volunteers were in no doubt what was happening – the crowd told us everything.

And there was one sight I thought I’d never see ….. a Mexican Wave that didn’t stop at the Pavilion. Members and non-members alike were caught up in the moment and the wave rippled on without a pause.  Some of the senior debenture holders might have wondered what was going on but the world didn’t stand still, the game and crowd simply roared on.

I was lucky enough to help out at the post-match press conferences and it was fascinating not only to watch the calmness and ease with which Mohammad Ashraful for the defeated Bangladesh team and man-of-the-match Pragyan Ojha for the victorious Indian squad dealt with questions in English and their own languages but also – when the players and officials had gone – to watch the speed and technical wizardry as those conferences were relayed in seconds down the line (or, more accurately via WiFi) around the world.  The last question was posed at about 9.10pm and the TV pictures were ready for broadcast in India and Bangladesh by 9.30 – extraordinary, especially for someone who can remember when the Fax machine was the newest technology in town.

I tottered out of Trent Bridge into a still buzzing Radcliffe Road where the fantastic Indian fans were still revelling in their win and off home, full of excitement and looking forward to a good night’s sleep, followed by more of the same on Monday and Wednesday.

Being a T/20 Volunteer is everything we hoped for….and more.  I got to see the Pavilion do a Mexican Wave, that’s one for the scrapbook!

For more information on ICC World Twenty20 England 09 click here.