More than 200 volunteers will assist with the delivery of the ICC World Twenty20 at Trent Bridge in June. Peter Smith documents his journey so far:
What better way of consoling yourself in the damp days of winter as the England cricket team (and your own son!) are enjoying the suns of the West Indies than to contemplate a summer of cricket in England?
So when my daughter’s boyfriend – another ‘believer’ sent me a link that asked if I wanted to volunteer as a steward at the ICC World Twenty20 in June, it just ‘clicked’. And so did I … all the way to the tournament website and the online application.
Of course, I tried (innocently) to subvert the system by trying to apply for more than one ground on the same dates! My excuse was that as an ex-pat Londoner now living in Nottingham I could get to any ground other than Taunton with relative ease.
Eventually, though, I opted for Trent Bridge as the nearest to home and by far the best ground to watch top flight cricket in England.
Interesting, isn’t it how we can transfer allegiance in the game of cricket so much easier than for football? Before moving up to Nottingham I had been a member and supporter of Surrey CCC but now my cricketing loyalties are all with Notts and Trent Bridge … but football-wise I still follow Arsenal and Tooting & Mitcham (don’t ask – it just goes back a long way).
The online application – once I obeyed their simple rules – was pretty straightforward and I pressed the final ‘send’ button and waited……..
A letter summoning me to the hallowed halls of Trent Bridge – finally, my chance to show that the opening batsman Notts and England have longed for is here. Well, at 61 I hardly think so. But an invitation to a ‘training day’ means my ICC World Twenty20 volunteers application had been successful and I was delighted to accept and, online again, ‘register’ with the ICC and ECB.
A week or so later I was in the Derek Randall suite with a bunch of other hopefuls being drilled on the various duties and responsibilities that go with stewarding at an event that will be watched by tens of thousands live and by hundreds of millions via television.
The key message was that as volunteers we would also be ambassadors for Trent Bridge, for the City of Nottingham and for the ECB as the host nation of the tournament. So, no pressure then.
It was also made clear that we would be additional to the regular crowd stewards at the ground, an army of people that do their job well, unobtrusively and with a deal of good humour. ICC World Twenty20 volunteers were not going to be shepherding ticket holders and rooting out the odd trouble-maker, that would be left to the regulars.
Volunteer duties though were many and varied: accreditation (pre-event and during the matches); ticketing; media; and a ‘general’ set of duties that could include any or all of the above, plus whatever the volunteer team needed doing on the day. I wheedled my way onto the media team and joined the training and ground tour.
Even after 20 years of membership and regular attendance at Trent Bridge there are still some bits I hadn’t seen and the tour was instructional. It is not a big ground but the challenge of (say) getting a just defeated captain escorted from the dug out to the press conference area through the better part of 17,000 fans was clearly going to be a tough one; especially as the importance of deadlines and schedules was paramount. It was also made clear that as representatives of the tournament we would be expected to be professional – no blagging pictures with the stars or pestering for autographs, we were to be above all that.
And we will be very visible in a smart (I hope) uniform of blue T-shirt and black trousers so if we were to overstep the mark, it would be all too obvious!
One very noticeable thing was the wide cross section of people who had got through the volunteer vetting process to make this training day. Men and women of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds reflected the diverse nature of the East Midlands and, I presume, the range of teams that will play in the games here at Trent Bridge.
When I arrived I was flattered when a bright young lady beamed at me … then it turned out I used to umpire at the club where she, her Dad and brother all played and though I hadn’t seen her for many years, she still remembered me. (Even now, some four or five seasons since I stopped umpiring I still see familiar faces in the crowds in Nottingham and get the occasional nod and an “Eh up, ump” as they pass by).
The sheer numbers began to seep through as the training day moved on. This will be the biggest volunteer operation at a sporting event in the UK for many years and is being seen as a dry run for the 2012 Olympics. With India, Pakistan and Bangladesh all represented, the tournament is excepted to be viewed by at least 500 million people worldwide. The media pool alone will probably be in excess of 200 and the usual press box with its 90+ seats will not hold them all, so an auxiliary box is also planned, which will need stewarding too.
But the big buzz word of the day was ‘excitement’ – a world-class tournament coming to our home ground with all the razzmatazz of twenty20 cricket but played by the stars of the game.
After more briefings and an excellent lunch, we tottered out homewards full of the thrills, excitement and responsibility that we faced as ICC World Twenty20 volunteers.
Now all we had to do was wait for the date when we could collect our uniforms and accreditation and get briefed for our duties on match days.
Just as England were wrapping up the second test against the West Indies, a call came through from Michael, Media Manager at Trent Bridge, to ask if I would ‘volunteer’ to go on Radio Nottingham to talk about the process of volunteering for the tournament. Being a media man by trade and preternaturally disposed to showing off, I said yes straight away and just after breakfast one Monday morning, Michael and I were ushered into the studio for a couple of minutes live chat about how I got onto to the volunteers pool, the impact of the tournament and what listeners, viewers and visitors could expect over those few exciting days.
I hope it came over okay and that the citizens of Nottingham begin to realise how proud they should be that Trent Bridge was chosen (some compensation for not getting an Ashes Test, perhaps) and the onus on us all, players, team managers, staff, and – especially – the volunteers to see that ICC World Twenty20 England 2009, do give it the full title, is a great success and a fun-filled event for all.
Back to waiting for a uniform now. It is getting closer and I am beginning to get that buzz.
Tickets for all ICC World Twenty20 fixtures at Trent Bridge are available now by clicking here .
UK fans can also phone 0844 847 2020.