A Billion Eyes On Nottingham

09/06/2009

Michael Abbott checks his box in anticipation of the biggest sporting event to hit Notts since Euro 96...


Twenty20 - A billion eyes worldwide watching cricket from Nottingham
Twenty20 - A billion eyes worldwide watching cricket from Nottingham

The world comes to town this June when Trent Bridge Cricket Ground hosts the 2009 ICC Twenty20 World Cup, bringing with it some of the world's best cricketers.  Trent Bridge has been synonymous with international cricket for more than 170 years, making it the world's third oldest test ground, and it is widely regarded as one of the finest cricket venues on the world stage – ask anyone not from round here about Nottingham and they’ll invariably mention Robin Hood, Brian Clough and Trent Bridge.

Looking around the new 17,000 seater stadium today, with its iconic floodlights and state-of-the-art scoreboard, it’s a far cry from its humble beginnings when a cricket-mental chap called William Clarke married the landlady of the Trent Bridge Inn in 1838. Back then a charming little meadow backed onto the grounds of the TBI and Clarke saw this as an opportunity he couldn’t let go – within a year he was hosting matches in his all new purpose-built field, cunningly fenced off in order to charge admission.The first international match to be played at Trent Bridge was in 1899 and, true to recent form, it ended in a draw between England and Australia. A few months later, Trent Bridge had the honour of hosting the first match of the inaugural five-match series between England and Australia, later known as The Ashes. This was the last test that W.G. Grace played in, just before his 51st birthday. Strangely, the only player ever to play at a greater age, Wilfred Rhodes, made his debut during this match.

Over the best part of two centuries and almost 3,000 matches, the Bridge has treated fans to some right good action from some of the sport’s best players. The most storied local player was probably Harold Larwood, the hard-nut fast bowler from Kirkby-In-Ashfield who, along with Annesley Woodhouse miner Bill Voce, scandalised the world of cricket during the infamous ‘Bodyline’ tour of Australia when they were instructed to bowl at the batsman, not the wicket – a terrifying prospect for the batsmen who had never yet seen a cricket ball travel at over 90mph in the direction of their face. Good lad. Although they were dropped from the England team afterwards, they now have a nice pub named after them behind the ground.

Twenty20 - The biggest sporting event in Notts since Euro '96?

Nottingham’s greatest player was – of course – West Indies master Sir Garfield St Aubryn Sobers (Gary to his mates), widely regarded as the best all rounder ever to take to the crease. His list of honours is longer than Cloughie's and includes the Wisden Cricketer of the Century, putting him on a par with Pelé and Ali. Everyone knows he was the first player to whack six sixes in one over in a competitive game - he also held the highest ever test match score for thirty six years, with a 365 not out performance against Pakistan in 1958. And he was also born with an extra finger on each hand, which were removed as a child with catgut and a knife.

Only two years ago, Trent Bridge was facing a stark future when it lost out on The Ashes to the new SWALEC arena in Swansea due to capacity issues. So, with help from Nottingham City and County Councils, Rushcliffe Borough Council and EMDA, more than £8 million was raised to increase capacity with a new stand, floodlights, admin suite, press box and state of the art scoreboard. Now the future's bright, with Trent Bridge being the only venue outside London to host matches for the World Cup, bringing with it more than £10m in revenue. Thirteen matches will be played at Trent Bridge throughout the tournament, including four Super Eights and a semi-final expected to have a mind-boggling 500,000,000 people staring into the former beer garden of the TBI through their tellies – a billion eyes on Nottingham.

There’s also four warm-up matches starting 1 June, including England vs Scotland on 2 June. Other top teams in action during the warm-up include Australia, Pakistan and South Africa. The group stages start on Saturday 6 June with India taking on Bangladesh at 5.30pm. There are two back-to-back matches on Monday 8 June and Wednesday 10 June and four Super Eight matches (11 June and 16 June). The men’s semi-final will take place on Thursday 18 June. The main tournament is now sold out, but there should still be tickets left for the warm-up matches if you’re quick...



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