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Blooms from the Rose Bowl

Blooms from the Rose Bowl

Paul Edwards delivers from the Press Box end

You could have a net at the back of the new press box at the Rose Bowl. The place is colossal and has seats for 114 journalists; today there are just seven of us.

There is still work being done on the ground, though, and as I get used to my surroundings for the next four days, the sound of drilling above us shatters the early morning calm. I should point out that this is not your average Black and Decker job. It is rather as if we are in Bilskirnir and Valhalla's dentist is giving Thor a deep filling. Since the Press Box at the Rose Bowl is, as it were, "in the Gods", this comparison is not inappropriate.

The criticism made of this venue is that it is soulless, but any new ground will prompt that feeling until years of cricket have been played on it. The first championship game at the Rose Bowl only took place in May 2001. Eventually, memory, association and the rub of human emotion endows a place with what we call a "soul". You have, however, got to be close enough to the action to feel that emotion and that's where the Rose Bowl may have a problem. More than any other ground in England, it feels like a vast Australian arena with its banks of uniform seating. It is, indeed, a massive bowl.

One Test will come, quite literally as it were, when the ground hosts the match against Sri Lanka next year. Cardiff's "new" stadium had the advantage that it was a redevelopment of the old Sophia Gardens (locals still call the ground by its old name and wouldn't be caught dead referring to the SWALEC Stadium). The spirit of the place had already been established and couldn't be removed by shiny new stands and plush hospitality boxes. Now, of course, it is also fixed in the cricketing public's mind as the place where Paul Collingwood defied Australia before James Anderson and Monty Panesar finished the job. The 2009 Cardiff Test is inscribed in Ashes history. It remains to be seen whether the Rose Bowl can do so too - or even whether it will get the chance.

Lancashire fans reading this, however, will probably be pointing out that Old Trafford is a county venue as well as an international arena. Many may regard the hosting of county games as its primary role. Until Sri Lanka visit Southampton next summer, that is the Rose Bowl's function too. So let me return very briefly to today's game say that Shivnarine Chanderpaul lit up this warm summer afternoon and made it memorable with his first century for Lancashire. When drizzle is pattering on the windows of our houses on glum Tuesday evenings next November, those of us who witnessed this innings can remember the craftsmanship of it and be comforted.

And so, a week ago, I was at the Riverside, a Test ground being redeveloped. Today, I am at the Rose Bowl, a Test ground being redeveloped. In the intervening period I have watched cricket at Leigh, Crosby, Trent Bridge and Chelmsford. As my friend, the philospher-postman of Crossens pointed out: "You've got the life of Reilly." Damn right, but at least I know I'm deeply fortunate.

I conclude with a priceless moment from the Chelmsford press-box on Tuesday night. We are discussing when the draw for the t20 semi-finals will be made. A colleague offers the following view: "They'll make the draw tonight, but they won't decide who plays who until tomorrow." Thank heavens we got that sorted out.


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