Paul Edwards proves that even one of the best grounds in the world is not idiot-proof....
The problem began when I decided that I was going to work late at Trent Bridge on Monday evening after Lancashire's Clydesdale Bank 40 game against Notts Outlaws.
Like most other things at Nottinghamshire's home ground, the internet connections are perfect and it seemed a good idea to make full use of them before I returned to a hotel where smoke signals were a more reliable means of contacting the outside world than WiFi.
In view of what happened later, I should point out that I checked with reception at Trent Bridge that my plan would not inconvenience anybody.
"About what time do you expect to be leaving?" said the helpful receptionist.
"About 9.30 I would imagine," I replied.
"Oh, that'll be fine," I was told.
Thus reassured, I returned to the press box and settled down to work. In due course Graham Hardcastle set off for Grappenhall and the M.E.N.'s Chris Ostick for Gulliver's World (Don't ask). Utterly unconcerned by my solitude, I worked on in one of the best rooms in the world.
Eventually, I finished my various articles and checked my watch. Ten past nine. Excellent. I packed up my stuff and made my way downstairs, not noticing that the only lights on were of the 24-hour security variety. When I got to reception the darkness was stygian, the silence, sepulchral. The only things likely to be staffing the desk were pipistrelle bats.
I groped my way to the automatic doors and waited for them to open at my footfall. Nothing. Somewhat pointlessly, I attempted to prise them apart. Useless. Ho hum.
Everywhere was locked up and I was locked in. I returned to the press box, switched the lights on and contemplated possible courses of action. Now I have often said that I would be perfectly happy to sleep in a press box, and when Clydesdale Bank 40 games finish late at Old Trafford, I have seriously considered the option, although my respect for Messrs Holliday and Grime has prevented me doing so. ( This has never been obvious to us. Messrs Holliday and Grime.)
Eventually I decided that I had better attempt to escape. I rang Graham Hardcastle to see if he had the number of the Notts. Press Officer.
"Hi Graham," I said. "I'm locked inside the Trent Bridge Press Box and I can't get out..." My friend's giggling interrupted my explanation of my plight. Graham did not have the number I needed. I may have ended the call a trifle curtly.
Finally I had a brainwave. In my experience the person most likely to be on a cricket ground all of the day and most of the evening is the groundsman. I have a list of useful contacts in each county, so I rifled through the pages and dialled the number before me.
"Paul Marshall," said a voice.
"Hello, I wonder if you can help me," I replied. "I'm locked inside the building housing the press box at Trent Bridge. Can you send someone to let me out?"
"No, I'm afraid I can't."
"I am the groundsman at Northants."
"Oh." Let us pass over any consideration of a journalist who can't dial the right digits from a list in front of him. Eventually I found the correct number and dialled Steve Birks, who immediately offered to send round the security people. Excellent. I made my way down to the ground floor and waited for the rescue party to arrive. A door I had not previously espied caught my eye. It had writing upon it: "Push handle to open." I did so; it opened. I was free.
Well, not quite free. Although I had got out of the building, I could not get out of the ground. It needed a few more calls before I linked up with the very helpful security man, who had, incidentally, scoured the press box and associated rooms for someone who was already waiting for him outside. He was surprisingly genial.
"I'd better give you a lift to the gates," he said, eyeing me as a nurse does a lunatic, and as he said this, beckoned me towards a vehicle which bore a passing resemblance to the Popemobile used when the Supreme Pontiff is on state visits. I took my seat and, intoxicated by papal delusions, waved benevolently to some girls who were passing outside the Trent Bridge gates. Sadly, they did not treat me with much reverence, but instead suggested that I place my hand deep within a location from which it would have been tricky to extricate it.
A few moments later I was breathing the sweet air of liberation. I pondered what I might say to mark the moment.
"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!" I exclaimed.
A solitary mongrel was wandering down the street and it showed scant interest in my emancipation. I ambled home, and so to bed.
Photo (c) PA Images
Article (c) Lancashire County Cricket Club