Paul Edwards enjoys his visit to Trent Bridge and its environs
It was good to see the cricketers warming up this morning. Even at a ground as well-appointed and hospitable as Trent Bridge, the loss of more than two days' play has been enervating, especially in a season when so many days have been washed down the gurgler. And I fear a measure of ennui may have contaminated the tales earlier this week as well. If so, I apologise.
However, the cricket people I really felt sorry for these sodden past few days were the members at Tunbridge Wells, Horsham and Colwyn Bay. As soon as the fixtures are published, officials and supporters at festival venues start preparing for the visit of "the county". What they hope for, more or less in this order, is good weather, four full days' cricket and a home win.
They need the sun partly because it is their one opportunity in the season to host a game and also because even with the support of the county, their drying and covering facilities are not as good as can be found at headquarters. Club members spend at least a couple of weeks getting their home ready for a few thousand visitors and it breaks the heart a bit when all that work goes to waste.
Those of you who have read a few of these tales may know that my own club is Southport and Birkdale, and I suppose I should have declared an interest at the outset. Before I became a fully professional cricket writer I spent many hours putting out chairs, painting sightscreens and hauling tarpaulin sheets. Nonetheless, if Lancashire never bowled another ball at Trafalgar Road, I'd still be making a case for Abergavenny, Bath and Arundel with all their charm and regional warmth.
So it was very good indeed to hear that Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath had been expressing sympathy for the plight of Colwyn Bay this week and showing a sensitive understanding of the place of outgrounds in the lives of supporters, especially after the last three days of his side's game against Glamorgan had been lost to the weather.
In a way Nottinghamshire supporters get the best of all worlds: Trent Bridge is a Test match venue which is also as welcoming as an outground and as local as, say, Taunton or Hove. Even here, though, there are going to be changes. The old analogue scoreboard at the Radcliffe Road end of the ground is to be replaced with a second video screen, which will also leave room for groundsman's accommodation and more hospitality boxes. That board was state of the art when it was first used in, I think, 1977, but it now requires four people to operate its various pulleys, levers and chords. Heath Robinson would be proud.
International grounds are now required to have two video screens, so locating one on the site of the old board should free up the William Clarke Stand for redevelopment in time for the 2015 Ashes Test, by which time Trent Bridge's capacity will be 19,000. Funding will need to be supplied, of course, but one senses that Nottinghamshire will manage it all, while keeping a smile on its face and an awareness of its responsibilities. This is a cricket ground, not a stadium.
And so a week which has been rather spoiled by rain is ending with Lancashire pushing for an unexpected victory and the sky showing enough blue to make a sailor a pair of trousers. My last evening on this trip was unusual too. Scott Read (Radio Lancashire) and I were persuaded by Graham Hardcastle that we should go to "Hooters", a restaurant where the waitresses' sartorial style is somewhat minimalist. Indeed, one worries that they will all catch colds. And why the place is called "Hooters" is beyond me. No one at all was sounding car horns.
Photo (c) PA Images
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd