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Tales from the Test - 4

Tales from the Test - 4

Paul Edwards witnesses England's Test win as Edgbaston continues to rebuild

Cricketers frequently complain about movement behind the bowler's arm. In Test Matches some critics argue that this can go to ridiculous lengths as batsmen identify seemingly microscopic actions and claim that they are disturbing their concentration. So what about the movement of a massive crane then ? At Edgbaston this morning we had the remarkable sight of building work going ahead as England attempted to knock off the 118 runs they needed to beat Pakistan. As Mohammed Aamer ran into bowl, a great yellow crane tilted at the Schubert End of the ground.

Did Strauss and Cook blow their tops? Not a bit of it. They got on with the job of batting, not hugely successfully in Cook's case, but never mind. Even when the methodical fakir of fad, Jonathan Trott came to the crease, the matter was not mentioned to the umpires. Now you can argue that England had been told that there would be building work going on during the Test and they would just have to lump it; you can also say that the crane was too high to make a difference, that the batsmen were focusing on the bowler's hand during the delivery of the ball and that a metal spire 100ft in the air didn't matter. Nevertheless....

My colleague David Hopps attempted to probe this matter in the after-match presser. "Have you ever been in a run-chase with a crane swinging around behind you before?" he asked the England captain. He didn't get very far. "It's certainly the biggest crane I've ever seen during an England run-chase," replied Strauss, taking the jocular route. "To be honest, you the prefer to play a Test Match with the full ground open," he added later, "but that's the way it is. Warwickshire are investing a lot of money to upgrade their facilities and if you just sit around and never do these things, then you never get a better ground. I've got to say I never noticed the cranes till you brought it up." So there.

Swann, however, never a man to leave a weakening fire unpoked, chipped in. "Has anybody complained about this crane ?" he asked. 'I have to say I'd be so disturbed if a batsman came in and said: "That crane ! Oh my God ! That made me miss the doosra." If you're watching the ball, it doesn't matter what's happening behind there. It's probably harder with 300 people in different coloured gear at the other end.'

But it's always useful for a journalist to get out of the often cosseted confines of the press box and sample the conditions the humble punters have to enjoy. So  I took an amble through the stands during the lunch break. At the extreme ends of the Hollies and Priory Stands, the noise must have been pretty unpleasant for much of this game and the view even worse. But if they get a new ground and some Ashes Tests out if it, I doubt the Warwickshire members will complain and the club's offiicials will consider the £31m well spent. As, of course, will the Lancashire members? We'll see.

When a Test ends, the paraphernalia surrounding the game is dismantled very quickly. Within twenty minutes of England clinching their win, the wicket used for the game was flooded. Now, less than two hours later, the sponsor's boundary markers are being piled up, presumably to be taken to the Oval for next week's match. One of the giant logos on the outfield has already been covered with grass. The cranes and the diggers rumble on though. The redevelopment of Edgbaston must be completed by next July. For my part, though, it will be pleasant to go home to Old Trafford tomorrow. It'll be a relief to report cricket from a ground where there is no building work going on. Not this season, anyway.
Photo: PA Images


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