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Nottingham in World Cup fever

The ICC World Twenty20 tournament returned to Nottingham yesterday to a mixed reception.  Monday afternoon saw the impressive Ireland beat Bangladesh and Sri Lanka overcome a rather weak display from the Aussies in the evening. Both teams progress to the Super Eights, leaving the Australians in a ponderous mood heading in to the Ashes series. While the spectators were treated to some big hitting and entertainment inside the ground, there were a number of Sri Lankan Tamils protesting on Radcliffe road at the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka – look out for more on this in future issues of Freeq Magazine.

It would have been rude not to have a pre-game beer in the TBI and while there we got chatting to a couple of Irish guys who were celebrating their team’s surprise victory over Bangladesh.  They admitted to us that they had ‘no idea what the rules were but it seemed to be about hitting the ball as hard as possible, and the further you hit it the more points you get’.  With that very basic cricket lesson in mind and as the only Midlands free magazine to be awarded exclusive press passes for the event, we sent off our cricket specialist Stuart Hannan to the evening game to give us his view of what turned out to be the end of the road for the Australian team (boo hoo).

 

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing..."

If I had known that the O'Brien brothers would have put on a big hitting partnership, the heavily expected rain would stay away from Trent Bridge and the temperature out of the sun would have been so low, I would have planned my day better. I may have even called upon my already crumbling holiday entitlement.

After opting to stay in the office for the first game and in my haste to get straight to the evening game outside of working hours,gambled against the local 5 day forecast and left my coat behind. This proved to be a rather large oversight on a scarf-inviting evening at Trent Bridge.

Upon arrival at the media entrance looking like an overdressed photographer, I was greeted by a colourful security team (they were the ones in pyjamas) who duly searched my bags to discover an empty lunch box, a hi viz cycling jacket and a rather weedy camera (compared to the two-foot telephoto lenses that were on display). Having not been in the media box at the ground before, I wasn’t quite prepared for running in to Ian Ward having a cheeky Marlboro, seeing a very inebriated Irish fellow being ejected from the Hospitality Suite, or having to watch the game on a TV deep in the Radcliffe Road stand. So my options were stay warm and watch the game on the TV screens in the media centre (with access to free beer and snacks), or to watch outside and freeze.  I opted for the latter.

This proved to be the poorer of the two options as I was immediately stung for a £3.50 pint with a further £3.50 going on a rather poor attempt at a Jumbo Sausage. In my book, two small hot dogs in an oversized, slightly stale bun is not at all 'Jumbo'.  An expense claim is on the way in to the Ed.

The game itself was hugely entertaining, largely due to a very large Sri Lankan contingent in full song. They instigated a 'triple' Mexican wave that circled the ground before being disrupted by 2 swept sixes from Mitchell Johnson, late in the Australian innings.  This is the first time that I have seen the Members Pavilion join in in over 10 years of watching Cricket at Trent Bridge.  Maybe Twenty20 fever has spread to the 5-day purists?

It was, in fact my first international Twenty20 game and I was treated to a great spectacle.  The Aussies stumbled to a below-par 159-9, much more than the 120 that they were on track for with 4 overs to go.  The Australian bowling quartet slashing their way through the final overs to finish 20 or 30 runs short of a good score.  The impressive Mendis and Malinga contributing with the ball, taking 3 wickets a piece.  On the point of Malinga, various replays showed a rather 'low and bent' bowling arm.  Now, I play cricket and I am sure that I would be called for a no ball if I 'pitched' from my waist with a bent arm.  Maybe I should, given that my average is in the 40's this season.  Anyhow, although bowling actions are a permanent agenda item when discussing Sri Lankan cricket, I'll leave that one with the match officials.

In reply, the Aussies started off their defence with a wide which set the tone of for the second innings. Mitchell adding to his wide column in his second spell by bowling a Harmison-esque wide that missed the cut strip altogether.  Although the Sri Lankans lost Jayasuriya early on, the hard hitting Dilshan got stuck in to the opening bowlers and notched up his half century off just 32 deliveries.  Sangakkara, reached that mark off a rather watchful 42 balls with the support of Mubarek who took the Sri Lankans to 160 with five balls to spare.  Highlight of the Sri Lankan innings was watching Dilshan 'shovel' a four over his shoulder off the bowling of Shane Watson.  If looks could kill.

The beer coat that I had tried to purchase didn't prove worth the money, as I donned my hi viz jacket and exited the draughty stands to the sound of Sri Lankan choruses reverberating in to West Bridgford.  My lasting impression was of the effort that the ICC, ECB, Trent Bridge and the international teams have put in to embrace Twenty20 cricket and to make it so accessible to the residents of Nottingham (and the UK).  Love it or hate it, Twenty20 cricket is capturing the minds and hearts of the population, whether you know the rules or not.  A perfect appetiser for the Summer Ashes series and ODIs between England and Australia.

Stuart Hannan