Volunteer Blog: My week in the media centre

Featured News | 13th June 2009

ICC World Twenty20 volunteer Peter Smith diaries his experiences as a member of the Trent Bridge media team.

The first week of the tournament is over for us at Trent Bridge and after three more match days – and thus six more games – I think we all need a break (I know my legs do!).

But don’t think it hasn’t been fun and thoroughly rewarding, it has – it is just that the pace starts to tell.  Mind you, if I’m feeling the strain I have no idea how the ‘Sportainment’ dancers are feeling after more than 100 sixes, dozens more boundaries and wickets to mark with their energetically choreographed routines.

The weather did at least brighten up by the end of the week but on the first couple of days those dancers were performing in fleeces and jogging pants.  One of our regular Indian journalists insisted on wearing her gloves, which must have made operating all that whizzo technology even more problematic.

Monday

A day for shock results.  First up Ireland turned in a terrific performance to take Test-status nation Bangladesh by surprise.  The Irish may not have the depth of experience (many players were in their first ever Twenty20 international) but they fielded with great vigour and kept the pressure on their opponents.  Bangladesh never quite lifted themselves to the heights they had when competing with India two days earlier and were eliminated.  Ireland will be in the Super 8s and deserve their place though we shall miss the Bangladeshi supporters who were lively and unfailingly polite.

Less of a shock perhaps, but hugely enjoyable for those with one eye on the forthcoming Ashes series, was Sri Lanka’s demolition of Australia.  Once again the Aussies batted first and somehow posted a total that wasn’t quite where it should have been.  Led superbly by Sangkakarra, the Sri Lankans knocked off the required runs with apparent ease.

We did see one of the catches of the tournament (though it was to be eclipsed later) by Oz Twenty20 specialist David Warner and Dilshan demonstrated this new ‘frying pan flip’ stroke that seems to be the innovation of this tournament.

This was a very busy day for the media team with the first visits from Sri Lankan and Australia journalists as well as a pretty full house of UK-based reporters.  The volunteers are getting into the swing of things, though, and there were no serious issues. 
 
Wednesday

Final act of the first round groupings and if the results were more in line with form and predictions, there was still plenty to entertain another big, loud and committed attendance.

India, as expected, proved too strong for Ireland who seemed to have had their ‘final’ (in the now well-worn sporting cliché) two days earlier.  Without quite ever looking at full power, the Indians look good value for their position as pre-tournament favourites.

A much tighter game was expected when Sri Lanka played the West Indies but in the end, inspired by Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka had just too much class for a Windies side that played well but fluffed a few in the field and generally were short of class with Gayle not playing.  Watching Sanath Jayasuriya bat has been one of the unalloyed pleasures in world cricket since he virtually invented ‘pinch hitting’ and I was delighted to have one more chance to see him in action.  It says something about his reputation that when I was in Western Australia in 2007 and found myself watching the World Cup final with a bunch of locals, one of the Aussies did say as he started to lay – too briefly – into the Aussie attack, “This guy can bat”, which is praise indeed.

I did find myself in the curious position of giving an impromptu briefing to some of the watching press on the laws of the game and their correct interpretation.  I have no doubt that Angelo Mathew’s acrobatic fielding will be on ‘What Happened Next?’ very soon.  If you didn’t see it what happened was that he ‘caught’ a lofted drive so close to the boundary rope that he was in danger of stepping over and giving the batsman a six.  So he lobbed the ball up, stepped over the rope and then, extraordinarily, leapt into the air and flipped the ball back into the field of play where it landed just short of the boundary; he then retrieved it and returned it to the keeper whilst the batsmen ran three.

Most of the TV commentators and the media men in the press box were convinced it was a six as the ball had crossed the line and were surprised when, after consultation, the umpires let the three runs stand.  As a some-time umpire I was able to explain that as Mathew was in mid-air when he touched the ball, it did not count as having been grounded over the line and thus it could not be a six; the ball finally came to rest within the field of play and was fielded from there – three runs the proper outcome.  So if your
newspaper has interpreted the law correctly, I claim some of the credit!
(Umpiring experience tells me that few players know the laws of cricket in any detail and now I realise that some of the hacks are no better!).

So now we knew which Super 8 games would take place at Trent Bridge and we were looking forward to a first sight of England in the tournament proper and a Titanic clash with the strong South African team.
 
Thursday

Like the Titanic, England was sunk when they were only half-way…

In fact the two Super 8 games were about as one-sided as any thus far and it was a great pity as Trent Bridge had put on its best summer smile on a blazing day with a packed crowd.

First up New Zealand were just too solid and too professional to be thwarted by a keen but ultimately outclassed Ireland. The Kiwis were under strength but found a new star in Aaron Redmond, drafted into the side at very short notice to replace the big-hitting Jesse Ryder, who then proceeded to out-Ryder Jesse and hit the fastest 50 of the tournament so far from just 23 balls.

Even the fast-scoring Brendan McCallum was outshone but he did clock up the 100th six of the tournament at the top of their innings.

Ireland began to flag and lost wickets too easily – four run out victims looks like carelessness – and could not sustain their challenge.  Still the team, their fans and their loyal band of journos had given us some excellent moments and they certainly looked like they belong at this level of limited over cricket.

Those fans and reporters took a mischievous delight that they actually outscored England who scraped and shuffled to a miserable 111 all out against the might of South Africa.  Albie Morkel will surely go down in Twenty20 history as the man whose only over in an international was a wicket maiden (mind you, the reporter who opined that this would be the only maiden of the series was proved wrong only one day later when Harbhajan bowled six dot balls to – of all people – Chris Gayle)

Morkel’s one wicket – a spectacular catch by van de Merwe to dismiss KP – just about sealed England’s fate and then when the Proteas batted, they took their time about racking up the necessary runs.  To be honest it felt a little like watching India beat Ireland the previous day, with the team batting second taking a low total as the chance to ‘have a net’ rather than go after the runs in a blaze of glory.

The press box was, as we expected, packed for these two games but with no Asian sub-continent team playing there were many fewer broadcasters.  As a consequence, media team volunteers had probably the quietest day so far.

I think it that is also down to the fact that we have now knitted into a team that know each other. We all know the routines and can rotate duties, roles and breaks easily and without detailed instruction.

Being a volunteer has been a great experience and there is a real camaraderie building up.  It is not just the media team, though we have melded well, all the volunteers acknowledge each other and stop to pass the time of day.  The other night I finished up having a discussion with a fellow volunteer – a Glaswegian who has come all the way down to Trent Bridge and is working with the ICC team – on a bus going back into Nottingham city centre. 

The uniform is also getting recognised, I find fans expect you know everything from the nearest cash point to the best beer, from where to get a mobile top-up to bus route to the middle of nowhere.  But by far the most frequently asked question at the moment is about availability of tickets for the next round of matches.  That’s one I am happy to pass back to the Trent Bridge staff!

Thoughts so far

Noisiest fans – shoo-in for the Indians, great to be around;

Quietest fans – sorry Kiwis, but where was the support?

Best ‘heckle’ – an Irish fan greeted the Bangladesh ton with the cry “One hundred – it’s like a cricket score …. Only smaller”!

Saddest sight – the Bangladeshi fan who turned up dressed in a full faux-fur tiger suit only to endure all that heat and discomfort to watch his team crash out after two games (last seen, furry head peeled back and having a very disconsolate fag round the back of the stands).

Check the cheers – even if you are on duty where you can’t see the game, it is possible to tell from the pitch, volume and length of any cheer or boo what is happening:- six, four, wicket, failed appeal and even the umpire not spotting (or giving) a wide each has a slightly different sound that we volunteers can now decipher.

For the Trent Bridge team of volunteers there is a weekend’s break and then on Tuesday we re-convene for the last of the Super 8s.

Bring it on – as long as my legs have recovered.

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