Daisy and I were planning to go to Malawi this April, but for reasons too complex and dull to explain, we decided to defer our African adventure until the autumn. Thus we had booked some time off work without firm plans. We decided on a spring walking holiday in rural Warwickshire and North Yorkshire. The utterly obvious way to start such a break is to stop in at Trent Bridge for a day of County Championship cricket.
Fortunately for me, Daisy is no geographer and has little sense of direction, so the notion that Nottingham is not exactly a “stop off along the way from London to Warwickshire and then on to Yorkshire” did not occur to her during the planning.
Our host for the day was Basharat Hassan, better known as Basher, originally from Kenya, who played for Notts from the mid-1960s through to the mid-1980s and still has several roles within the club. He was a thoroughly amiable and charming host.
Very few hardy souls were watching from the stands and balconies. The outdoor pavilion seats looked far more enticing than the wrought iron monstrosities at Lord’s, the latter having been ergonomically designed for maximum discomfort. But freezing cold is freezing cold; we went for the “indoor wimps” option throughout the morning session, as did most of the Nottinghamshire bigwigs.
Daisy made a faux-pas by asking if the Trent Bridge pavilion was based on the one at Lord’s, as she had noticed some resemblance in architectural style. She was politely informed that the Trent Bridge pavilion preceded the one at Lord’s by several years, so it is more likely that the Lord’s architect had borrowed ideas from Trent Bridge.
We enjoyed a heart-warming lunch of braised beef, during which Daisy seemed to form a bond with Ann – Mrs Basher. I think Ann was grateful for some female company in what would otherwise have been (and probably most often is) an all-male assortment of guests. Daisy and Ann chatted a great deal about everything other than cricket during the lunch.
After lunch, Daisy and I went for a stroll around the ground, in part to catch up with Vic Demain, recently appointed deputy groundsman at Trent Bridge and formerly head groundsman at Uxbridge CC, Middlesex’s oft-used out-ground. He became a good friend to us Middlesex regulars over the years, not least by organising superb charity fundraising curry nights at Uxbridge.
Vic introduced us to Steve Birks, the head groundsman at Trent Bridge. Vic probably thought his charity curry night organising days were behind him when he moved to Trent Bridge. But by the time we had tipped off Steve about the virtues of those evenings and Steve had mused aloud about the available curry-cooking talent on the Trent Bridge books, Vic possibly guessed that his biggest charity curry nights might still be ahead of him.
We chatted with Vic and Steve for quite a while, until we suffered the inverse of the “frog in a pan of water being heated up on the cooker” effect – i.e. we suddenly realised that we were frozen stiff. We continued on our rounds at a brisk pace.
More Trent Bridge
We returned to the comfort of Basher’s hospitality for tea, after which he kindly gave us a tour of some warmer places in the ground, such as the famous Trent Bridge library, where we met Peter Wynne-Thomas, who allowed us to peruse many antiquities and hear some fascinating stories about Trent Bridge in days of yore. Basher treated me to a copy of his autobiography, which I enjoyed reading during the rest of our holiday.
Daisy and I had both enjoyed a cracker of a day. So much so, that when we went past Junction 24 of the M1 a few days later, after our Warwickshire sojourn, Daisy said: “Hey, we’re going past Nottingham again. I thought you said that Nottingham was a stop along the way to Warwickshire”, with a tone far more akin to amusement than annoyance.