Summer 2018

Trent Bridge 2018: England Might Only Have One Ball

As this will be my last Addis blog for some considerable time, our generous Editor has kindly agreed to sponsor a pop quiz. Within the body of this text, dear reader, you will find a number of famous song titles, some obvious and some not so. When you have identified all of these, simply contact Editor Freddie via the Addis Army web site with your response.

The lucky winner will receive a pair of ‘local’ tickets for the grass bank at the forthcoming Galle Test, face value nearly £5, together with a customised Addis Army sports bag containing four beer vouchers and one litre of ‘Perma-Tan’ amber sun cream to head off any friction when entering the cricket ground.

Freddie will present the prize himself in Sri Lanka, providing you can find him in whichever bar he happens to be in...

The day before the Test

Engineering work on the Derby to Nottingham railway line means that when I arrive in Nottingham, I am faced with a gruelling 40 minute Rail Replacement bus journey to Higgy’s house in Long Eaton.

However, I am refreshed by the lovely scenery and as the bus chugs past Beeston Recycling and Sewage Works I find myself pining for a commentary from the cheerful driver.

Without much delay Higgy and I find ourselves on a pub crawl around Sawley.

My favourite of the many pubs we visited is the White Lion. This establishment is owned by Lottery winners, who have fully refurbished the existing old pub and created a craft brewery at the rear.

Britain will need more philanthropists like this after Brexit.

My tipple of choice is ‘Jobber’, a lovely bitter which as it implies, after six pints or so certainly does the job.

Day One-Saturday

A very odd day to start a Test match, certainly I cannot imagine they would try this on at stuffy Lords.

However, Trent Bridge is looking resplendent. The scaffolding and tarps have now been stripped from the new construction at the Radcliffe Road end, revealing a magnificent media centre with outdoor balcony seating. Spectacular, and it adds to the grounds already strong visual appeal.

If only the current unpopular stewards of Old Trafford had used the Trent Bridge architect, instead of the model set builders from puppet series ‘Stingray’ when planning their own renovation.

I’m just a jealous guy.

An easy one to start the quiz, then!

The start of play is delayed due to overnight rain allowing us to take in the band playing atop the Sound Bar next to the Trent Bridge Inn.

The band are playing Rolling Stones covers, and commence with the perfect anthem for an England cricket fan – “You can’t always get what you want.”

Later numbers such as “Gimme Shelter” and “Paint it Black” might also be appropriate, and there is also one for the ECB, “Sympathy for the Devil.”

The England Team selection raises a few eyebrows, in particular the dropping of erstwhile hero Sam Curran.

Presumably the selectors think the team will punch above its weight with Stokes.

Another curious toss decision by Captain Root, who decides to insert India on the basis that it is a bit cloudy. It’s a mistake.

Lunch finds us as normal in the Larwood and Voce pub adjacent to the ground, where I enjoy a reunion with Son Of – not seen since our last West Indies Addis trip, which by the way contained no elements of affray whatsoever.

Neither Son Of, or his two mates have match tickets – they have travelled up here simply to drink and enjoy the craic, which in fact quite a large number of people seem to have done.

Son Of is a worried man. He is being abused by Facebook trolls about his Brexit views.

I sympathise but find this hard to believe. Everyone knows that Francophile Son Of feels the love for all things European – who could forget his helpfulness to that French family at the luggage scanner during our return trip through Addis Ababa airport in 2005?

Even worse for Son Of, Steve Mc Claren has just been appointed manager of his beloved QPR.

No wickets are falling, and while the runs pile up inside the ground the stack of empty plastic beer glasses do the same outside. Son Of and his two pals take their leave and Higgy and I stagger back into the ground in time to see India pass 300. Even after the number of beers we have consumed, Higgy and I could probably have caught better than England did today.

And judging by QPR’s 7-1 result today, maybe it’s just as well Son Of had some anaesthetic.

A couple more beers in the Trent Navigation and then it is time to catch the Rail Replacement bus back to Long Eaton.

With legs crossed I make a mental note to bring an empty bottle with me tomorrow.

Day Two-Sunday

Our Rail Replacement bus today is in fact a Reggae Rail Replacement bus and we are treated to dub sounds all the way into Nottingham.

A good morning for England. The last four Indian wickets fall for not many, they are bowled out for 329, and our openers survive a tricky period until lunch.

Off to the Larwood and Voce then, where we are joined by Long Eaton CC players Tony, Ryan, Terrah, and Dylan. Have I got them all? Hmmm…….. yes, I think that’s all the Long Eaton CC boys that were present!!

England have already lost two wickets by the time we resume our seats in time for another shameful (but not surprising) collapse.

In all, nine wickets fall for just 74 runs.

England all out in just 38.2 overs for 161.

Even this meagre total is only achieved by Buttler playing baseball towards the end and hitting a couple of home runs.

It is hard to explain the succession of truly crap shots that contributed to this debacle, which was every bit as bad as Auckland in March.

The batsmen are facing Bumrah, Pandya, Shami and Sharma, not bloody Lillee and Thomson! Even the retiring Mitchell Johnson, of shite-bowling fame, was yards faster than this Indian attack.

India bat once again much sooner than the grumpy Anderson and Broad wanted or needed and little impact is made with the new ball.

Bored now, and ravenous after the beer, I go in search of food.

Ah. The Handmade Burger Bar. Sounds just the job and I obtain a double cheeseburger for only £7.

As hungry and pissed as I am, and as dead as my taste buds are, revulsion sets in half way through the disgusting burger and over half of this abomination ends up in the bin.

But, it’s far too late.

The Rail Replacement Bus is bloody murder as my intestines go into overdrive – we cannot return to Higgy’s house fast enough.

I spend the rest of the evening and night shitting through the eye of a needle in circumstances far worse than any I have ever experienced on the sub-continent.

Thank you, The Handmade Burger Bar.

Baby, we were born to run.

Day Three-Monday

In the morning Higgy is puzzled as to why his new toilet brush has changed colour from a whiter shade of pale to golden brown. I plead ignorance.

Today is simply about how many runs India stack up before declaring, so at lunch having taken no wickets, and with Pujara and Kohli entrenched, we retire to the Larwood & Voce – and stay there.

Finally the declaration comes at 352-7, meaning that England require just the modest sum of 521 to win the match.

A tricky nine overs batting at the end of the day provide the only excitement as somehow the England openers survive.

Back at The Bell, Long Eaton, Higgy, Tony, his son Lee and I watch champions-elect Liverpool on Sky and drink copious amounts of beer.

One of the locals bears a passing resemblance to shamed pop impresario Jonathan King, which prompts a lively discussion on celebrity paedophiles in general, those both dead and those very much alive and still ‘entertaining’ in jail.

As last orders passes and we drink on, finally leaving the pub at 11.40, Higgy rather optimistically predicts that takeaway curry will be available at the Power Dragon, his local Chinese outlet.

Just as well he was wrong.

It might give my guts some recovery time!

Day 4 – Tuesday

Last night’s great batting by Cook and Jennings has given us all optimism – which lasts for about five minutes. In no time at all both openers are back in the hutch.

Cook’s problems are well documented but Jennings is more of an enigma to me. He has batted really well for his county this season but I now wonder whether the step up in class is too much.

I’m sorry, but the Buster Keaton Jennings nickname must now reapply, at least at International level!

A dazed and confused Root is out for just 13, and when Oliver Pope is dismissed playing an insane swipe outside off stump to a ball he could have comfortably left, England’s goose is effectively cooked.

That’s another fine mess you’ve got us into, Ollie...!

Against all expectations Buttler and Stokes apply themselves in the afternoon, with the former making a great century. 21 fours and almost all are proper cricket shots.

Hope is extinguished for a second time as soon as India take the new ball.

With just over an hour’s play left and four wickets down, Buttler is unluckily given out lbw on a double umpires call, and England end up losing four quick wickets for ten runs.

Despite taking an extra half hour at the end India are unable to dislodge Anderson and Rashid, meaning that we all face the prospect of coming back tomorrow to see a potential one – ball days play. Heaven knows, we’re miserable now!

Given the marked improvement in my intestinal condition, a curry has been arranged tonight by Tony.

“I know a great curry house on Maid Marion Way. I think it’s called Madagascar” said Tony.

Actually the eatery was called “The Calcutta Club” but at least Tony got the Maid Marion bit right. And I’m pleased we went to this part of Nottingham for a change as I had previously thought that the “Maid Marion Way” was a sex position for Lincoln Green clothing fetishists!

Day 5 - Wednesday

Despite the fact that England might only have one ball to face, yesterday we had been advised that admission for day five would cost £10!

As we hold five-day passes anyway we just shrugged, but thankfully when we arrive at the ground, whoever made this ludicrous decision has been overruled and admission to the ground is free. This u-turn has come too late to make any great difference to the attendance but it is nice to see that for once in cricket, a ticketing mistake has been acknowledged and corrected – a pleasant change.

I am hoping to beat an established Addis record today. At an Ashes Test at Old Trafford several years ago, Gilo paid £25 to watch just three balls of cricket, arriving after lunch in time to see Ian Bell play three superb blocks before the heavens opened, and play was abandoned for the day.

The stubborn resistance of Anderson and Rashid denies me this privilege – the pair manage to stay in for 17 balls, meaning Gilo’s record remains intact. England therefore lose by the modest margin of just 203 runs.

We walk round to see the presentation as this is bound to last much longer than the cricket, and on the way I see the absolute definition of optimism – a man with a packed lunch in a large Tupperware box!

Captain Root looks a broken man. Having had all night to prepare his words he still refuses to say anything meaningful. He seems to have aged about twenty years and is now introverted, and ultra defensive of his players – a true cricketing Mourinho.

Where is the cheeky chappie with the Bob Willis mask now, pray tell?

Trevor Bayliss was also out there facing the music so to speak and Trevor, here is another pop throwaway clue just for you. I wish you would return down under.

Regular readers will suspect that we would have a plan B for today just in case England’s last wicket failed to put on the 200+ runs required.

The plan B was Hooters. For those unfamiliar, think Peter Stringfellow operating a licensed KFC. “The best wings in Nottingham” (not to mention the best legs and breast....) accompanied by ice cold beer a-plenty.

Thank you, ‘Uncle Tony’, for playing our Falstaff for the afternoon.

Fittingly, some might say, as punishment for our chauvinistic afternoon, we suffer greatly on the rush hour Rail Replacement bus back to Long Eaton, which is hotter than your average greenhouse and is not equipped with a toilet.

A few final beers in the Bell and White Lion and then it is time to say farewell.

Sadly, there is no Test match in Nottingham next year, so I will have to find a different pretext for a visit.

Given woeful Lancashire’s imminent relegation, the most likely fixture seems to be Derbyshire (away).

Finally, I hope all those making the trip to Sri Lanka have a safe journey and enjoyable holiday, and good luck to those entering the pop competition!

There are 13 song titles to collect which, by coincidence, is also Trevor Bayliss’ lucky number.



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