Nottinghamshire Outlaws STENCIL One-day final
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Notebook

Test Match (And It Is) Special

STENCIL’s Andy Afford says to get in and around the ground at the back end of the week to enjoy the East Midlands’ best sporting event. A Trent Bridge five-dayer.

As is the world of cricket and the modern initiative of playing of back-to-back Test matches, the second game of the series between England and South Africa kicks into life on Friday rather than the more traditional starting day of Thursday. For me, it does ratchet back the excitement a bit. But only a bit, mind.

Fans of cricket and fans of a good time what that it’s easy to have fun at the cricket. It’s a tried-and-tested means to mix business with pleasure on a work day/week day. And especially straightforward if the sun shines. Especially if England has a quality opposition. It’s even easier to have fun. At Trent Bridge.

Only behind Lord’s – the Home of Cricket itself – it’s the nation’s next favourite Test venue. And with every good reason. It feels homely. It feels personal. And when you’re there, surrounds feels like a cricket ground not a sports stadium. With credit for retaining this atmosphere wholly due to the huge amount of sympathetic new development at the venue as well as the genuinely world-class stewarding that goes on. With every one of its by-and-large volunteer army understanding their roles as ambassadors, working on behalf of our great club.

Having fun at the world’s third oldest Test venue isn’t solely restricted to the more traditional pursuits of actually watching the cricket or even enjoying a chat with friends behind the stands, should play stagnate. Unlike anywhere else in the country, you can leave the ground for a change of scenery in any direction and find yourself in a cracking pub, bar, café or restaurant. Just a walk away. Should a break feel as enticing as a rest.

And hanging around after the match for a few drinks in West Bridgford has become something to do, every bit as much as enjoying the contest itself. Hit Central Avenue if it’s your first time at TB. But if not, and you’re feeling up for an adventure, try the Poppy & Pint in nearby (across the Grantham Canal) Lady Bay, or get your walk on and enjoy either the Navigation Inn off London Road or the simply magical VAT & Fiddle near the train station. The ‘Vat’ is local beer giant Castle Rock’s brewery tap room and the beer tastes as good as you’d expect and – to finish with a little bit of cricket politics – as pure as Proteas’ fast bowler Kagiso Rabada’s thoughts…

Marvellous, my dear old thing. Simply marvellous x