On the Front Foot: Edgbaston's passion for the past is a lesson for the future


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The Independent Online

In securing their future, it is heartening to see Warwickshire have remembered their past. An integral part of the £32 million redevelopment of the Pavilion End at Edgbaston is the cricket museum. In it, the rich history of the club and the ground are told simply, straightforwardly and accessibly. Artefacts are few and far between but the storyboards lining the walls, taped recollections and old film footage provide an insight in to the deeds and players of the past.

True aficionados might welcome more detail, but the casual supporter can glean in 30 minutes a flavour of Warwickshire's progress to date as well as the ground's great matches (if anything, England's nerve-shredding two-run defeat of Australia in 2005 is underplayed).

From the point of entry it is neatly arresting. WG (Willie) Quaife was the county's first great player, who represented them from 1894 to 1927 and did not go entirely willingly. "In deference to the committee," he wrote, "I have agreed, at 56, to retire."

Quaife was a key part of the county's first championship in 1911 and while no attempt is made to airbrush the captain in that season, Frank Foster, from history, nor is he restored to glory. Foster came almost from nowhere to lead the side and was such an able all-rounder that he went to Australia the following winter and played a big part in winning the Ashes. His star waned quickly, however, and his fall from grace, when he became a bankrupt drunk who consorted with prostitutes and went mad is beguilingly told in Robert Brooke's painstaking if short biography The Fields Were Sudden Bare.

There is plenty here for other counties to ponder when they remodel their grounds for the 21st century. Yorkshire might have done something similar at Headingley, Lancashire should certainly try to when they at last get round to rebuilding Old Trafford.

There may even be a lesson here for MCC, who have the largest and most significant collection of cricket memorabilia in the world. The museum at Lord's is cramped and gives an air of scholarly dinginess. It is intelligently and sharply curated, but has not the space to breathe in the modern way. If and when Lord's is redeveloped there may be a museum for the 21st century. Maybe they could learn a lesson or two from Edgbaston now.

Time to honour Abberley

There is not, or not obviously, any mention of Neal Abberley in the Edgbaston museum. There should be.

Abberley, who died last week at the age of 68, played for the county, mostly as an opening batsman, for 15 years, scoring 10,082 first-class runs. His average, in the low twenties, was nothing to write home about, but it is the work he did in the 30 years since retirement that set him apart.

Abberley ran, virtually single-handedly for years, the county's junior coaching structure. He was the first coach (latterly mentor) to Ian Bell, a reasonable recommendation for any coach. Bell and many others would like a more enduring memorial to Abberley.

The Abberley Coaching Academy has a certain ring to it.

Cook keeps good hours

What records Alastair Cook may break now. All things are possible for a batsman who has already scored 5,834 Test runs. No player has amassed so many at the age of 26 years and 230 days, as Cook was on Friday, though Sachin Tendulkar has one more hundred.

Since the start of the Ashes series last winter, Cook has spent exactly 70 hours batting, compared with Jonathan Trott – the next most hardworking – on 37.5 hours.

Sehwag shares his kingdom

Virender Sehwag, India's only triple Test centurion (twice), is only the second opener to bag a king pair in Tests. He follows Javed Omar of Bangladesh. Had Tim Bresnan caught Abhinav Mukund at slip in the Second Test, two Indian openers would have been out first ball in both innings in this series.