Trent Bridge Diary: Despite the signs, the natives are friendly

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The Independent Online

By Stephen Brenkley

At the entrance to Trent Bridge there is a forbidding array of notices, which seem entirely to befit the most crime-ridden city in Britain. "No banners, flags, trumpets or whistles," says the first sign, presumably in case anybody is tempted to whack their neighbour over the head with the aforementioned items. "Alcohol prohibited on this ground," says the one next to it, for what might seem the obvious reason that unsavoury incidents with musical instruments are more likely under the influence, but is in fact because the authorities demand that you buy all your booze inside the ground. "Please retain your reserved seat ticket," says yet another sign. And nearby are the ground regulations themselves.

All of which makes it difficult to reconcile the generally held view that this is the friendliest ground in England. Wherever the criminologists did their research it was not here. Then again, visitors are soon being warned to avoid parking in the physiotherapy clinic space, which should be left for patients. Such an apparently draconian day out has no effect on the lightness of being. When England's left-arm spinner Monty Panesar fielded the ball it was the first time all summer that there had not been from the bleachers an exhibition of avuncular mockery.

Graveney gets his man at last

David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, attended the Test on the first day. It was pleasant to see him, cap in hand, passing the time of day with Duncan Fletcher, the England coach (Jon Lewis's first cap in his hand, that is, ready to be presented to the player). Grav-eney has been a champion of Lewis for several years and has seen him picked in several squads, always to be overlooked on the morning of the match.

This can have been no more dispiriting for him than in Centurion early last year. Lewis, called up late to the South African tour, had his hands shaken by every other member of the squad on the scheduled first day of the match. It seemed he had been chosen. But no toss was made, no team declared as rain washed out play. By the next morning the selectors seemed to have changed their minds, and the valiant Lewis had to wait another 15 Tests.

Durham's first century

The chairman of selectors, of course, was the first player to represent Durham as a first-class county in 1992 when he went out to toss at The Parks with Geoff Lovell, the captain of what was then the team still known as Oxford University. Last week Durham fielded their 100th player, the South African wicketkeeper Garry Park. With a neat symmetry, he made his first appearance for them at The Parks.

Stand without delivery

Sri Lanka's opening pair are struggling. The highest stand they have recorded after six innings in this series is 10 - at Lord's second time around - with the others being 0, 2, 2 and 3. They have been suffering for a time even before this tour. In their past 20 innings the average is a mere 23, with only one century stand. It is not a platform for victory.

Slip of the calculator

The diary got itself into a kerfuffle over percentages last week, for which apologies are in order to the estimable Five scorer, Jo King. The percentage of England's dropped chances in the slip or gully area is not 75 but 60.5. In any case they were much better here in Nottingham, taking all three first-innings chances offered.

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