An estimated global TV audience of over one billion people benefited from the expertise of Warwickshire’s 16-strong groundstaff team as cricketing giants India and Pakistan met at Edgbaston in the ICC Champions Trophy.
The eyes of the cricket world were on Birmingham as the latest instalment of one of sport’s great rivalries unfolded in front of a 24,156 full-house, a record crowd for an ODI at Edgbaston Stadium.
It was one of world cricket’s most hotly-anticipated matches this year (it would have been a sell-out even if Edgbaston’s capacity was 100,000). And a great occasion was duly delivered, despite the infuriating vagaries of the British climate.
it was a great day in the world spotlight for Edgbaston, for the Bears and for the city of Birmingham.
Play was interrupted by a series of heavy showers which in previous eras would have spoiled the day. But thanks to Warwickshire head groundsman Gary Barwell’s team of ten staff and six Cricketeers, a buoyant spectacle duly unfolded in beautiful evening sunshine as India eased to a 124-run (D/L) victory.
With the memorable atmosphere at the stadium replicated across the city at the Fan Park in Victoria Square, it was a great day in the world spotlight for Edgbaston, for the Bears and for the city of Birmingham.
The match was surrounded by heightened security following recent incidents across the UK and was preceded by a minute’s silence, which was immaculately observed, for the victims of the previous night’s attack in London.
Warwickshire chief executive Neil Snowball expressed his appreciation of West Midlands Police in the light of the increased security. He also outlined his pride in his club’s hosting of the match, a major operation powered by more than 1,000 people; 40 full-time club staff, 600 catering and hospitality staff, 120 cleaning and maintenance workers and 400 security personnel, along with the vital support of 150 volunteers.
“It was a fantastic day for the club and the city,” he said. “Hosting a match of this magnitude is a huge logistical exercise but everything went smoothly and the early feedback is that a capacity crowd really enjoyed the day. I’d like to thank every one of our staff and volunteers for their contribution to making that happen. We are also indebted to West Midlands Police for their support and advice.
“The atmosphere in the ground was amazing and, on behalf of the club, I’d also like to thank the supporters of both sides for their passionate, well-behaved support and their impeccable respect of the minute’s silence. It is always a delight for us to host India v Pakistan matches and we look forward to hosting many more in the future.”
Between the showers, India’s batsmen provided the early thrills by piling up 319 for three from 48 overs. Led by the legendary Virat Kohli (81 not out from 68 balls) and Rohit Sharma (91, 119 balls), they crashed 27 fours and ten sixes, three of which arrived from the first three balls of the last over, deposited into the cacophonous crowd by Hardik Pandya.
A further heavy downpour having been dealt with by those groundstaff, Pakistan then set off in pursuit of a Duckworth/Lewis target of 289 in 41 overs but, after a promising start, they fell well short at 164 all out.
“For us to play cricket as tentative as that, I can only think the magnitude of the occasion got to them,” observed Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur post-match.
For Arthur and his team it was a difficult day. For India’s followers and the many neutrals present it had been a joy.