Edgbaston at the cutting edge
Posted in England v India 2011
England’s second city now boasts England and Wales’ second largest cricket ground thanks to a £32million redevelopment of Edgbaston.
The transformed Pavilion End, which has increased capacity from 20,000 to 25,000 - behind only Lord’s - made its international debut today.
It was a proud moment for a city whose reputation has been tarnished this week by social unrest that has blighted much of England.
When play began there was a reminder across the Birmingham skyline of the trouble in the form of thick smoke several miles behind the newly-named Birmingham End.
Although West Midlands Police were not treating the fire at a recycling plant as suspicious, the plume symbolised the dark cloud hanging over the city – and several others in England.
The lofty media centre atop Edgbaston’s new South Stand affords a panoramic view of the Birmingham skyline. Four enormous floodlight pylons punctuate the leafy suburbs, which give way to the city centre behind.
The view of the pitch is similar to that from the Lord’s press box, with an almost bird’s-eye view. The spacious facilities are cutting edge, marginally better than the Home of Cricket, which was ahead of its time when its facility opened more than a decade ago.
Edgbaston’s South Stand is flanked by steep structures with tiers akin to the MCG. The rest of the seating creates a cauldron, which came to the boil when the home seamers had India on the rack at 111 for seven.
A typically cracking Edgabston atmosphere pervaded a nearly full house, not least the press box – also packed – thanks to open windows absent at Lord’s.
If the whole crowd contributed to the noise, even when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was flaying England’s attack, the Eric Hollies Stand added colour.
Traditionally the most raucous section of the ground, the majority wore red Cure Leukaemia T-shirts provided free of charge. There may have been some alcohol-induced red faces by the final session, as a particularly long beer snake suggested.
The end of India’s innings restored calm, on and off the pitch. That was until England’s openers broke the early shakles placed on them and a pause in play gave birth to a Mexican wave.
Boisterous chanting replaced the earlier peace. Here’s hoping for more of the latter around Birmingham and beyond.