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The best seat in the house

Posted in Volunteering

I am in the middle of a gap year from an HR career and wanted to fit some useful work onto my CV which is how I came to be dressed in rather garish blue and yellow swirls on a commuter train from Woking.

The ECB and ICC advertised for volunteers to help make the World Twenty20 tournament a logistical success and I thought that had to be a great way to watch some of the action. Little did I realise that it would also give me some incredible cricketing and personal experiences.

I put my name down for every game at Lord's and was present when the Dutch came of international age, the Pakistanis walked away with the trophy and the Indian bandwagon lost its wheels.

I saw everything from sixes going into the members' enclosure, stood 20 yards from Charlotte Edwards lifting the women's trophy and saw semi-naked Sri Lankans in their dressing room as I dropped kit off.

Twenty20 Volunteers 6

Volunteers helped out at the different media centres during this summer's ICC World Twenty20 in England

The volunteering experience really did give me the opportunity to experience aspects of staging global sporting events that I had previously taken for granted.

I had attended a training day in April and been told that there were different elements to volunteering. You would be assigned to either the media centre, ticketing or possibly the curiously named Sportainment.

In hindsight, I definitely didn't get the short straw and pleasingly ended up in the bubble shaped media centre that hovers over the Nursery End of the ground.

Here a team of eight to ten volunteers would swarm around at the mercy of the assembled journos and see to their every need, although I would draw the line at mopping Derek Pringle's brow.

You could be asked to do anything from trouble-shooting wireless broadband issues to obtaining the Duckworth-Lewis charts from the official scorer - yes, there was a fresh chocolate cake every time I went in - and circulating in case of rain.

In essence it meant two hours of feverish activity during a seven-hour shift, allowing for five hours of dedicated cricket watching from behind the bowler's arm - not a bad place to watch the final.

It has given me some great memories and some unique insights into the faces that we take for granted on our television sets.

Where else could I have overheard Ian Chappell's views on vegetarian food, seen Bumble have a celebrity hissy-fit when his taxi was late, or ask some Indian journalists to 'step away from the photocopier' when they realised that I had the official team sheets in my hand half an hour before the toss.

If you see the ECB or ICC advertising for volunteers in the future, do make the most of it. It will totally be worth your while.

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