Dyson hand dryers - what more do you need?

Posted in Domestic Cricket

There is a new addition to the Headingley landscape, and it is not a player to bolster Yorkshire’s title charge.

This week saw the official opening of the Carnegie Pavilion, an impressively grand building at the Kirkstall Lane End which dominates the whole ground.

I’m no Norman Foster - my architectural know-how stretches as far as making a miniature house with balsa wood and Pritt Stick at primary school - so those expecting some hifalutin critique of the pavilion's structural and aesthetic merits are advised to look elsewhere.

In appearance, it resembles a sort of futuristic greenhouse (I warned you this wouldn’t be high brow), a combination of tinted glass panels and sharp edges. An avant garde Eden Project, if you like.

Built by Leeds Metropolitan University at a cost of £21million, the vast five-storey building currently serves as the new home of the players' changing rooms and press box, but come September it will morph seamlessly into a collection of lecture theatres and classrooms.

The smell of new carpets is unmistakeable as you make you way up to the press box, the walls are a spanking white and you can almost see your reflection in the gleaming chrome banister rails. Quite how long it stays that way with a stampede of students in the offing is another matter.

Staff are unfailingly helpful, only too willing to discuss their new working quarters and show you around what I suspect these days is called a ‘chill-out area’. They even hold the door open for you (certainly a first for me at a cricket ground).

The first thing you notice from inside the press box is the view, the fourth-floor setting, albeit from mid-on rather than behind the bowler’s arm, providing a wonderful outlook over the pitch.

Carnegie Pavilion, Headingley Carnegie

The Carnegie Pavilion looms large over Headingley. The £21million building currently serves as the new home for players and media

Gazing beyond the rugby pitch that adjoins Headingley, I see Leeds suburbs I didn’t know existed, the distinctive frame of Elland Road and rolling hills that extend as far as the horizon.

The toilets, as good a yardstick as any for a new building, are also immaculate, a far cry from the graffiti-ridden concrete blocks under the old press box at the Football Stand End.

There is even one of those fancy new Dyson hand dryers, testament to the fact that someone has paid attention to the little things. For further evidence, I ask you how many press boxes are equipped with Bose speakers?

Inevitably, there are grumbles amongst the scribes (this is Yorkshire, in case you’d forgotten), ranging from the temperamental internet; desks that may not accommodate the larger gentleman, shall we say; and the shortage of sandwiches on offer. Lord’s reputation as the home of the best lunches on the circuit is safe for a while yet.

There have been one or two murmurs from the players about their changing quarters: Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Yorkshire’s lanky pace bowler, apparently can’t stand up without hitting his head on the ceiling (heaven forbid when Steven Finn and Stuart Broad share the England dressing room).

Even the scorers have decamped to the new building, leaving Tony, the trusty PA announcer whose warm brown tones have relayed messages to spectators for more years than I can remember, left to make his own entertainment in the old press box. One trusts he has a copy of the Racing Post with him.

The future for the old press box is not immediately clear, although if Yorkshire had their way – and sufficient funds – the whole Football Stand End would undergo a redevelopment similar to that on the opposite side of the ground.

From a personal point of view, I’ll miss the walk through the players’ tunnel, the old-fashioned green reading lamps on the desks, and players wandering in and out of the box to borrow a newspaper or check the county scores on Ceefax.

But, then again, those Dyson hand dryers are something else.