Dusty Boots Would Shame You Now : Lady Bay

Nottinghamshire 2nd XI v Leicestershire 2nd XI, Nottinghamshire Sports Ground, Lady Bay, 26th June 2013

It is always refreshing to venture beyond my usual haunts and discover a new ground and this year’s traditional mid-season T20 break once again provides the incentive.

Flicking through the fixture list, I’ve always liked the sound of Lady Bay, where Nottinghamshire play most of their 2nd XI matches.  It is not, as the name suggests, by the sea (though I did spot what might have been an immature herring gull in the outfield):

Lady Bay Seagull

The ground is part of a complex of sports pitches close by Trent Bridge and immediately behind Forest’s City Ground that used to be provided by the Boots Company for the use of their workers (in the days when capitalism was marginally more philanthropic).  Nottingham’s Rugby League side play there and the Rugby Union side uses it as a training ground (I believe they now play their first team fixtures at Notts County’s Meadow Lane).  The Boots football club, who used to play there, seem to have been evicted to make way for them.

Like many place names in this area of Nottingham (Meadow Lane, the Meadows Estate I walk through to get to Trent Bridge) it is not quite as bucolic as its name suggests (though it may once have been) but it is a pleasant enough ground.  The pavilion is a homely, club housey sort of affair (the interior is a little like a 1920s pub, decorated with rugby memorabilia and old Punch cartoons)

Lady Bay Pavilion

there is a distant view of hills from one side of the ground

Lady Bay

and the looming bulk of the Brian Clough stand from the other

Lady Bay

The fly in the ointment is that running alongside the ground is a busy and exceptionally noisy road, from which the speeding motorist may catch a brief glimpse of the cricket (although I don’t suppose many of them bother)

Lady Bay from the road

The real sadness about this is that this road leads to the Lady Bay Bridge, which until 1968 was a rail bridge carrying trains from Melton Mowbray into Nottingham, and the road was presumably a railway.  There are few things that enhance a cricket ground more than a railway alongside it, few that enhance a railway journey more than a glimpse of cricket and very few that enhance it less than a busy road.  I feel those old Boots employees must have seen the best days of Lady Bay.

The match itself was a pretty listless affair (these games seem to be used as an opportunity to have a look at prospective players as much as a competition in itself).  Leicestershire were captained by Ollie Freckingham, who, as an out and out strike bowler, seems not to be required in one day cricket, but he only bowled a few overs and spent a lot of time off the pitch (I didn’t get the impression he was too thrilled to be there at all).

In the morning of what was the second day of a three day match Leicestershire looked to be running through the Notts batting and a result might have been in prospect, but after lunch Brett Hutton (no relation, as far as I know, though he is Yorkshire-born) rather let the air out of the game with a frustrating century.  On the third day the match was drawn.

The triallist who caught the eye was Ben Raine, a burly fast-medium Mackem who’s been released by Durham.  He also bats a bit apparently, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of him (though we aren’t exactly short of that type of player).

These games are not, unfortunately, only an opportunity for the Leicestershire coaches to have a look at some of our younger players, they also allow the Nottinghamshire coaches to do a bit of window shopping.  At one point, one of them appeared to be ruffling Freckingham’s hair and winking at him.  I know these fiends will stop at nothing to lure our best players away, but I thought this was a bit low, even by their standards.

I think I may be back to Lady Bay, though I shall make sure to take some earplugs.

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