Trent Bridge groundsman tested to the limit as excitement reaches fever pitch

Editorialin Cricket

No sooner had last summer's Ashes Test match between England and Australia finished - with a glorious victory for the home team - Steve was turning his mind to the arrival of the Indian team.

Twelve months on and that time has now arrived.

Alastair Cook's England side face the tourists from the sub-continent at Trent Bridge in the first of five Test matches, starting on Wednesday.

Steve said: "We went into the planning phase a year ago, after the Ashes Test. We think about any changes that can be made, whether the pitch can be improved.

"We were actually pretty happy with how last year's game turned out so there has been no need for drastic changes."

As the game draws nearer, Steve and his four assistants focus more and more on the pitch the Test match will be played on and the square that surrounds it. They work between ten and 12 hours a day in the build-up to and during the game.

The square, as well as the outfield, must be in pristine condition, particularly with the thousands watching in the crowd and the millions turning on their TV sets around the world to catch the action.

It will all be mowed to perfection, with special attention being drawn to the wicket itself, which has not been used this year.

"We will be rolling it and tending to it throughout the build-up," he said. "We usually do this over ten days. To me it is like baking a cake, making sure it is perfect."

But it is not just Steve and his team who are being kept busy at one of the world's best-known grounds.

Jamie Dickinson, operations assistant at Trent Bridge, helps to make sure that everything else runs smoothly.

He and his team must make sure that broadcasters and other media have their needs met, a particularly vital job this week with dozens of Indian journalists expected.

They must also make sure all food stalls and drinks tents are in the correct place around the ground, among many other important jobs.

Jamie said: "For a Test match we have a capacity crowd so we need to make sure we have enough stalls selling food and drink, to avoid queues which are too big for fans.

"A year of planning goes into this. We have to make sure that everything is as wished for stakeholders, including the England and Wales Cricket Board. Hospitality also needs to be sorted. And of course spectators are a massive concern, right from the point of ticket sales."

Paul Harrison will be closer to the players than many this week.

As a dressing room attendant he will be responsible for making sure the wishes of the 22 players and other staff are catered for.

"We need to make sure they get the food, drink and snacks they need," he said. "It is all health and nutrition-driven these days, which is different from many years ago."

Last week and over the weekend, Paul and his colleagues were trying to clear the dressing rooms, particularly the home team one which has been used by Nottinghamshire players.

He said: "We encourage the players to clear all of their stuff out as we need it for the England players when they arrive."

To hasten the process, the England players' kit arrived at the ground on Friday.

Many of the crowd will hope that it will be that dressing room which is celebrating come the end of the game.

However there is also expected to be a great amount of support for the Indian team.

Both sets of fans will find a huge amount of entertainment at the ground and in the surrounding area.

There will be entertainment on the streets leading from the railway station to the ground, including bands. And pubs in the city are preparing for a huge influx of customers, with those near the ground likely to be full.

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