Old Trafford media centre’s offering has cream on top

After a visit during the Ashes Test, BRIAN SCOVELL, of the Cricket Writers’ Club, heaps praise on the media facilities at Lancashire’s redeveloped ground

Mike Atherton used to complain about the glare of the sun and about movement in the old Red Rose press box and he was one of the many who raved about the new press facilities at revamped Old Trafford. Most critics wrote laudatory pieces about them and except for one, none of them found a fault.

Inside the media centre at Old Trafford after its £45 million revamp
Inside the media centre at Old Trafford after its £45 million revamp. Are you able to see a scoreboard?

The exception was our good friend Jim Maxwell. “Everything is fine,” he said, “but I can’t see the scoreboard.”

There is a truncated scoreboard cum advertising construction down at deep mid-wicket from the press box and you had to agree, he had a point.

Geoff Durbin, Lancashire’s operations manager, said “The ECB wanted to use that place to advertise Investic, the sponsors. When more development takes place, there should be another one.”

The existing scoreboard, on the far right, just peeps out above the stand but most of the main information is hidden from the well-designed press box which has 114 spacious working spaces.

The press box is at a good, optimum height, not too high (Lord’s and Edgbaston suffer from that) and not too low (The Oval).

Geoff did several national TV and radio interviews and his beaming face reflected the joy of everyone involved in rescuing Old Trafford from the threat of losing Test matches. He was particularly pleased to hear Gary Neville say to TMS‘s Jonathan Agnew “where I’m sitting here is better than the commentating seats I have in football matches.”

Doors on either side open to let in fresh air, which is a rarity in English Test match grounds. Another good point is that you step out of the glass doors across to the media room where lunch and tea is served before it is turned into the interview room. In the toilets, they’ve used quotes from famous cricket writers on a wall to while away a few minutes. Martin Johnson, of “can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field” fame, was somewhat taken aback to be one of the names used.

The large lifts are fast and efficient and we were greeted by smiling attendants to show us to our seats. The contrast with the moneybags big clubs of the Premier League was stark. The food was better as well and after the tea interval ice cream, made by a company in Buckinghamshire, was served at your position. Arsenal were the pioneers of serving ice cream but hardly any club followed their lead.

Lockers have yet to be installed but they will be.

Lancashire went through a number of crises when they embarked on their £45m refurburbishment and they teetered on the brink several times but everyone deserves the highest praise, particularly Jim Cumbes who never lost his sense of humour.


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