If only it could talk...it is notoriously unreliable and will soon be consigned to the cricketing scrapheap – but has Warwickshire’s much-maligned Pavilion End scoreboard got one big match left in it? Brian Halford thinks he knows.
Warwickshire’s main scoreboard last night pledged to silence its critics and “show what I am made of” during the Ashes Test match at Edgbaston a week today.
The beleaguered board which, haunted by injuries, has long struggled for consistency, went a step further by boldly claiming: “I want a new contract with the Bears”.
The scoreboard, a £250,000 recruit by Warwickshire in the winter of 1999-2000 during Dennis Amiss’s time as chief executive, will come down this winter along with everything around it as part of the Pavilion End redevelopment.
This is several years too late, assert critics who point to the board’s history of unreliability, its faulty bulbs, cramped figures and shabby outlook, its tendency to freeze at key moments or spout gibberish, conk out or fail to start as a convincing body of evidence that it should have been trashed long ago. As a facility, they suggest, it has long been an embarrassment rather than an asset to a Test match stadium.
Even sympathetic onlookers find it hard to be positive. It can’t be right, they acknowledge, when, at a Test match stadium, a working scoreboard is viewed as a bonus rather than taken for granted.
But the board, which would be eligible for a benefit at Edgbaston next season, remains defiant. And, having taken the flak in silence and never spoken to the press before, this week it came out fighting and vowed to prove the cynics wrong with a faultless display in the Ashes.
“I admit there have been blips,” the scoreboard said. “I have had a few problems over the years and my form has suffered. I know I have let the club down again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again but I feel my best years are ahead of me.
“Cricket is a very different game now to when I started. The pace is a lot quicker. There was no Twenty20 back then and it does take getting used to. And the fixture-scheduling is getting worse. I’m working six days on the trot this week.
"My bulbs are pretty tired but I’m pleased with my form and I can’t wait for the Ashes. I know everybody will be looking at me and it’s a great shop window and a chance for me to show Warwickshire that I can still do a job after this season. Perhaps they could do the building work around me.”
Although, at times, it has been as much use as a button on a sock, the ageing board deserves some sympathy. With software out of date even when it was installed a decade ago, it has plugged away nobly, as have its medical team. Long and hard have its noble operators laboured to put lipstick on this pig.
If the pressure will be high for the Ashes, however, it will be sky-high next season – all season. With the players’ and members facilities switching to the City End during redevelopment work, the need for a reliable scoreboard at the ‘Building Site End’ will be huge.
“Bring it on,” said the board. “I’m looking forwa...”
Sadly, the interview had to be terminated there when the board conked out and could not be restarted.