Nottingham-bound Trent Bridge is actually as steeped in English cricket history as the Himalayas, the doyen of ice, in the sub-continent. It is here where the England men’s team made light work of Australia in 2018, posting 481 on the board. Once you arrive at Trent Bridge, you can be regaled by more sights that find themselves to do a lot more outside of the game- such as the Nottingham Castle. The majestic Robin Hood Town Tour of Nottingham is about as enriching an experience as watching Kevin Costner’s 1991 epic.
You can find yourself serenaded by a bouquet of unique experiences such as visiting the Stonebridge City Farm, which houses tens of different varieties of winged creatures, cherubic and cute. Then there’s Green’s Windmill, a historic sight fuelled-by scientific discovery dedicated to Physician George Green.
An ideal place to sit back and revel in nature’s lap.
Though no visit to Nottingham, a city that reserves as much fondness for cricket as it does to Football, can be rendered complete without taking a trip to the famous Trent Bridge cricket library, a sort of sanctimonious destination that attracts the purist to a world where books take the driver’s seat, not quite the laptop or glitzy gadgets.
For convenience sake of those visitors who can spend hours finding the right night gown or morning jumpsuit on the most nondescript online stores but dread discovering a place that may require them to use their feet, the Trent Bridge Library is housed in the cricket stadium.
The only concern is, however, the soul behind the books, the timeless bookmark of dozens of literature beautifully penned in ode to the gentleman’s game, and the most iconic and irreplaceable figure of the library is gone.
Peter Wynne-Thomas, known as the ‘librarian,’ a man who dedicated no fewer than five decades researching the game that today has new-age fans reading about its minute-by-minute happenings on apps, not books as such, is dead.
In a game where statistics often determine one’s impact, Tendulkar‘s 100 centuries being a testimony of his greatness, Lara‘s 400 not out serving a first-hand lesson to England about single-minded determinedness, Peter Wynne-Thomas’ impact was measured differently.
He had the Trent Bridge Library named after him; the Peter Wynne-Thomas library, the move honouring the Nottinghamshire Cricket Club’s long-standing historian.
Had this gentleman, single-mindedly determined to contributing toward cricket literature, not been there, one may not have had the Trent Bridge Library in the first place, which he’d set up seven years after setting afoot in at the club, in 1971.
Dressed in crisp white shirts, wearing neat trousers with an unforgettable gallace accompanying the finely-matched attire, which became the earnest dress code of a man who saw generations change, records broken, teams change with changing vagaries of time, was a legend in his own right.
Tending to the voracious reader’s appetite by handing over the book one desperately craved for gave him a pleasure like no other.
Though, Peter Wynne-Thomas- 1934- 2021- was no ordinary English gent, marked by grace and dignity, both of which are fast becoming disappearing virtues one tends to find in old movies and refined literature.
He was an architect, an archivist, a statistician, a voracious reader himself, and someone who frequently used a typewriter even in the age of the high-tech laptop.
Someone who described himself as one with an ‘irrational love for Cricket as also typewriters, which no medicine in the world had a suitable cure for!’
A man with voracious appetite for cricketing knowledge, those who knew him fondly remember a man who could instantly tell any batsman or bowler’s average and their best score or figures.
Though, in doing all this and more, he wasn’t a man who demanded praise and on the contrary, conducted himself with a sense of modesty you’d find your elders talking about in referring to a world that existed long before the new-age bloating with shenanigans came about.
Very Test match cricket, not T20, so to speak. Quite the Jazz trumpet not the deafening sound of the metallic drum.
More Pontiac than Koenigsegg.
Though what made Peter Wynne-Thomas’ library like a multi-faceted kaleidoscope of cricketing knowledge was that it was tended to by a sense of versatility, without nation-worship or nationalism taking the centrefold.
As he once famously described it in his own words, “People kept donating books, it built up and up and up and has grown into the second largest cricket library in the world. In terms of books in one room, it is the largest. I never expected it to grow that fast.
“There is a shelf for every country, a shelf for every county, two or three shelves on how to play cricket, two or three shelves on the novels that have been written about cricket – so it’s multi-purpose.”
What he was glad about is that while other libraries in different countries mostly housed books about their own cricketing culture, the one at Trent Bridge addressed cricket from a global standpoint.
Today, as the man who was the keeper of the flame of one of cricket’s most important repository of knowledge is nowhere to be found, it can be said for certain, that the man who saw them all- whether Gubby Allen or Ian Botham- has left behind a lifetime of memories that beckons, among other things, a timeless narrative of its own.
In an age where with every forwarded WhatsApp, we are sadly drifting away into a land that knows (and cares) little about the simple pleasures of life, which to many are about striking an intimate relationship with a book, Peter Wynne-Thomas will always remind us about an age where holding a book in hand and visiting a library wasn’t some retro fashion statement.
But one fears, little will those understand who care to understand little.
Rest in peace, sir!