Trent Bridge silence Cooper's trumpet
The build-up to the start of the Ashes, already reaching a fevered pitch, now has its cause celebre, after several current and former England players took to Twitter to express their disgruntlement at the decision by Nottinghamshire not to let the Barmy Army trumpeter, Billy Cooper, play his instrument at Trent Bridge.
The first Investec Test will begin on Wednesday but the strains of Cooper's trumpet - playing "Jerusalem", or the Countdown theme music during a review - will be absent. Cooper revealed on Friday that he had been refused permission to play, tweeting: "Just to clarify that Trent Bridge have said I can't play at the 1st test. Very disappointed. ECB were supportive but it's up to the ground."
Kevin Pietersen called it an "absolute DISGRACE" on Twitter, while former England captain Michael Vaughan encouraged his followers to tweet the hashtag #LetBillyBlowhisTrumpet in an attempt to get the decision overturned. Matt Prior and Charlotte Edwards, the England women's captain, also voiced their support for Cooper, while the majority of fans were voting in his favour on ESPNcricinfo's poll.
Absolute DISGRACE that Trent Bridge have stopped our very vocal '12th man' @billbarmytrump from playing at 1st Ashes Test!— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) July 6, 2013
Cooper, a professional musician, has become a fixture with the Barmy Army group of supporters who follow England home and away, with his well-judged interludes becoming popular with spectators. On England's last Ashes tour of Australia, he was an audible presence at all five of the Tests and the decision to ban him four years earlier sparked similar controversy.
However, a Nottinghamshire spokesman said on Saturday that there were no plans to change the county's policy, which was in force in 2005 when England just held their nerve to beat Australia in the dramatic fourth Test. "It is not personal against him or his trumpet," he said. "It is just a long-standing policy position. There is no chance of a change of mind."