Pragmatic victory for MCC on nostalgia-filled day
MCC XI 296 for 3 (Finch 181*, Chanderpaul 37*) beat Rest of the World XI 293 for 7 (Yuvraj 132, Collingwood 40)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In the end, there was no Sachin Tendulkar hundred, no Brian Lara classic. The sun did not shine until it had begun to set and Shane Warne did not bowl. The contemporary cricketers showed the old stagers that reputations count for little. Thomas Lord, a wheeler-dealer who considered moving his now-famous cricket ground for a third time during the 1800s and had to be bought out of his stake, might have approved of the lack of sentiment.
Tendulkar's MCC XI won the match, in honour of the Lord's bicentenary, though the Marylebone Cricket Club was always going to be the winner on this occasion. Warne, the Rest of the World captain who had been feeling the love all week during the build-up, felt something more acute on arriving at the crease to bat, his first delivery a beamer from Brett Lee, his old Australia team-mate, possibly a few clicks slower than in his pomp but still a dangerous prospect.
A broken hand kept Warne off the field during the chase, depriving a capacity crowd of one of the most tantalising of the many sights they came to revel in.
There were still flashes of genius, though the more prosaic business of scoring runs and taking wickets was largely carried out by those still plying their trade. Aaron Finch's unbeaten 181 guided MCC home, trumping a flowing century from Yuvraj Singh. Without Warne, the Rest of the World were quiescent, Paul Collingwood their most penetrative bowler. If Tendulkar had not decorously chosen to rest Saeed Ajmal after his initial burst of 4 for 5, the party may have ended early.
At the start of the MCC innings, having been set a target of 294 on an accommodating pitch, the concourses emptied. "Sachin is about to bat." One punch down the ground from a fractionally full Peter Siddle delivery confirmed the touch was still there. Silence descended when he played back to Muttiah Muralitharan, on 44 from as many balls, and missed. Murali cracked a mischievous grin.
When Collingwood removed Lara and Rahul Dravid with successive deliveries it was left to Finch and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to hammer out victory on the anvil of pragmatism. The romantics may have experienced just a touch of disappointment.
The players took the field in old-fashioned whites and MCC cable-knit sweaters, with only the colours of their caps - Tendulkar's XI in dark blue, Warne's wearing canary yellow - to distinguish sides. While the sky above was grey, Lord's itself was a palette of colour, from elderly gents in egg-and-bacon ties, young men in red trousers and tweed, to windcheater-clad families and numerous fans wearing India shirts.
Lord's is glibly referred to as the home of cricket but there was something especially welcoming about the atmosphere. After 200 years of hosting MCC matches, the doors were thrown wide open.
As exhibition fixtures go, this was one that promised much in the way of artistry. Warne had joked beforehand that he didn't much fancy having another bowl at Tendulkar or Lara - and Lee ensured sure he didn't have to - but a full house was keen to see famous rivals locking horns again, even if the pervasive goodwill inevitably diminished the intensity.
Lee charging in to Virender Sehwag was just the stuff; Finch tossing up his occasional left-arm spin to Collingwood perhaps less so. This was not so much getting the band back together as asking several different bands to recombine and try to master a diverse selection of hits. The innings of Yuvraj and Finch aside, it was not quite "All the Old Showstoppers" by the New Pornographers; but like the Rolling Stones - or the strolling bones - this gig was always going to pull the crowds in.
Before the match had even begun, people thronged the cordoned-off walkway from the Nursery Ground nets, smartphones held aloft in tribute. Lara's passage caused a palpable ripple, before vigorous chants of "Dravid! Dravid!" broke out at the appearance of Sachin's old mate.
The game was hymned by a contented buzz around the ground, the most intense applause reserved for any Tendulkar activity - though the two individual century-makers brought large sections of the crowd to their feet. It was Tendulkar who ended Yuvraj's six-studded stay, having brought himself on to bowl in the last ten overs. After the match, as Tendulkar signed autographs in front of the Tavern Stand, one of the advertising hoardings gave way beneath the press of bodies. No wonder he feels at home here.
There was also a warm reception for Kevin Pietersen, a batsman who craves full-house approbation but whose only England role nowadays is as a member of the The Expendables. A stroke-filled hundred may have caused embarrassment for the ECB on their own patch - even before Andrew Strauss' indiscretion in the Sky commentary box - but Pietersen walked past an Ajmal doosra to be stumped for 10.
As Ajmal ran through the top order, it seemed likely the MCC would have to hastily arrange a beer match to fill the time left in the day (at Lord's, it would of course be a champagne match). Tendulkar took pity and brought on Finch to bowl, easing Yuvraj and Collingwood into a stand that eventually yielded 131.
Lee began proceedings at a sedate 70mph, that winsome smile never far away. Adam Gilchrist's rapier-like flashes through the off side were accompanied by some firm punches from Sehwag - as well as the odd play-and-miss - and the fifty opening stand was raised inside seven overs.
Sehwag, wearing his now customary spectacles, was beaten through the gate as Lee warmed up to medium pace, before Ajmal's introduction triggered a slide to 68 for 5. This may have been a birthday celebration but Ajmal was in no mood to clown around, sinuously defeating each of Gilchrist, Tamim Iqbal, Pietersen and Shahid Afridi in the space of three overs. The situation called for something a little less starry; out strolled "Brigadier Block".
Collingwood was dropped on 29 by a substitute fielder - an MCC Young Cricketer named Jordan Price, who will always be able to tell his grandchildren that he shelled a dolly in front of the grandstand. Yuvraj, still short of his hundred, then survived a thin nick that Chris Read could not hang on to. When a Yuvraj top edge fell between a non-moving Finch and a slow-moving Lara in the covers, the sense that this was a glorified club match returned. But what is life without a little glory?
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick