Writers on the best day, session or passage of play they've seen live

England v West Indies, Lord's 2000

That golden Saturday

Ten years ago Lord's hosted a classic, when the crowd roared the staid ground to life and England to a win

Tanya Aldred

April 18, 2010

Comments: 4 | Text size: A | A

As the second Test against the West Indies comes to the end
The balcony rocks out for the winning runs Paul McGregor / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
Enlarge

For years my poor dad had been shelling out for tickets for the Saturday of the Lord's Test, only for the rain to fall, Australian tailenders to reveal hidden talents or England to dolefully, predictably, implode.

But on Saturday July 1, 2000, we watched just the greatest day's cricket, perhaps not strictly in terms of skill, but in febrile atmosphere and sheer joy.

We were nearly all there, my dad, three brothers (one soon to marry), two uncles, one aunt and four cousins, all knees together, with cheese sandwiches, red chicken, damp lettuce, Eccles cakes, white wine and fat newspaper supplements that balanced, then disappeared, down the back of the white flip-up chairs.

The ground was packed. They'd queued from before seven with picnics, cushions, blazers, scorecards, pacamacs and umbrellas. The atmosphere? Nervous. On the Friday, Caddick, Cork and Gough had bowled West Indies out for 54 and England were now left to score 188, but on a still seaming pitch and against Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, both playing their final Tests at Lord's.

The ground still had a reputation for staidness. But this was the day the crowd shook off their chains. As England squeezed closer, a sort of mass hysteria crept over us all. Every run was roared, every block, miss, survival. Superstition blossomed both in the crowd and on the balcony, binoculars trained on Matthew Hoggard, on Test debut, last man in, showed a man facing the guillotine.

A win seemed impossible, unlikely, when Ramprakash fell for 2. Ambrose beat Atherton again and again, but somehow he and Vaughan crept to a partnership of 90-odd, until Walsh snaffled them both. Neither Hick, Stewart, White or Knight could do quite enough, and at 160 for 8 all that spent emotion seemed to have been wasted.

But there was still Cork, with a swagger to his walk and some va-va-voom up his sleeve. A six off Franklyn Rose, a four off Walsh, ratcheted up the atmosphere, and he and Gough - a walk-on-part - pushed towards the target until, at last, Cork triumphantly drove Walsh through the covers. And it was over.

The crowd, punch drunk, wandered down to an outfield suddenly bathed in midsummer sunshine. A thousand flashbulbs went off. England were on their way to regaining the Wisden trophy for the first time in 27 years. A golden day.

Tanya Aldred lives in Manchester. She writes occasionally for the Guardian

RSS Feeds: Tanya Aldred

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by allblue on (April 19, 2010, 17:35 GMT)

It was a great day. I'd been regretting not getting a ticket for the Friday, which uniquely, had a bit of all four innings but the Saturday was tremendous. It exemplified why Test cricket is king. Every ball had incredible tension, and I don't think there is another sport that can maintain such tension over so long a period. Every time the pressure eased, a wicket fell, and it was an brilliant nerve-wracked atmosphere. You had to hang on till the end of the over to take a breath! In the context of being a year after England's nadir, that debacle against New Zealand, the significance of the victory was huge. It was the start of an ascent for England that culminated at the Oval five years later with the Ashes. Unfortunately, for the Windies it was the start of a slide from which they still haven't recovered.

Posted by Christy1268 on (April 19, 2010, 10:12 GMT)

@ demon_bolwer - "the end of 15 years or more of cricketing mediocrity" - did mediocrity for the English cricket really end then ... ?

Posted by demon_bowler on (April 18, 2010, 20:47 GMT)

That match was the real beginning of the Hussain-Fletcher partnership and the end of 15 years or more of cricketing mediocrity for England. It was an enthralling game and a fitting match for the 100th test to be staged at Lord's.

Posted by Badgerhair on (April 18, 2010, 14:23 GMT)

There may have been roaring for each run and each block in the last 30-40 minutes, but what I most remember about the day was the tense silence. Even the usual hum of conversation was stilled. Talking in the stands, the crowd seemed to feel, was liable to disturb the concentration of the England batsmen. Superstition reigned: the first time one of my group went to the bar to get drinks, a wicket fell, so thereafter no-one was allowed to leave their seat unless a wicket had just fallen and there was time to buy drinks while the new batsman made his way to the crease and took guard.

Comments have now been closed for this article

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Tanya AldredClose
Tanya Aldred Tanya fell in love with cricket during England's Ashes-winning summer of 1985. She went on to be features editor at Wisden Cricket Monthly and a regular-ish contributor to the Guardian. She once hit a six over a sea wall on the Isle of Wight.

    The return of Bob Simpson

Rewind: When the 41-year-old former captain came out of retirement to lead Australia against India

    Ranji in Ireland, Hazare in Mumbai

Subash Jayaraman's cricket world tour takes in Dublin, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai

    A year of triumph and disaster

Martin Crowe: Misbah, McCullum, and the ICC's efforts against chucking were the positive highlights in a year that ended with the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death

    Two fortresses called Brisbane and Centurion

Numbers Game: Australia haven't lost at the Gabba since 1988, while South Africa have a 14-2 record in Centurion

Why Steven Smith's here to stay

Russell Jackson: He has experienced captaincy at every level. Most admirably, he has managed to reinvent his game to succeed at the highest level

News | Features Last 7 days

The perfect Test

After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.

Kohli attains batting nirvana

Virat Kohli's innings on the final day transcended the conditions, the bowlers and his batting partners, and when it was all in vain, he displayed remarkable grace in defeat

What ails Rohit and Watson?

Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena

Hazlewood completes quartet of promise

Josh Hazlewood has been on Australian cricket's radar since he was a teenager. The player that made a Test debut at the Gabba was a much-improved version of the tearaway from 2010

Australia in good hands under proactive Smith

The new stand-in captain has the makings of a long-term leader, given his ability to stay ahead of the game

News | Features Last 7 days

    BCCI's argument against DRS not 100% (164)

    Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100%, is not good enough

    Karn struggles to stay afloat (114)

    The failed gamble of handing Karn Sharma a Test debut despite him having a moderate first-class record means India have to rethink who their spinner will be

    Kohli attains batting nirvana (110)

    Virat Kohli's innings on the final day transcended the conditions, the bowlers and his batting partners, and when it was all in vain, he displayed remarkable grace in defeat

    When defeat isn't depressing (57)

    After a long time we have seen an Indian team and captain enjoy the challenge of trying to overcome stronger opposition in an overseas Test

    What ails Rohit and Watson? (53)

    Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena