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From swinging London to Maco country

Our correspondent walks and buses the streets of the English capital, and then heads for the coast

Sidharth Monga

July 29, 2014

Comments: 3 | Text size: A | A

Ohh Ravi Jadeja © Getty Images

July 15
Like Jamna paar (other side of the River Yamuna) in Delhi, there is north of river and south of river in London. Makes for entertaining debates as to which is better. Stopping in the north right now, sitting in a café near Lord's, thinking of Dire Straits singing "Way on down south, way on down south, London town."

Some songs by non-London artists* that mention London, or parts thereof:
"Sultans of Swing", Dire Straits
"Every F***ing City", Paul Kelly
"London Thumakda", Amit Trivedi
"London by Night", Frank Sinatra
"Leaving London", Tom Paxton
"Night in London", Laxmikant Pyarelal

India and England are back in the nets after a day's break. Ishant Sharma, who was bowled leaving one alone at Trent Bridge, is seen taking tips from Virat Kohli, who tells him to move across before shouldering arms. Chris Martin would disapprove.

Time to start walking and tubing around London. Stumble upon, walking between Charing Cross and Embankment stations, a narrow lane. House where Rudyard Kipling lived for two years, between 1889 and 1891. Looks like an apartment building now; is called Kipling House, and has a blue plaque telling of Kipling's residence here.

July 16
Wandering cut short by news overnight that India have complained officially against James Anderson, who allegedly pushed Ravindra Jadeja while walking back for lunch on day two at Trent Bridge. India seem incensed that England consider this a tactical move designed to eliminate Anderson from series, losing Jadeja in the worst-case scenario. Pawn for knight. Can vouch MS Dhoni doesn't play his cricket this way. Spend afternoon trying to piece together information regarding incident. Players cagey. Legal matter now. Don't even get to experience famous slope of Lord's before Test.

Overheard in London: "Every video needs fat guys."

July 17
England win toss. Insert India. Bowl poorly, yet have them down at 145 for 7. Ajinkya Rahane plays a gem, scoring his second century, doubling score with last three wickets. On-driven six off Anderson stands out. As does patience early on in innings. India 290 for 9.

Walk into Waterstones bookstore near Piccadilly Circus to kill time. Cricket tours half about killing time. Realise later Waterstones used to be Simpsons, famous clothes store. The Beatles once stopped here, having arrived early for a radio show. Store let them sit in a private room, bringing them clothes for inspection. The Beatles later learned that was treatment reserved only for royalty. They spent hundreds of pounds that day, and made many visits later.

Busked song of the day: in Green Park tube station, a super-slow and lovely acoustic version of U2's "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of". About half of the busking in tube stations seems original material, though, with artists' CDs available for purchase.

 
 
Overhead in London: "I have accomplished my objective today." "What? To wake up?" In London, you wander and overhear.
 

July 18
Dhoni has been exceptional this series with his aggressive moves, but can't help not going for a catch between him and first slip. Beneficiary Gary Ballance goes on to score a century, but towards stumps India claw back with two leg-side half-volleys: Mooen Ali is lbw off one, Ballance edges other to Dhoni. England 219 for 6 against India 295.

Continue umpiring-stance inquest with David Lloyd, also once a professional umpire apart from former Test cricketer and lovable commentator - although not loved by Indian fans on Twitter. He umpired in the Dickie Bird era too. Is a bit more understanding of modern upright stances than Bird is. Tells of how umpires in that era used to watch no-balls at only one end closely. The only end that had cameras. Real reason for umpires going low in stance back then and its giving way to an upright one yet to be found.

July 19
Bhuvneshwar Kumar ends up with six wickets to restrict England's lead to just 24. M Vijay sets India's innings up with yet another exhibition of leaving balls outside off. Kohli, though, falls first ball, shouldering arms, not moving back foot across, exposing off stump, which Liam Plunkett hits. Did Ishant choose the right person to take tips on leaving from? India 169 for 4, lead by 145.

Back to Beatles town, in the general area of Soho. Walk through Carnaby Street, capital of '60s swinging London. Not the same once it became famous. So says a book. Broadwick Street toilets. Site of John Lennon's comedy sketch for the BBC in which the "Ad Lav" nightclub is a play on the name of the Ad Lib club. "Members only" quintessential toilet humour. Also apparently first time Lennon wore his now world-famous round glasses.

July 20
Ohh Ravi Jadeja. Crowd goes wild as Jadeja laces England attack for a 57-ball 68 to take India's lead past 300. Upon reaching 50 he unleashes a sword dance with his bat. Learn through colleague Andrew Fernando that the "Ohh Ravi Jadeja chant" is sung loosely to the tune of the guitar solo in The White Stripes' Seven-Nation Army. Not for nothing did Shane Warne say Jadeja was a rock star. England 105 for 4, chasing 319.

Overhead in London: "I have accomplished my objective today." "What? To wake up?"

In London, you wander and overhear.

July 21
Tense final day. Joe Root and Moeen work hard for almost entire first session before Ishant and Dhoni come up with a plan to bowl bouncers and run through England. Only India's second win at Lord's. Much joy for them. Not for Alastair Cook. Sky's Michael Atherton grills him at the post-match presentation, asking almost every question the public wants to ask. Indian commentators would be sacked if they asked similar questions of an India captain.

All England players wear sponsor Waitrose's caps during press conferences. Cook is wearing an England cap. Says he is not going anywhere until he feels tap on shoulder.

Stay back at Lord's until evening. Match finished soon after lunch but England players sit in balcony until 7pm. Cook and Stuart Broad first. Peter Moores and Anderson later. Then Moores and Broad. Soul searching? Wondering what's next? Asking if they are all in this together? Poignant moments.

Barely half an hour later, Matt Prior makes announcement he is sitting out rest of season. Has dropped catches, conceded byes, and his usual positivity with bat has only resulted in a fall. Cruel game. Best wicketkeeper-batsman last year. Liability an hour ago. Now a much cherished former servant of cricket. Think of Roy Harper's lyrics: "When an old cricketer leaves the crease / You never know when he is done."

Heard near Nursery Ground at Lord's: "Entertainer", played by what seems like a symphony band. Prior was one.


Malcolm Marshall in action, April 10, 1991
Malcolm Marshall: wasn't one for practical jokes Ben Radford / © Getty Images
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July 22
Have lo leave lovely London for Southampton. One last bit of overhearing in heavy traffic, while waiting at a bus stop: "They're like London buses." Guess what, they are London buses. Except you can't buy tickets for cash any more.

July 23
Southampton. University town. Harbour town. The Titanic sailed from here. Malcolm Marshall played here. Shane Warne did too. One should love this county. Except, the Ageas Bowl is in the middle of nowhere, and about a 40-minute drive from the city. Would do anything for London buses here. Instead, pay huge taxi fares.

The stadium in itself is wonderful, though. On a hill, yet flat, unlike Lord's. Reputed to be one of quickest pitches in England. Holding only its second Test. Hotel coming up along perimeter, which will let out rooms with a prime view of cricket once ready. Right now, though, its foyer seems to be the press box.

July 24
Michael Pain. Owns the cricket shop at the Ageas Bowl. Also new equipment brand called Funky. Has followed Hampshire cricket for over 30 years. Remembers many an evening drinking rum with Marshall, who played at the old ground, Northland Road. Plum housing complex now, in plum location. Marshall Square remains in the middle of it.

Pain got into the merchandise and equipment business along with John Crawley, former England and Hampshire batsman. His business partner now is Jim Laker's grandson, Jamie Harvey. Borrow a Funky bat from Michael to knock some in the evening. Promises he will rummage through his stocks to find as many 1992 World Cup jerseys as he can. Promises a discount too. Little joys.

July 25
Being a university town, Southampton has handed out honorary degrees to its legendary cricketers. David Gower is a Master of the Arts. Suits him. Warne a Doctor of Business Administration. Doesn't suit him. Will they get another Test if they gave a degree to Kevin Pietersen, who played here?

Run into Rahul Dravid. He says, "Ledge." Give incredulous look. Have never been called that. He points to Bob Dylan t-shirt, and says, "Mr Dylan. Legend." New side of Dravid. Not just love of Dylan, but use of what might be considered "cool lingo". Wonder how Dylan would react to being called "ledge".

July 26
More Marshall musings. This time with Tim Tremlett. Former Hampshire bowler. Now director here. Father of Chris. Says Marshall hardly ever got annoyed. Often it would be little things. Wasn't much of a one for practical jokes. Everybody knew how fastidious he was. One day a team-mate nicked his comb. At the start of the day's play, the whole team was outside but Marshall. Couple of minutes later, captain sends a player up to check. Furious, looking for his comb. Wasn't fun batting against him on days his team-mates played pranks on him.

* July 29, 05:17GMT: The mention of the band Dire Straits as a non-UK artist has been fixed

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by pragmatist on (July 29, 2014, 9:35 GMT)

By the way, Hampshire's old ground was at Northlands Road, not Northland Road...

Posted by Cricinfo-Editorial on (July 29, 2014, 5:20 GMT)

Thanks for pointing out the error re Dire Straits, Shom. It's fixed.

Posted by   on (July 29, 2014, 2:56 GMT)

Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler are from Newcastle-on-tyne, mate.

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