First-person reports from the stands
We picked the first Test of the summer mainly for the reasonable price of £35 to see a match at Lord's, and for a get-together of eight friends, some of whom have never been to a cricket match. We expected England to be comfortable, but were were intrigued to see how Bangladesh would handle the occasion.
Funnily enough, despite being an England supporter, I wanted Bangladesh to do well. I think it's important for Test cricket that emerging nations are encouraged to improve. A successful Bangladesh Test team is an advantage to cricket and I wanted them to do well at Lord's. But not too well. As it happened, they had a decent day all in all.
My filled-to-the-rafters cooler bag was surely the prize of the day. Pork pies, crab sticks, pate, spicy chicken wings, hummus, olives, pineapple chunks, chocolate brownies; it was a feast to behold. Combine that with seven other feasts and you had eight spectators who drank and ate like kings through the day.
Jonathan Trott played an exceptional innings. During the morning session, he got his fifty in 75 balls with an array of shots that had the stands purring with delight. Other than a nervous shot on 97, he looked completely untroubled, and scored freely throughout. A superb knock, demonstrating an assured presence at No. 3.
One thing I'd have changed
I thought if the drizzle and low clouds had been around a bit longer, they would have helped Bangladesh. Alastair Cook was trapped with a superb piece of bowling, and it looked like England could be in for a tough morning. However, the sun came out (for which we were more than happy as we sat in the front row of the south-facing Grand Stand) and England established their authority in favourable conditions with Andrew Strauss and Trott batting fluently and with consistency.
Bit of interplay I enjoyed
The moment of the day came when Mahmudullah thought he had Strauss caught off what looked to us a fantastic turning ball, which caught the bat's edge to slip; however, umpire Bowden saw otherwise. And as the team felt hard done by at not getting the wicket, Mahmudallah deceived Strauss with his next ball, getting him to play on to his stumps off a quicker one.
Filling the gaps
We filled every moment first dealing with the 75cl bottle of wine each of us was entitled to bring into the ground, followed by frequent visits to the Pimm's O'Clock bar. A jug of Pimms for £18.50 came with a £10 deposit for the jug. As an architect, I saw the opportunity to decant my Pimms jug into four pint glasses along with the cardboard carrier, thus retrieving my £10 deposit before departing. This was the trigger for everyone behind me to do the same. I felt a small victory was mine.
Tony in our party attempted a Godfather impression with a half-eaten Quorn scotch egg in his mouth. Such was the dryness of the quorn delicacy that Tony was able to manoeuvre the food into his lower mouth to complete one of cinema's greatest performances. As another of our party stated, he was Don Quorneloni.
Shot of the day
Trott's first straight-driven boundary towards the pavilion signalled what was to be a relentless onslaught from England's No. 3. He looked hungry, determined, confident, in control of all his shots, rarely troubled despite Bangladesh's best efforts.
It was a decent crowd for the occasion, about 60% full. Schoolchildren, packed in the lower tiers of the Edrich and Compton stands, cheered the players throughout. They were a credit to the game, and I hope they all enjoyed their day.
Tests v limited-overs
I love Test cricket. I love the fact a batsman isn't necessarily in a rush to get runs and a bowler can experiment with line and length through a day's play. The first day of this Test gave us four hard-fought wickets and nearly 400 runs, often hit with authority, from a confident England batting line-up. We left having enjoyed a competitive day and in the knowledge that the rest of this match would not be all England's. Limited-overs is often an exciting spectacle, however Tests still offer the real deal in the duel between bat and ball.
Banner of the day
Our photo was inadvertently taken below the "pedigree" sign at the back of the beer counter. We all smiled innocently, only later realising that the sign above was suggesting we were in some way of "pedigree".
It was a very good day's play for Test cricket. Four well-earned wickets, a big innings, lots of runs, and nice weather generally. There wasn't a lot more you could ask for. England played well but Bangladesh hung in there and put a lot of effort into their fielding throughout. I felt that despite England being in a strong position, Bangladesh should be encouraged by their performance.
Marks out of 10
9. For £35, this was a fantastic day spent with close friends in majestic surroundings, and wonderful cricket. The ECB must be congratulated on sensible ticket-pricing for this game. The same seats will cost £90 when Pakistan visit. I would encourage supporters to take up the cheaper tickets to fill the stands for the "lesser" games. Though there was nothing "lesser" about Bangladesh today.
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Scott Theobold is a 35-year-old architect and father of two children, soon to be three, living in Hove. He was a specialist third-man fielder, given little opportunity at school to demonstrate the awesome batting potential he knew he had. He supports Sussex and takes his son Eddie to Twenty20 games. In his spare time, he's a pretty good squash player.
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