Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

England v Sri Lanka, second Test, Lord's, 2nd day

Piranha van, and Prior's flashes

A fan takes in the sights, sounds and sandwiches at Lord's

Scott Collen

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Tillakaratne Dilshan launched Sri Lanka's innings with a flurry of boundaries, England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Lord's, June 4, 2011
Tillakaratne Dilshan received the crowd's approval for his innings © Getty Images
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The sun beat the brim of my battered wide-brim hat as I emerged from the St John's Wood tube. "Tickets buying selling, tickets, buying, selling" accosted me. I had learned from last year waiting for my Dad by the touts could cause a small, accidental turf war.

Searches at the North Gate discovered I had not packed anything I intended to. Sharp implements, excessive amounts of alcohol or a flag.

Years of Lord's-going dictated the routine. Programme, piss, pie, pint. Once all had been achieved with the minimum fuss - apart from the programme because I had to stop to get Tuffers to sign it - we moved up to our seats. Upper Compton, row Q.

The northern boys seated behind gave us '"southerners" a thorough grounding on why it was good to shout "Gilbert" at Steven Finn and "put it on his half of the stick" to Stuart Broad.

The Fat Lad in front commanded two seats with only one ticket and one rump. His friend routinely napped beside him, intermittently going to the bar to buy Pimms. Fat Lad, while geographically challenging the surface area of the chair, was himself geographically challenged. Trying to locate a curry house, he outlined his map of London on the clear blue sky and correctly placed Lord's and Wembley on it. He went on to struggle with whether Brick Lane was south London and whether or not Waterloo was within walking distance. Apparently it was. Good luck guys - it's not.

An elderly couple to my left had come to the Test as a special treat for the husband who had had a stroke. This did not stop him giving billyo to the Sri Lankans and a sterling "cricket was better in my day" speech to a group of nonplussed children in front of him.

While England batted, the crowd was taking its coffee, mulling over whether, like a kid on a school trip, to eat the sandwiches straightaway.

By 12:30, most had decided to eat the scotch eggs and save the sarnies. Champagne corks had popped to mark the start of acceptable cricket drinking hours.

Dad, a 30-year-veteran of Lord's, attempted to broach the subject that I might like to go to some Twenty20. This is his way of saying, "I want to go to Twenty20 but your mother won't let me spend the money unless you come". I put my foot down. Twenty20 is frivolous, instant gratification which will only lead to the Americanisation of cricket. Not on my agenda to promote that. If the Yanks want in, learn to play properly, like a good former colony should.

Praise for the players only extends to the batsmen, Tillakaratne Dilshan, who on a batting track did what he should do: score runs, though not as quickly as the crowd would have liked. Paranavitana or Piranha-vitananana (courtesy witty northerners behind) was the man guilty of lulling a 25,000-strong cricket audience into submission. The leave is not a shot. Nor is it fun to watch - unless someone cocks it up, which he did, but not badly enough to be dismissed.

A special mention should go to Matthew Prior, who, in approaching his hundred, hit some of the ropiest and luckiest we saw; including several shots from the "if you're going to flash, flash hard" school of thought, as he edged, tickled and flashed his way past a century.

The afternoon session dragged as Piranha van (those northerners again) ignored everything that wasn't going to hit his stumps. The England pacers didn't help matters by agreeing with his plan and bowling outside off stump, although a fair few times it was outside leg stump too.

As I realised I'd burnt the tops of my knees from a day in the sun, the only thing I felt had been missing was the chance to watch kwik cricket on the outfield. All batsmen have one shot at that age, and last year one little girl only had the reverse-sweep in her locker. It was brilliant to watch.

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Scott Collen, 23, now of Streatham, formally of Cambridge, has attended a string of universities with varying degrees of success. Follow Scott on Twitter @shiftyhorse. There is a story why it's @shiftyhorse, but it's not one that can be divulged yet.

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Comments: 3 
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Posted by Dominic on (June 8, 2011, 23:10 GMT)

Loving the article! Want to read a piece by you at the T20 someday....

Posted by purav on (June 5, 2011, 23:55 GMT)

Wow,enjoyed your writing. T20 explaination was brilliant and 25k people enjoying test cricket is to be cherished. In Aus and England it is rare to find the species of Cricket Fanatic as the popular sports are Football and Rugby.But Cricket is always to be seen as a picnic and to be enjoyed. Good on ya,mate.

Posted by Mark on (June 5, 2011, 11:05 GMT)

haha. At a Glamorgan v Surrey championship game earlier in the season at Cardiff we got to see a father punishing his sons bowling all over the ground and the poor lad was running everywhere to retrieve the ball. Clearly the dad was not going to miss his chance to impress infront of the 600 people who weren't in the bar watching the Cardiff City match at lunch.

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