First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
I picked this game last winter as soon as the tickets went on sale. I wanted to see a Lord's Test and see some of the best players in the world come together in a potentially explosive and series-shaping day of cricket. But that wasn't quite how it turned out.
The rain, unfortunately. After a very steady 49 overs, it felt like things were about to happen. A jumpy Kevin Pietersen was battling his desire to launch Harbhajan Singh into the stands, while the run-machine Jonathan Trott was picking up the pace. Ian Bell was due next, with his silky smooth strokes, and Eoin Morgan was practising his reverse-sweeps in the changing rooms. Alas, the rain struck before the story unfolded.
One thing I'd have changed
Waitress service. Not just to save ourselves trips for beer, food and ice-cream, but so everyone else on our row could do the same, and therefore not keep having to ask us to stand up to let them past. It was more like an exercise class than a cricket match sometimes.
Interplay I enjoyed
Between the spectators and stewards. Although unfailingly friendly and polite, the stewards seemed to have developed an obsessive-compulsive ticket-checking disorder. Being on the top tier of a stand, we had to pop downstairs if we wanted to get anything to eat or to use the toilet etc. When we returned five minutes later, the steward we'd just passed asked to see our ticket. Then when we got to the top of the stairs, another one had to see it again! What did they think happened between the bottom of the stairs and the top? The worst was when people were balancing their beer carriers while trying to find their tickets - one man lost all four pints when they slipped from his grasp while he tried to get the ticket out of his pocket. Oh how he laughed as £18 worth of beer ran down the drain. At least he had his hands free to show his ticket to the steward at the top of the stairs.
Filling the gaps
During the lunch break we watched the kids play Kwik Cricket, and witnessed the first and only sixes of the day. We also saw some very dubious bowling actions that were clearly more than 15 degrees of bend in the elbow - about 75 degrees more.
At lunch I made my choice of food purely by length of queue than taste. The system worked well, as within 15 minutes I had pie, chips, peas and gravy of no little quality.
While on the subject, I can confirm that despite stiff global competition, the snack of choice for the nation's Test match spectators remains the humble, yet great, British pork pie.
When the umpires walked onto the field, we finally knew we had beaten the forecasts and were going to see some cricket. Either that or my first mouthful of steak-and-ale pie.
Lord's just has a different crowd to any other Test match venue in the UK. Blazers and ties sit next to t-shirts and shorts, panama hats next to baseball hats, champagne flutes next to cans of lager - all bonded by the love for the game.
The wine and beer were out of the coolboxes before the covers were off, and the next few hours were punctuated by the reassuring pop of champagne corks. One gentleman misjudged his champagne a little, spilling some all over the floor. Another spectator mopped it up with his copy of the Financial Times.
Lord's is to be commended for treating grown-ups like grown-ups and allowing spectators to take in a reasonable amount of alcohol, unlike other Test grounds. This indulgence is rewarded by spectators enjoying their drinks and having their fun but never letting anything become unsavoury.
The best entertainment during the rain break was a group of young lads playing cricket under the stands and using an umbrella as a bat. You had to admire their ingenuity but wonder if their parents would be so pleased next time it rains.
The authorities seem to be trying harder than before to keep spectators happy, but still they drive us mad sometimes. There was no reason to delay the start until 11.30am today. It should have been 11.15 at the latest. Then, after three hours waiting, we were all geared up for a resumption for an hour at 6.30pm but three small drops of rain fell at 6.26, so the covers went back on and because the restart hadn't happened by 6.30pm the day's play was called off. That's the regulations, you see. Never mind the fact that they could have started at 6.35pm and played for 55 minutes. I think the 10,000-15,000 spectators who had waited three hours in the rain would have appreciated that.
The cricket was absorbing but we were robbed of half the day and a potentially fascinating passage of play. Being there, though, was a pleasure - to experience the ebb and flow of play, the warm embrace of Lord's, even the rhythm of each delivery: the hum as the bowler walks back, the rising "Wooaaahh…" of anticipation as he runs in, a crescendo followed silence as he delivers, and an "Ooohhh" as it passes the outside edge. Then the hum begins again.
Marks out of 10
7. Damn you, rain.
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