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Ale plus energy drink

The tournament has been a bracing mix of old and new

Fans cheer for Pakistan, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, ICC World Twenty20 final, Lord's, June 21, 2009
Lord's goes green like never before © Getty Images

Sunday's final began on a serene afternoon with the odd white cloud placed tastefully about the sky and just sufficient breeze to agitate the assembled flags and freshen the faces of spectators. But though the scene may have been idyllic and though we may be poised betwixt Royal Ascot and Wimbledon, this was no genteel county-themed snoozefest. The crowd at Lord's had come to have fun.

The face-painted and bewigged citizens who occupied the 28,500 seats made an awful lot of noise. Really, an awful lot. The racket that ensued when Tillakaratne Dilshan guided the ball to Shahzaib Hasan in the first over had the same impact in decibels as a space shuttle launch. Yet three hours later, with the game still undecided, murmuring silence reigned. Pakistani supporters lining the roof gardens of buildings off St John's Wood Road looked anxious, squinting into the fading sunlight, their green-and-white flags twitching fitfully in the evening stillness.

Tense, but not heartbreakingly so, this was a hard-fought game between well-matched competitors. A stirring start from Mohammad Aamer and Abdul Razzaq was met with Kumar Sangakkara's patience and guile. Then came a run-chase in which Pakistan painstakingly stalked the required rate. But, fatally, Sri Lanka could not lock down the irrepressible Shahid Afridi. When, in the 17th over, they ran out of world-class bowlers, Mr Boom Boom crashed a mighty six and a searing four and the throat-tightening tension eased.

In many ways the home of cricket is an odd venue for such a high-profile international game. Venerable, cramped and ornate, for the players it must be like playing in a museum foyer. But it is a museum that has accommodated many tourists over the years and today the elaborate stonework absorbed a battering of Pakistani joy. They were worthy winners. Falling to the turf to thank Allah for their success, they were humble in their moment of triumph, none more so than captain Younis Khan, a man who surely epitomises dignity.

And the tournament, well organised in an old-fashioned, unobtrusive kind of way, also managed to keep its dignity. Yes, there was music, but aside from a couple of wild nights at Trent Bridge, there was nothing to frighten your grandparents. Yes, there were dancers, but they wore astonishingly sensible clothes and were rarely on our screens. Yes there were commentators, but they were allowed to call DLF maximums by their traditional name. And I only saw Lalit Modi once.

It has been a bracing mixture of old and new; as though someone had poured an energy drink into a pint of English ale. And yet it turned out to be pleasantly palatable, with a satisfying aftertaste. Let's call it Blighty's Old Peculiar.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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