England v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test Days Two, Three and Five, Lord’s, 10, 11 & 13 June 2016

This was on Saturday
This was on Saturday

Friday

Day Two of the test match. My companions/guests are Ian Theodoreson, Chris Harrison and Mark Yeandle (aka Iain Spellright, Escamillo Escapillo and Uncail Marcas).

The picnic bears more than just a passing resemblance to the fare I provided on the Thursday. This time I brought a bottle of Giesen Riesling rather than Villa Wolf.

However, I have agreed to play real tennis at 18:00, so it is part of my personal master plan not to eat and drink too much on this day. As I had so much stuff to bring (including my kit) I got a taxi to the ground this morning. In any case, walking with a picnic for four really is a bit too much for the poor old arms.

The East Gate was absolutely clear as I arrived – very easy entry. I wandered round to the tennis court to drop off my kit. I ran into Paul Cattermull there, who was fearful of rain today. I said that I didn’t think it would rain, so he introduced me to his pals as a forecaster who doesn’t trust forecasts. Anyway, on this occasion it didn’t rain.

We saw good cricket today. The picnic went down well with this group; supplemented by some delicious cherries (thank you, Iain Spellright) and Uncail Marcas’s famous local strawberries close to if not at their full-flavoured best. The others made up a bit for my low wine intake, especially as they all had a beer as well. Most of my bottle of Giesen survived for another day.

All of them were keen to get away a little before stumps, so we actually left our seats as a group at around 17:40 and parted company.

While I had been careful to drink very little and moderate my eating, especially the last hour or two, I realised that my body doesn’t move quite as well as it should after a day of sitting and watching cricket. In particular, my serve lacked the rhythm I have started to find for it. Still, I got better as the hour went on and my opponent (whom I hadn’t played for several weeks) felt that my game had come on markedly since we last played.

Taxi home – I got there about 19:40 – Janie turned up soon after – her late afternoon/early evening with Charlotte had gone well. Janie had walked home through Kensington Gardens, feeding birds from close quarters on the way.

Tuppence a bag?
Tuppence a bag?

Early night.

Saturday

Day Three of the test match. Just me and Janie today. The picnic bears more than just a passing resemblance to the fare I provided on the Thursday and Friday; indeed Friday’s bottle of Giesen made a return trip, together with a fine Villa Maria Clifford Bay.

A taxi nice and early (about 9:30/9:40) to secure decent seats. The temporary steward at the Grace Gate beefs about my returning bottle of Giesen as there is apparently a rule (unwritten as far as I know) about bottles that have already been opened, just in case someone smuggles in hard liquor that way. If I wanted to smuggle in hard liquor I think I’d find a better method than a disguise as a half-drunk bottle of wine from yesterday. The steward relented.

We wander round to the Grandstand (the Warner is still under construction) and I surmise correctly that our best bet is entrance B – neither the nearest from Grace Gate nor nearest from the North Gate. We found a couple of seats by the aisle just three rows back.

Good cricket today. Here’s the scorecard from the match – it should be in this piece somewhere – why not here?

My Stokes effort shows a playing cricketer in the background too
My Stokes effort shows a playing cricketer in the background too

We got chatting with the people next to us. Christian, a barrister originally from my neck of the woods (Notting Hill Gate) and clearly still nostalgically attached to it, but now he lives in Cardiff and was there with a bunch of his Taffy mates. Nice bunch. Chatting to Christian was like spending the afternoon at a university debating society, except with test match cricket at Lord’s to watch while you debate. Mercifully there were no donkeys around to have their hind legs argued off.

Unusually, we stuck it out until the very end today. No hardship doing that when walking home via the Grace Gate.

Monday

Followed the match by radio/TV at the house after playing modern tennis Sunday. We were lucky to get our game of (modern) tennis in on that rainy day; the cricket was curtailed to about half a day.

On Monday, I drove home, dumped my things and then went to Lord’s by tube/foot to play real tennis. The weather forecast for the hours of (cricket) play was iffy, but the weather was gloomy but dry when I arrived at Lord’s.

I had a good game of real tennis, then (well prepared) hunkered down with my backlog of reading matter in the hope of seeing cricket. The weather flattered to deceive at times and we did get a few overs of play, but the main feature of the day for me was to catch up on my magazine reading before grabbing a taxi home in the damp gloom.

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