Three Days At The Lord’s Test, England v South Africa, 6, 7 & 9 July 2017

Day One – Thursday 6th July

This will probably be my last day of cricket at Lord’s with Alastair “Big Al DeLarge” Little, as he is due to emigrate to Australia in a few week’s time, as explained in my recent piece, Tragedy of Epicurean Proportions, click here.

It seems that Al’s culinary legacy was explained to the world recently via the BBC – click here to listen or download the Food Programme special about him.

I asked Al if he could do the central element of the picnic, as I knew I would be away in Brum for the few days leading up to this test.

Given that Al is temporarily a chef without a proper kitchen, I realised that this request might discombobulate him.  I emphasised that it needn’t be anything special, just easy-eating grub for the two of us at the cricket. Al doesn’t exactly need to prove to me that he can cook, does he? But a week before the outing I got a text from Al:

…does lamb cutlets sound like something to eat at the cricket?…”

…my reply…

…it does now!

So Al turns up with a wonderful centrepiece picnic meal of delicious lamb cutlets with a top notch potato salad and cold Keralan-style beans. Also some fine Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese and crackers. Plus a lightly-chilled Valpolicella.

My contribution was a very jolly Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc, a selection of fresh fruit and lots of water. The latter came in especially handy as this particular day was hot, hot, hot and our front row seats in the Lower Compton were in the sun all day.

We chatted at times with a couple of charming chaps who were sitting next to us…”irredeemably posh” as Al described them, although they spent most of the day elsewhere – drinking Pimms and eating posh nosh by their description.

Al and I discussed foody subjects rather a lot throughout the day. Why were we there?  Oh yes, cricket. We also talked about cricket.

England had a poor morning, from which they extricated themselves as the day went on.

I had some difficulty concentrating on the match until after tea, as I was also following the denouement of the Warwickshire v Middlesex match. I tried to be disciplined and only look once every half hour. But at one point I was providing a county cricket score service for MCC stewards, who aren’t allowed to look, so my “look rate” increased a little towards the end.

But the long last session had my undivided attention and in fact it was an excellent day of test cricket throughout, with England turning a poor position into a very good one by the end of the day.

Al and I walked together to Warwick Avenue, from whence Al tubed home and I walked.

A super day out.

Day Two – Friday 7th July

Today my guest was Charles “Charley The Gent Malloy” Bartlett. This time it was my job to do the picnic and Charley did the sweet stuff, wine and water. We agreed in advance that one bottle of wine would be enough for the two of us, not least after Charley’s wobbly denouement last time we met at Lord’s.

I went for a “Charley The Gent traditional” picnic, all of which I procured or ordered before I went to Brum; smoked Alaskan salmon bagels, prosciutto and manchego English muffins, selection of fruit (naturally including pears) and nuts.

In food terms, Chas is the very antithesis of Al – Chas takes some mysterious sort of pride in the fact that he cannot even boil an egg. Mercifully “Mrs Malloy” does good picnic for our Chelmsford adventures. 

But I digress.

Chas had arrived at Lord’s even earlier than me to avoid the gate crush and get through security in good time.

Experts pontificating

We were hoping to see the boy Root get a double-hundred and break records and stuff, but it wasn’t to be. Still, England built on its good position throughout the day.

Again the Lower Compton front row, again very pleasant, chatty neighbours. Posh, but not as irredeemably posh as the previous day’s neighbours.

Chas and I chatted about all manner of things, not least plans for the women’s world cup final and Edgbaston.

The day flew by. It was another very hot day in the sun, but not quite as hot as Thursday had been. The smaller quantity of drink helped.

Chas and I walked together to Warwick Avenue, but today I also took the tube, as I was going straight to Noddyland. Chas and I parted company at Oxford Circus, but not before Chas had made a joke about Janie probably waiting to hose me down before I’d be allowed into the house.

When I got to Noddyland, next door neighbour Marcie was in her front garden watering; I wondered (briefly) whether she has been stationed there to hose me down on arrival.

Day Four – Sunday 9th July

Daisy and I had a quiet day on the Saturday (playing tennis, massage, following the Lord’s cricket and the Wimbledon tennis). Daisy did much of the picnic preparation the night before. We had some very tasty roast pork that evening and Daisy cooked, along with the Saturday joint, a stash of very yummy mini sausages for our picnic.

The remainder of the picnic comprised of simple but tasty stuff; dips (mostly fishy ones – too many – we brought a few home), sourdough crispbread bites, carrots, tomatoes, grapes and some yummy thin biscuits. We took a fruity little Chardonnay-Viognier with us, plus a tiny bottle of Rioja for “just in case”/sun-downer purposes.

An easy, mostly pre-prepared picnic. So we were able to set off nice and early Sunday to secure decent seats in the new Warner Stand. The top level was full by the time we got there at 9:30 – it was full by 9:15, but in fact the seats we got on the lower level in row 9 were probably even better for us – sun until about 11:30, shady thereafter.

While waiting, watched the Saffers with big balls warming up

Very pleasant people all around us, including a family behind us I am sure were behind us the previous time we sat around that section of the Warner.

At lunchtime I took a stroll and met up briefly with Edwardian Cricket from the King Cricket website. Edwardian has volunteered to write a match report for KC, thank goodness.

At teatime Daisy and I took a stroll to meet Alan and Alex briefly. They were sitting in the same stand as us, but on the pavilion side rather than the Grandstand side.

England collapsed early in the day but I always felt that they had enough runs and that the Saffers would follow suit on that pitch, although not quite as dramatically as it turned out.

Saffers on the verge of collapse.

On leaving the ground, Daisy and I ran into Mr Johnny Friendly. I had already run into him on the Friday by the Tavern Stand loos – I always seem to run into him there – but this time gave us a chance to walk a while, chat and wait with Mr Johnny Friendly until his carriage (aka the No 414) arrived. Daisy and I then strolled a while before hailing a Hackney carriage.

When we got home, I found a message from Fran to say that she’d seen me and Daisy on the TV – she’d even confirmed same by winding back her Sky thingie – but she hadn’t thought to record or screen-grab us, so we’ll just have to take her word for it.

In the absence of Fran’s lack of screen grab from Sky, this double-selfie by Daisy must suffice.

We’d had a super day.  We hadn’t expected to see the match conclude on the Sunday, but we did – see scorecard. This enabled us to have a quite day at home Monday playing and then following the Wimbledon tennis, which was very good that day. I’d had a super few test match days, even the Day 5 with no cricket.

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