But in the week leading up to that historic match, it felt as though I had more runs than England’s record runs. You know what I mean. It started with, I thought, indigestion in the early hours of the previous Tuesday and built from there. I’ll spare you the details, dear reader.
Not a good idea ahead of a bank holiday/birthday weekend; especially one where you are due to go to Lord’s on the Saturday.
On the morning of Lord’s itself, around 8:00, at the flat, Janie and I more or less gave up the idea of venturing to Lord’s at all. But I didn’t feel poorly over the next hour or so, therefore we hatched a plan to get a limited form of the picnic ready at a gentle pace, watch the first hour or so on the TV at the flat and see how I feel.
Indeed, by 11:30 I felt that England were very well placed and that we’d be able to cab it and just stroll in to Lord’s without queues or stress. I was grateful to myself for having impulse bought those front row seats I spotted on the on-line system, as the rover/membership pass route might have been a bit awkward in terms of getting half-decent seats at that hour.
To be honest, the match/crowd lacked atmosphere to a greater extent than I can remember at Lord’s for a long time. A sense of inevitability and the cricket being secondary. Very different crowd sitting near us, compared with the test crowd in the same seats. Unfriendly to say the least.
King Cricket readers straying here might, due to KC’s obsession with the champagne corks at Lord’s – for context click here – be interested in my cork report. Just one lone cork sitting on the patch of grass in front of us where, just a few months before, there had been a veritable sea of corks. The MCC instructs its members and customers not to project their corks onto the pitch; those members and customers obey. That’s what stewardship of the laws and spirit of cricket can achieve. Makes me feel proud that Lord’s is my local.
We met up with The Friends for a while in the Coronation Garden towards the end of the innings interval, which was a very pleasant interlude for us. They asked us to join them for the second half of the match – they had a spare rover for Janie, but we thought better of it, especially as I wasn’t sure that I could cope with much more and I sensed that Janie wasn’t desperate to stay much longer.
So, we went back to our seats, watched for another hour or so, convinced ourselves that the Root/Morgan partnership was a winning one and so chose to leave once Morgan was out.
Despite eating little and drinking nothing but water, I still felt pretty rough the next day, which is a bit of a bummer on your birthday but these things happen.
Janie’s healing skills got me better by bank holiday Monday, much of which we spent in the Brent Cross Apple Store trying to heal Janie’s very sickly iPhone. Apple chose to replace said phone, which was a good result, but frankly this was a bank holiday/birthday weekend to forget.
I started to suspect that all would in fact be well when Chas wrote, 10 days or so before the event:
“I need to see how my first car drive goes on Saturday, I also need to talk to ‘Razor’ and ‘Knuckles’ both Essex members as they offered to take my tickets off me…if I didn’t recover in time – let me see how the drive goes over the weekend and how they respond to the disappointment.”
Razor and Knuckles sound like absolutely delightful company; indeed possibly preferable to the original candidates for the roles…
A week later, it became clear that Razor and Knuckles were set to remain in their Essex lairs; Chas again:
To confirm I’ll be bringing some 1st day food up with me on Wednesday. Dot’s happy to provide some sandwiches – corn beef and mustard on soft white and egg mayonnaise on soft white. I have some other stuff (old favourites) and some (new stuff) that looks ok, too!
In fact, Dot’s first day sandwich feast also included heaps of ham on brown and cheese on brown too. We struggled…in a good way, saving most of the other less perishable delicacies (Harish and I had also brought quite a few of those) for the later days.
We were all at the ground in time for the toss. Nigel was smarting a bit, in part because the walk was perhaps a bit much for his knees, in part through the indignity of having his minimally-concealed Shiraz-in-a-flask seized at the gate.
I had determined in any case to enjoy the Edgbaston cricket dry during the day again this year, making space for a glass or two in the evening.
The three days of cricket were wonderful. At the end of day one we were all unsure whether England had scored enough runs. At the end of day two we were sure they hadn’t and that Pakistan were close to total control. At the end of day three we knew that England had all-but wrested control back from Pakistan.
We played our traditional sweepstake game all three days; this year, unusually, Harish swept the board, especially on one of the days. I wanted him tested for performance enhancing substances but Harish mysteriously failed to turn up for the tests.
Harish and I were keen to walk to and from the hotel each morning and evening. After that first morning, Nigel bowed out of the walk until the Friday evening. On one of our walks, I think it was Friday morning, Harish and I had a very interesting chat about music. We schemed a tabla/ukulele jam for next time but struggled to work out whether some of Harish’s favourite tabla rhythms could possibly work with western tunes, which are usually relentlessly 4/4 or occasionally 3/4 time signatures.
I tried the slow-cooked lamb shank this time, while Nigel and Chas shared the full works of grills. Harish tried one of the vegetarian stews. Again, all the trimmings were wonderful, not least the amazing aubergine and mango sauce (not really a chutney, or at least not a sour chutney), which was new to me because, as we were proudly informed by the (other) son who looked after us this time, that sauce is his mother’s own recipe. To paraphrase Nigel’s eloquent recollection in the comments section from our previous visit, that makes it our sort of place.
On the Friday, all of us but Nigel headed home after the day’s play; in Harish’s and my case via the hotel, which had kindly offered safe custody to our vehicles, baggage and (in my case) Benjy the Baritone Ukulele. Nigel swore on the way home that he wouldn’t eat a thing that evening after three days of feasting and it seems he kept his word – Nigel’s subsequent e-mail report:
My plans for a quiet evening on Friday were ruined by Sharon and Kev’s engagement celebration in the hotel function suite, that really did feel like it was taking place in the next room. After the three day grazing, I took the unsolicited advice barely audible from a Ukulele shaped bag suggesting it wouldn’t harm that big bloke to miss a meal or two. That thing does have attitude.
In short, the whole trip was a great success. It’s a bit difficult to explain how or why spending several days with old friends doing so little can be so satisfying and relaxing, but it is. I guess the whole idea of five day cricket is hard to explain to the uninitiated. Nigel again, writing on the Sunday morning, just before the start of Day Five:
We have once again enjoyed a fascinating Test match, which only really began to be resolved during the last session. Into the fifth day and it is still compelling. It would be impossible to explain that to the Georgian Cabbie, seen to register disbelief at Charles’ response to “who won?” at the end of day one.
DJ was my guest on the Friday. I made the picnic and set off on my trek even earlier today, as I wanted to drop some Lord’s Throdkins off at the Middlesex office. I shall probably write a separate piece on the progress of The Lord’s Throdkin as a “thing” for King Cricket – click here for the recipe and story of the delicacy’s origins.
DJ was bang on time for the start of the game. Minor adaptations to the picnic for DJ, as he doesn’t like anything with butter in it, so (for example) I went for conventional smoked salmon with cream cheese bagel to avoid the need for butter.
Even more so than the Thursday – reported here – the day just seemed to whizz by. We did talk about the political situation a bit. Also about mutual friends and family, although when Janie asked me “did you discuss such-and-such” the answer was usually “no, DJ and I don’t really talk about that sort of thing”. We did talk about music a fair bit and both noted down some tunes to work on ahead of our next jam in a few weeks time.
I had promised DJ that I would show him the real tennis court after stumps. This I did, but was gutted to find that no-one was playing during that 18:00-19:00 slot – what a bunch of wastrels – I played during that hour on the Friday of the Sri Lanka test match! No matter. I showed DJ the court and tried to explain the game to him; I’m sure there’ll be another occasion.
Janie wanted mostly shade, so we (I) did some trigonometry and worked out where we could sit that would lose the sun by virtue of the lower tier canopy quite early, without being too deep in the bowels of the back of the stand. It worked – see photo above, taken by a kindly gentleman sporting a fair bit of egg and bacon-coloured clothing.
Soon enough the Lord’s fresh air and ambience weaved its magic on us and soothed our sore heads.
Janie’s picnic was based around mini sausages and meatballs, with carrot sticks, tomatoes and dips. We hadn’t had that style of picnic for a good while, as until this day I have been the picnic monitor so far this season.
We took two bottles of white with us but, mostly as a result of the excesses of the previous evening, eked out one bottle and took the other bottle home with us.
In any case, Janie and I had very much enjoyed our day. We had booked Monday off as a precautionary measure, so we were now free to do those other things on our list, ahead of going to Southwark for a Monday evening concert at the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which I shall report upon soon enough.
Simon Jacobs joined me at Lord’s on the first day as a result of Charley “The Gent” Malloy’s indisposition.
I had secured the same front row of the Lower Compton seats for this day as I had on Day One of the Sri Lanka test a few weeks ago. I walked all the way, using my new “temporary rucksack” method strapping my picnic bags equally weighted on my back and got to Lord’s nice and early. I chatted for a while with a gentleman neighbour who had similarly booked the same seats for both Thursdays.
Simon phoned me just before the game started to say that he was queuing outside and arrived at his seat having missed two overs, no runs and no wickets.
At one point, I warned Simon that he would need a pseudonym for my King Cricket reporting and Ogblog purposes. I even offered him a chance to select his own pseudonym, but that point soon got lost in other conversation.
Towards the end of the day, the conversation turned to Simon’s godson, who has recently moved to London to live and work, so Simon is now able to see a lot more of the young man.
“The only problem is the Generation Y language”, said Simon. “Example. I sent him a text arranging to take him out for a meal and the reply came back:
…I’m not sure about my name being abbreviated to Simo and I am sure that the adjective ‘awesome’ is excessive for such a small matter.”
“Good point, Simo”, I said. “What adjective would the lad use if something genuinely awe-inspiring were to happen to him?”
“Exactly”, said Awesome Simo.
We then tried to banter a bit in young-person speak, but we were terrible at it. “Wicked”, “warped”, “sick”…it was a peculiar amalgam of yoof slang expressions from the 1990’s up to around 2010. We all-but admitted defeat…
…it was just a few overs before stumps and Awesome Simo had to leave, so our conversation continued by text, at least in the matter of keeping Simo appraised on the match. A few minutes after he left, a text from me to Simo:
Wkt Woakes awesome Simo
A few minutes later, me to Simo again:
Final ball wkt Woakes again totes amazeballs
As I was walking home, a text from Awesome Simo to me:
Wow amazing thanks again for like totally the best day EVER
…”why not? Yes, by all means put my name in the ballot for pairs of debenture returns”…
…led to a very polite letter from the MCC, letting me know that, if I had really meant it, there were indeed ballot returns available for me, both for the last regular Sunday of the tournament and for this finals day.
“That would be absolutely spiffing,” I inferred, not by using those exact words, but by ticking some more boxes and writing a fairly substantial Gregory Peck.
Excellent value for my minimal effort and the money.
We had similar debenture seats for finals day as we had for the previous Sunday, just a little more central in the Grandstand. As the previous week, we were sitting very close to John McCririck. Actually, the previous week we had sat close to…”you know, that eccentric bloke who does racing, adverts and stuff on the TV”. I had to Google him between time to discover his name.
We certainly wanted to see the women’s World Twenty20 final – that was a big part of the excitement for us, especially as England had qualified for the final. So we set off in good time to catch the start of the first match – this also enabled us to avoid any crush at the gates. Daisy did the picnic again, I’m pretty sure, as we were in Sandall Close that weekend. I think she went more for a bangers and nibbles picnic this time, with the previous week’s having been a more sandwich-based affair. But it might have been the other way around.
On finals day, it was the England bowling that shone through – taking advantage of morning conditions to bowl. Not an enormous crowd for the women’s final, sadly, but a decent number of us turned up to support. The ground started to fill up as the match progressed.
It was a great feeling to witness live the England Women win a World Final at Lord’s.
For the men’s final, what had been the empty seat next to mine was taken by a young Asian gentleman from Birmingham who was supporting Pakistan. He got more and more excited as the match unfolded and was in a state of great euphoria by the end.
In truth, it wasn’t a very exciting match. The Sri Lankan score always seemed below par and at no point did the Sri Lankan bowlers seem capable of containing the Pakistan batsmen.
We left Lord’s and wandered over to Harry Morgan’s to wait for a cab in comfort with a coffee. Cars were driving around St John’s Wood hooting horns, hollering Urdu chants and waving Pakistan flags. I don’t suppose the residents of NW8 had ever seen anything like it before.
Thus ended my four days at Lord’s in less than a fortnight (which started here). I must say that these short-form International cricket matches make so much more sense to me in the context of a multi-country tournament than they do when they are simply a string of bilateral matches. I had enjoyed a couple of excellent midweek days with friends and a couple of super Sundays with Daisy. Well satisfied, I was.
This visit, on the Friday, was with Ian Theodoreson. I first met Ian when he was at Save The Children and I was on my first assignment for Binder Hamlyn. We’ve kept in touch, on and off, ever since. In June 2009, he was about to join or had just joined the National Church Institutions from Barnardos.
This was a very enjoyable day at Lord’s. Our tickets were on the Warner Stand, near the Grandstand (as were the seats a few days before with Mark). I remember Ian and I spotting Sachin Tendulkar being entertained in one of the Grandstand boxes, very close to our seat.
The cricket was good without being exceptional, as is often the way with T20 cricket. Little did we know that we were watching a pre-match between the two tournament finalists first up:
This was the first of four days I spent at Lord’s during the ICC World Twenty20 tournament when it was held in England in 2009.
If that sounds a little excessive in the booking, it probably was but there was method to my madness.
The county members’ application form made it clear that the last Sunday of the rounds (when England were due to play) and the following Sunday, Finals Day, were completely sold out. My only hope for those days was to tick a box asking to go into a ballot for debenture returns for whichever days I wanted.
Frankly, I thought my chances of getting debenture returns were close to zero, but I ticked the box and said I’d be interested in either or both of those Sundays. Expecting nothing to come of that returns business, I also booked a couple of the less fashionable match days at Lord’s, so I’d at least get to see some of the world cup tournament.
Needless to say, I got a pair of superb debenture tickets for each of the fashionable Sundays as well as Warner Stand pairs for the two midweek dates I also booked.
I asked Mark Yeandle to join me for the first of the visits, an offer which he eagerly accepted.
It possibly goes without saying, but the second match was a cracker of a low scoring thriller, which made up for the damp squib that was the first match.
Avid Ogblog readers might detect some similarity between Hippity’s story for this match and his MTWD report just a few week’s earlier. Recycling for different audiences and/or honest reportage of extremely similar experiences – read into it what you will. The little green monster is semi-retired now and anyway you cannot plagiarise yourself, you can merely repeat yourself.