Three Days At The Lord’s Test, England v West Indies, 7 to 9 September 2017

Day One – Thursday 7 September 2017

One guest today, Escamillo Escapillo, our Lancastrian nephew-in-law.  A veteran of The Lord’s Throdkin, he appreciated  the slight variation to the recipe from last time and agreed with me that the flavour and texture were somewhat improved. Some conjecture on this point might well follow on Ogblog, King Cricket or both.

There was also some ingratitude in the matter of special cream cheese and its pairing with smoked salmon, about which I intend to publish at length elsewhere.

But other than those controversial culinary matters, the day progressed as only a relaxing day of test cricket at Lord’s could and should.

West Indies chose to bat and struggled through a difficult morning and early afternoon, only to collapse in a heap as the afternoon went on.

Jimmy Anderson bowling with only 499 wickets to his name.

Postscript: we encountered a superb arachnid upstaging us in our front row seats – that aspect of our day now published on King Cricket – click here.

Ben Stokes bowled beautifully and deserved the bulk of the wickets:

England found it no easier once they were asked to bat that day.

By that time, Escamillo Escapillo had left early to go to a function with his wife, our niece, Lavender. Daisy had spent the day with Lavender and took pains to bring the young couple together in Marylebone, while also swiping Escamillo Escapillo’s ticket and spending the last 90 minutes or so of play with me.

It got very dark and very cold towards the end of play – so much so that we escaped early, but only an over or two before bad light (even with floodlights) intervened.

Daisy and I spent the latter part of the evening at the Proms – click here.

Day Two – 8 September 2017

The weather forecast was distinctly iffy for Day 2. Brian sent me a “what’s happening if…?” e-mail and I sent my response to him and both of the others. There was general consensus that we go to the ground, hope for some cricket before the rain and see what happens.

Brian came round to my place just as I was finishing the picnic and getting ready to go; we travelled to the ground together. As we were nice and early, I showed Brian the real tennis which immediately grabbed his fascination.

Real tennis and baritone ukulele – photo from another day – click here for that day!

I went off to meet Ian and Graham, leaving Brian with the tennis (at his request), who then joined the rest of us when play started, around 11:15.

But soon after play started, the rain returned, so we all decided to wander round to the dedans to watch real tennis; Brian wanted to see more, Graham had never seen it before and wanted to, the other Ian had seen it before but was happy to see it again.

Brian observed that we had four very similar, uber-English names; Ian, Ian, Brian and Graham. As everyone traditionally has a pseudonym in my cricket pieces, I think we can improve and simplify.

As it happens the other Ian is already “Iain Spellright”; King Cricket has not yet published the outstanding piece about him from 2014, but it does exist. Brian should be known as “Ian Borne” and Graham should be “Iain Insteadman”.

That should make the rest of this piece really easy to follow.

It was clear from the TV screen in the dedans that the rain was getting harder and harder; I went to rescue our picnic around 12:30 in the sodden gloom and felt very little optimism for the prospects of play.

At least we had the picnic, so we tucked into The Lord’s Throdkin with Iain Spellright’s utterly delicious bottle of Barollo. Janie was envious when I told her.

By around 13:30, Ian Borne, being the most sensible of us, concluded that the prospects of play were very poor. Also, having told me excitedly about the interesting projects he’s working on at the moment, I suspect that the lure of those projects was greater than the lure of watching it rain at Lord’s.

However, soon after Ian Borne left, the announcer reported an expected start time of 14:15 and the weather forecast changed from “no hope after 15:00-16:00” to “no more rain expected until after stumps”.

So, we the remaining threesome resumed our seats and hunkered down with a super-sized picnic and several hours of cricket to watch.

Good cricket it was too, with England working hard in still difficult batting conditions to press ahead with a reasonable lead.

We had some interesting number-crunching business, trying to decide what a decent and realistic first innings target might be. Iain Spellright was looking to double the West Indies score, but soon backtracked a little. Iain Insteadman and I thought 50 to 60 would be a decent, admittedly not insurmountable lead. 71 lead was the outcome.

Then England started bowling and very, very soon, Jimmy Anderson took that historic 500th test wicket:

West Indies then batted in the fading light, but not gloom, so the floodlights could keep the show on the road and I don’t think I have ever seen Lord’s looking quite so special at dusk before – aided by the double-rainbow to the south-east as some heavy clouds threatened but passed us by.

First a single rainbow…
…then a double rainbow.
The pavilion end looking equally special.

Against all the odds, we got a more than decent day’s play; very relaxed, relaxing and enjoyable. I think this was the latest test match finish I have experienced live; 19:30. After saying goodbye to Iain and Iain, I (Ian) walked home.

Day Three – 9 September 2017

I stayed at the flat overnight and got my few bits and pieces together quickly and easily enough – Daisy was doing the main picnic.

I walked to Lord’s and secured some good seats. I ran into one of my real tennis pals so we chatted for a while. Then Daisy arrived. Then Alan and his pal Jonathan came over in search of some throdkin cookies, which I had promised Alan the last time I saw him at Lord’s.

England made reasonably light work of finishing off the West Indies; three more wickets before lunch, then the last four soon after. Jimmy Anderson was the pick of the bowlers.

Daisy didn’t think to photograph England bowling…
…but did photograph England batting

We continued to tuck in to Daisy’s enormous picnic while England tucked in to West Indies demoralised bowling and won the match.

Henry Bloefeld did a lap of honour to celebrate his final match as a commentator:

Henry, followed around by Aggers and Vic…
…Henry seule
Daisy and I

…contrary to rumours and cinematic evidence broadcast to all corners of the earth – click here,  Daisy and I were very happy; we just looked tired and emotional on the screen.

For sure we were ideally located, not only to be caught on camera but also to see the presentation ceremony, which took place right in front of us in the Warner Stand.

One of many presentation ceremony pictures

More photos can be found on my Flickr stack – here.

Full scorecard and Cricinfo resource on the match – here.

That’s three days at Lord’s for Janie this year – all three being days when England won the match at took the ceremonial plaudits. Daisy must be a lucky mascot for England when she’s in that new stand. She should visit more often.

Day/Night Test Match, England v West Indies, Edgbaston, 17 to 19 August 2017

After a super meal at Colbeh – reported here – and a good night’s sleep at the Eaton Hotel, Daisy and I would have been fit and ready to walk to Edgbaston for an 11:00 start…

…but this was a day/night test match, so instead I arranged to have a music lesson with Ian Pittaway in Stourbridge. It bucketed down with rain on the way to Stourbridge, which made me wonder whether Edgbaston would be fit for cricket by 14:00, but I needn’t have worried. Day/Night One of the match turned out to be a very sunny although slightly chilly affair.

Daisy and I walked to the ground in dry, improving weather. Security was tight but well organised this year, so we joined the others at about 13:40. The others were Charley The Gent Malloy, The Boy Malloy, Nigel “Father Barry” White and Harsha Goble.

Mrs Malloy had made a splendid picnic for us all, consisting mostly of an extremely plentiful supply of big bap sandwiches. Chas went into major-domo mode, insisting that we tuck in at regular intervals, saying:

“I cannot report back to Dot that any of these sandwiches remained uneaten.”

At the end of Day One I sent some thoughts about our day/night experience to King Cricket, who published my thoughts along with those of others –  click here.

Daisy took loads of pictures, which you can see on Flickr – click here – a sample of which are shown below.

 

A shot from the first session
Things seemed to be going England’s way
Lunch at four in the afternoon? Getaway!
Shadows lengthen on the Eric Hollies Stand opposite

After the instruction “Nessun Dorma” (reported on King Cricket), Daisy stayed awake to take the following lovely shot after sunset:

Stunning, although it looks a bit René Magritte

The weather forecast for Day Two was not so special – indeed it was obvious that the weather would close in sometime between 19:00 and 20:00 and there would then be no further play that day.

Daisy, Nigel and I went over to Chas and Nick’s hotel on that Day two morning, hatching a plan that we should eat relatively light at the ground that day with a view to eating a good meal together in Colbeh to make up for the session of cricket that we looked likely to lose. If the weather by chance relented, we could always stay at the ground and eat from the selection of increasingly interesting and decent food outlets at Edgbaston these days.

Daisy captures the look of the pink ball on the big screen

Harsha had, unfortunately, needed to return to London for a funeral on the Friday, but was expecting to arrive back at Edgbaston around 19:00.

The rain arrived as expected around 19:30. We had redirected Harsha towards the “dining at Colbeh rather than watching the rain come down” plan.

Much better than sitting at Edgbaston watching the rain

Once again, Colbeh was excellent.

In truth, it was great to have the opportunity to have a meal together and “chew the fat” after the cricket – this aspect (which would normally be absent for a day/night match) is the biggest down side to such match timing…the colder evenings being less of an issue, although…

…Day Three did turn out to be a chilly day.

Daisy and I walked to the ground all three days; Day Three being the most pleasant walking conditions of the three – sunny but a tad cooler than Day One.

We saw an interesting sight on the way to the ground:

An Ethiopian Orthodox Service at St Georges Church on a Saturday
It looked half service, half church fete.
Dawid Malan fielding right in front of us…I don’t think he spotted me!
There was some freezing cold business with lads behind us clearly not dressed for the occasion and divesting themselves of what little clothing they had
Members of the Mexican community behind the Eric Hollies Stand looked more suitably dressed for a chilly day/night match…
…members of the Flintstone community behind the Eric Hollies Stand less so.

England were all over the West indies like a rash on Day Three. Here is the Cricinfo summary of the  match.

The others bailed out before the end of the match, as Chas, Nick and Harish were travelling home that night and Nigel wanted a lift back to the hotel.

We’d all had a good time – three days had just flown by.

Daisy and I stuck it out until the last ball – the first time I had ever seen a whole first class match, let alone a test:

Close to the last moments of the game

Gosh it was cold by the end; we thought about bailing out a couple of times, but then a wicket would fall. We walked back to the Eaton Hotel that night to warm ourselves up, which worked rather well.

A very one-sided match but also a very enjoyable few days.

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.

The Heavy Rollers, Edgbaston, England v Pakistan Days One to Three, 3 to 5 August 2016

Warming up before the start, 3 August
Warming up before the start, 3 August

It’s a little difficult to explain why this outing worked so well this year, but it was indeed a most enjoyable success.

In the run up to the match, I had a sense of foreboding about the trip, in particular when Charles “Charley the Gent Malloy” Bartlett let me know that his knee was so bad he had brought his surgery forward and was unable to join me at Lord’s for day one of the first test (hence Simon “Awesome Simo” Jacobs joined me as a supersub).  Charles said then that he was “still hoping to make it” for Edgbaston.

Charles has previous in the “still hoping to make it” department – as this King Cricket report from 2011 attests.

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.”

I replied:

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.

So, the night before the match it was just me and Nigel dining and at the hotel, as reported here. Chas and Nick “The Boy Malloy” turned up very early on the morning of the match (Nigel and I were still at breakfast). Nigel and I had planned to walk to the ground; Nick and Chas were cabbing it. Harish was a little delayed in traffic, but, still keen to walk, ambled to the ground on his own that morning.

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.

Here is the match scorecard.

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.

Harish pointed me to the work of Zakir Hussain – click here for a fine short example – on tabla. He also pointed me towards rupak taal (songs in seven beat rhythm – here is an example of one of those with Zakir Hussain again. I’m not sure about adapting western songs to these rhythms – beyond my skills anyway, but we could probably manage some haunting, simple variations on well-known tunes if I work up some broken chords with seven plucks per chord.

On the Wednesday evening, Chas and Nick didn’t feel like coming out at all. Following an extensive investigation on our way back from the ground, Harish and I settled on Mr Idly, which Harish was pretty sure was a refurbed version of the good Southern Indian place he and Nigel had enjoyed the year before. Nigel was certainly up for that, so off we all went. Excellent dosa in my opinion. The idly, which we shared as a starter, was OK but I recalled that idly is not so much to my taste as dosa.

On the Thursday evening, Nick had arranged to meet a friend in the evening but the rest of us were keen to try/return to Colbeh, which Nigel and I had enjoyed so much on the Tuesday evening. We were not disappointed.

Heavy Rollers in Colbeh 2016
With thanks to the waitress for taking the picture

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.

 

 

England v Pakistan at Lord’s, Day Two and Four, 15 and 17 July 2016

Early doors on the Sunday in the new Warner Stand - having chosen end seats that would be mostly in the shade
Early doors on the Sunday in the new Warner Stand – having chosen end seats that would be mostly in the shade

Friday 15 July

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.

Sunday 17 July

Despite the self-inflicted sore heads from the night before – click here for explanation – Janie and I got to Lord’s nice and early to get a good choice of seats in the new Warner stand.

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.

We weren’t really expecting England to overcome Pakistan’s score, but they did show fight at times (whereas at other times we thought the whole thing might unravel around tea-time). In the end, we got pretty-much a whole days play and reluctantly had to agree that justice had been done in a very good test match – see scorecard here.

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.

 

England v Pakistan at Lord’s, Day One, 14 July 2016

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.

I had prepared a similar picnic to the Sri Lanka test, including The Lord’s Throdkin and drunken prawns. Also including wild Alaskan smoked salmon bagels, in honour of the absent Charley the Gent, whom we toasted at that bagel juncture.

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.

As always on these occasions, the day passed incredibly quickly. We discussed politics (Brexit, Corbyn) a lot. Also cricket and some more general catching up, following on, I suppose, from our dinner a few months before.

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:

Awesome, Simo

…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…

…yet…

…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

 

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.

England v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test Day One, Lord’s, 9 June 2016

The first of three days in a row at Lord’s for the test match – the first time I have ever done more than two days total for a Lord’s test.

Conveniently, one of my guests for this day was Alex “King Cricket” Bowden, who wrote up the day on his King Cricket web site the following day, while I was busy doing it all again, so to speak. Alex’s report is pretty comprehensive, sparing me the need to write much.

I’d baked the Lord’s Throdkins and prepared the glazed drunken prawns (recipe to follow on the King Cricket site at some point way in the future) the night before. Still, an early start for me that day to get the picnic ready.

Postscript 30 March 2017: King Cricket has today published the glazed drunken prawns recipe – click here.

King Cricket really has summarised the day well – click here, so there is little more to say.

I had an interesting conversation with Charley and Al about the playlists for Kim and Janie’s party (lists downloadable towards the end of the piece for that event – click here). Charley of course was suggesting his usual peculiar mix of heavy stuff, most of which I had considered  and rejected or not even considered. Al then started reeling off names of tracks he would want on the lists, almost all of which were on them!

In particular, the dance music, it turns out that Al was really into that Motown and Stax stuff back then – he even saw the Stax/Volt tour in Nelson, 1967 – lucky chap. It also turns out, when I mentioned that the lists had Joe Boyd’s blessing, that Al knows him well; another peculiar coincidence.

Just one other point to add. When I took Alex round to see the real tennis court, I deposited a small packet of the Lord’s Throdkins with Rachel on the reception desk. The following day I deposited a few more with Adam. If all goes according to plan, the Lord’s Throdkin really will become “a thing” at Lord’s.

Did I mention that most of this delightful day is wonderfully written up by Alex “King Cricket” Bowden – here?

The Day I Didn’t Go To Cricket With Paul Deacon, I Watched TV For Several Hours Instead, 6 August 2015

It’s strange how we sometimes don’t connect two things that have happened. Or in this case, connect one thing that didn’t happen with another thing that did happen.

Stumbling across my diary entry for Thursday 6 August 2015, I see a line through the day (which means that I had booked a day’s leave) and then the following notes:

E v A @ Trent 1, Notts @ Lord’s, Paul Deacon.

Ah yes. Paul Deacon, who relocated to Canada with his family a few years ago now, was over for a few weeks. We had hatched a plan to meet at Lord’s that day. Paul enjoys a bit of cricket and “the girls” (Christine & Anya) liked the idea of some shopping in Central London during those hours.

Then we learnt that the threatened tube strikes for that day were indeed going ahead. We exchanged some notes the day before about trains and buses, but in the end the Deacons very sensibly decided to steer clear of Central London on a strike day.

In truth, I am not wild about 50 over cricket. Great as a day out with a friend, but I certainly didn’t feel motivated to trek to Lord’s on my tod to see that game. No.

And there was an Ashes Test match due to start the same day. So I decided instead that I’d stay home, get a bit ahead of myself with work and stuff. Oh, and of course keep at least half an eye on the test match.

So I plonked myself in front of the TV to watch the first ball of this match – click here.

This now famous utter routing of Australia became compelling viewing within 5 minutes and I basically didn’t move from the TV for a couple of hours until the lunch interval. That is not normal cricket viewing behaviour for me.

King Cricket had preambled the day’s play with a moan fest about Jimmy Anderson’s absence, which generated some rather interesting comments as the morning unfolded – click here.

King Cricket then attempted a reverse ferret on the day, rapidly reporting the event thus – click here.

Bert, one of King Cricket’s regular readers, correspondents and occasional reporter, provided an epic match report in the KC style, i.e. somehow managing to avoid mentioning the cricket – click here.

So, I had all that fun, instead of traipsing to Lord’s to see this match. If you can be bothered, I mean really don’t feel obliged, but you may, if you really want to see the scorecard, click here.

Thing is, though, from then until today (in December 2016) I had not once made the connection between my availability to see that extraordinary session of Ashes Test match history unfold and the earlier disappointment of having to abandon the proposed trip to Lord’s with Paul.

Therefore not once had I even thought to thank Paul for making his sensible decision to avoid Central London, thus allowing the day to unfold for me as it did.

Until now.

Thanks, Paul.

England v Australia, Third Test, Edgbaston, Days Two and Three, 30 and 31 July 2015

I explained in the preceding entry, about our travel day, that Ivan Meagreheart (my smart phone) wrote the Edgbaston Test match reports for King Cricket in 2015.

Ivan The Smart Phone Reporting
Ivan The Smart Phone Reporting

This is a link to Ivan’s Day Two match report, which was published by King Cricket on 22 June 2016.

This is a link to Ivan’s Day Three match report, which was published by King Cricket on 11 July 2016.

I couldn’t have put this stuff better myself…

…no, really…

…so I think I should simply let Ivan tell the tale.

A link to the scorecard might help demystify the material for the less well-informed reader – here.

Everybody loves a happy ending.