I went to Lords today (not Lourdes, as Mirinda wondered, thinking I was going to Spain) to watch the second day of the first test between England and New Zealand. I’d never been to Lords before and was really looking forward to visiting the spiritual home of cricket. I wasn’t disappointed.
I went with Nicktor, Sleezy and Nigel (who I’d never met before today), beginning with a lovely breakfast at Marylebone.
The thing with Lords is that it’s awfully civilised, the way cricket should be. None of the silly costumes so prevalent at other grounds; no silly towers of plastic pint cups; no yelling and yahooing. In fact, there were groups of men making delicate picnic meals, sipping wine and generally making the most of the plastic seating.
We had marvellous seats, at a good height, one row from the front of the stand and looking across the wicket at an acute angle. It was the perfect spot for watching the day unfold.
Sadly, the folding wasn’t particularly ‘exciting’. The English started the day with a nice foundation of runs to build on. The first day had seen them slump, at one stage, to 40-3 but a valiant stand by Joe Root (98) and a wonderful 92 from Ben Stokes, saw them end the first day on a high. Sadly, the only way was down after the efforts of yesterday.
New Zealand made short work of the lower order English batsman and they closed their innings, all out for 389. The Kiwis then came on to bat and settled in, losing only two wickets through the day for 303 runs at stumps.
There was some excellent batting but, basically, the day was dominated by the company, the ground and a lot of eavesdropping.
Eavesdropping is something that can make the less exciting moments a little more thrilling. I had a family group behind me who spent a lot of time discussing the romantic tribulations of Carol. She has had a lot of boyfriends but none of them come back for a second date. Apparently she’s very dull and needs to find a personality from somewhere.
Another topic of conversation was how the very young daughter of one of them has started playing ‘I Spy’. Unfortunately she hasn’t quite mastered the rules. So when daddy says “I spy with my little eye something beginning with H”, the girl asks “Is it poo?” Naturally the father says “No, it starts with H.” But she insistently asks “Is it poo?” She could have been commentating on the English bowling.
The bowling attack clearly needed something different after the first session and spin should have been introduced a lot earlier than it was. The Kiwi batsman slowly but surely settled in to the constant pace bowling, flinging runs off their bats with abandon. When spin was introduced, Moeen Ali couldn’t do more than concede runs, though his beard was quite prodigious. He’s only a small chap and half of that is beard.
However, the day wasn’t blighted as we sat in our seats and enjoyed some beer, some wine and various finger foods.
It was really a glorious day and a great experience. I can’t wait for next year! Nicktor, take note.