The first day of Lords is a special occasion, so much so that it tends – as it did yesterday – to overshadow the cricket. The old ground looked fabulous with only the Warner incomplete with no roof. It’s such a pleasing and successful fusion of old, the red brick Victorian pavilion to the new, the Mound Strand where I sit at the upper level. I found myself in the great Rust debate going from a stayer at home to a leaver for the match.
Both sides look well matched. As Ivan said after seeing Sussex play Pakistan the tourist have an ageing batting line up but yesterday showed they do not give up their wicket easily. There is pace in their attack and with Yasir Shah they have a definite edge in the spin department. England have improved in the white ball game under Andrew Strauus and Trevor Bayliss but there is concern that Hales, Vince and Ballance will not get enough runs on the board. With Anderson unavailable Steve Finn and Chris Woakes will have to support Broad alongside debutant Jake Bell. Moeen Ali is chosen more for his runs as his spin.
The morning went to England with three crucial wickets. The referral system did establish one correct not out decision but ones loses the drama of wicket celebration. The century of Skipper Misbah swung the game towards Pakistan. It looks like going the full distance, thought you can never rule out an England batting collapse. There was too the subtext of Mohammed Amir returning to the ground where he perpetrated his criminal deeds. I felt a 5 year ban and prison sentence was correct given he was a young player under the influence of his corrupt captain. Pakistan are mercurial enough already without the issue of throwing a game and it affects the whole record as well as the integrity of the game as Trott hit a century in a record stand that match.
By the afternoon the noise level had increased commensurate to the drinking. There is no Barmy Army at Lords – good heavens no – but one still sees some very drunken and unattractive sights. In the past spectators brought a picnic often eaten on the grass and the only serious drinking took place in the Tavern. Now bar takings are as lucrative as seats sold. I found the game absorbing though play lacked incident and round me crosswords were attempted. Some were dozing off and conversations took place without too much attention to the field of play. As I have just the one seat I’m content to socialize with an old pal from the school who is a big cheese in the advertising world, follow the cricket and take a siesta. The facilities and service are first rate and those who prefer less formality and their dedicated seat are attracted to the Upper Mound as debenture holders. So much as that they are sold out.