Yesterday I went to Lords so let me put in my ha’porth on our debate on watching at home v being there. I’m approaching this from the perspective of the crowd. If you watch at home you’re being selective in terms of watching on your own or with mates and you might miss out on crowd atmosphere or you might be happy to do so.
Traveling to a match is part of it: the expectation and banter on public transport. I actually walked through Regents Park and I reflected on multi-cultural London as hordes of Muslims descended on the mosque for Ramadan. I was scarcely through them when I was in the Lords crowd. This divided broadly into 4 groups.
The first I would define as middle aged male laddish. Their uniform was a checked shirt worn outside shorts. They were white, overweight and were drinking consistently from the start.
The second was the dedicated watcher. They – and I as part of them – wore a navy blazer, fawn trousers and a quieter check shirt.
The third are the MCC menbers dressed in a tie and some item of MCC apparel in tomato and egg.
Finally there are the Aussies.
The interaction was good-humoured but the barmy army did not have a pitch or base and I missed their banter. As a modest drinker with a week bladder, I had no wish to lager up and to miss the play by queuing at the bar or frequent trips to the toilet.
In the duller moments of play, of which there were many, I found myself reflecting on some of the innings I have seen at Lords: Lord Ted Dexter’s 70 in one of the greatest ever against the West Indies in 1963 when any result was possible on the final ball; Sobers’ century with his cousin David Holford; Colin Milburn’s punchy 81; Viv Richards hitting Hendrick for a six off the last ball in the World Cup Final; Matt Prior’s ton on his debut.
I also found myself reflecting on how Lords ahs changed not just in architecture with a new grandstand but also in atmosphere. I can recall siting in the Q stand with MCC officials watching for mobile phone users. Now they sell their own, as well as chargers, have wifi resource and the MC is forever promoting some food or commercial outlet. Happily the red Victorian pavilion has no advertising and remains above it all.
As for the day’s play, there was a lively start as Broad bowled well to peg back the Aussies score, there was a duller session after lunch when I nodded off, and another lively spell at the end when England gave away four wickets carelessly as the two Mitchell’s Starc and Johnson racked up the pace. It’s a long time to be in one seat and I did leave early for an early drink and to follow the golf.
My store of Lords memories was not enhanced by anything I saw and, given the expense of a £100 ticket and extras, I think I would have been just as happy in the comfort of my home.