Lord’s Cricket Ground – Ashes Test Match (20.07.15)
As sporting occasions go, the Lord’s Ashes Test Match between England and Australia is one of the oldest, most established and iconic of world sporting fixtures.
This week I was fortunate to attend the 2015 match, a much easier venue to get to (with Lords less than a mile away from my home and Nomadic Thoughts’ office) than the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on which I previously posted a blog on the equivalent fixture down under – the Boxing Day Test Match on 26th December 2013.
Although Lords is a third of the size of the MCG, the sense of occasion, history and tradition easily match the sense of excitement 10,500 miles away, on the opening day of an Ashes Boxing Day Test Match in Melbourne.
At Lords the crowds begin to gather at sunrise with Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) members queuing around the block in order to secure their chosen seat when the gates eventually open at 9am. This is quite a sight. The average age of the MCC’s 17,500 members is sixty-something, so the long morning queue is a distinguished one of smartly dressed, panama-hatted, jacket and tie-d gentlemen calmly waiting for the famous Grace Gates to open. The omnipresent red and gold (affectionately known as ‘egg and bacon’) MMC signature colours get a particularly bright and bushytailed early morning call on Ashes days.
I took these photos over the first three days of this week’s Lords Test. The ground was bathed in sunshine throughout, showing off the immaculate wicket, outfield and surrounding Nursery End as well as the collection of historical and new grandstands. The flagship among these is the magnificent 1890 cricket pavilion.
Although very aware of how lucky I am to have once again experienced such an occasion at the self-appointed ‘Home of Cricket’, as an Englishman I have to admit that the experience was slightly marred by the fact that Australia beat England convincingly – just as at the 2013 Boxing Day Test I attended in Melbourne.
On this occasion the Australians have levelled the series at 1-1, with three more matches to go. Having attended the first day of this year’s Ashes with family and friends at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff ten days ago, I shall continue to follow proceedings like the proverbial hawk, and am looking forward to attending the third test match in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
As the Regents Park Cricket Club Under 17s cricket coach – the closest cricket club to this famous St John’s Wood venue, offering children and young adults across the community an opportunity to play cricket – I feel strongly that Lords, this bastion of a sporting venue, representing all that is famous and traditional in cricket, needs to claim its birthright as custodians of the game. A game loved by millions across the UK, Australasia, Indian subcontinent, West Indies and Southern Africa, but which is under threat due to the lack of free-view television coverage, playing facilities and appropriate grassroots promotion.
The hope is that the sense of occasion shared during an Ashes Test Match at Lords can be matched with an endeavour to develop, spread and share all things that make cricket such a fabulous sport.