Friday, July 14, 2006

Lord's sign-writer kept busy

Yesterday, I was fortunate to be in the Mound Stand at Lord's for the first day of the first Test against Pakistan. As usual, I had my trusty Long Wave steam radio, plus earpiece, with me. So, I was able to hear the explanations of the 'Test Match Special' team as I watched (although five minutes of the outspoken certainty of Geoff Boycott is normally enough for me).

The preceding paragraph represents one of my ideas of heaven on earth.

One gets to a certain age and one is inured to dodgy England performances at many sports. So I had steeled myself to expect something like 125-5 at the end of the day.

Trescothick and Strauss started splendidly. Then came three quick wickets interspersed by hopes raised and dashed by Pietersen's flash in the pan. Oh crikey! Back to the old struggle.

So I went to lunch with rather low expectations of the afternoon. It seemed that wickets did not fall if we were in the lunch or tea tent. Maybe there was a connection - the opposite of a watched kettle and all that. So, to be on the safe side, we did our bit for England and had a long lunch and tea with half an eye on the telly.

My goodness me! What an afternoon! Little did I expect to be standing in ovation three times, once for the 200 partnership, again for Collingwood's century and then, near to ecstasy, for Cook's hundred.

It was a tremendous day's cricket, the memory of which I will always treasure.

It has to be said that Pakistan will be kicking themselves over dropped catches. I understand that there was money on Bob Woolmer, their coach, waiting outside their prayer session this morning at 4.30am to march them off for fielding practice!

But it really was splendid to see Collingwood and Cook (especially Cook at a mere 21 years old) enjoy centuries at Lord's - which, of course, are a special honour.

My cricketing friend tells me that as soon as a century is scored at Lord's, a sign-writer in the Home dressing room starts writing the player's name on the honours board in gold gilt so that when the player finishes their innings they can see their name already on the board with all the greats down the ages!

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