Monday, 10 July 2017

Been to the Test Match

posted by John Winn

I have for a long time been a ticker of lists. All though well off the pace now at one time (1989)  I had visited all the then 92 football league grounds and if the county championship tables stay as they are until the end of the season, 2018 will hopefully enable me to complete a project I started almost 30 years ago, namely seeing every county play every other county at least once in championship cricket. I bear no malice towards Somerset or Warwickshire but should these two be relegated and Gloucestershire and Leicestershire stay where they are then I should be able to tick off the last four from a list of 153. Until yesterday however an obvious gap in my pcw cv was that I had never seen test cricket at Lord's, that is now rectified after a wonderful day out on Saturday

It must have been before last Christmas that I mentioned this omission to my friend and neighbour John Gawthrope who before you could say Tom Kohler- Cadmore had secured tickets for the Grandstand and then picked up  a wonderful last gasp bargain on Virgin East Coast. Thus it was that John and I together with another Yorkshire cricket enthusiast and neighbour, Hugh Thompson, found ourselves boarding a train at Westfield Westgate at 5:45 yesterday morning bound for the Saturday of the Lord's test, an occasion that ranks for some alongside Royal Ascot, Wimbledon and Henley Regatta in the social calendar. Higher in my scheme of things.

John and Hugh were very anxious that we should be able to watch the Lions' match before wickets were pitched and to assist in this Lord's opened the gates early and showed the match on two big screens, albeit without commentary, although as Hugh said this did at least spare us Stuart Barnes. The drawn series put us in a good frame of mind for the cricket and a lively morning's play followed. The afternoon was a bit more turgid as were we after lunchtime refreshment. Jennings, lucky to be selected before Stoneman on this season's form, never seemed comfortable and was rather over reliant on reverse sweeps to score runs. In mitigation the fall of nineteen wickets today might suggest that batting on Saturday was not that easy.

A signalling problem at Doncaster slightly delayed our return journey but that was but a tiny speck of inconvenience on what had been a memorable day. All the things that I hate about test matches: Mexican waves, fancy dress, beer glass snakes, banal  chanting and all the other things Michael Vaughan seems to like, were mercifully absent. Instead we had helpful friendly stewards, unbroken sunshine and England finishing the day in a strong position which they cashed in on this afternoon. On the deficit side you could count rip off food prices, we took our own, disqualification from the magnum lawn because we had only a standard size bottle of champagne and the almost inevitable windbag in our ears. What do they know of cricket who only test cricket know? 'Do Yorkshire still insist on all their players being born in Yorkshire?' suggests you are not abreast of county cricket. These things aside it was a memorable day and I would not be averse to a return trip when India come NW8 next year.

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