Tuesday 26 July 2011

2000th Test

I was part of a little bit of history on Sunday, as I attended the fourth day of the 2000th Test match, the first Test of the series between England and India which, if England win by two clear Tests, will see England replace India as the number one side in the Test rankings. I'd never been to a Test at Lords and decided to apply for tickets last December to take Sharon with me. I got the tickets, but we couldn't get the child cover to allow Sharon to come with me (as it happened, Adrian extended his stay and perhaps Sharon could have come) so I flew down myself to stay at the Barnes' house, with the intention of taking Gordon.

However, my luck (and Gordon's) was out. He'd hurt his back during the week, cycling to work and then aggravated it in the night getting up to their youngest, Innes. Hirpling about the kitchen next morning he grimly decided he couldn't face a day in a plastic bucket seat, no matter how much he had been looking forward to it. There were other factors which took the edge off the day. Pietersen made an unbeaten double century in the first innings: in the second innings he lasted three balls before gloving a snorter off Sharma. Ian Bell, one of the most fluent batsmen of recent times, lasted a ball more, caught behind for a duck. Earlier, both Cook, in the middle of a phenomenal run of scoring and captain Strauss had departed for low scores and the obdurate Trott was also prised out by a Sharma delivery cutting back up the famous Lords' slope. So, at 62 for 5, despite their 188 first innings lead, things weren't going to plan. Eoin Morgan departed to a tame, mis-hit pull after lunch but then Matt Prior and Stuart Broad set things right with an unbeaten seventh wicket partnership of 162. Prior advanced to a fine century before England declared on 269, leaving India 458 to win. Another disappointment was the non-appearance of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar in the field. He was suffering from a virus although, after his 34 in the first innings, there was still a chance of seeing him embark on what would be his 100th international hundred, if he managed that unique landmark. He didn't appear to bat though, and I left at 6.15 with India at 33 for 1, Stuart Broad having flattened Mukund's stumps.

My seat was in the Lower Edrich Stand, in the second-back row. There was no wall behind me and it was decidedly draughty in the shade despite the fiercely warm day beyond. The view of the action, from mid-off, was good and I was glad I'd brought my binoculars as I got close-up views of all the England wickets to fall. Annoyingly though, I was too far back to see out from under the Upper Edrich Stand to the tv screen and scoreboard on the other side of the ground. There was a good Indian support in though and the atmosphere was livelier than I expected: some say Lords can be quite stuffy and muted. And I had my packed lunch on the packed practice ground at the Nursery End behind the new space-age media suite. All in all it was a good day, just a shame Gordon couldn't make it. Former England captain and Sky Sports pundit Bob Willis was even in my carriage in the train in from Mortlake! I followed him at Waterloo to the Underground, guessing he'd know where he was going!

(As it transpired, England won the Test the next day, deep into the final session before they ousted the final batsman in front of a record last day crowd for Lords.)

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