Notes from the pavilion for October 22nd

Links of note from the past 24 hours:

Lord’s moves out of the Dark Ages

In the beginning was Lord’s. And all around was a formless void, swathed in darkness. And the MCC said: “Let there be light,” and light appeared. And 5,000 fans saw that the light was good, even though it was only temporary. And the local residents didn’t kick up too much of a fuss. And thus Lord’s took a bold step into the 21st century.

From the distinct lack of glitz on display on Monday night, It’s immediately clear that night cricket at Lord’s will never enjoy the same raucous atmosphere it does at The Oval. But then again, nor should it. The long overdue experiment will hopefully transform the Lord’s experience into something more thrilling and inclusive whilst retaining its respectful eloquence. Day-night games at Lord’s will feel rather like a garden party to which the whole family is invited. There really is no reason why floodlights should automatically be synonymous with furry mascots and Gwen Stefani.

Photos from MCC v Sussex, Lord’s

Some cracking photos from Peter Meade of MCC v Sussex.

Matthew Hoggard in typical unrestrained, relaxed, un-mediary pose:

Matthew Hoggard

Steve Harmison. Pensive as ever.

Steve Harmison

And finally…

Friends Provident

ICC presidency: handle cricket with care

There’s plenty of ways to measure the health of cricket. How many people are paying to get in, of course. Television ratings, column inches, blog posts are another.

But there is a more intangible way of measuring the health of cricket, and that is in the emotional commitment of those same spectators to the game. One of the most delightful images to come out of the Headingley Test was actually a row of spectators, all dressed up in Superman outfits, with Monty Panesar style beards and turbans.

monty fans.JPG

Of course, getting dressed up to go to the cricket is a long standing Headingley tradition. You can see a Batman & Robin duo in the photo, and a couple of Homer Simpsons, as well.

But in identifying with a particular player, these fans in the Super Monty Panesar outfits are making a statement- they are big fans of the guy, and really enjoy his efforts for England, to the point where they are willing to make an effort to show the world.

It is also a symbol, I think, that the emotional commitment between England’s cricket team, and its fans, is in robust good health. It has in fact been in good health for a long time. Even in the darkest days of England’s cricket in the 1990’s, the fans cared, and the England team have always responded to that. They were not always able to respond with runs and wickets, especially in Australia, but all three England captains Down Under made it pretty plain that they really got a kick out of the support that they got.

Contine reading

One pint too far for greedy ICC

What, in England anyway, is most associated with watching cricket? Fun? Most certainly, it’s great fun. Good food? Nah. Picnic eggs and £10 heart-attack burgers are the best you can hope for. No, so it’s perhaps why most people have always enjoyed a drink or three “at the cricket”. But the ICC are trying, and have already partially succeeded in, outlawing booze from the game.

To be accurate, they’re banning people from bringing their own alcohol into grounds. It’s already happened in the Caribbean, and smacks of commercialised greed (i.e. forcing people to pay over the odds for drinks inside the ground). It’s beer tax.

So long considered the stuffy great-uncle of cricket, Lord’s continues to be the groundbreakers. They’re the only ground to refuse the ICC’s ruling, and good on them. I spoke to them last week and fed the info to my boss who has written it all up here.

For some time, however, there was a threat that the ICC were about to poop the party. They were thinking of imposing their worldwide ruling that no-one would be allowed to bring glass or tin containers into grounds. Members spluttered and the MCC, still a private club, took a stand. Allowing women in the pavilion is one thing, but barring wine and champagne was a bridge too far. The result is that, for this year at least, there will be no ban on people bringing in bottles to go with their lunches.

[...]

Sadly, at all other venues in England – and around the world – we are likely to see a repetition of spectators having alcohol and soft drinks removed by overzealous security guards and then queuing to buy the very same product, only with a large mark-up.

Thoughts?

Bletchley Park and MCC

MCC 001.jpg

Terry Mitchell emailed a press release from the Bletchley Park Post Office who, with MCC, are commemorating various matches in the form of artistic stamps and prints:

Cricket fans will be able to collect some unique memorabilia during the 2006
season. Britain’s secret little post office at Bletchley Park and the MCC
Museum at Lord’s have teamed up to commemorate major matches through a
combination of exclusive artwork and postage stamps. The first of these little
pieces of cricketing art and history will be issued for the England v Sri Lanka
nPower Test on 11th May 2006.

There will be five in the series featuring a different view of Lord’s Cricket
Ground by Karen Neale, MCC Young Artist 2005. A Royal Mail “Ashes” stamp
will be added to the hand prepared envelope and specially cancelled for match
day with an exclusive MCC postmark. Each will be a strictly limited edition
adding to collectability and future value. These “commemorative covers”
will be issued for the test and one day matches at Lord’s between England and
Sri Lanka, England and Pakistan plus the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy Final.

The covers are available from Bletchley Park Post Office, The Mansion,
Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, MK3 6EB, UK. Tel: 01908 631797 Website
www.bletchleycovers.com
Price is £10 each plus £1.50 post and packing.

Mark Ealham goes beserk

At work today, we weren’t sure if the scorecard was faulty/wrong or whether Mark Ealham had, actually, hit a blistering century. It looks like it did happen though:

Nottinghamshire 2nd innings                                     R   M   B  4 6
DJ Bicknell                              b Bresnan              0   2   4  0 0
*JER Gallian          c Cook             b Panesar            171   0 230 27 1
RJ Warren             c Davies           b Bresnan              4  14  10  1 0
DJ Hussey                                b Bopara              19  37  23  4 0
WR Smith              c Clarke           b Footitt             39   0  15  5 0
+CMW Read             not out                                 110   0 156 14 2
MA Ealham             not out                                 112   0  53 11 8
Extras                (b 2, lb 7, w 3, nb 4)                   16
Total                 (5 wickets declared, 93.4 overs)        471

53 balls for 112!

MCC v Notts, Lord’s, 1st day

The NatWest Media Centre at Lord'sA great day today. Not only did I get into Lord’s for free thanks to my golden ticket (otherwise known as a media pass) but my boss got me into the pavillion and took me on a guided tour. What a place! What a bloody place. It was like a hotel or, as one of the stewards put it, “a lovely old museum” which was spot on. There are many bars (5, Martin?), many plush and comfortable seats and countless stunning paintings, most of which are original and many date back well into the 1800s.

The long room was particularly amazing. The name rather gives away its essence, for it is a rather long room – and, apparently, packed on match days. The whole place was like a village, a cricket-fan’s slice of heaven, with a slightly different and invariably better view of the play from whichever room/floor you happen to be in.

At the very top is another bar, and on the terracotta-coloured brickwork on the outside are the engravings of player’s names. Rain has stopped play since the game’s inception, but it’s nevertheless magical to see written proof of a player’s boredom, stretching back to the 1800s. Priceless. Let’s hope they remain there for ever.

Jason Gallian defendsBefore the pavillion I was introduced to the media centre. The lift heaved us to the top and, when the doors opened, my initial reaction was “Shit. I’m in a Big Brother house” which does a huge disservice to the centre’s architect! The design is ultra-modern and incredibly well-planned. All emphasis is on the ground, on the playing area, and the view is astonishing. The roof’s curve naturally dip down onto the glass, and so does your focus; you can’t get away from the view. It’s massive, and “there” – quite brilliant. Lots of blue everywhere too. And free coffee!

I didn’t watch any of the game from the media centre – play didn’t begin until 2pm – but on first glance, it felt…detached, somehow, from the game. The view is so clear, so uninterrupted, you could almost be watching a TV. I imagine I might prefer sitting in the stands for much of a day’s play, or perching somewhere, instead of spending the whole day in the media centre despite its’ many obvious benefits. Oh, it’s all bloody wicked.

Photos are here. More tomorrow.

I say, is that willow metal?

Kookaburra

This has been rumbling on for nearly a year and has finally reached a conclusion. The end of the graphite bat is nigh. I first mentioned this back in April last year yet it’s taken that long for the authorities to remove their thumbs from……well, it’s sorted now. In actual fact, Kookaburra have withdrawn the bat themselves “voluntarily”. More at Cricinfo, of course.

Ricky Ponting is the bat’s most high-profile user. Given his extraordinary form in the past year or two, it’ll be interesting to see if a change in bat brings a change of luck…I doubt it, somehow.

Restless natives at MCC

The egg’n’bacon crowd are not a happy bunch of campers, and Donald Trelford has penned a rebel’s manifesto.

I often wondered why the MCC gave up running British cricket, and it turns out they were forced to do so by the government of the day, in the interests of openness and transparency. Surveying England’s cricket fortunes since 1968, you would have to suggest it was a bad move even before the ECB sold out the British cricket fan for the Sky shilling.