Ah, Lord’s. The name says it all, you’d think, until you realize it’s simply called after Thomas Lord, the man who founded this most famous of all cricket grounds. Nevertheless, it still evokes all that’s great, or spectacularly wrong, about cricket. Its Victorian pavilion is beautiful, its sporting museum is the oldest in the world, and you can just picture all the posh boys in their spotless whites feeling right at home among the splendour of the Empire.
Of course, history and tradition play a big part in cricket. It’s precisely this evocation of a glorious yet somehow simpler past that appeals to people. Some people. OK, a few strange people. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ll mock the fact that there is a tea break, but nobody in their right mind would dare to suggest skipping or renaming it. Lord’s is the home of cricket, where everything remains just the way it should be.
With this in mind, I gave the Test Match Special another try. Thanks to the wonders of technology (internet radio), I was able to spend a blissful half hour on my parents’ living room floor in front of the speakers on Thursday evening. With the summer sunshine streaming in through the windows, I escaped into a wonderful, timeless world of run-ups, mid-wicket, gully and slip, of gentle voices reminding me of how little I still know about fielding positions, but never condescending, always eager to enlighten me, gently, softly; passionate in the safety of their knowledge. Reader, I nearly dozed off.
But I didn’t. I wanted that knowledge. I decided I needed to finally memorize those fielding positions. Here’s a handy chart.
And because we’re all idiots, here’s a bat with a face:
Although this might make more sense:
No? Ah well.
So I hung my head in shame and crawled back into the safe, welcoming arms of the Guardian’s OBO commentary. There was a lot of discussion about the trousers that met Hitler (do read this page if you have time, it really is fun, and tells you a lot about the kind of atmosphere a sunny day of cricket can evoke.) But, and this made me happy in a completely different way, there was also a lot of bitchiness directed towards the self-congratulatory, outdated old farts in ties who think they own the sport. Tradition is a comforting thing, until you realize there’s no place in it for you. But those commentaries gave me hope. I might not be a Gentleman, but it’s my game, too.
Was there any actual cricket, I hear you ask? There was, although I’d rather not talk about it, and the whole of Australia is with me on this one. Australia have the right bowlers, and when they’re good, they’re gooood. They’re magic, and I want to give them hugs. But they can’t bat, which isn’t great in a Test Match. I’m still not sure how good England actually are, but they easily ripped through the entire Australian batting lineup twice in three days. It was painful. In the end, England won by something like a million runs. I can’t see this getting any better in the next three Tests; it will probably get really boring in its predictability. But there will be over-by-over reports, live commentary, and the strange, comforting sounds of the TMS, and at the moment I enjoy those much more than the actual thing.