The Day at Lord’s
Just time for a quick post to record the fact that yesterday I made my annual pilgrimage to Lord’s to watch the third day’s play of the third Test between England versus South Africa. I had to get up at 5.30 to catch an early morning train to London, hence yesterday’s “full many a glorious morning have I seen” post. That choice was motivated more by the forecast than immediate reality, however, because it was raining in Cardiff when I set out. I did however, take a sun hat and shades with me, which turned out to be a wise move as there was bright sunshine when I arrived in London. Lord’s is conveniently situated a relatively short walking distance from Paddington, but even at 9.30 in the morning I could feel the heat, so there was a glorious morning after all…
Once again, courtesy of my old friend Anton I found myself among the member’s guests in the Warner Stand, with an excellent view of the proceedings, from a position a few rows back in the direction of fine leg for a batsman at the Pavilion End. There was a bit of high cloud early on, but it soon cleared. We had warm and sunny conditions for the duration, and a full day’s cricket ensued.
England resumed on 208-5, chasing South Africa’s first innings total of 309. Bairstow and Prior started pretty well. Mindful of the match situation they played carefully and scored quite slowly. Then, after 9 overs, South Africa took the new ball, a dangerous moment in any innings, so I expected the England batsman to play even more carefully. Prior, however, had a mad moment against the very first delivery with the new ball, played an awful shot at a wide ball and departed. England were on 221-6, and hopes of them reaching South Africa’s total were fading fast. Bairstow batted well, but when he got into the 90s nerves clearly got the better of him. He was becalmed on 95 for what seemed like an eternity, and then fell. A fine innings, and such a pity he didn’t get a maiden Test century at Lord’s. At 264-8 it looked certain South Africa would get a first innings lead, but Swann and Finn added 32 for the last wicket and England eventually closed after lunch on 315 all out, just 6 runs in front.
To have any chance of winning the match, England needed to take South African wickets quickly with the new ball. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Indeed, Swann was the only bowler who looked really threatening. Although England tried hard, the South African batting is very strong and the bowlers just couldn’t put enough pressure on them consistently to break through. South Africa finished the day on 145-3.
My prediction, I’m afraid, is that South Africa (who only need to draw this game to win the series and displace England at the top of the world rankings) will bat England out of the game today. If they can reach a score over 300, which seems very likely, and the weather remains good, I think they’ll win this game. But I’m not complaining. I think South Africa have outplayed England this summer, and thoroughly deserve their success.
Not many runs were scored in the day, but it was absorbing stuff. There’s nothing to match the ebb and flow of Test cricket. But anyone who has ever been to a Test match at Lord’s knows that it’s not just about the cricket. Few people remain in their seats for the whole day; you can easily pop out for some refreshment, stroll around the various shops and other facilities, or even just sit down and have a picnic.
Unfortunately, the combination of the heat and excessive consumption of “refreshments” was too much for one gentleman I saw flaked out as I stretched my legs. The stewards and the police between them were politely suggesting that it was time for him to go home…Follow @telescoper