The home of cricket had an unusual guest on Friday, a man whose own spiritual home is in another part of London.
On a day marked by thunder and rain, there was Boom Boom in the press box — Boris Becker was in town and decided a spot of cricket would not hurt his tennis credentials.
About to step into a lift, what do you do when the doors split open to suddenly reveal a face most familiar, a hero from times gone by? Well, you mumble a ‘hi’, watch as he is shown around, and then rush to get your camera.
By Becker’s side was his girlfriend, Sharlely Lilly Kerssenberg. Tall and strapping, with his famous golden hair worn long, Becker looked every bit the outstanding athlete he was, even though the place he called home, Wimbledon, has been subsequently tenanted by two other deserving men. Becker wore a striped black suit, his girlfriend something off-white.
Becker’s visit proved good for the Indians, who grabbed the last six England wickets for just 26 runs. Becker, though, insisted that he had nothing to do with cricket — he said his knowledge of the game is minimal.
Becker and Kerssenberg were ushered to a hospitality box next to the media centre, and there he remained for the good part of the hour. A regular inflow of wine followed by the exit of staff bearing empty glasses indicated that liquor was being consumed at an impressive rate.
While the England batsmen continued to suffer, the wait for Becker to emerge began. He did emerge, finally, bearing a plate with his lunch — unsurprisingly, the plate was brimming.
Becker and Kerssenberg then settled down before a TV and, horrors, performed a sacrilege! At the home of cricket, turning their back to the match being played live, Becker and Kerssenberg watched British Open golf!
Lunch over, Becker was approached for his views of the gentleman's game, and he talked the little cricket he knew —names like Andrew Flintoff and Brian Lara are known of him. Unfortunately, of the Indians he displayed no knowledge.
Becker has been to Lord’s before, but there was no cricket on there. “I’ve watched the game on TV, but this is the first time I'm seeing a match at the ground," he said. Asked if he follows the game, Becker said no, but he did name two individuals, Flintoff and Lara, when his knowledge of the game's heroes was probed.
Thereafter, he spoke no more cricket, restricting himself to signing autographs for the media, who queued up before him like schoolboys — there were bigger men in the press box, but he stood out, maybe because we were aware we were in the presence of greatness.
The presence did not last, the lift doors closing this time to end a royal visitation.