I had no clue that a ten-minute conversation with an England-based Indian lawyer, Dipen, during the second India-England Test at Mohali would take me to Lord’s. Two weeks ago, I received a call from him asking if I’d like to play a six-a-side corporate tournament on Tuesday.
My folks were due to land in Manchester on Monday and the law firm -- White & Case -- offered to arrange everything. My club was scheduled to play a Twenty20 match the same day but I excused myself.
The ICC might have moved from Lord’s but anyone who has grown up playing cricket dreams of playing there one day. Twelve corporate teams were participating and every team was allowed a professional. Ajit Agarkar, Owais Shah, Sairaj Bahutule and Paras Mhambrey all made it there.
The day started with breakfast in the Long Room at 8.15 am. The ground was split into two and the nursery ground adjacent to the main stadium was also put in use. I had to wait a bit before walking into the main ground as we played our first match at the nursery ground. My team were an excited bunch of lawyers who opted for indoor nets before the start. We won our first game with ease and eventually topped our pool unbeaten.
Just before the second game though, there was chaos. Sachin Tendulkar, in London for treatment, walked into the ground and made my day. We chatted a while and then he came up to meet my parents, sitting a few rows back in the stands. It was a typically Sachin-esque gesture, one that makes him the kind of person he is, a legend in every sense.
For anyone with a sense of history, walking on to the main ground at Lord’s is unforgettable. Even though the stands were empty and there was no Hoggard or Flintoff steaming in, nothing can take away the excitement. It’s an indescribable experience.
We did well enough but lost in the semis. Everybody was really depressed to lose the chance of meet their main clients and arch rivals (on the field), Deutsche Bank. Anyway, the day was far from over.
The final was followed by a black-tie dinner in the Long Room, for which I had to rent a tuxedo! (That’s the way they have it at Lord’s). We had Devon Malcom, Gladstone Small and Robin Smith as speakers and all of them were quite funny, sharing anecdotes from their cricketing days.
It ticked 11.30 pm all too soon. Excited and tired, it was time to go home after what had been one of the most memorable days of my life. For now, I’m just dreaming -- that a year from now, next summer, I’ll walk into Lord’s again -- with the Indian team. Hope is a wonderful thing.