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Security the watchword but Lord’s magic endures

The cricket axis has been realigned. The International Cricket Council shifted office to Dubai and the economic impulses that drive the game originate further east in the corporate world of India.

cricket Updated: Jul 06, 2017 10:46 IST
Lord’s,Cricket,International Cricket Council
Lord’s is often referred to as the home of cricket.(Lord’s Ground/Twitter)

This summer, as temperatures soared in Britain, the Royal Ascot broke tradition for the first time in 306 years to allow gentlemen to take off their jackets. Now, Lord’s is set to tweak tradition going into the Test. Security is at an unprecedented high with concrete blocks installed around entrances to thwart terror strikes and members have been cautioned about frisking and inspection of food hampers.

Such measures are routine at other places but for Lord’s, where tradition defines its identity and is a prized asset, even a minor departure is a big deal. It is tradition that made Lord’s the ‘home’ of cricket, which meant it was the sun around which spun the cricket universe .In its heyday, the MCC sat at Lord’s to make laws and what emanated from its meeting room became a fatwa for cricket followers across the world.

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Those days are now only inscribed in the text books of history. The cricket axis is realigned, ICC shifted office to Dubai and the economic impulses that drive the game originate further east in the corporate world of India. The MCC is the conscience keeper of cricket, and what is left with Lord’s is moral authority, influence and respect.

Special feel

Yet, for everyone passing through the Grace Gates at London NW 8 the magic of the place is unmistakable. Lord’s is an iconic venue unique for the 8-foot slope from the Grand to Mound stand, the flawless outfield with its turf neatly cut in square patterns and the fact it prints Test match tickets only for the first four days, Thursday through Sunday. A Lord’s test is not just a celebration of cricket but an important social occasion in the British summer.

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Cricket plays out here like a grand opera with class, culture and commerce perfectly coordinated to deliver a command performance. Frosty stewards (seniors wearing white jackets, others in blue) keep a close watch on spectators and ensure guests enter the sacred pavilion only if suitably attired in jacket and tie. A strict dress code applies even for others; in some stands access is withdrawn to those in army fatigues, jogging gear or open slippers.

Flags, banners and whistles are on the ‘not allowed’ list and cricket is played normally in dignified, respectful silence. Good cricket is acknowledged and admired, applauded with a polite nod and gentle clapping.

The Lord’s moments

Players cherish the experience of playing at Lord’s. To get on to the dressing room honours board is a distinction and the walk down the pavilion steps, past portraits of legends and the Long Room, is memorable in itself.

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Indian cricket has experienced some special moments at Lord’s. Vinoo Mankad bossed the Test in 1952, scoring 72 and 184 and bowling 96 overs! Kapil Dev won the World Cup in ‘83, Sourav Ganguly the Natwest in 2002. MS Dhoni and Ishant Sharma bounced out England to win a Test in 2014.

Rahul Dravid and Ajinkye Rahane scored hundreds, a feat that eluded India’s batting giants -- Vijay Merchant, Vijay Hazare, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Sehwag and Laxman. Dilip Vengsarkar got there thrice, and Ajit Agarkar once.

Note: Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 10:46 IST