• Sat. May 18th, 2024

Lord’s in London

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Lord’s is the most famous cricket ground in the world. It is widely called the home of cricket and it is home to the world’s oldest sports Museum. Lord’s cricket stadium is the only venue in England where fancy dress and chanting are discouraged, and the crowd is expected to enjoy the gentleman’s game in the traditional manner of the English elite.  

It was built in 1814 and named after Thomas Lord, the owner of Marylebone Cricket Club, the body that controlled the laws of cricket at the time. On 22nd June, 1814 the Marylebone Cricket Club team and the Hertfordshire team played the very first match at the present ground.

Just as every cricketer sets his heart to play at Lord’s at some stage of his career, every lover of cricket also wants to visit “The Lord’s” as a sort of sports pilgrimage. An official guided tour of Lord’s cricket ground usually starts at the “Grace Entrance”. This is named after the cricketer W.G. Grace, the most instantly identifiable cricketer since the game began. There are many interesting stories about comments reported and incidents involving Grace. He carried a reputation for bending rules to his advantage, when it suited him. He was extremely competitive and despite being one of the most famous men in England, he was also one of the most controversial on account of his gamesmanship.

One such rather hilarious incident about him relates to Lords. During one of his games, Grace hit a lofted shot hoping to take it over the rope for a six, but realised that he had not hit it hard enough. As the ball was airborne and heading towards the fielder on the boundary, he instantly shouted, “Innings declared” and started his walk back to the pavilion. Once there, he claimed he had returned “not out” because his call for declaration had been made before the catch was actually taken!

According to Joe Root, “Lords is the ground by which all others are measured. No other ground comes near to doing the little things that players and spectators really remember. It is a privilege to play here.”

Right opposite the “Lords Museum” is a lawn known as the Coronation Garden. It was laid out in 1953, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. People roll out small rugs and lay down food baskets on the grass from lunchtime onwards. Parties of members and friends are seen enjoying the green surroundings. This is a practice cricket watchers have passed on from generation to generation. There are several benches in the Garden. Each bench is dedicated to a player’s name. Even some trees form memorials to cricketers from the past.

It is said that in 1864, MCC owned only two pictures.  The then treasurer persuaded the committee to enhance the appearance of the Pavilion. It is now estimated that the club’s collection of cricket related items, the biggest in the world, is around 80,000 items. These are stocked mainly in the Archive, Library and the Museum.    

The Lords Library too has been astonishingly upgraded and loaded with an incremental growth of information, photos and nostalgic memorabilia for cricket enthusiasts. The museum is home to cricket’s most famous artefacts. The ashes urn only 4 inches in height and made of Terracotta has come to be considered as the ultimate symbol of sporting rivalry. Indian and Pakistani fans might have a word or two to say about it. For them there is no greater cricket rivalry than Pakistan vs India war games!

The Pavillion

The Pavillion has 4 main points of interest for tourists.

The Long Room, where members of MCC have their seats. Players have to pass through those seated in the long room while leaving or returning to the Pavilion. The guide invited a young child to join him in loud clapping. Both generated quite a loud sound. He then asked us to visualise 150 people clapping in an enclosed room and imagine the loudness of clapping hands. For those doing well, it is okay but when a batsman, especially from a visiting side returns without scoring, it makes a very uncomfortable walk past those in the Long room.

Team Dressing rooms

It goes without saying, there are two dressing rooms at either end of the Long Room; the Visitors dressing room and the Home dressing room. Facing the ground in the Long Room, the Visitors room is in the right hand corner, the Home room in the left corner. Each dressing room sofa seats along the walls, with traditionally allocated Captain’s corner. Each room has large notice boards on which centurions and 5 wickets in an innings bowlers’ names printed.

ne name surprisingly missing from visiting team centurions Board is Tendulkar. His highest score at Lords in several visits is a shocking 37. Two names surprisingly included in visiting centurions, Nasimul Ghani of Pakistan and Ajit Agarkar of India, both bowling all-rounders.

The Museum

The Museum is where all of cricket’s history and nostalgia congregate. There is just not enough time for a close look at everything on display. It’s an amazing collection and cricket lovers’ joy. At the Museum entrance, just before the reception desk’s left is a small facial sculpture of cricket world’s all time admired and respected Umpire – Dickie Bird. Beyond the reception is a treasure of cricket recollections, memorabilia, photos, cricket gear and a lot more.

Media Centre and the rest

Commissioned in time for the 1999 Cricket World Cup; it became the first all-aluminum, semi-monocoque building in the world. The pod is made from 26 three-meter aluminum sections that are welded together. The structure was ground breaking, both in its design and also in the boat-building technologies used to build it. It was awarded the RIBA Stirling architecture prize in 1999.

At its western side the large glass front looking out to the playing field is purposely tilted to avoid glare or reflections. The view of the playing field from the media centre is absolutely stimulating. Perched 15 meters high from ground level, the only support for this monocoque, an aircraft or ship like structure, which in design terminology is called the STI structure that surrounds the two elevator shafts that go up to two levels.

Within the giant capsule, the lower level is for the Press and print media representatives, while the upper level is for the broadcasters like Sky, BBC, etc. Only the lower level is open for public tours.

The famous Lord’s ground “slope” is most evident from the media centre vantage point. Assuming the near pitch end as the batting end, the slope starts around “third man” fielding position and slants to the “widish long on” position. In a straight line, the difference in the tilt from the highest point to the lowest point is 8 feet!