We were in London. And this time did not want to miss this tour. Last year when we were here, the maintenance period was on and I got quite disheartened. Hence for this trip, planned it out well in advance and made our online bookings while making our other travel and activity bookings, to make sure we did not miss it. If you are still wondering what I am referring to, it’s about our visit to the historic Lord’s Cricket Ground. Also known as the “Mecca of Cricket”, it was the first officially built ground for the game of Cricket.
Talking about Cricket, the air is full of excitement. It’s less than fifty days to go for this mega event, the ICC World Cup Cricket Carnival. We in India are supremely excited because for us Cricket is not just a game, it’s a religion which unites all of us. And Lord’s Cricket Ground, London will be the venue for the finals.
We were staying in Gants Hill, Ilford. Got up very early in the morning and when I saw the sunshine with no clouds in sight, it brought a smile on my face. The day was going to be good, I thought. London is a place I am hugely in love with but if you ask me why, I really can’t pinpoint. There are so many happy memories associated and so much of enjoyment that we have experienced, including the fact that one of my closest friend Ian stays there and some wonderful moments we have spent together.
We took the underground to Bond Street and from there a change to reach St. John’s Wood station. As we exited the station, we found this lovely Coffee shop. Me and no coffee, no ways. So we settled down for a quick sip and a bite.
Refreshed, we started our ten minute walk towards the stadium and soon we were there. I had booked a 9.30 AM slot and we reached well before time.
Let’s look at the origin and some of the history associated with Lord’s. Lord’s Cricket Ground, commonly known simply as Lord’s, named after its founder, Thomas Lord is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and is the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the European Cricket Council (ECC). Lord’s is home to the world’s oldest sporting museum. Lord’s today is not on its original site, being the third of three grounds that Lord established between 1787 and 1814. His first ground, now referred to as Lord’s Old Ground, was where Dorset Square now stands. His second ground, Lord’s Middle Ground, was used from 1811 to 1813 before being abandoned to make way for the construction through its outfield of the Regent’s Canal. The present Lord’s ground is about 250 yards north-west of the site of the Middle Ground. The ground can hold 28,000 spectators.
The main survivor from the Victorian era is the Pavilion, with its famous Long Room; this was built in 1889–90 to the designs of architect Thomas Verity. This historic landmark underwent an £8 million refurbishment program in 2004–05. The pavilion is primarily for members of MCC, who may use its amenities, which include seats for viewing the cricket, the Long Room and its Bar, the Bowlers Bar, and a members’ shop. At Middlesex matches the Pavilion is open to members of the Middlesex County Club. The Pavilion also contains the dressing rooms where players change, each of which has a small balcony for players to watch the play. In each of the two main dressing rooms are honors boards which commemorate all the centuries scored in Test matches or One Day Internationals (ODI) at Lord’s, all instances of a bowler taking five wickets in a Test or ODI innings and all occurrences of a bowler taking ten wickets in a Test match. The only cricketer to hit a ball over the pavilion was Albert Trott, off Monty Noble on 31 July 1899.
One of the features of the ground is the pair of ornamental gates, named in honor of W.G. Grace. In 1923 the gates were erected at the St John’s Wood Road entrance to the ground. They were designed by Sir Herbert Baker. Come now let’s go in and soak in the atmosphere.
Let’s start our journey. First with the Lord’s Museum.
We now move on to the playing arena and the stadium. Many of the stands were rebuilt in the late 20th century. In 1987 the new Mound Stand, designed by Michael Hopkins and Partners was opened, followed by the Grandstand by Nicholas Grimshaw in 1996. Most notably, the Media Centre was added in 1998-9 and it won The Royal Institute of British Architects Sterling Prize for 1999. The two ends of the pitch are the Pavilion End (south-west), where the main members’ pavilion is located, and the Nursery End (north-east), dominated by the Media Center.
One of the most distinctive and famous features of the Lord’s ground is the significant slope across the field. The north-west side of the playing surface is 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 ins) higher than the south-east side. This slope causes appreciable deviation in bounce of the ball on the pitch, making it easier to move the ball in to right-handed batsmen when bowling from the Pavilion End, and easier to move it away when bowling from the Nursery End. The outfield was notorious for becoming waterlogged, resulting in considerable loss of play due to rainfall, until clay soil was re-laid with sand during the winter of 2002–2003.
The Media Centre was commissioned in time for the 1999 Cricket World Cup, and was the first all-aluminium, semi-monologue building in the world. It was built and fitted out in two boatyards, using boat-building technology. The centre stands 15 metres (49 ft) above the ground and its sole support comes from the structure around its two lift shafts – it is about the same height as the Pavilion directly opposite it on the other side of the ground. The lower tier of the centre provides accommodation for over 100 journalists, and the top tier has radio and television commentary boxes. The centre’s only opening window is in the broadcasting box used by BBC Test Match Special. Let’s go in and have a look.
As we were about to finish our journey these two last memories are now imbibed in our mind.
Anticipating that we would be approaching Lunch hours and feeling hungry, I had pre-booked a Lunch at the renowned ‘The Tavern’ Restaurant inside the Lord’s Ground with it’s entry just outside the main gates. Let’s go and have our Lunch.
Hope you enjoyed the meal and the journey. And now it’s time to prepare for bringing the World Cup home. To my reader friends outside India, we also look forward to your moral support to become the Champions again. India, the Champions 🇮🇳