It is the dream of every cricketer to get an opportunity to take that walk down the stairs from the dressing room, through the luxurious long room where distinguished guests are seated, on to the pitch amid cheers from the crowd and perform on a ground which is called the Home of Cricket. No surprises, I’m talking about the Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Similarly it is also the dream of every cricket-lover to make a pilgrimage to the Home of Cricket at least once in his life to witness the game in a true gentleman’s environment. Unfortunately, getting hold of the tickets for a match at Lord’s is an uphill task for a number of reasons. There are very few international matches played at Lord’s and the tickets are sold-out rather quickly. Secondly, the tickets are pricey. However, the dream of visiting Lord’s doesn’t shatter because the place offers a guided tour at very reasonable price, which goes even lower for students. For eight quids, one can see even those parts of the ground, which are inaccessible during match days.
Coming from a region where every child is born with an innate ability to stroke the ball with a cricketing bat and/or roll the arms to produce some fast and furious deliveries, it was only a matter of time before I made my way to Lord’s.
the gentleman who made the tour lively
First and foremost, let me shower some praises for the man who led the tour of about 20-odd people. The old man was an eloquent speaker and impeccably dressed to present the true image of the game. He was very well versed in the history of not only Lord’s but also cricket in general.
The tour began sharply at noon. The immediate turn-off was the prohibition of photography during the first half of the tour which was limited to the museum and other historical locations. But this was outweighed by the opportunities to click during the next part of the tour. (Keeping in sync, I have added quite a lot of pictures in the second half of this post)
The first leg of the guided tour began in a historical building, which is known to the world as Pavilion. The first place we went to was a huge room, known famously as the Long Room, which at that point was ready for some dinner party (huh!). Anyway, this room is a cricketing art gallery, and the place where most distinguished MCC members sit to enjoy the game. Obviously, it provides one of the best view to watch the game. This is also the room through which the players of the away team have to walk through in order to make their way to the center (!!). It is indeed a long walk from the dressing room upstairs, through the Long Room on to the pitch; and even longer if the batsmen has to return after facing just one ball.
The next place was the Committee Room which is just adjacent (and similar) to the Long Room, but is much shorter. The name of the room clearly defines its purpose. The view from this room is not that great though. It is used for MCC members as well during the match days. On rare occasions when the Queen pays visit to Lord’s this is the room where she sits down to enjoy the game with a cup of tea. This room also features some great artwork (paintings) but mostly of administrators (and not cricketers). The most notable one is of Thomas Lord, the man credited to the Lord’s Cricket Ground. I had no idea this was the reason of the ground’s name. The next stop was the Long Room Bar which had some of the most fantastic paintings at Lord’s. It wasn’t easy to see that the bar was probably the part of the building that came under heavy usage.
We then moved upstairs to the dressing room for the away team which featured honour boards commemorating the centuries scored at Lord’s and the 5/10 wicker hauls. The dressing room has a small (very small, actually) balcony which is shown regularly during the matches on TV screen. It is also the balcony where Sourav Ganguly famously waved his t-shirt in a show of emotion. There is a similar dressing room on the other side for the home team as well.
All this was in the building known as Pavilion, which was built in 1889 (err..I think..) and looks like a huge house belonging to some king. This is where the non-photographic tour ends (sigh).
The delegation of tourists was then taken to the stands (I don’t recall the name of the stand), and the cameras started clicking capturing the lush green ground and the external view of the Pavilion and the awesome Investec Media Centre. A smaller playing field next to Lord’s can also be seen in the rightmost shot below, which is is used mostly for practice and smaller matches.
The guide enlightened us with many interesting revelations, the best of which was the slope that runs across the ground. The slope is highly noticeable given the fact that the difference in height between each end is in excess of 2 metres!! The Pavilion can be seen in the shots below, taken from the stands.
We were then taken to the media centre which was inaugurated in 1999 before the World Cup. The media centre is exactly opposite the Pavilion and is the only modern-looking structure at the premises. Interestingly, all construction companies refused to build it prior to the 1999 World Cup after looking at the architect’s model citing different reasons. It was then given to a company that builds ships and structures for planes, which probably gives the structure that it has. The use of aluminium sheets in its construction is hence not a surprise. The Media Centre is state-of-the-art laden with all sorts of facilities for the journalists and provides an extraordinary view of the happenings on ground. Another interesting point to note is that the two most interesting structures at Lord’s (Pavilion and Media Centre) are exactly opposite each other and are separated by 110 years in their construction. The pictures below are of the Media Centre, including a peek inside and also a view of the field from within.
Fast forwarding towards the end, we were taken to the shop, in case someone was interested in souvenirs (which weren’t very expensive). Finally, after about two hours, we were taken back to the museum (no photography zone) and shown one of the most precious exhibits to conclude the tour, the Ashes urn.
statue of... (dunno who it is)
For information on tour timings and getting to Lord’s visit the website: http://www.lords.org