History, tradition - and great lunches!
It’s really special going into a test match at Lord’s even though it’s likely that I won’t be playing a direct part in it, in terms of the starting 11. But, I will be there as a squad member, and if the second test at Headingley is anything to go by, then I’ll also be in for some fielding, too.
There’s something completely different about a Lord’s test match, although I liked the approach of our captain, when he addressed us a few days ago. Graeme said that we should use the first couple of days to work all that Lord’s excitement out of our systems, and get over all the history and tradition, so that by the time Thursday came around, we’d all be ready to treat it as just another test match – even though it’s a rather important test match. I thought was quite a good idea and it seems to have worked.
Personally, I’m fortunate in that I have played a game at Lord’s before, having turned out for Lancashire a couple of seasons ago, in county cricket. So, I know what it’s all about and I wasn’t too much in awe of it, when I saw the place this week.
Having said that, it’s an incredibly special place. It’s almost a museum, as opposed to a cricket ground. What’s also quite nice is that they serve some of the best food. At lunch, you even get a menu, offering starters, main courses and desserts etc, which is quite different from most cricket grounds. If I’m not required to be in action after lunch during the test match, I’m looking forward to a few big lunches over the next few days!
Besides that, there are a few other things that are worth mentioning. It’s obviously really old and it looks as if those in charge have done their best to leave the place as it was all those years ago. So, it’s got a really historic and traditional feel about the place. There are some great old photos in the members’ area in the Long Room, which has lovely, old wooden floors, tables and chairs, and the place looks like something from the 1800s.
With regards the field itself, not everyone knows about the legendary slope, which is actually quite significant. When you first encounter it and see it, you think you’re going to feel off balance. They also talk about bowlers using the slope, and the ball seems to follow its path, so that’s another thing to be aware of.
London itself is one of my favourite places and there’s so much to do. We’re fortunate to be in a hotel in Kensington which is really central and surrounded by plenty of restaurants and bars. The other night, we attended a function at the South African embassy, which was also attended by corporates and business people who have invested in South Africa. There’s also still a bit of an Olympic buzz about the city and obviously plenty of London 2012 imagery still visible.
The tour is also a different place, now that all the wives and girlfriends have arrived. My girlfriend only joins me next week for the one-day series. But, at the moment, there is a lot of us, with players, management and all the families. It’s quite a sight and we move in a big pack!
Just looking back at last weekend, it was nice to get out in the middle against Derbyshire and get that 68 not out in the first innings. I’ve been working on a few things and trying to tighten up my technique on these English wickets. So, it was good to see that work pay off. I got exactly out of it what I wanted. Very soon, though, I am going to have to switch focus to the one-day game and the upcoming series against England.
For now, though, there’s a really big test match and an opportunity for us to complete a series victory over the No 1 test side in the world. If that happens, it will be really special to have played some small part in it.