Having to rely on the ballot meant I had Day 1 and Day 4 tickets for both the Sri Lanka and Pakistan tests. Other than for the Oval where I’ll be every day, my preference is for the first 3 days, but, beggars can’t be choosers. I love watching the game at The Home of Cricket so take what I can when it comes to England matches.
I decided to be the optimist and go for the strapless look, it turned out my thoughts were on the right track it was a glorious day! On that note, it truly amazed me to see just how many people got quite badly burnt as the day went on, people of all ages too. We still don’t quite seem to have it understood in this country.
I arrived in time to buy myself a new radio, Test Match Special is a must, and made my way to my seat just in time to see the first ball bowled. Alastair Cook had won the toss and elected to bat, with a view to building a high first innings score.
Cook opened with Alex Hale, England had been on the hunt for a partner for the captain and Hales with 86 to his name in Leeds and 83 in Durham seemed to be the man for the job at last!
England have had mixed times at Lords in recent years, I was there for a very painful Day 4 against Australia last summer. I have to say things didn’t quite go as planned during the morning session.
Cook seemed to get his eye in early on, but Alex Hales fell with only 18 to his name with captain Angelo Mathews catching him from a Rangana Herath ball. I have to comment that Herath is one of the unlikeliest international cricketers I’ve seen, unlikely looking but pretty effective!
A man under a lot of pressure was in at 3 – Nick Compton, having failed to make an impact his slot was certainly being questioned. A very poor shot that saw him caught by Dinesh Chandimal from the bowling of Suranga Lakmal on 1 won’t have helped with the cries to replace him. England were on 67 for 2 – but, no panic Joe Root was next in.
Except the man who is one of the best batsmen in the world swiped at a ball and was out LBW to Lakmal with only 3 to his name! What on earth was happening? England were on a worrying 71 for 3.
Could things get worse? The answer was yes, next in James Vince, next out James Vince, he managed 10 runs from the 17 balls he faced with Nuwan Pradeep taking his bails. At 84 for 4 things were looking sticky.
Enter Jonny Bairstow, he’d made 140 in Leeds and 48 in Durham, could he save England’s dignity? Cook and Bairstow set about building a score for England, I would describe it all as good, old fashioned Test Cricket. It’s meant to be a 5 Day game and that used to mean steady run scoring. The two put on 80 runs and Cook was working towards his century before he completely misjudged a ball to be caught LBW by Pradeep – he was on 85, England were on a more comfortable 164 for 5.
Mooen Ali was next man in, it’s hard to decide if he’s a batsman who bowls a bit, or the other way round. He was 155 Not Out in Durham but left with a Duck to his name in Leeds. He kept Bairstow company making 25 from the 60 balls he made, with eight 4’s! He was caught by the captain Mathews, bowled by that man Herath. For some reason the umpires felt the need to ckeck the catch was clean, but once confirmed Ali was off to the pavilion. England had moved on to 227 for 6.
If England were to build a decent score Bairstow needed a partner to stay with him, in came Chris Woakes, picked in the absence of Ben Stokes, he could be handy with a bat as well as ball.
The day’s play was very similar to a day I spent at Lords in 2014 watching the same teams, Joe Root had made 200 Not Out in the first innings, but the second was a different affair, on a gloomy day England made around 260 runs, with Gary Ballance making his century with a huge 6 over the Grandstand. It’d been very slow, but very enjoyable play.
Swap Bairstow for Ballance and we have a lot of similarities, his 100 was reached with a single, but he worked hard for it and steadied a ship that was very clearly rocking. I have to mention he’d survived an LBW appeal that really did look out earlier in his innings.
Woakes looked good at the crease and the pair saw England through to the end of the day with the score on 279 for 6.
A little about my experience during the day, I am a big fan of Lords, but I really wasn’t a fan of the people who constantly left their seats only to return and seemingly forget the alphabet, therefore being unable to find their seats blocking the view for that much longer. It was a little like watching T20 at times with the constant disturbances. I went to buy a Waitrose sandwich at lunchtime and pretty much spent 30 minutes queuing in the sun due to thee lack of tills – I’d hoped for some shade over lunch as I was sitting in relentless sun all day.
Other than those 2 issues I had a wonderful day, I was sat next to 2 very friendly men, who didn’t drink so weren’t on a constant quest for alcohol. I go back to Lords for Day 4 with England having made 416 by Day 2, with Woakes making a very useful 66 and Bairstow carrying his bat at the end of the innings on 167 Not Out.