Mecca of Cricket – The Tour to the Lords!

MECCA OF CRICKET

Cricket is in the veins of India and this makes every Indian to go to the Mecca of Cricket – The Lords. So, here is my experience when I traveled to the place I always wanted to!

The Lords: Mecca of Cricket

One of the most famous sports in India which is followed by millions and millions of sports lovers of all ages alike has to be Cricket, and for Cricketing World, Lords Cricket Ground is the Mecca. This ground is named after its owner Thomas Lord, which is now owned by MCC or Marylebone Cricket Club.

The present ground is not on the original site, it is actually the 3rd of the 3 sites, and was established in 1814. Previously 2 other grounds were used to play cricket from 1718 to 1814.

As an Indian who was new in London, Lords was undoubtedly on my list of places to visit. Having followed cricket from a very young age, it was like a dream come true to visit Lords and witness its glory with my own eyes.

A love affair that had started at a very young age which culminated into a long-lasting bond the first time I visited Lords.

I would be honest in saying that it would really difficult to explain the magnificence of this place called Lords. It is a living testimony of the history of Cricket, where it all started and was taken across the globe where the English went to rule. This is my honest and sincere attempt to write about the Mecca of Cricket.

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Where is Lord’s located?

Lord’s Cricket Ground is located in the City of Westminster in central London, hardly 1 mile from Baker Street; easy to reach by road, tube, and bus. St John’s Wood is the closest tube station, and Baker Street, Warwick Avenue, Marylebone and Edgware Road are all within 15 minutes’ walk of the Ground. A tour of Lords that costs GBP 25 is well worth every penny and would leave you mesmerized in its history & traditions. The tours are from 9.30am to 5.30pm on non-match days and the schedule of MCC Museum visiting hours on a match day can vary.

Let’s take a tour to the History

I would not linger much around in the history of Lords because every cricket lover must have read about it sometime or other about this majestic stadium. Approximately 28,000 spectators can watch the game from various stands and areas of this stadium making it truly an experience for the cricket lovers.

When I first set my foot in Lords it was a very emotional moment for me, all the games that were played at Lords and those whom I had watched on TV started playing in front of my eyes. It was a very touchy moment for me but quite a spectacle for the other people who had accompanied me on this tour.

I am sure, you, my reader, would definitely understand the passion that we sports lovers share with our heroes, whom we adore and worship.

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Our tour started with the Pavilion or Long Room, this building is a Grade II listed Victorian Building which was refurbished some 10-12 years ago. There are 2 pavilions for the Home & Visitor teams with the small balconies.

The visitor balcony of this pavilion is the same one on which the Great Kapil Dev lifted the 1983 Prudential World Cup overcoming all the odds to beat the Champions West Indies to stamp the arrival of a new team from Sub-Continent.

This is the same balcony on which Sourav Ganguly took off his shirt and waved it hysterically at Andrew Flintoff. All those moments which I had seen on the TV were playing right in front of my eyes at that time.

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In both the Dressing Rooms there are Honour Boards which display the names of the Home & Away players who scored centuries at Lords in an International Test Fixture. It is considered to be a great honor to have the name displayed on Batting or Bowling Honour Boards for any Test Player.

There are names of many stalwarts who have either scored a century here or have taken 5 or more wickets in an inning or 10 or more in both the innings. The strange thing that one can see on these boards is the lack of a number of very distinguished players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Curtly Ambrose and Brian Lara are not named on the honors boards.

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However, as an Indian, I felt extremely proud to see the name of Rahul Dravid, Dilip Vengsarkar who have scored centuries here along with Ajit Agarkar who has a test century to his name at Lords. Cricket can be funny at times …

The tour also takes us to the newly built JP Morgan Media Centre which was put in action during the 1999 Cricket World Cup. This media center is state of the art building, supported by the structure surrounded by the 2 Lift Shafts on which this Media Centre stands at 49 feet above the Ground level exactly in front of the Pavilion / Long Room.

This placec can accommodate 100 journalists on its lower tier and the top tier hosts all the Radio & TV broadcasting crews from around the world. This center is an amazing addition to this historic ground which imparts a magnanimity to Lords.

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The lush green playing area of Lords is a sight in itself. When you sit in the stands and observe the magnanimous area that this ground has; gives you an understanding of how talented & strong a player must be to hit a towering six.

In Lords there are many peculiar things & traditions, some introduced very recently and some made their way through a passage of time. One such tradition introduced in 2007 is the Ringing of the Bell that is located outside the Pavilion. International Cricketer, Administrator or a well-known personality ring this bell to indicate the start of Play. Eminent Indian Cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly, Nawab of Pataudi, etc, to name a few have been invited to do the honors.

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At Lords, you will find one more peculiar yet interesting feature that this ground has to flaunt to the world. Along the side of this stadium running parallel to Cricket Pitch, lies the Grand Stand; alongside the Grand, Stand is weather vane in shape of Father Time removing the bails from the wickets. This weathervane was erected at Lords in the year 1926 by the architect Sir Herbert Baker, who had designed this Grand Stand.

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Along with the walk around the stands of Lords, we are treated with a tour of MCC Museum which hosts a vast collection of memorabilia and curiosities, which have been collected since 1864, when members of MCC and likes of them were asked to donate these items to the museum.

This is, therefore, the oldest sporting museum in the world and no other sports has a history that extends that far. The memorabilia on display extends from the kit used by Sir W. G. Grace to the likes of Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar, spanning more than 100 years of Cricketing History.

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There are numerous quirky kinds of exhibits in the museum, but the one that tops the list is a Cricket Ball with a Stuffed Sparrow on top of it. The story behind this exhibit is very interesting. During a match between Cambridge &Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord’s in 1936, Jahangir Khan bowled a ball to Tom Pearce that hit an airborne sparrow and killed it. So you can see what sort of quirkiness one can see in this museum.

The Ashes rivalry between England & Australia is well known in the Cricket Works. The Ashes Urn was a gift to the England Captain Ivo Bligh in 1882 when England lost to Australia.

This urn contains the ashes of England Cricket which the English People wanted the team to bring back from Australia. The original Urn was presented to MCC Museum by the Widow of Ivo Bligh sometime in 1928, which stands till date in the MCC Museum. A fierce cricketing battle is fought between England & Australia to retain the Ashes.

So in totality, Lords Cricket Ground is not just any other stadium that you can visit for a single match and then move on. This place with its rich history transports you into yesteryears. Numerous allegories have been woven by so many people around this beautiful stadium and its rich history.

I will insist all of you who are traveling to London to Book a Tour at Lords and witness the history unfold in front of your eyes. If we Indians revere Our Cricketers as Gods & Demi-Gods; then Lords is the Place where they should be playing and making their country proud; for there can be no glory without shining in the Mecca of Cricket.

By:

Ameya Tarde, Travel blogger

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