When most people think about places to visit in London, they have Buckingham Palace or Oxford Street or London Bridge or some historical Museum on their mind. But to me it was always Lord’s.
Walking into the Lord’s stadium was something I always dreamed about. I would be lying if I said that my dream didn’t involve me wearing the Indian jersey and walking out onto the ground along with my heroes. However the second part of that dream was sadly no longer probable. But it did not have any diminishing effect on my enthusiasm to visit the stadium.
It was a bright Sunday morning, quite a rare sight in London for that time of the year. The wind was quite brisk. I reached the gates of Marylebone Cricket Club around 10.45 AM.
The guided tour was scheduled at 11AM. The man at the counter told me that the ticket price was 16 pounds. Although it was quite expensive, I just had to see it.
My tour group was pretty small, 3 South African guys, a Pakistani couple with their 2 young kids and of course me. We were all given badges which I must say looked pretty great.
The tour began with us visiting the historical Lord’s Museum. It had hundreds of stories to tell in the form photographs, old cricketing gear and of course the Ashes Urn. But what interested me most was the autographed bat of India’s greatest Number 3. Sadly photography was not allowed in the museum. So instead, I stared at it forever.
Next stop was the hallowed dressing room at the home of Cricket. We first entered the home dressing room. I was quite surprised on seeing it. It was from a different era. The guide explained that the Club wanted to preserve of the charm of the good old times. So the ambiance of the place was left unchanged.
As I stood on the balcony looking at the beautiful green ground I couldn’t help but notice the great slope we had heard so much about in the match commentaries. The altitude at the left end of the ground was at least 20 feet higher than the right end.
The guide then asked where everyone in the group was from. When I said I was from India, he showed me the spot in the Members stands where Kapil Dev had lifted the World Cup on that memorable evening of 1983. I could visualize it happening live in front of my eyes even though I wasn’t even born in 1983.
Now I couldn’t wait to see the Away dressing room. As we entered the Away dressing room, I charged into the Balcony and sat on THAT bench. I felt the sudden urge to take off my shirt and wave it around just like our beloved Dada. But thankfully I regained my senses and decided against it. When I re-entered the dressing room, the guide was telling about the favorite seats and rituals of all the Indian legends.
Next he pointed out the boards with the list of batsmen who have scored centuries and another board with the list of bowlers who have taken 5 wickets in an innings in a test match. Surprisingly, many of the top batsmen were missing from that board including our very own Master Blaster.
After visiting the dressing rooms, we walked to the opposite end of the stadium through the stands to reach the Media box. It was a magnificent structure, apparently built by a boat company.
The view from the media box was just perfect, perhaps even better than the view from the dressing room balconies.
Then we came down from the media building and walked around the boundary ropes. The guide told us that the getting onto the ground was strictly off limits.
I was tempted to step on the grass when he was looking away. But walking onto the Lord’s ground was something I wanted to earn, and so I held myself back. ‘May be next lifetime’, I consoled myself taking a deep breath.
The final part of the tour was the Souvenir store. It had the Lords’ T shirts, miniature cricket bats, balls, key chains and plenty more.
My dream of seeing the Lord’s cricket ground in person had come true. I was very happy about that. But somewhere deep down I felt a strange sense of sadness. May be it was because I knew this might also be the last time I ever set foot in that place or may be because….