LONDON – There is nothing like cricket in the prime of the British summer. Nothing like it.
Chuck in Lord’s in all its manicured magnificence, copious amounts of champers and good cheer, and you have an atmosphere unmatched in the sporting world.
Lord’s is all tradition and grandiosity, a sensible splash of ceremony that is simply unmissable. And it is not just for the locals, mind.
Saffers have flocked from near and far, familiar faces popping up in the most random of corners, all paying homage to the eternal home of the gentlemen’s game.
The third day started with a bit of ‘afters’ regarding some rather ungentlemanly conduct by Kagiso Rabada, whose colourful use of unsubtle English has landed him in the dog-box.
Many leather-flingers before ‘KG’ have got off with a lot less, for saying and doing a lot more – actually, even the subject of Rabada’s four-letter fury is no saint – but it was the South African who copped the full wrath of the law.
The general consensus is that Rabada’s suspension is much ado about nothing, but what is done can no longer be reversed.
James Anderson, wearing his English cap and his fast bowler’s club simultaneously, tip-toed around the delicate matter.
After all, somebody’s been nabbed by the schoolmaster, doing something that all the boys do on a regular occasion.
“It’s good for us because he is an outstanding bowler,” Anderson started. “But as a fast bowler, I also like to see fats bowlers play with a bit of aggression, so it is a difficult one,” he added.
Rabada’s buddy Temba Bavuma has copped many a fearful ear-lashing from bowlers trying to take his head off. He recognises it (banter, sledging, sending-off) as part of the game, because it has been there his entire career.
“Obviously KG is emotional, like most fast bowlers. But we know that was in the heat of the moment. He is heartbroken, because he feels he has let the team down,” Bavuma revealed.
The overwhelming sentiment around Lord’s, then, was one of ‘ag, shame’. These men are role models, yes, but they are not robots, either. They feel, and flip, and occasionally give it both barrels in dismay and disappointment.
Mind you, it wasn’t all doom and gloom at Lord’s. There are many things to love about cricket in the British summer, one being having Henry Blofeld wrap it all up in an extravagant bow of nostalgia and cricket knowledge.
As one Alice Merriman, who was taking in her first bit of Test cricket at HQ, remarked upon tuning her portable radio into one ear, to have Blowers in your ear for most of the day remains one of the English game’s sheer privileges.
Nothing escapes his most particular eye for detail – the plane that is heading for Heathrow across town, the delectable offerings on the media buffet table, the shenanigans of dinner the night before and, of course, his relentless range of colours of clothing.
Blowers is an institution, and one that is sadly dropping the broadcast mic with the last of this summer. That institution, the voice of cricket in these parts, was granted the honour of ringing the bell for play at Lord’s yesterday.
Young and old, who have all observed the game through Blowers’ bellows, told, stood and saluted him from near and far, because he has given this wonderful game so, so much.
As the storm around Rabada rumbles on, Blowers’ imminent exit is a reminder that colourful language has its place in the game.
It’s just that precious few can dream of painting in the verbal hues that the irreplaceable Test Match Special parrot dabbled in.
Jolly good show, Blowers, old boy.