What happens when you miss your flight?
After the rage dies down and you somehow forgive the cabbie for being thirty minutes late and ruining your holiday, you head off to the home of cricket dressed in your holiday clothes.
You manage to get there at the end of the first innings, (well done rain) and then you get shown the lift to the media centre and get beamed up into the bowels of the craft.
When the doors open you are sure you have stumbled across the set of a mafia film, the scene in which the bosses are having a cordial lunch before embarking on their crime spree, as the Sky team (Vaughan, Hussain, Lloyd) sit having some food in their sharp suits and nearly clipped hair; their bronzed skin positively gleaming as they laugh and chat. Warnie walks past. As does Michael Holding and you have to resist the urge to go all schoolgirl on him and scream and ask for a photo.
You then find your seat (in the front row!) amongst the hacks and watch the half-time entertainment with the ground gloriously and temporarily bathed in sunshine. At any moment you half expect someone to tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Mr Nicholas will see you now’ and be lead away into the broadcast boxes upstairs, where Mark Nicholas will peel off his skin to reveal a robotic creature programmed to bore you to death with cricketing platitudes.
You catch up on the first innings on the television – England 272/5. Looks a pretty good score. Blimey! Morgan went well. The hacks say Australia bowled well up front and surmise that Morgan’s innings could well be the difference.
The Australian openers come out to bat and it takes you a moment to realise that the crowd isn’t a bit on the quiet side, just that the spaceship is soundproofed. England bowl well from the off, collecting Watson early. Warner looks decent though, restrained and composed. Swann comes on promptly, but the fireworks don’t materialise and Warner plays him sensibly to reach fifty, the details of which are broadcast politely over the spaceship’s tannoy.
Bailey, the new number three, bats nicely but chops one on from Anderson and shortly after Anderson gets Warner reaching at a wide one. Clarke and Hussey have a reasonable partnership and decide to take the batting powerplay early. As it so often does, it proves to be a poisoned chalice as Hussey manages to get himself bowled off his helmet, mistiming a pull.
Smith enters looking as agitated as ever. In between balls he’s shadow batting, poking the wicket, fiddling with his pads, his box, his helmet. He has antagonised the normally placid Steven Finn, who ends up a yard from Smith after one delivery, muttering niceties with his hand half-covering his face. And then he’s out, fencing at a wide one from Bresnan and Australia is in some strife at 147/5 off thirty-three, with the powerplay yielding just seventeen runs for the loss of two wickets.
By this stage you are regretting being slightly starstruck on your arrival and missing out on the half-time spread, as all that remains are a few biscuits and bits of cake. You nibble on these modestly and exit the spacecraft to see what the atmosphere is like outside. It wasn’t just the sound-proofing, the crowd is quite restrained. Clarke and Wade rebuild nicely though and anticipation begins to bubble gently through the stands. But then Clarke sells Wade down the river and the keeper, despite looking the more dangerous of the pair, is forced to give his wicket away to preserve that of his captain.
Shortly after, Clarke misses a full one from Bresnan and is adjudged leg-before. Being the prize scalp, you now witness the bizarre sight of a cameraman sprinting onto the ground right up to inner circle to shove a giant camera in Clarke’s face. They walk off together, all the way to the dressing room steps, as Clarke’s disappointment is broadcast to the world. Like the fast bowler covering his mouth lest a camera picks up the finer details of his sledging, it’s striking how technology has infiltrated the game and what the modern player has to deal with.
Back in the spaceship you realise that the front row seat wasn’t all it seemed. As the late afternoon sun escapes from behind the clouds, it streams into the lower half of the vessel and highlights a fairly significant design flaw, forcing the hacks to don unfashionable caps.
You watch Lee smite a few boundaries, but the Wade run out was the turning point and the Australian innings peters out fifteen runs short. The tannoy announces various facts and figures about the game and everyone ferociously finishes the last of their paragraphs. You descend from the craft one last time and exit with the masses, somewhat pleased you happened upon a tardy taxi-driver and ended up at Lord’s instead of Lisbon.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia