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My First Test Visiting teams have often struggled with the tricky conditions of a May Test. In 2004 Liam Cromar was at Lord’s to see how New Zealand fared – at least he might have been…

Was that Banger or the King of Spain? Scorecard: click here

“They’re called Tests because they test the players,” my father explained. “But what are they tests for?” went my puzzled reply. It’s tempting to read into my question precocious concern about the global structure and scheduling of the five-day game, before the ICC introduced team rankings, let alone designed, then ditched the World Test Championship. Clearly my eight-year-old self intuitively appreciated the difficulties of placing Test cricket into a modern sporting framework. My question was more pedantic than shrewd. Why Tests? What are they testing? Why do the players subject themselves to this testing? If Tests only exist as an end in themselves, are they merely some type of quasiDescartian expression – “I Test, therefore I Test?” Or pseudo-Biblical – “I Test that I Test?” By the time I witnessed my first Test in the flesh, such metaphysical niceties had vanished. My teenage years were in full spate, bringing with them the common experiences of slogging through exams and noticing girls (preferably not at the same time). Lord’s wasn’t the best place for either of those activities, which might explain why I recall virtually none of the play. I even misremembered which Test it was. According to my ticket stub, it was England’s First against New Zealand in 2004. To date, it’s the only day one of a Test match, and indeed Test series, that I’ve attended. It should be engraved on my mental honours board. Michael Vaughan handed a young buck called Andrew Strauss his debut cap. I don’t remember. Mark Richardson anchored New Zealand with 93. No recollection at all. Nathan Astle and Jacob Oram scored fifties at near-100 strike rates. I suspect that by then we might shamefully have crept off to look round the Lord’s Museum. 26

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I’d love to wax Cardus-like over the sense of occasion, the history oozing out of the buildings, the dreamlike excitement of player-proximity. Unfortunately, the silly rather than the serious has stuck, with the only moment really standing out being when Ashley Giles came on to bowl, only for the big screen to display Marcus Trescothick’s mugshot. In the words of Monty Python, there was much rejoicing. It’s strange, because from the second day onwards – in other words as soon as I left – I remember the Test well. Strauss came within a coat of varnish of scoring twin debut tons on his home ground. Nasser Hussain ran Strauss out, then hit the winning runs, and was promptly taken up in a windstorm to the heavens, that is to say the Sky Sports commentary box. His protégé Vaughan took up the mantle, presiding over a golden age for English cricket. Yet it’s the television coverage I remember of that game, not my presence. Arguably it suffered from not being my first sight of international players. The previous year I’d ventured to Shenley to see the touring South Africans take on a PCA Masters XI. I’m not sure which was more unpleasant: the scorching heat, or the inane music reminding us of every boundary – as if we hadn’t come to actually watch the cricket. Perhaps that explains my strong preference for Tests over one-day internationals. Fortunately, we not only saw magnificent Muralitharan boundary catching, we were also treated, after my father offered some local supermarket knowledge, to the mildly surreal sight of the South Africans, in team kit, drifting up and down the aisles in a suburban Sainsbury’s. Checking out Kallis at the checkout won’t be quickly forgotten. Nor was 2004 my first encounter with Lord’s. I’d attended with my father a Minor Counties final in 1997, a dreary 55-over plod that ran into the reserve day. It started with us repeatedly ringing the Lord’s Prospects

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Wisden EXTRA 13  

The free online magazine from Wisden. A warm welcome to the 13th edition of Wisden EXTRA, our popular online magazine sponsored by Hardys wi...

Wisden EXTRA 13  

The free online magazine from Wisden. A warm welcome to the 13th edition of Wisden EXTRA, our popular online magazine sponsored by Hardys wi...

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