Angus Fraser: Even at Lord's it was time for a Guinness. Ireland beating England really is cricket
Thursday 03 March 2011
At Lord's Cricket Ground, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry as Ireland breathtakingly and brilliantly defeated England in Bangalore at the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
After watching England's batsmen amass 327 and then seeing Andrew Strauss's experienced bowlers steadily working their way through Ireland's largely green batting, the focus of the workforce at the "Home of Cricket" began to return to their in-trays.
But then, a first win over England appearing nothing more than a forlorn dream, and his side reduced to 111-5, Kevin O'Brien strode to the crease and decided to have a go. And boy did he have a go. Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting have all attempted to bat with such grace and brutality in cricket's premier tournament, but none has come close to a century in 50 balls. The name O'Brien is now attached to the record for the fastest ton in World Cup history.
As O'Brien connected with the initial few balls he faced, everybody thought his efforts would amount to nothing more than a defiant gesture. Strauss would have thought it only a matter of time before the Dubliner slogged one up in the air. As his innings progressed, however, and the text messages of "Are you watching this?" began to flash around, concentration on work began to diminish. For a while you relent but then, suddenly, you make a decision – "I've got to watch this".
Lord's is a fascinating place to be as a wonderful game unfolds. Suddenly, this prestigious corner of St John's Wood goes quiet. You no longer hear or see people walking around the ground. Groups gather around televisions. Even the Pavilion stewards leave the back door unguarded so they can watch the action on a TV in the old Library.
But few believed Ireland would win. It is one thing getting close, another holding your nerve and getting over the line. But get over they did, and with ease in the end.
Now the game is over and we make our way back to our work stations. Conversations about the game are a mixture of criticism of England and "good on Ireland". The silver lining for everyone at Lord's is that Kevin O'Brien was an MCC Young Cricketer a few years ago. Clive Radley, the former MCC head coach, becomes the reason for his brilliance. England have lost but the feel-good factor is high.
Before you know it, it's 6pm – but work can wait until tomorrow. I'm going for a pint of Guinness.
Angus Fraser, the former England bowler, is managing director of Middlesex Cricket Club and an 'Independent' writer
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