Ashes 2015: Lord's on game day has its own unique atmosphere and you are anxious not to let yourself down

Once out on the ground, all the nerves you have suddenly disappear

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The Independent Online

Just to play at Lord’s would probably be most cricketers’ dream. To play in a Test match at the home of cricket is an incredible experience.

The ground on game day has its own unique atmosphere. With a combination of spectators in the stands and others enjoying the corporate hospitality provided in the plush boxes, there is a constant hum. Often, players are not aware of peripheral goings-on because you are concentrating on the job in hand, but at Lord’s it is somehow hard not to be aware of those enjoying their day out around you.

I played three Tests at Lord’s. In the days leading up to a match, the players will have the odd meeting or two to establish plans or reaffirm ideas. At this stage of the build-up it used to be – and may well still be – relaxed and informal. The game days themselves are intense and can be nerve racking, so ideally you don’t want to use up too much nervous energy at this point.

You would probably have a group of mates you would spend more time with in the team, so you’d likely go out to dinner or for a drink with them in the evening. There was a team dinner the night before the game and the tradition was for the junior player or debutant to sit next to the coach or team manager. Every time a new team was announced you would look first for your own name and then to see if there was a new player to relieve you of your dinner duties!

 

Practice was – and probably still is – pretty light, although there will be moments identified by the coach and captain when you really need to switch on. On the morning of the game, as you wake up and go to breakfast, it’s hard not to have an overwhelming feeling of nerves and anxiety about what the day holds. Obviously, this will vary from player to player, but it feels a very different morning to the ones before.

We used to go to the ground in blazer and tie – and again this would strike home the magnitude of the moment, make you proud of what you have achieved and determined not to let yourself down and make this opportunity count. The players go to the ground now in polo shirts, more a sign of the times, I guess.

Arriving at the ground a couple of hours or so before the start of play, you walk past spectators who, at Lord’s, may have been queueing for hours. Usually, you would have your spot in the dressing room where you have changed for years, probably next to someone who had done the same.

Many of the players might feel their preparation for the game has been done and a few knock-ups or a bowl-through will be enough; others will want a full-blown nets session to prepare them fully.

The toss at 10.30am is obviously the moment you know whether you are going to be batting or bowling. Generally, you would know what your captain would do if he won the toss, but conditions would give you an idea of what the opposing captain would want to do also. As the toss takes place, all eyes are on which captain speaks to the television presenter first, because with all the noise at the ground you often cannot hear the result.

Then it is the moment you’ve been waiting for – or if you have not played at Lord’s before, dreaming of most of your life – walking out of the dressing room, down the stairs, through the double doors and into a packed Long Room, where members would clap and wish you luck (not always the case on the way back).

Once out on the ground, all the nerves you have had in the days and moments leading up to the game suddenly disappear. All you’d be aware of was the job in hand and the “hum”. Now is your moment... just try to enjoy it.

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