As 9,000 schoolchildren flocked to Lord's for the first two days of the current Test they were greeted with the images of 46 great former cricketers. Things being what they are, they may have wondered why Phil Tufnell was not among them.
They are photographs that help to form a history of the game, or perhaps a teaching aid. There are 22 of them on banners at the rear of the Compton and Edrich stands, all of players who performed great deeds on the ground. All Test-playing nations (except for Bangladesh, who will not come to England and Lord's until 2005) are represented. Bradman's 254, the highest score by an overseas player here, is denoted, as is Mudassar Nazar's more unlikely 6 for 32 for Pakistan in 1982.
Sachin Tendulkar is there, despite a top score for India at Lord's of 31. True, he made 125 for the Rest of the World against MCC in 1998, but that was an exhibition match. As MCC said: "It was felt any cricket hall of fame would be incomplete without such a celebrated figure."
The other stands, too, are adorned by photographs, 24 of them, from Thomas Lord to Courtney Walsh. Unfortunately, as the teachers have no doubt been explaining to their charges, it would be impossible to field a team from the stirring displays. There are no wicketkeepers.
Connor's Brave face
There were no women cricketers on display either, partly because it is not that long ago since they were allowed to play at Lord's. Clare Connor, the captain of the England female side, has been gracing the match with her live presence, however. She has been commentating, authoritatively and eruditely, for Channel 4 (see Sport on TV, page 14) before departing to play in the Super Fours today and tomorrow. This limited-overs tournament consists of four teams comprising the best 48 players in England.
"The idea is to allow the best players to compete against each other," said Connor. She is captain of the Braves, who will defend their title against the Super Strikers, the V Team and the Knight Riders. Notice the influence of popular television on the women's game?
A cover drive
As cricket is quickly discovering, it is as well that books should not be judged by their covers. The latest tome to demonstrate the point is The Official ECB Guide to Cricket Grounds.
If the dry title could not be helped - it is what it says it is - the livery is not the sort that shouts: "Buy me now for the goodies inside". Broadly, the cover consists of a bland design incorporating the England one-day colours of red and dark blue with a barely discernible photograph of the Grandstand at Lord's. "The publishers decided on the cover," said an ECB spokesman. "We were more anxious for the information inside to be correct, and are happy to be associated with it."
The insipid cover on the official grounds guide follows the controversial wrapping on the 2003 edition of Wisden Cricketers' Alamanack, which featured a photograph for the first time. If it was an unnecessary gimmick, it drew attention to the usual content of excellence and self-satisfaction. But as the sales of Powell's book may demonstrate, the point is that it drew attention.
It's Tuffers at the top
The new star of cricket has not been seen at Lord's - the kids with free tickets would doubtless have mobbed him. But Phil Tufnell has been signed up to promote the game for three days this summer.
He will appear in the Metro Centre shopping complex in Newcastle for a day to promote the Second Test in Chester-le-Street, and then for a day at the match to have lunch with winners of a radio station's competition. He will then be used to market the new Twenty20 contest.
Asked if a bowler with a Test match average of 37 was the appropriate man to promote the game, John Read of the ECB said they were using him on "a short-term project tactical basis". It is also said that Tufnell is not being paid per day what he would earn for playing in a Test match, some £5,500.
Banks of Birmingham
So, who were the last Test side containing three former Warwickshire players to beat Australia? Answer: West Indies in the Fourth Test in Antigua the other week. They had Brian Lara, Vasbert Drakes and Omari Banks, who played three games for the county second team last summer.Reuse content