Lord’s, the home of cricket, the Mecca of the game as it is known, is without a doubt the most famous cricket ground in the world. Apart from being a picturesque arena steeped in tradition, the venue is littered with curious oddities which add special character to the ground. Here is a list of 12 of the most unique.
1) Father Time – Presented by Sir Herbert Baker, the architect of the Grandstand, Old Father Time is a weathervane, who stands atop the scorer’s box on the Mound Stand, watching the game in a perpetual pose of removing the bails. Attacked during the Blitz and struck by lightning, he goes on and on — as time is bound to do.
2) The Slope – Some say this feature, remarkable in a cricket ground, was a way of ensuring proper drainage. However, most agree that the slope that runs across the ground is the result of being built on a hill. It runs from the northwest to the southeast and drops a sharp eight feet. The batsmen may find themselves struggling for balance and the canny bowlers can use the slope to run the ball in or away at will.
3) The Compton and Edrich Stands – The Compton and Edrich Stands, named after the great Middlesex and England duo of Denis Compton and Bill Edrich stand on two sides of the Nursery End. It is curious to see these two staring at the Warner and Allen stands on either side of the Pavilion. Compton and Edrich, two men with a taste for colourful life, did not really see eye-to-eye with staunch traditionalists like Plum Warner and Gubby Allen. It is rumoured that Compton voiced disappointment on coming to know that stands had been named after him and his buddy, but neither housed a bar.
4) The Honours Boards – The boards, located in the dressing room of the home team, form a supreme initiative for players appearing at Lord’s. Whenever the venue is graced by a century or a five-wicket haul at the famed ground, the dressing room attendant takes a piece of white tape and writes the name of the particular cricketer with a marker pen. Of course, this is a temporary measure to mark the moment. The name is etched more permanently soon after that.
5) Red and Gold – These are the colours of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), and there are many who refer to it as bacon and egg. There are also rumours, vehemently denied by the members, that the colours are borrowed from the wandering cricket club, I Zingari. The more traditional view is that they evolved from the racing colours of the Duke of Richmond.
6) The MCC Tie – No MCC member fancies watching a game at Lord’s without the red and gold tie neatly adorning his neck. Of course, there is the blazer and the hat to go with it. The Lord’s shop does not sell the MCC tie to any of the non-members.
7) The Bell – It is now a tradition to ring the Lord’s Bell to signal the start of a Test match, a ritual introduced by the MCC Chief Executive Keith Bradshaw in 2007. For the ongoing Lord’s Test, the honours were carried out by Rahul Dravid.
8) The MCC Museum – It is one of the oldest sporting museums in the world, opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953. However, the collection began a century ago, in 1864. The chief attraction is obviously the Ashes urn, brought back by Hon Ivo Bligh after the 1882-83 tour and donated to MCC by his widow in 1928.
9) The MCC Library – The Library houses the world’s largest collection of books on cricket, currently numbering over 17,000 titles. There is also a significant number of volumes on other sports involving bat and ball.
10) Real Tennis – Adjacent to the MCC library are the Real Tennis courts. It is way different from the real tennis that we know, as played in the Wimbledon. This sport is one of those games called “the sport of kings” — and is considered the original racquet sport from which the modern game of lawn tennis evolved. Incidentally, Andrew Strauss is supposed to be a master of this game.
11) The Media Centre – To some it is an architectural landmark, to others a gigantic eyesore. The Media Centre looks like a space ship but instead of aliens it houses broadcasters and writers on the game. At the other end is the distinctive venerable building with the Pavilion and the Members stands — creating a curious contrast.
12) The Long Room – The Long Room is the heart of the greatest and grandest club of cricket. Members and their guests can dine while steeped in the history of the game, while magnificent paintings hang from the walls around them. The adjacent Long Room Bar ensures that the diners never complain of thirst.
Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on twitter @senantix.