From the very first illustration of oddly dressed gentlemen, frozen in oddly rigid postures, wielding odd- shaped wooden objects that vaguely pass for 18th century cricket bats, to the final black & white 1990s photograph of a grinning Mike Gatting accepting a winner’s cheque, Lord’s: The Home of Cricket offers the complete history of a unique sporting institution.

Few places can conjure such vivid and varying images; this title captures them all. There is Lord’s and its position at the very roots of the game. Then there is Lord’s, awash with colour, the stage of the World Cup final. There is Lord’s and its part in the history of MCC, at once the most famous and infamous old boys club in England. Finally, there is Lord’s, host at one time or another to all the greats of the game.

Actually, there was more than one Lord’s. How may people knew that? The original siting for the venue that bills itself “the spiritual home of cricket” was a few miles to the south of the current location. Twice over the years all concerned were forced to up sticks and move to a new ground, although the current spot has been permanent since 1814.

Time and again, the history of Lord’s takes the reader by surprise. Originally under the ownership of Thomas Lord, an enterprising Yorkshireman who, concerned primarily with the value of the bottom line, was in 1825 at the point of selling the ground to developers when William Ward stumped up the asking price of 5,000 pounds. The rest is history.

There is also more to Lord’s than just cricket. At various times the ground has been used as a venue for pigeon flying, hopping races and as an exhibition for archery from a tribe of American Indians. Architecturally, too, there much to marvel at, from the Victorian pavilion to the space-aged media centre opened earlier this year.

With detailed biographies of the many personalities associated with Lord’s, the book also drips with illustrations which seize the magic of the place: once an uneven village green, kept in some order by grazing sheep on the outfield, now one of the great sporting arenas. — Thrasy Petropolous

Lord’s: The Home of Cricket




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