The lure of Lord’s
The home of cricket is a temptation no player has the willpower to resist. A century at the most hallowed ground of all, is engraved on the Lord’s HonoursBoard and thus stored in cricketing folklore eternally.
This sacrosanct feat has been missed by modern-day greats such as Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar.The famous Lord’s slope which runs from the north to the south ends of the ground with a drop of 2.5 metres, is often used as the reason for difficulty in scoring a century. With the slope said to affect the bounce of the ball,which then also gravitates towards left-handed batsmen, it is no wonder a ton here is prized so highly.
Looking ahead to the England-Pakistan series later this summer, although it begins with a practice match in Taunton, all eyes will be on the 1st Test on the 14th of July at Lord’s. Given that the last Test century scored by a Pakistani batsman on this illustrious turf was that of Mohammed Yousuf in 2006, many a record waits to be broken.
If his contract is extended after May, the past week’s persecutor (or is it persecuted) Head Coach Waqar Younis – already possessing a career full of memories of England old – would be able to leave the post with respect were the Pakistan Test team to triumph at his old hunting grounds.
Success in England would also be the perfect swansong for Test captain Misbah-Ul-Haq. Having been unable to replicate his 2012 UAE success against England during the 2015 home series, he would be keen to defeat them in their home grounds – a significant accomplishment were he to rise above India’s 3-1 Test loss to England in 2014.
For former T20 captain Shahid Afridi, the path ahead is rocky and littered with thorns. He has always maintained “I will retire when the time is right and with respect, I will not be pushed out like the others before me.”
Pakistan’s sole T20 match on the tour is on the 7thof September in Manchester. The fact that Afridi’s county side of last season, Northants, were jostling with Hampshire for his 2016 signing, is testimony to his successful stint with the former. A higher attendance at Northants games had the ticket turnstiles ringing in success and increased awareness on social media helped their drive to attract more of the Asian community to county matches.
Having first played for an English county 15 years ago and therefore being familiar with the climate, etiquette and touring demands of a UK tour, scoring the runs in England would provide him with the reprieve he currently needs and allow him to retire as he wishes, with his head held high.
Following the suicide attack in Lahore last week, the Pakistan Cricket Board has wisely decided to postpone planned tours by affiliates Afghanistan and associates Kenya. With the World T20 having concluded despondently for the Pakistani team, a tough training camp is thought to be the only focus of the next two months.
Beyond that, all reputable roads lead to Lord’s.