Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jurassic Park

Richard Williams in the Guardian asks a question that a lot of us have been thinking about for some time.

I can offer two answers;

In the summer months they offer a sort of 'Care in the Community' service, where dribbly old octogenarian reactionaries can meet people of a like mind.

During the Lords Test they provide a useful line in lunchtime entertainment, rather like the Bedlam lunatic asylum used to. You can wander round behind the pavilion and marvel at the dress sense of the members. It seems that the very act of knotting the red and yellow (or 'blood and pus' and John Arlott memorably described it) tie round your neck reduces your colour awareness to nil. The trouser/jacket combos are extraordinary - plum trousers & green blazer, orange trousers with a pink jacket...

Outside sartorial ludicrousness however, the big problem with the MCC is Lords. Through an accident of history, the MCC has a stranglehold on several of the best acres of prime real estate land in the country, which happens to be filled at the current time by one of the most historical and evocative sports venues in the world. Aside from Fenway Park in Boston, I can't think of another venue that simply reeks of history and atmosphere, to the extent that the game itself becomes almost secondary to the confines within which it's played.

Paradoxically though, as I've mentioned elsewhere, the atmosphere - redolent of a colonial past, does more to motivate overseas visitors than it does the England team. You can almost see the 'Anzac' rush that goes through any Australian side entering the place - touring parties now make Gallipoli a compulsory stop on the way, but in all honesty they needn't bother - just park the team bus outside the Grace Gates, then wait five days, or - more often that not three, until England are one down in the series.

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