The cricket season started with a vengeance on Tuesday, at Lord’s, with the first test match of the year.Â However, not as one would expect with England playing somebody, but Pakistan playing Australia asÂ Pakistan is considered to be too dangerous for visiting teams
In fact, I spent the first four days of this test match at Lord’s in excellent company. On the first day my guests were my nephew William (Garton Jones), who stayed the night with us and then drove me to the ground dropping me off at Gate 6, right into the ground, only 50 yards or so from the Warner Stand, where all the VIPs enter. (In fact, past Prime Minister John Major was held up whilst I was transferred from car to wheelchair.) Â My other guest was my longest and oldest friend, 92 year old Geoffrey Hanscombe, who was just as entertaining as ever.
Apart from two or three visits to the disabled loo with the assistance of St John Ambulance staff, or one of my strong mates or, Roger & FH, and a couple of visits to sit by the lawn to smoke a small cigar, this was the general pattern over the four days, until I was wheel-chaired back to gate 6 to be driven home by Barry.
On the second day we entertained Jeremy and Susie Brinton from Dubai. Poor Jeremy had only arrived at midnight but, as usual, was full of fun and energy. I thought Susie was looking lovelier than ever, after her second baby, and we had a great day with Roger Goodwin and Paul Newman, both of whom are always good fun.
On the evening of the second day Francis Hector Grand (FH) was to stay with us and drive me in, in the morning. Unfortunately, he got rather tied up at home and did not get to us before 1.00 a.m. by which time I was well tucked up in bed.
However, he was up bright and early the following morning and drove me to Lord’s where we met my second guest, Mark Jenkins (Jenks), who was at school with son Miles. The rest of the gang were absent for some reason but it did not prevent us from enjoying a very pleasant day.
On the fourth day my good friend Dr Julian Critchlow came with Steve Harrison and we were joined by Roger and Jeremy and somehow the day slipped by in a haze of champagne and laughter.
During one of my smoking excursions the weather looked rather threatening so we sheltered Â under a tree, where some great flying creature decided to drop his business onto the shoulder of my smart linen jacket. Jeremy was absolutely delighted and declared it to be a sign of good luck and, in my case, would probably add several months to my life. I just hope the old wives tale has some truth in it
The cricket aficionados amongst you might be wondering what was happening all this time out on the cricket square. To be frank, it was a pretty lacklustre game. Pakistan won the toss and decided to put Australia in. After a dramatic start losing Watson for 8.Â the Australians got to 172 before losing the next wicket. Then the Â wickets tumbled and the day ended with the Australians all out for 253. Pakistanâ€™s batsmen performed poorly and the team were all out for 148 with Shane Watson getting his name on the neutral honours board in the pavilion with 5 wickets for 40. Australia were in again and ended the day on 100 for 4 – a comfortable 205 ahead but apart from Katich who scored 83 (80 in the first innings) and Hilfenhausâ€™s 53 not out, the rest of the team failed to perform and Australia were all out 334 leaving Pakistan 440 runs to score for an historic victory but with 2 Â½. days to achieve it. Pakistan started well enough ending the day at 114 for 1 leaving them two days to score the 326 runs for victory. However it was not to be, and they were all out shortly after lunch on the fourth day giving Australia victory by 150 runs, with a day to spare .
In using members of the St John Ambulance to assist me to, and in, Â the disabled loo, we discovered that they had no wheelchair of their own and, in fact, borrowed one from the MCC. Paul proposed that we bought them a new wheelchair as a gift. I took this on board and decided to invite Â each of my guests over this cricket season to donate Â£20 each towards this project which I worked out should be sufficient to pay for a new chair. I’m glad to say that all of my chums enthusiastically donated. The St John Ambulance people do wonderful work, they are all volunteers who give up a great deal of their private time to help others at such events, and seem to receive little thanks, or recognition, for their efforts, so I think this little gesture is the least we can do for them.