For many people last weekend was just your usual Bank Holiday weekend: walking in the country with the family, eating pub lunches and building flat-pack furniture. And trying to follow one of the finest Test matches played on these shores for years. At first glance, it seemed that fate helped cement this match in the pantheon of Lord’s great Tests: by coinciding with a Bank Holiday Monday, Lord’s was able to open its gates for relatively low prices with the expectation that crowds would swarm in and create a genuine buzz in the ground. Which they did – if not with quite the same hype as Old Trafford in 2005, certainly with more fever than recent home series that often felt like the dampest of squibs. We’re not sure what proportion of the crowd comprised those who ordinarily wouldn’t choose to go to a Test, but no doubt some attended the Home of Cricket for the very first time – and presumably thousands more fans suddenly wished they lived that bit closer to north west London.
However this was a weekend of stiff competition for cricket. The Premier League had its final weekend of the season, the Monaco Grand Prix took place and, of course, the IPL final took place (as if anyone cared, apart from Danny Morrison and his wanksock). Amidst all this, the Test needed something special to take it from the nether regions of the world’s blogosphere and deliver it slap bang into the public eye. Enter Ben Stokes, who on Monday morning at least got to share the back pages with some of the other sports, rather than being tucked away alongside the racing results, and one of the great comebacks / gung-ho losses in recent times.
Sitting here typing this, admiring a new coffee table, and thinking the future is brighter once more, is a very nice feeling indeed. What’s more, it doesn’t just feel like a watershed moment for @EnglandCricket (formerly New England), but helped by the attitude of Brendon McCullum, the thrill of Stokes, the smile of Joe Root and by the atmosphere at Lord’s, it certainly feels as if, after 20 long months or so, cricket is back, baby.
And we still don’t give a toss who won the IPL.