3rd Test – England v South Africa Lords News File
Greetings from a sunny London. This series sees top ranked England fight South Africa to protect its number one Test status and it all comes down to the last Test of the series with South Africa leading 1 nil. Apart from the bragging rights of who is the better cricketing nation, the other big news story revolved around Kevin Pietersen – would he play, would he not and what was in the text messages that he sent to the opposition players.
Umpiring at Lords is always special for a number of reasons. On the first morning of the match, the 5 minute bell is rung by an invited guest. This time is was Olympic gold and silver sprint medalist Yohan Blake from Jamaica who is a huge cricket fan. As umpires, we then leave the 1st floor umpires’ room and walk down the stairs and into the Lords Long Room. The room full of MCC members dressed in their MCC jackets with “egg and bacon” ties breaks into a warm round of applause for the umpires and players as we walk through the room and out onto the ground. The whole ground then breaks into applause as we walk onto the hallowed turf. This Test was partner Kumar Dharmasena’s first Test at Lords, for me, my last Test at Lords and for Andrew Strauss, his 100th.
The Test was a close contest all the way as both teams were only separated by 6 runs after the first innings. As you can see in the above photo, the English summer finally arrived and it must have been the first time that I have umpired a Test in the UK without having to wear a jacket on any of the days.
A couple of outstanding performances were seen during the game, including a century by Hashim Amla, a very good 95 by KP’s replacement Jonny Bairstow but the man of the match went to Vernon Philander from South Africa with close to 100 runs for the match and 5 wickets in the second innings.
Day 5 saw England try desperately to win the match and they came very close with excellent half centuries to Trott, Bairstow and Prior. Our 3rd umpire, Rod Tucker was working overtime on the last afternoon as he had several issues to rule on – a front foot no ball, a possible 3rd bouncer in an over, a close stumping, a close run out and the list went on. England finished up 51 runs short in a fascinating last day and an enthralling Test.
Following the presentation ceremony on the ground where we were presented with medallions and South Africa were handed the ICC Test mace, we adjourned to the umpires’ room to sample some quality Lords wine to celebrate the match. After a couple of hours there we headed off to dinner courtesy of the ECB and enjoyed a great meal in the heart of London. We got back to the hotel shortly before midnight courtesy of a London cabbie by the name of Mr Patel who allowed 6 people into his small cab and one JJ Crowe who parked himself on the floor in the front to avoid being detected by the local authorities (The Bill).
On to the ODI series now, starting with the first match in Cardiff at the end of the week. Looks like the summer may be ending with a poor forecast received. Nonetheless, Kumar and I will have a good time and do our best in the challenging conditions.