Let me take you back to June 1996, and my second ever visit to Lord’s Cricket Ground, something which cricket fans everywhere know as the home of the game.
It might surprise those of you who know what an avid fan of the game I am that it took me so long to visit the game’s hallowed turf, but you have to remember that in those days it was pretty small as major sporting venues go (only around 20,000 in capacity) and somewhat hard to gain entry tickets for, at least if you wanted to see a Test match.
My opportunity for a second visit came due to the generosity of one of the partners at the law firm I was working for at the time. In most places, any partner who gets their hands on a ticket for such an event immediately tries to invite every client that they want to impress along. John Castell was – and probably still is – a little bit different. He decided to invite along three young and cricket loving members of staff – an enthusiastic trainee named Robert Lynch, a sardonic litigation clerk named Harvey Sandercock, and me.
I still remember telephoning him from a shopping centre in – I think – Croydon to tell him that I could accept his invitation. It was probably the last time that I used a payphone, for one thing.
It was a good game to pick, too. England against India. The Indian team contained not only the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, but two greats of the future who were making their debuts, Sourav Ganguly and my favourite of the three, Rahul Dravid. England, on the other hand, featured Peter Martin and this generation’s celebrity drug-smuggler, Chris Lewis. I remember that Martin’s feet looked enormous from where we were sitting, at the bottom of the Mound Stand.
Of the three great Indian players, I only got to see Dravid bat (in fact, I have a curious record of having seen both Tendulkar and Shane Warne play, without having seen the former bat or the latter bowl) but the disappointment when he was dismissed four runs short of a hundred was felt all around the ground.
That game was also the last that the reknowned umpire Dickie Bird appeared in, and I remember him getting a standing ovation every time he left or entered the field. I also remember that John didn’t let us pay for the tickets and even bought us lunch, and that Rob didn’t stop talking except to eat. In all of these ways and more it was a remarkable day.
And today, Tendulkar and Dravid will play at Lord’s for the last time in their careers. I wish I could be there to see that.
Now you are asking what all of this has to do with a musical memory. Well, 1996 was the height of Britpop. This song came out around about the same time, from one of my favourite bands of that era