Jubilee enthusiasm eclipsed as box office tumbles at Lord’s | England v New Zealand 2022
AAs the wickets slammed on a wild and error-strewn opening day of the England international summer, cricket provided more than enough entertainment to capture a near-full crowd at Lord’s. Which was perhaps just as well, given that the promised side shows proved disappointing.
Participants had been asked to wear the colors of the British flag, and perhaps there were a few more Union Jack jackets and ties than on a typical day at the test, a scattering of patriotic evening wear to bumping into traditional MCC bacon and eggs, but the expected excitement of Jubilee weekend off-court themes was as hard to spot as the vast expanses of empty seats.
With New Zealand down to 39-for-six at lunch after winning the coin toss, few here would have been disappointed with how the morning went, with the possible exception of chief executive Guy Lavender and MCC secretary. Lavender said he was “really looking forward to seeing Lord’s, and everyone in the floor, decked out in red, white and blue,” but Lord’s was a surprisingly bright area for the jubilee.
At this point, the only red arrows here were being thrown at New Zealand batters by Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Matt Potts and, briefly, Ben Stokes. It’s true that the simultaneous celebrations at Buckingham Palace were shown on a handful of screens around the ground, the only problem being that they were all located in a toilet. Most notably, it brought an unexpected new meaning to the phrase royal flush.
Although a few flags hung behind the Compton and Edrich stands, the entire eastern half of the pitch sported buntings in one location: at the foot of the media center, in a heap on the flat bed of a hydraulic platform, where he waited desperate for someone to let him achieve his patriotic goal.
Like the bunting, the promise to drape the structure in a giant union jack was not kept. Apparently a flag had been placed on its roof, but it was only visible to pigeons. A trailing “Jubilee-themed food and drink range” amounted to a single bespoke cocktail – gin, tonic, champagne, lemon, cucumber, raspberries, £11. Beyond that, a vegetarian “it’s not coronation chicken” sandwich was widely available, while a bar behind the pavilion offered a coronation chickpea salad with spicy cream chutney – both part of the standard floor repertoire – and there were rumors of a Platinum Jubilee Pudding being offered in the upscale seating areas.
The only place that was flamboyantly pointed out was the Coronation Garden, a leafy oasis behind the Warner stand, where a tree had been planted hours before the game – pleasantly a few yards from a bench dedicated to the memory of a Mr Plant. , a member of the MCC between 1966 and 2010. Early arrivals were also treated to a performance of We Thank You From Our Hearts, a new anthem commissioned by the British Monarchists’ Society and sung by ‘national treasure’ Lesley Garrett and Rodney Earl Clarke, a star of musicals.
Clarke will know a few things about the aggressively priced events, not exactly the Jubilee weekend message, given that he plays the Bishop of Worthy in the popular West End classic with the theme of the anti-insurgency insurrection. monarchist Les Miserables. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there seem to be plenty of spots available this weekend for that as well.
As this musical memorably asks, “Do you hear the people singing, singing an angry men’s song?” The MCC certainly had and acted on Thursday morning to appease the chorus of criticism over its ticket prices by promising to review its policies ahead of the 2023 season and releasing a new tranche of discounted tickets for that game. These seats are only available on Sundays, so chances are no one will sit in them, and for those under 16, accompanying adults still have to pay full fare. As such, the move may not completely defuse the revolutionary zeal felt by some overpriced punters, with the Cricket Supporters’ Association describing the cost of tickets for the match as “astronomically high”.
Still, sales for the opening day of the international summer had been as brisk as ever, and the only significant vacant areas were tucked away in the upper tier of the Grand Stand, where tickets cost £130.
Regardless of the amount paid, no one will ask for a refund. Whatever their take on the action, there were plenty in one day that, thankfully, will only be remembered for the quality of the sport and the drama. At first it seemed like a batter’s day, as the two captains suggested in the coin toss, but if it didn’t turn out that way, at least the efforts of the players, like the venue that welcomed them, were tireless.