Set in the awe-inspiring magnificence of the Lords Long Room, nearly two hundred guests enjoyed a day that will linger long in the memory of all who attended. Walking in to the most hallowed room in cricket, the weight of history hangs heavy in the air with stern-faced greats from past eras looking down from the gilded walls. Adorned with the world’s finest collection of cricketing art, the faces of WG Grace, CB Fry and Sir Pelham Warner look haughtily down upon the visitor, keeping watch over the inner sanctum of ‘the summer game’. It is easy to imagine the greats of days gone by walking through the Long Room with bat in hand, through the throng of pipe-smoking Members, before heading down the famous steps to do battle on the field of play.
On this great occasion however, guests were treated to an intimate audience with some cricketing giants of today. Hosted by legendary commentator Jonathan ‘Aggers’ Agnew, himself no slouch as a capped seam bowler for England, the panel for the day included England’s current record-breaking swing bowler and attack leader Jimmy Anderson, and former captain Nasser Hussain, who is credited by most with turning the nation’s cricketing fortunes around over a decade ago. Completing a top-class line-up were England legend and current Talk Sport presenter Darren Gough who took over 200 wickets in both Tests and One Day Internationals, and Aussie Test and One Day star Tom Moody, who is now one of the most in demand coaches in world cricket.
Prior to the event starting, guests had the opportunity to take part in the famous ‘Lords Tour’, taking in all the great sights at the ground. As well as a detailed tour and fascinating insight into the history of the Long Room, there was a rare chance to see the away changing room and balcony, and the Museum with the Ashes urn. Guests were then able to walk on to the hallowed turf, before visiting the amazing hi-tech Media Centre which hosts cricket correspondents from around the globe at the major matches.
Arriving first, the VIP guests were ushered in to the famous Lords Writing Room for a glass of wine and the chance to mingle with the stars, before each group was professionally photographed with the members of the panel. As lunch approached, all guests were then taken through to the magnificent Long Room, and shown to their tables, which were set and decorated to the high standards for which Lords is rightly renowned. After a warm welcome and amusing introduction from host for the day Jonathan Agnew, a splendid scallop starter was served, followed by a delicious main course of Roast and Confit Chicken, with Crisp Pancetta, Thyme and Garlic Fondant Potato and baby vegetables, with a thyme jus.
First up on the podium were the two former England stars, Nasser and Darren, who proved an inspired combination as two more different characters you would struggle to meet. Despite having their fair share of set-tos when Nasser was Goughie’s England captain, there was an obvious warmth between the two, with Darren admitting that Nasser had been a great but demanding captain, who knew how to motivate his players. Although Nasser was renowned as a disciplinarian, he also knew when to put his arm round his players or back them publically, and did so on numerous occasions with Darren, which led to great results on the pitch. Ably cajoled by Aggers, they also discussed other issues at length in a fascinating exchange covering topics such as the strengths and weaknesses of the current Aussie side, the phenomenon of Kevin Pietersen, and their respective experiences in the England side, all done with good humour.
After a break during which dessert and coffee were served, Aggers returned to the hot-seat to introduce Jimmy and Tom. Once again some engaging topics were covered, including a fascinating discussion of Jimmy’s rise to the top of the world bowling rankings, how coaching affects the development of cricketers in good and bad ways, the recent match-fixing and gambling scandals, and some good-natured banter about the Aussies’ prospects in the Ashes. It was also heartening to hear about the great team spirit in the England camp, and how certain personalities can at times have positive and negative effects. Across both discussions the overall feeling was that the Aussies would be no pushover with their high quality bowling attack, but England would just have too much firepower for them with both bat and ball, and would retain the Ashes.
By the time proceedings were brought to a close by the unflappable Aggers, the general consensus was that it had been a truly superb afternoon with great hospitality at the ‘home of cricket’. All the members of the panel were thoroughly engaging, and our sincere thanks go to them for making the event so memorable.