LONDON: There was a gentle round of clapping going around when the last Australian wicket fell. The lunch break was more or less quiet. It started getting louder when England began their pursuit of 224. The first few overs drew general applauds as and when the boundaries were struck. All hell broke loose when Jason Roy clouted Steve Smith for three successive sixes in the 16th over.
This was at the Lord’s Tavern on Thursday, when England were striding their way towards a first World Cup final after 27 years. Adjacent to the Home of Cricket, this place derives its name from Thomas Lord, the person after whom the most famous cricket ground in the world is named. It has flat screens with a cool supply of food and drinks. On match days, it draws a fair number of cricket fans in a country that breathes football.
“Let’s say we are happy that we are going to be in the final after a long time. And yes, it’s a happier occasion because the semifinal win is coming against a team we are not particularly fond of,” said one of the many present out there.
“We are not looking that far ahead,” he said when asked if the Cup, after a wait dating back to its inception in 1975, was coming home.
Fewer in comparison to football fanatics they may be, the English cricket fan is a discerning follower of the game.
“At least today, it’s because of bowling that we are in a good position,” they said. True it was. A team to have risen to the top of world rankings in this format due solely to its batting, England put in a bowling performance that made them overwhelming favourites to win the second semifinal almost as soon as it began.
Australia had relied on and benefited heavily from the runs made by their openers until this match. David Warner and Aaron Finch gone inside three overs, it was an uphill task for the five-time winners then on.
Smith rebuilt, Alex Carey lent support, but England kept winning the moments that mattered. After the fast bowlers were done and the partnership was beginning to threaten those crowding the Tavern, leg-spinner Adil Rashid stepped up.
Because the memories of their bitter enemies taking it away from under their nose are still fresh in their minds, they didn’t start celebrating until the win was within their grasp. It was a seminal moment in World Cup history nonetheless.
For the first time after 1996, the competition will have a new winner and irrespective of whether it is England or New Zealand, it will be a new champion. So far, five teams won it. A sixth will lift the trophy on Sunday.
And what can be a better place to welcome the new champion than the most famous of all venues! Next door to it, they were cherishing the moment. When Eoin Morgan lifted Jason Behrendorff over mid-on for the last four, there were loud cheers and high fives at Lord’s Tavern.