LONDON: “Give it, give it,” scream a few fans in New Zealand shirts and run towards the screen, when Trent Boult raps Jason Roy on the pad on the first ball of the England innings. The Black Caps review the decision, which is turned down. “Calm down, calm down,” an England fan says, arms spread, signalling the New Zealand fans to sit down. A collective sigh of relief fills the air.
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For the big match on Sunday, the organisers had arranged a special live screening at the famous Trafalgar Square, for those who couldn’t be at the ground. But this was at Lord’s, where another big screen had been put up on the practice area, for those who wanted to catch the action relaxing on the green instead of being confined to the stands. Colourful and noisy with remarks and counter remarks, this became a mini Trafalgar Square.
Known for its sombre settings and an appreciative but quiet crowd for Test matches, Lord’s was home to a different breed for the World Cup final. The sprawling area where the screen had been put up was their playground. Etiquettes went out of the window, there was no disapproving look for the unwise crack and out here the fan could just be a fan, not the knowledgeable aficionado.
“A World Cup final going on and they don’t care be in the stands,” former England spinner Graeme Swann sounded disgusted about this section of the crowd on his way up on the elevator to the media centre. He was wrong. This was a place providing a good view of the game on the big screen. And this was also a place offering what the cricket fan often misses --- leg space. If a ticket got one a place in the gallery, the same allowed one to be in front of the screen. It was a matter of choice.
“This can be more relaxing. It’s a different kind of fun to watch from the stands alright. That gives you a view of everything. But being there for hours can get a bit tiring. When one wants a bit of freedom of movement and some fresh air, this is the place. I have been inside and here. To be able to both is better than getting restricted to the seat my ticket gets me,” said a fan of Indian origin.
Like other venues in England, Lord’s too has smaller monitors scattered all across the stadium premises. This big screen with space in front to sprawl is unique to the Home of Cricket and a brainchild of the Marylebone Cricket Club.
“It’s done for all international matches. The food and drinks stalls are around this place. The idea is to give the fans a different experience,” said an MCC media official.
There was good evidence of that. In the second half after a few good hours of cheering and downing sufficient amounts of beer and spirit, many were flat on the ground.