Lord's Firsts

by Philip Barker

Published by:
Amberley Publishing
The Hill, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 4EP

Pages: 224

MRP: 14.99

Players, spectators and cricket enthusiasts have always been grateful to Thomas Lord for founding the world's most famous cricket ground. This year, the home of cricket celebrates 200 years on its present site and it is, in fact, the third Lord's ground. People may also be grateful to Philip Barker for chronicling the history of Thomas Lord's three cricket grounds in this entertaining book.

The subject is an interesting one to add to the many books already written about Lord's. Philip Barker has entitled this book Lord's Firsts and it concentrates on just that firsts at the ground so we read about international sides playing their first Tests at Lord's, the first village cup final at the ground won by Troon as well as the first ODI, county one-day match and final. Naturally, heroic performances on first appearances are noted: who can forget Bob Massie but who knew that it took ninety years for an Englishman making his debut appearance at Lord's to score a Test century? John Hampshire was the man.

It is lovely to go back in time a long time in many cases and read of the names of the sides who have graced the three grounds. Yes, the legendary doctor, the most famous cricketer of his age made appearances for not just England but the Non-Smokers against the Smokers in 1884. One wonders what the media thought and whether there was anything remotely bordering on health and safety in those days but, anyway, the Non-Smokers won comfortably.

Even in the early days, with overs consisting of four balls, there are some remarkable bowling analyses and readers should not be perturbed into thinking that there are inaccuracies when they see examples of more than ten batsmen dismissed. The Gentlemen of Canada not only lost to MCC by the little matter of an innings and 123 runs but were dismissed in both innings by just three bowlers who returned, between them, 21.3-14-21-5, 21-16-10-8, 16-7-19-10 and 15-6-16-3.

There are some remarkable names also, the match between MCC and Australian Aboriginals being a case in point. The MCC included an Earl, Viscount, a Lieutenant-Colonel, a Captain and one double-barrelled name whilst the Aboriginals contained amongst their number some delightful names such as Tiger, King Cole, Dick-a-Dick and Twopenny and, after the game finished, entertained the spectators with a boomerang display which led to a subsequent complaint.

Lord's has not always been just about cricket. In recent times, archery was showcased during the 2012 London Olympics whilst baseball featured during World War One. Philip Barker must be congratulated on producing such an interesting and enjoyable book for the home of cricket's 200th Anniversary and any reader wishing to find out about notable firsts at the ground as well as the longest running rivalry in cricket, Eton against Harrow, and the first Varsity match in 1827 should buy this book.