Many sports fans grew up with sky-high sporting ambitions – childhood dreams of playing at Wembley in an FA Cup Final, holing a putt at St Andrews at The Open or walking down the steps at Lord’s and on to the pitch for a Test Match.
As a cricket fan mine was always the Lord’s dream and on Monday I got to do just that. Admittedly it wasn’t donning cricket whites with a bat or ball in my hand running out for England in the Ashes, but it was a very special moment all the same at the start of a very special Test.
Pakistan is a country that loves its cricket and has produced some wonderful cricketers. It’s in their blood but it is a difficult time for the country. With the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore last year went Pakistan’s right to host Test matches on home turf.
However, for Pakistan’s scheduled test series against Australia this summer the MCC and ECB stepped in and we are hosting the fixture over here. I was asked to welcome both sides at Lord’s before the first test, which explains why I got to walk down the steps and onto the hallowed turf.
There is, of course, a large population of Pakistani people in this country and it was fantastic to see many of them and Australian fans out in their numbers at Lord’s. I hope that the entire series is well supported and that the world class cricket on show also helps lifts spirits in Pakistan.
Indeed, the ECB and the MCC should be applauded for their help and generosity in sponsoring and laying on this fixture.
Also deserving of applause is the Spanish football team on their World Cup victory last weekend. Seeing the scenes of celebration with millions in Madrid made me think about what it would be like in this country if we won the trophy.
We live in hope. But remember it wasn’t too many years ago when Spain were the great underachievers of international football, so it can be done.
I am hoping though for some more immediate home success at the Open Championship at St Andrews this weekend in the 150th year of the major. British golf is flying at the moment with the likes of Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy all riding high in the world rankings, so I hope some of them are in the mix in the final round on Sunday.
Looking ahead to next week, after the Olympic Quarterly Economic Report on Monday at the Park I am off to Yorkshire to support the ECB’s efforts around the second Australia versus Pakistan Test match. I’ll be going to a Chance to Shine cricket project in Halifax on Tuesday and then off to Sheffield to the English Institute of Sport.
Back in London later that night I’ll be at a Paralympic reception hosted by Channel 4, who have got some fantastic plans for their coverage of the Games in 2012.