Dylan Cleaver: Bother the expense, we'll toast the experience

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From a distance, Lord's gives off a slightly gin-sozzled air.

The cameras love to pan to The Pavilion where bacon-and-egg blazered members make the most of their good fortune, sometimes choosing an afternoon nap over the opportunity to see Jacob Oram poke around for 146 minutes and countless thick edges.

But that is their prerogative. It takes approximately 18 years between application and acceptance to become a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club - is it any wonder, then, that they look so smug when they finally earn the right to wear the blazer and tie?

At the other end of the ground, however, behind the space-age media centre - unquestionably the best of its kind in the world, if you are interested in the comfort and well-being of hacks - Lord's marches to the beat of a different drum.

Its famed Nursery is transformed into a veritable theme park of food stalls, liquor outlets and merchandising caravans. It is here the Lord's proletariat gather, dressed in their newly purchased MCC polo shirts - a snip at just $63, down from $140 - munching $17 burgers and quaffing Foster's ($9 per pint), Pimms ($11 per glass), or, if you're in the mood, a little Veuve Clicquot.

The manager of the Veuve tent did not realise he could be overheard when he was giving his staff pointers as they were setting up on the eve of the test. "Now because we're at Lord's we can basically charge anything," was his theme. "But to give the impression they are getting value for money, the service has to be impeccable." At more than $75 per bottle, you really need that smile.

But people pay and keep coming back for more. This is part of the Lord's experience where, for many, the cricket is a slightly irritating by-product of a day on the turps.

The Beige Brigade are here for the cricket though, and the drinking, but on day two there wasn't much of the former, which left plenty of time for the latter.

One calculated he'd spent $340 in the day, equating to about $2.50 for every run.

Many didn't bother to return to the stands after the third stoppage for bad light, despite the players returning twice.

Their day could perhaps be summed up as thus: ticket to the cricket, $100; money spent on food $50; money spent on drink $150. The opportunity to watch cricket on the big screen at Lord's? Priceless.

- Herald on Sunday

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