The biggest putting green in the world
In September 2002, the MCC spent £1.2m laying a new outfield at Lord’s with a drainage system of scientific precision.
Afterwards, they were assured they had a surface that could drain two inches of water in an hour.
Up until the second day of the first Test against India on Friday, that guarantee had not been put to the test.
And when three hours of drizzle climaxed in a biblical deluge at 1230 BST – and the standing water crept like some mythical sea creature to almost every corner of the outfield – most thought that was the end of any lingering hope of play.
How wrong they were. The sun came out, and the water disappeared through the surface as though obeying some command from above.
Unbelievably, at 1350, play got under way – and as news got round ticket-holders scurried back from various local hostelries.
In case you win the lottery and are thinking of laying a new outfield at your local cricket club – this is how you copy the Lord’s system:
Dig to 20 inches deep, and place a layer of stone and then a layer of gravel. Then add lots of sand - 18 inches of it – and finally your grass goes on top of that.
“It’s basically the biggest putting green in the world,” MCC director of cricket John Stephenson told me.
“It was just incredible what happened today. Not even I thought it was going to happen.”
Against all expectation, the magic number of 25 overs would be played in the day – meaning no refunds for ticket-holders.
Lord’s also managed to stage a full match in the first one-day international against West Indies earlier this season when other grounds may have struggled to do so.
“The outfield’s saved our bacon,” said Stephenson. “Over those two days it’s probably paid itself back.”
Inevitably, Stephenson is proud of head groundsman Mick Hunt and his willing cohorts.
Early in the day, Hunt had been seen wearing wellington boots for the first time in his 14 years in the job. He religiously wears shorts in July as well whatever the weather - that is until Friday dawned in all its bleak misery.
“They have they done a massive amount of overtime,” Stephenson said of Hunt and co.
“They get rewarded but they would argue they should be better rewarded and I wouldn’t argue with that.
“But they do a great job and deserve all the credit they get.”