There are a couple of new additions that can be considered for the ‘antonyms’ chapter for kindergarten school books. On the list that has black-white, big-small; ‘London-Southampton’ and ‘Lord’s-Rose Bowl’ can happily co-exist. But still the two contrastingly different cities and venues have a common thread, the one that’s green.
Like was the case at the Victorian venue at the full-of-life capital during the second Test, the modern-day sport pit at sleepy Southampton, that’s gently waking to the third, will aid the pacers. In case the captains were to decide their playing XI based on Wednesday’s pitch look, off-spinner R Ashwin will continue to warm the bench, Stuart Binny might get lucky again and England may be tempted to play the pacey tyro Chris Jordan in the place of the half-ineffective batting-challenged all-rounder Ben Stokes.
While the visitors will find the pitch familiar from Lord’s, the surroundings and atmosphere will be very different. This is a venue that is far away from the city and it has for company highway hotels and ‘break journey’ food courts.
Room with a view
At first glimpse it’s a ‘work in progress’ venue. Opposite the pavilion end, there happens to be massive structure with scaffoldings and the din of construction activities. In the months ahead, a four-star hotel will come up that will have rooms facing the central square, rented during the game and promising a spectacular match view.
There has been immense pre-launch publicity of the hotel as one local says, “You can have a good night’s sleep and stay in the same room to watch live cricket. In the morning the bed folds up and out comes the tables for eight, china to serve fine dining and flutes for champagne.”
That’s a far cry from the member’s pavilion at Lord’s. If one has to wait for years to get prime seat at the ‘home of cricket’, at Southampton, once the hotel is in place, the top-view will be just a check-in away.