Now summer really is here: Fans lap up the sun as Test cricket crowds return to Lord’s for the first time since the 2019 Ashes, with 6,500 watching England face New Zealand… even after some members returned tickets over Covid fears
- Lord’s capacity has been capped at 25 per cent for England v New Zealand
- Approximately 6,500 fans were in attendance for the first day of the Test match
- England’s second Test against the Black Caps is set to welcome 18,000 fans
Cricket fans are enjoying a return to a home England Test match for the first time in nearly two years, with spectators at Lord’s taking in the action under the blazing London sunshine.
Joe Root’s men kick off a packed schedule of international cricket this summer with a two-match Test series against world No 2 New Zealand in north-west London and Birmingham.
Lord’s capacity has been capped at 25 per cent for each of the five days of action between the two sides.
Cricket fans are enjoying a return to a home England Test match for the first time in nearly two years
Lord’s capacity has been capped at 25 per cent for the match for the five days between the sides
And around 6,500 supporters have made their way to the ground for the first day of action
And approximately 6,500 fans – the maximum capacity once social distancing has been accounted for – have made their way to the ground on Wednesday to see Joe Root’s men begin their summer which also sees them face India in August and September.
‘As a kid growing up, going to those games meant a huge amount to me,’ England captain Root said ahead of the first Test.
‘It will be great to have fans and that atmosphere back. To see people enjoying our sport again, live.’
Sportsmail understands some MCC members have chosen not to come despite initially acquiring tickets, and while some of those were returned, they have not all been re-sold, leading to a few empty seats on day one.
County cricket had already welcomed fans back, but now fans returned to Lord’s for an international game
It is the first time they have returned for a home Test since the Oval Ashes Test in 2019
However, tickets for days two, three and four at Lord’s have all nevertheless sold out.
County cricket has already welcomed supporters back into the stadiums, with a 25 per cent capacity having been allowed since 17 May, more than a month after the season started on 8 April.
But now fans have returned to an international fixture in England for the first time since Joe Root’s men sealed a final-day victory at The Oval in September 2019 to draw the Ashes against Australia.
England beat West Indies and Pakistan in behind-closed-doors home Test series last summer. They also faced Pakistan and Australia in limited-overs series in 2020 on home soil without crowds.
The Edgbaston Test between Root and Kane Williamson’s men starting on 10 June is set to welcome 18,000 fans, after being selected as the first of the government’s latest pilot events for greater attendance at sporting events.
England faced West Indies and Pakistan in behind-closed-doors home Tests in 2020
The Ageas Bowl is then expected to allow 4,000 fans for the inaugural World Test Championship final between New Zealand and India, which begins on 18 June in Southampton.
New Zealand won the toss at Lord’s and elected to bat first, before going the first hour of play without losing a wicket as Tom Latham and debutant Devon Conway looked to establish a solid base and appeared comfortable at the crease.
However, England debutant Ollie Robinson then dismissed Latham, with the New Zealand ending the first session on 85 for one.
England players also wore t-shirts before the action got underway to show their support in the fight against racism and all other forms of discrimination.
The day also saw New Zealand mark their first return to Lord’s since their dramatic World Cup final defeat by Eoin Morgan’s men in July 2019.
England wore anti-discrimination t-shirts before play got underway on day one of the Test