London: You know there's something fairly important happening when the Queen decides to show up. In cricket, for the players and the fans, there are few things that bear as much resonance as a Test match at Lord's. Make that an Ashes Test on a warm summer's day with England already 1-0 up, and you have all the trappings of an occasion that needs no hyping.
By a special dispensation, the first day of the second Ashes Test, starting at Lord's on Thursday (July 18), will begin 15 minutes late as Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II will start the proceedings, walking out on to the field to be introduced to the players of the two teams. The Queen, who is a patron of the Marylebone Cricket Club, will meet the coaches and support staff of the two teams in the Long Room, before taking her seat at in the MCC balcony to take in the action for as long as she likes. (Also read: Aus say Mickey Arthur lawsuit no Ashes distraction)
The presence of the Queen, local experts suggest, is a positive omen for England, as her last visit coincided with Australia slumping from 103 for 2 to 158 for 8 in 2009. Whether Michael Clarke's team will be similarly obliging, of course, remains to be seen. (Related: Ricky Ponting sticks to Australia win prediction)