In front of a standing ovation by the members and a capacity crowd, Mick Hunt was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the MCC on Saturday (11 August) just before the start of play of the Second Test Match between England and India.
Standing ovation for Mick from the Members
The presentation was made by Lord MacLaurin, President of the MCC who was accompanied by Phil Neale, operations manager of the England cricket team. Mick was also later presented with a signed bat by Joe Root, England cricket captain.
It has recently been announced that Mick is to stand down as head groundsman at Lord's after a career lasting 49 years. He joined the grounds staff in 1969, and was appointed head groundsman in 1985.
It was perhaps appropriate, if not inevitable, that his last Test Match at Lord's would provide Mick and his staff with some of the most challenging conditions in recent years, coming hard on the heels of one of the hottest and driest summers.
The match had been hyped up and highly anticipated since the pulsating First Test at Edgbaston ended in a narrow England victory. A series against India ranks as high as an Ashes series – and was a sell-out.
The first day (Thursday 9 August) was a complete wash-out, the first for 17 years. Consistent heavy drizzle and low cloud forced the umpires to call off the game at 5.00pm.
Friday started brightly, but after half-an-hour play (and two wickets for England), a shower suspended play which resumed for another short period before setting in heavily during early afternoon. Ground staff were scuttling backwards and forwards, and there were a few false indications that play might commence, but at 4.00pm a deluge drowned Lord's. For a while, ground staff were prohibited from the playing area because of lightning in the vicinity.
The outfield took a real soaking as evidenced by the water coming off the Blotters. But as soon the rain cleared, Mick and his grounds staff worked their socks off in front a mainly patient but sometimes vocal crowd.
Just after 5.00pm, the ground was decreed fit for play. It was an astonishing feat, aided by the installation of the new outfield put down in 2003 and the frantic efforts of the ground staff.
A few years ago, play wouldn't have been contemplated for perhaps another 24 hours. As it was, a near capacity crowd, who had backed their hunches (and their faith in the Lord's grounds staff) were treated to two hours of exhilarating cricket as England, spearheaded by Jimmy Anderson, bowled out India just before 7.30pm.
If any day of cricket had shown off the skills and dedication of the ground staff - it was last Friday at Lord's.
Perhaps it was also fitting that Mick had that opportunity to showcase his dedication to the game before a capacity audience and in his last Test Match.
Thanks to Clare Skinner, MCC, for photos of Mick Hunt and the presentation