Continuing an “”over” per day of observations, today from the vantage point of the Lord’s Media Centre.
Ball One – In the first hour of a Pakistan innings, you will see splendid strokes and positive play. At some point you glance at the scoreboard and expect to see 45 or so for one wicket down, but it’s 29-1. Why? There are so few quick singles taken. Allied to some sloppiness in the field (though Afridi has improved this aspect of his team) Pakistan probably yield 30 runs per day to the opposition.
Ball Two – A new ball is a precious thing in England and a new ball under cloud is a very precious thing indeed. So why waste it? Australia’s opening bowlers, unlike Pakistan’s, bowled too wide too often, intimidated to some extent by Ponting’s field settings. With a little more cover on the leg-side (probably removing mid-on, thereby encouraging the drive and possible catch to slip) Hilfy and Dougie may have felt more inclined to bowl at off stump rather than a foot or more outside.
Ball Three – How difficult is umpiring? In less than perfect light and without much time for Gunner Gould to get his eye back in after a rain break, Mitchell Johnson appealed for a caught behind off Umar Amin. It didn’t look good on first view – no jerking back of the head to see if the keeper caught it, the bat seemingly distant from the ball. But hotspot showed the faintest possible discolouring on the bat and snicko revealed a faint click. Gunner had called it right – well played sir.
Ball Four – It’s almost always a good idea to attack the fifth bowler and it’s almost always a good idea to play positively if the collapse is on, but one time when it’s not a good idea is when you’re the captain, you have an opener playing well at the other end and the next man in is an 18 year-old who doesn’t fancy the short stuff.
Ball Five – If MCC removed the slightly superfluous hoardings promoting themselves around the outfield, it would reveal Lord’s beautiful white picket fenced perimeter for the first time at a Test in two generations.
Ball Six – A parochial one for an Englishman. If Shane Watson can pick up five wickets wobbling outswingers, did England’s selectors discard the much-loved Hoggy too quickly? Watson is hardly possessed of “nip” is he?