My final “over” from this Test.
Ball One – At Lord’s, it’s hard to do things wrong, but MCC are doing things very, very right. Hosting a series for the first time in its 223 year history, one might have expected at least some teething problems. There were none. Lord’s is a picture, the weather has been good and the cricket is wonderfully competitive deep into the Test. The crowds have not been at capacity, but well above what most countries expect for home Tests. Since MCC became much more progressive about a decade or so ago, its beneficial effect on the game has grown and grown.
Ball Two – Mitchell Johnson is ranked the second best bowler in the world and is very much a senior pro in Punter’s new team. So why is he so untrustworthy with the ball? At the start of the fourth day, under cloud and with a debutant at the crease, he bowled such rubbish that Punter removed him from the attack after three overs and was later obliged to introduce the part-time spin of Marcus North before lunch. (with much success, as it transpired). In a four man attack – in any attack – a bowler as wayward as MJ is a luxury that few sides can accommodate for very long.
Ball Three – It’s often said that players should always play their natural game. Shahid Afridi’s two innings show that there are times when that is too trite a statement.
Ball Four – Whenever I hear the phrase, “You need to take twenty wickets to win a Test,” I question it because you don’t really. You need to be bowling when twenty wickets go down. Marcus North’s extraordinary spell has shown that today. Obviously, he gets some of the credit, but he was really only bowling when the wickets went down.
Ball Five – Test cricket is a tough sport in which technique and character are examined in detail. Perhaps it is too much to expect Pakistan to play Test matches as infrequently as they do and be anything other than incapable of putting a couple of good sessions together. But it’s the sheer brainlessness of much of Pakistan’s play that grates, because the talent is so obviously there.
Ball Six – Australia have won this Test largely through the runs scored by bowlers and the wickets taken by batsmen. That’s not a formula likely to win back the Ashes. Batting can look brittle and bowling either wayward (MJ and Dougie) or inexperienced (Smith). Australia’s squad looks shallower than it has done for a generation, but the First XI still look good enough to win more than they lose, especially at home.