Today’s “over” of observations, written as the day progresses.
Ball One – Cloud cover at Headingley usually leads to the ball hooping around (some of us remember Gary Gilmour’s match), but this morning the Aus bowlers couldn’t really get it off the straight and narrow. Possibly one reason, along with the bowlers’ inconsistency, is revealed by Punter’s wearing of the full sweater – the temperature may just have been a little too low for the swingers. What a mystery swing is!
Ball Two – Have Australia ever fielded as scrappily? The ground fielding has been less than immaculate, fielders saving one have let Pakistan’s batsmen steal singles (and history shows that they don’t steal many) and catches are going down. Punter and Tim Nielson have work to do, and not just on fine tuning.
Ball Three – Pakistan, having played less Test cricket than ideally would be the case, need to re-learn the rhythm of Test batting. With the Akmal brothers attempting to Afridi almost every ball to the boundary and other batsmen getting starts and failing to go on, the harsh penalties Test cricket exacts for such hubris are being visited on the men in the not so baggy green caps. More patience please!
Ball Four – Shane Watson used to be a 140kmh bowler who batted down the order – but his body, heavily muscled, could not stand up to the strain. Twelve months ago, he was invited to open and has generally made a success of it, showing solid technique. His bowling has become of the change variety, down to 125khm, but with a seam presented beautifully straight and in at the stumps all the time. His reward has been 12 wickets in the series to date, with power to add. How his bowling will go in Australia may be a different story.
Ball Five – Salman Butt is new to Test captaincy, so one should make allowances, but continuing after tea with the gentle mediums of Umar Amin to the out of sorts Punter and the very out of sorts Clarke ceded the initiative when a wicket would have been very welcome indeed. Though Mohammad Amir is young, he has been under-bowled by a captain who has a gem to be cherished, but is perhaps a little too protective of his best bowler. Inevitably, Punter played himself into form and Clarke is looking more comfortable.
Ball Six – Bad light is a stain on the game. Batting was looking as easy as it has for the whole series, but that was not enough to prevent the light meters and the walk off. Not good enough!