Ball One 10.26am – When I first watched Test cricket in the 70s, aggression on the field was usually a matter for bowlers (Mikey to Geoffrey or big, bluff Brian, Dennis and Jeff at Perth and Wayne and Sylvester in county cricket FFS!) with only really King Viv and Ian Botham consistently aggressive batsmen. As happens in cricket, the wheel turned and recently aggression has been the reserve of batsmen teeing off (like Viru and Gilly), crushing hope with weight of runs (like Sachin and Lara) or driving captains made with whippetish running (like Ponting and Slater). Six overs into the day and just two runs have been added by Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq – but, you know what? I think that’s just fine. Cook and Trott were the key men for England in The Ashes – and the most patient. Tendulkar and Laxman have become more risk-averse towards the end of their careers and have played key roles in driving India to the Number One ranking. Jacques Kallis, so often derided for slowish selfish play, is finally getting the recognition he deserves. As long as you don’t block the half-volleys and look to rotate the strike, the runs will come and the commentators will stop their whining.
Ball Two 10.45pm – In recent years, England have looked to pick on character (what the Aussies call ticker) as much as weight of runs or wickets. Nobody can discern quite what lies behind the selection of Pakistan teams, but I hope Misbah and Shafiq are making the PCB look and learn. In partnership, they are the antithesis of Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi and I know which pair I would back to score more runs in Test cricket.
Ball Three 10.52pm – And as I write that, both men are dismissed LBW, both to slightly marginal calls, but missing straight ones is never a smart move for batsmen. Sometimes the hard work of getting in again for a new day pays off and sometimes it doesn’t – today it didn’t.
Ball Four 11.25pm – More on pacing an innings. Despite much impatience in the com box and remarks that the pitch is a road, after 97.5 overs each way, NZ were 275 all out and Pakistan are 270-6. That tells me that Pakistan are not too far away from pacing the innings well – particularly away from home in unfamiliar conditions with yet another new look XI.
Ball Five 12.01am – I just don’t know what it is about 7th wicket stands. Maybe it’s that I’m almost obsessed with the idea of playing a proper Number 8, yet so often I find an innings turn from failure to success on the basis of the contribution of the last proper batsman and the first proper bowler. Pakistan, after two wickets in two balls, were looking at parity or a small lead and the prospect of batting last on a worn strip until Adnan Akmal and Abdur Rehman blocked a lot and hit a few. There’s still work to be done by the Pakistan batsmen, but the game looks very different at 314-6 to how it looked at 256-6.
Ball Six 12.50am – I never thought I would agree with anything said by Ian Smith (the Ian Botham of New Zealand media), but I concur 100% with his calling out of Tim Southee for his absurd throw of the ball at Adnan Akmal. It was not an attempt to run him out (as Roger Harper did to Graham Gooch so memorably), it was misplaced macho posturing. Too much of that kind of thing goes on and it’s about time that flinging the ball at batsman is treated the same way as the beamer.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.