Ball One – From the vantage point of the Press Box, it’s extraordinary to see just how much is happening while no play is actually underway. Ground staff are on and off the paddock, moving covers, painting creases, roping outfields – these guys (like the Media with whom I sit, they are definitely guys and not gals, though, like the Press Box, there’s no reason for this gender imbalance) work bloody hard. Unsung heroes of the game, they are.
Ball Two – The word “unflusteredness” does not exist, but it should, as it’s a very useful quality in batsmanship and one possessed in unfeasibly large quantities by Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott. Not since Graham Thorpe’s heyday have England fielded players so at ease with themselves and their games.
Ball Three – KP strides to the crease in the kind of situation that hasn’t suited him – England ahead in a game likely to peter out, innocuous bowling and not much glory to be gained. Unlike at other times in his career when faced with such a situation, KP does have something to prove. With young batsmen queuing up behind him (and Ben Stokes’ bowling a very handy option to supplement a four man attack) and a solid look to a majority of England’s six batting slots, the whispers about his place in the side are not just coming from the usual suspects determined to see the worst in him – the whispers are coming from his fans too. Like the Trumpet.
Ball Four – And almost as I punch the full stop key on Ball Three, KP is out to a shortish ball from Herath that squatted, hurried on and trapped him LBW. In one sense, KP can count himself unlucky, as Hotspot was not utterly conclusive in its evidence – it might just have been bat on pad. In another sense, on a pitch that has seen balls keep low since Day One, going back to play a slog-pull so early in his innings was not advisable. What Would Trotty Do? is a handy mantra for an England batsman to bear in mind – Trott probably wouldn’t have played that shot on 133 never mind 3. And not to one’s personal demon: left-arm spin.
Ball Five – Last weekend, Farvez Maharoof was getting Lancashire over the line in a gripping, and crucial, Roses Match. I’m sure he’s delighted to be playing for his country, but after an unfortunate dismissal with the bat and the assuming of a stock bowler’s role on a dying pitch, he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t think back wistfully to his early season spell when he was the biggest fish in a smaller pool.
Ball Six – Why do players deploy the sliding stop when they could run the ball down bending to flick it back (as they did for decades prior to Derek Randall’s madcap antics in the 70s)? There are certainly times when the slide is essential, but Ian Bell is neither the first nor the last batsman to benefit from a mistimed, and unnecessary, slide on the boundary.