Ball One – Stuart Broad has plenty going for him, as the marketing men can attest. However, away from England, he is not particularly well liked and sometimes it’s not hard to see why. In his first over he, not for the first time, appealed with utter conviction, celebrating as he eventually stopped in the crease at the other end of the pitch. So “convinced” was he that when the umpire answered in the negative, England did not review it. That’s at best unedifying and at worst, well, gamesmanship is the more polite term I suppose.
Ball Two – Not for the first time, Aleem Dar underlines his excellence. He was very quick to give Dilshan out to Tremlett’s signature lifter and, on review, Hotspot revealed the merest brush of the glove. Lucky Aleem, you might say, but he’s lucky too often for that to stick.
Ball Three – Nine days ago, I watched Chris Tremlett fail even to look like parting Tim Phillips and Chris Wright (Essex’s Numbers 8 and 10 since you ask). Today, he has both Lankan openers in the hutch and looks like taking a wicket with every ball. I’ll give you the words Old Funny and Game and you can do the rest.
Ball Four – Nobody is quite sure what makes a ball swing, but I’ve always felt that moisture coming up from a drying ground helps it to go just far enough in the air to seam further off the pitch. Stuart Broad’s famous spell at The Oval in 2009 was a case in point and Chris Tremlett has found Broad’s line and length in similar conditions today. As Glenn McGrath knew, you don’t need to move a ball very far to catch the edge of the bat.
Ball Five – What was Thilan Samaraweera thinking? Going back to play horizontal bat shots on this wicket has already seen off batsmen more used to typical English conditions than him. But batting in clutch situations is about clarity of mind and certainty in movement. Through Tremlett’s excellence, Lankan minds are scrambled and movement uncertain. Not for the first time in Test cricket, an Andrew Strauss team have been able to seize an initiative that didn’t appear to exist.
Ball Six – Regular readers will know that The Final Over of the Day is not a summary of the day’s play, but a series of talking points raised by particular deliveries. Sometimes I can watch a whole ODI and struggle to find an “over” – and sometimes a Test match can give you as many “overs” on the computer as there are in the middle. What an extraordinary game this Test cricket is.