Ball One – 21st century cricket’s schedule places significant demands on players, but even the whirlygig of Indian cricketers’ commitments can seldom have thrown up a timetable that requires 160 miles travelling between one match that finishes at 10.00pm or so and another that starts at 11.00am the next morning. Craig Kieswetter, Jos Buttler and Jade Dernbach have quick-changed from England garb into county pyjamas without ever, one suspects, wearing their bedtime pyjamas for more than an hour or two.
Ball Two – The older one gets, the more one sounds like Fred Trueman – not knowing what’s going on out there. But at 124-5 with more than 15 overs to go, quite why Nick Compton felt that a reverse sweep was the best option is beyond my ken. He, and his team, paid the price losing a wicket when poised to go on to the offensive.
Ball Three – Steve Davies’ batting has been vital to Surrey’s late season charge, but his keeping still fails to convince. Even a schoolboy cricketer should be able to collect a throw and remove the bails for a regulation run out, but Davies failed to gather the ball cleanly and fluffed the chance. Nobody would claim that wicketkeeping is an easy job, especially when required to open the batting too, but, at a time when English cricket is producing more batsmen and bowlers of international class than ever, keeping excellence appears more and more rare.
Ball Four – Somerset have not batted well, mixing poor shot selection with poor shot execution. The shining exception is Jos Buttler, just turned 21 but played an innings full of maturity, balancing of risk and reward. He has already had a taste of international cricket in Twenty20 and looks likely to get plenty more in the future.
Ball Five – After reaching fifty, Buttler played the shot of the day, standing up straight to punch the ball through extra cover with an economy of movement and effort that reminded me of VVS Laxman. Like the Indian master batsman, Buttler’s weight of stroke comes from his timing and his wrists – natural gifts, supplemented by growing confidence and nous. He looks a far better player than his rival for the keeper-batsman slot for county and country (and the man in possession) – Craig Kieswetter.
Ball Six – Jade Dernbach is known for his bag of tricks, but even he will have been pleased with an immediate reward from going round the wicket dismissing Murali Kartik. His chosen weapon was a handy and much underused option against the tailender – the full toss that hits the stumps three parts of the way up. Even a man of Kartik’s experience won’t have seen too many like that and he didn’t see this one either.