Ball One – Even DH Lawrence couldn’t make Nottingham exotic, but at 8.15am, it was hard to imagine anywhere else I’d rather be. Quiet, save a few stewards going about their work and bar staff setting up, with empty stands large, but not too large, looking out over the flat, flat, green, green expanse of land washed in slanting morning sunlight. Cricket offers so many pleasures, but few beat the expectancy of a fine day at a Test. I’m getting carried away aren’t I?
Ball Two – There was much talk over the winter about the influence of the DRS on subcontinental pitches on which the ball seldom goes over the top of the bails. Of course, such “conditions” can be replicated in England by bowling the same straight line just a little fuller – albeit with more risk of being driven. Having looked ragged and outclassed yesterday (except the admirable Rampaul), West Indies have come out with a plan to bowl at the stumps and have been rewarded with two LBWs in the first hour. Why bowlers don’t attack the stumps more often, I don’t know.
Ball Three – One of cricket’s joys is the opportunity it affords to spend a day in good company chatting about this and that and sometimes even talking about the cricket. In the lunch interval at Trent Bridge, the PA was turned up to a volume that made such conversation impossible, obliging the public to leave their seats to talk. Which brought them out into areas reserved for food and drinks concessions. Which may be the point.
Ball Four – The balance between attack and defence is always a tricky one for a captain to strike, but Darren Sammy was surely too passive immediately after lunch, offering the excellent Ravi Rampaul just one slip for Andrew Strauss and then letting Tim Bresnan settle in to his own gentle seamers instead of Kemar Roach’s hostile pace. Moments matter in Test cricket and that was a moment to attack that went begging
Ball Five – I heard a little of Shane Warne just prior to lunch referring to Bres as one of “England’ tail”. So he may have been had the mighty leg-spinner been bowling. But against most attacks, Bresnan is a late middle order batsman who averages 36 in Tests and has batted on well over 300 occasions in professional cricket, scoring over 5500 runs. Nasser Hussain soon put the Australian right, but his remarks illustrate the downside of having Warne’s considerable charisma and knowledge in the Sky box – how much cricket does he see these days?
Ball Six – The ground was full on Saturday, but there are empty seats in all the stands today. On Day Three, I’m not sure why that should be. particularly as it used to be said that Saturdays were less busy at Tests since many potential spectators were playing the game, rather than watching it. There won’t be so much white plastic on view come the Sunday of next year’s Trent Bridge Test – I can promise you that.