Ball One – Everyone loves a last wicket stand… except the fielding side. Tino Best blazed away to anything in his own half, so why England didn’t get the ball into his chin and under his feet was beyond me. There’s an art to bowling at genuine, but dangerous, tailenders that involves patience, planning and a control of line and length (albeit a different line and length) every bit as important as it is when bowling to the top order. It was magnificent stuff, but it really shouldn’t have happened.
Ball Two – “Taking the game away…” is a relatively new catchphrase in Test cricket (I’d date it to Adam Gilchrist’s arrival), but its newness is no reflection of its utility. The extraordinary tenth wicket stand of 143 has made any scenarios that might lead to an England win – but the follow-on target is 277 and that looks a long way off as England take guard, no doubt disheartened after a morning that nobody expected.
Ball Three – If I had a BA in Statsguruing, I’d be able to prove or disprove my theory that late order stands bring a disproportionate number of early top order wickets. Sure enough, having been kept waiting two and a half hours longer than he expected before strapping on the pads, Alastair Cook played round an in-ducker from Ravi Rampaul and was gone for 91 runs fewer than West Indies’ Number 11 managed. Cricket is a contrary game.
Ball Four – KP is so Australian in his approach. He clearly doesn’t think Sammy can bowl and treats his deliveries with something close to contempt. When Michael Slater or Viv Richards or Virender Sehwag have done this, it’s seen as wonderful cricket, a way of dominating one’s opponents. When KP does it, arrogance is the first word to come to mind and hubris is the second. But it’s just great batting really.
Ball Five – The basics matter in cricket. With England 100-3 and a nervous Jonny Bairstow and a less than fully fit Matt Prior next up, Adrian Barath at short leg gets his hands too high and can’t get down again to take a sharp chance offered by Ian Bell. The first time one fields in close, one is told to stay low because once up, you can’t get back down. Adrian Barath forgot that early lesson and having got his hands too far up, couldn’t effect the catch. Sunil Narine awaits his first Test wicket and Ian Bell is reprieved.
Ball Six – Off come the players for bad light, or is it dangerous light, or unfair light or whatever? It’s not good enough is what it is. There is nothing unplayable about conditions (the lights are on) and no player is in any danger of injury. People pay a lot of money to watch Test cricket and deserve better. Cricket could start by re-assigning the description of light from “bad” to unplayable and invite the umpires to substantiate their opinion that conditions are literally UNPLAYABLE.
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