What A Day! Trott and Broad Repel Amir.

28 08 2010

What an extraordinary day of test cricket! This was quite simply one of the most enthralling days that the Compulsive Hooker has had the pleasure of witnessing and, in one short day, typified why test cricket, of all the possible disciplines, is the preeminent and most wonderful format.

The day began under good bowling conditions with that 18 year old boy wizard, Mohammad Amir (to give the new spelling of his name Cricinfo and Sky have seemingly adopted), bowling with such skill and discipline that he took six wickets and left England reeling at 102-7.  In fact things were so bad for England at one point that Amir had taken 4 wickets for nought runs and four of the top 8 batsman had been dismissed for ducks. Bowling with an unerringly excellent length and line and swinging the ball late he caused problems for all the England players and in the process made himself the youngest person to have ever made it onto that oft-mentioned thing, the Lords Honours Board.

By the end of the day though Amir would have been forgiven for asking what the other bowlers had been doing. From an exceedingly precarious position of 102-7 England, through Messrs Trott and Broad, have fought back to the quite extraordinary and altogether unheralded position of 346-7. An unbroken stand of 244 runs is exceptional in any game and under any circumstances but when one of those players is a number 9 batsman and opening bowler; when their team were in such a difficult position and when quite patently conditions favoured the bowlers it assumes another level of magnitude altogether. In short this was a partnership which won’t be forgotten and, if they continue in the same vein this morning, could conceivably become the largest ever. They only need another 73 runs after all!

We at the Compulsive Hooker have traditionally not been Mr. Trott’s biggest fans. We had been unsure about his temperament after some interestingly frenetic performances in South Africa earlier this year, some innings in which he looked to be playing for himself rather than the team and had felt annoyed with his laboriously slow pre ball preparation routines. Yesterday though, on the former point at any rate, he has convinced us that his temperament is sound. Positive when the ball was there to be hit and solid in defence; it was an innings of which Boycott, Atherton or any other innumerable ‘anchor role’ type batsman would have been proud of. Not out on 149, Trott will be looking to convert this into a double and push England to upwards of 450 today. We would have laughed at this idea yesterday but today – who knows!

Trott’s partner in this epic partnership, Stuart Broad, also deserves enormous praise. Broad has long been touted as a potential test match all rounder and someone capable of batting at 7 yet in the past 12 or 15 months his batting had gone backwards to the extent that he had slipped below Swann in the batting order. Yesterday however, he showed exactly why people had such a high opinion of his talents and, more or less from the moment he came to the crease, didn’t look like getting out. For our money Broad should be above Swann in the order which would have the double advantage of giving Swann more time to bat but also allowing Swann to play in a freer fashion without the responsibility of having to build an innings.

So there we have it. Three entries on the Honours Board. One for bowling and two for batting and a complete reversal in fortunes from the beginning of the day when Pakistan could have reasonably been expecting to be batting by tea time. It will be interesting to see how Pakistan come back from this as they appeared to have given up by the end of the day; content to simply bowl the overs in a mechanical fashion. If they knock the the remaining three wickets over quickly then quite possibly that will give them a small boost but, with their confidence fragile, we think it is equally likely that Pakistan will fold for around 200 and concede a substantial lead.

In all this excitement it would be easy to gloss over the other failings once again demonstrated within the English batting ranks. We said before the test that whilst we appreciated the English top six weren’t in the best form in the world people shouldn’t get too excited and start advocating too much change. We stand by this still and Pietersen excepted, believe that it was down to brilliant Pakistani bowling from Amir rather than any particularly bad batting. Cook, Collingwood, Morgan and Prior were all undone by brilliant bowling, the middle two third ball which that early in your innings can happen to anyone. Fortunately for them, and thanks to Trott and Broad, this can be safely ignored for now as England’s total is already looking above par in our eyes.

Pietersen is of course a different case and, with the shot he played first ball to get out, we wouldn’t be surprised if Flower gave him the ‘hairdryer’ to borrow a term from Sir Alex Ferguson’s famed techniques. Truly he is so out of form and appears to be such a mess mentally that his problems with having no county to go and play for appear to have come at the worst possible time. Batting, like bowling, has it own rhythms and so surely what he needs is some time in the middle finding these grooves and ‘getting his head on’ but without a county to play for is in a real pickle. Erstwhile England’s best batsman, it is imperative that he finds his form prior to the Ashes.

We cannot remember quite when we have looked forward to a days cricket so much as this morning. The possibilities are endless and you can bet your life – it won’t be boring!




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