Day 1,The Oval

Well, just look at the eleven which I wanted ever since the third day at Leeds and the eleven England are fielding today. And the time in between was described as the most dramatic week in the English sporting media ever since Ponting’s men last visited English shores. ( The Ramprakash – Trescothick and others saga) Marks for SJK’s selection credentials??

 I wanted Lee in the Australian eleven but Johnson has retained his place. And I should say I admired the way he picked up Prior today. Around the wicket to the right handed batsman, the first delivery was quick and angled in towards the batsman. It took some dust out of the wicket and while the speed gun showed 142 ks, the tv commentators called it a slower ball on first sight. The second ball was a very well directed short ball on the body. The third was a fantastic follow up. Just outside off, the slower delivery and Prior was the last man on the planet to be expecting that. The shot looked hopeless and the rest was catching practice at point. ( Remember a similar slower ball from Mitchell from around the wicket to get  Sachin in India last tour?) It also came at a very wrong time for England. Trott and Prior had a 48 run partnership going and they needed a big one. They needed some stability.

 Trott displayed great composure in his first innings for England. He loves feeling the ball in the middle of his bat and looked confident.

  One major thing that went against the Aussies was over-rate. When you don’t play a specialist spinner, the over rate factor is going to affect you, unless of course something like Leeds’09 happens. Once Colly and Bell were gone, Trott and Prior were the new batsmen. And Ponting couldn’t afford to apply pressure from both ends. They were 7 overs down at tea and he had to go with Marcus North from one end. North, for his part bowled much much better than how a part time spinner would bowl. The length was good, the line was consistent and he extracted good bounce and turn. Had the Aussies had more time, England would have been struggling to reach 270.

  Alastair Cook provided a nervous start for the English fans and myself. Bell and Strauss were then responsible for making it England’s session. 108 for 1 at lunch after winning the toss is a dream start. To lose that initiative is very irritating for the English fan.

 So what did Australia do to wrest that initiative? They were always on the ball. They tried new things. They were constantly looking for wickets. They got an early reprieve after lunch when Strauss was caught behind. But when Bell and Collingwood were building on a strong partnership, they were made to work hard for the runs. The line was tight. The length was full and the pace was up. What struck me when Collingwood was caught at gully was that he would be better off at No. 5.He bats well with the lower order and bowlers target him less. I don’t think he’s well suited for No. 4. He couldn’t withstand the pressure Siddle created and was forced to play that loose drive. Mathew Prior was absolutely out thought. That’s the way the bowling department must be working in dry pitches like these. They didn’t have a spinner but they could still induce so many English wickets on a dry first day pitch in sunny conditions.

 Stuart Broad showed tremendous commitment towards his batting. Oh and I almost forgot to mention Flintoff. Another example of gifting your wicket away. He couldn’t see off two overs from Johnson. Sad. What was the need to play that extravagant slash?? Why? These are the little things which count in the end.

 The day surely belongs to Punter’s men. Flintoff has to make amends with the ball. Or that’s what Im praying for.

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2 Comments on “Day 1,The Oval”

  1. KK Says:

    Interestingly, the England selectors and team management picked the exact same team you picked. Good call on Trott and Bell. But why exactly did you want Lee in, that too instead of Johnson?
    Oh, and this is a fantastic blog.

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