I can’t have a blog with Cricket as a theme without mention of the incredible scenes from yesterday at Trent Bridge. As a regular clubbie who doesn’t play enough and an avid fan, it is possibly one of the most incredible days of cricket that I could have witnessed. Let’s be clear, I wasn’t there, at Trent Bridge. I could only watch it on the TV. But even then. It was astonishing.
At the start of the day, I really wouldn’t have said that the pitch looked especially scary. The conditions were fairly standard for Trent Bridge. It looked like a bowling day, and Cookie won the toss and bowled.
I think it’s fair to say that what happened next was not expected. To be two down inside the first over with Stuart Broad reaching his 300th victim. And one of them being the rock that was Chris Rogers. And for it to proceed as it did. I’d list the records, but there are too many of them. Suffice to say that the shortest first innings of a test match is probably not one that Australia wanted. If you want a better view as to why it happened, Ricky Ponting can tell you here. For me it just looked like they didn’t know how to bat in what were traditionally English conditions. Too much of the hard hands, pushing at the ball, and not enough waiting and playing it late. A perfect technique for a fast, true pitch. Perhaps less good in these conditions. Is it really a surprise that the last time they had this kind of collapse it was at Newlands in Cape Town?
Eight wickets for fifteen run from 9.3 overs – that’s 58 balls. Yet only three bowled at the stumps. That’s a lot of leaving that went unleft. An innings that lasted for fewer balls than characters in a tweet. The skipper told his players that someone needed to step up and be a hero and Stuart Broad did just that!
Amid calls that the pitch was somehow doctored, we waited with trepidation for what would happen next. What happened? England proved that the demons in the pitch seemed to be in the Aussie batsmen’s heads. Lyth and Cook taking the shine off the new ball. Bell getting LBW on something that really looked like it was going down to leg on the TV. Not sure whether there was seam there?
And welcome to the crease Joe Root. Putting sixty something on with the skip and then 150+ with Johnny Bairstow. Magnificent partnerships that put the Aussie innings into context. It was pure Hollywood. Even Bairstow managed to score more than the entire Australian team.
Watching this all whipped my office into a frenzy. A real, palpable sense of excitement and “Is this really happening”.
To be 214 runs ahead at stumps on the first day of a test match. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t quite believe it. And yet we’re back, with similar conditions at the start of play today as yesterday. Will this mean that the demons reappear?
Who knows, but I’ll still be wearing my cricket ball cufflinks in the hope they keep England in the game and bringing the Ashes home at Trent Bridge!