Well, this has completely buggered things up hasn’t it.
I mean I am happy we are doing well, the series is alive, Mitch is wonderful, blah blah blah.
But. I had a whole piece planned, in advance, about today’s play. A ripper, a belter. A great Day 2 review, all pre- written and prepared, all set to go.
I thought that as I’m batting with Luke Reynolds, (a bloke who from his articles knows a fair bit about the game, seems to still play it and has a cricket cap on his good looking head for Christ’s sake in his photo), I better come up with something good.
People who know what they are talking about will talk in their reviews about the pitch, how we are bowling, picking the gaps, strategy and all that bumpf. I’ll be left exposed like a dodgy tailender, McGrath or Reid like in the face of quick bowling.
So, preparation being the mother of something or other, I thought, ‘I know, a funny piece’. Something witty, pithy, full of chuckles and knowing nods, something that I can write in advance, yet make it seem like I just whipped it out (so to speak)
Like a smarter funnier bloke than I once said, “some of my best ad lib lines were planned well in advance”
A cracker of a review, a brilliant article, that will be appreciated by the amazing Almanac crowd. Something that will make JTH look to me on the reserves bench next book launch when Gideon or Francis do a late hammy in the green room during their vocal warm up.
So what happens? We do well that’s what bloody happens! Incredibly well in fact. Suddenly, having only been able to follow the cricket at work on cricinfo with their ball by ball commentary, now I need to write a proper piece!
The funny one? The clever original one that pays homage to a comic classic to tell a story about how crap we played and are? Well, it’s still there in draft and I doubt that there won’t be another chance during this series to publish a piece about how poor we were on any given day in the series. But clearly, not on Day 2 of the First Test.
So what happened? Well, we played like the Poms and they played like us.
Haddin scored quickly, not strike rotation or refusing to take singles when he played it to a deep fieldsman. For a change, it was about team, let’s score as much as we can, make the most of our time, personal milestones be dammed. I like that, very old school, as is our Brad.
Johnson is the ultimate two-face cricketer. Taken off after 3 overs of dross, the four ball machine in overdrive, he returns with really brute deliveries that make the batsmen hop and play poorly. He takes wickets by making the batsmen think twice about what could happen, not playing each on its merits. An enigmatic cricketer if there ever was one, like the Poo or Fev, we just don’t know what to make of him and how he uses his talents, but he has no doubt been the man of the game so far, with bat and ball.
For a change, the pressure is on at both ends. Harris and Siddle make it hard to score, giving Johnson the chance to come back with a clearer head. Lyon is brilliant with pressure and then wickets.
Cook out with a soft hands defensive shot, Pietersen playing aggressively, Trott’s and Prior’s poor form continues, Root as well. Carberry becalmed after a good start. Bell’s the prize wicket after last series. Approaching tea, the issue of making England follow on is actually being discussed. What sort of bizarro world cricket match is this!
Johnson is fearsomely quick and causes real awkwardness for the batsmen. We catch well in support of our bowlers, pressure maintained.
Broad threatens to play villain and hero again, but we prevail with a stunning turnaround.
The players on both sides look the same as they did in England, so what’s going on? We are well ahead, at stumps on Day 2? The Poms will suck on a goji berry smoothie and wonder what happened.
Whatever happened, it mucked up my afternoon.
Oh, and I am of course happy we did well. There.