Second Test – Day 1: Worst-ever opening spell has Australians crying into their beer

By Tim Adam

Johnson, comes in from the Nursery End. Short, wide. (Cue pencil on the table – crack) Four runs. (Applause) Cook to four. Johnson turns, comes in again. Short, wide. Four more. Cook to eight. Johnson again. Overpitched. Off his pads. Through square leg. Four more …

Before returning to the first day’s hostilities at Lord’s we need to provide you with some historical background to this exciting event. Two matters are of great importance. The word on the St John’s Wood streets is that Lara had a bingle when she fell from the team bus on the way to the pre-match function at the Australian High Commission. This is still to be verified.

Second, when good mates head to England to watch cricket, both Australians and the English know only too well that good neighbours can become good friends.

Arriving at Lord’s we are treated as honoured guests at the home of cricket. We are encouraged to regard it a privilege to be there at 95 quid a head. England win the toss and bat. The first hour sees some of the most erratic Australian bowling ever witnessed – and that includes the seconds at the back of Dubbo.

Mitchell Johnson’s opening spell is the worst ever from a front-line Australian quick: after 50 minutes the Poms are 0-50. At lunch Cook has been bowled into form and the Poms have powered along to 0-126.

Only Hilfenhaus has earned any respect, with 0-16 off nine tight overs, six of them maidens. Brad Haddin’s keeping could only be described as shocking, although  investigations into the language are to be undertaken. There has to be a better descriptor. Perhaps, a la the verb “to Beckwith”, life could be breathed into the verb “to Haddin”.

We sit with MOC and his friend Linda and her husband Pat. Linda, a South African, asks Pat in a forceful way to get her a beer. “Anything but Foster’s,” she says.

Ian Johnson, worldwide CEO of Foster’s, leans across from the seat behind and introduces himself to Linda. She counts the incident as one of the top ten faux pas of her life.

At afternoon drinks it’s 0-187 with Strauss 76 and Cook 93. When Cook is adjudged LBW to Johnson on 95 there are groans from the Australians in the stand. Cook can consider himself rather unlucky he has received a straight one from Johnson.

Further analysis — and the seeking of some sort of explanation — of Haddin’s glove work reveal he has been in the hands of medical staff all night — possibly a buxom nurse from Bury. There is a suggestion of swine flu. Perhaps he should stand up to the quicks in the hope he is still contagious.

At 2-222, the double Nelson – Australian fans are contemplating Gigs’ Stats. It’s about all we’ve got. Pietersen enters the fray and our only hope appears to be that he’s been out the night before with Warnie.

McDonald falls over to give Strauss his 100 two balls before tea and England go to the adjournment with the score at 2-255. Strauss 100, and KP 22.

Hauritz has left the ground with a dislocated finger and Ponting is working with one effective bowler in Hilfenhaus. Siddle bowls the occasional good one.

After tea the Australians strike back. Broad and Flintoff are hit in the Cotswolds and the momentum swings back to the colonials.

There is much discussion about the AFL feed into the UK this weekend. Or lack thereof. With Setanta broke, the suggestion is that the AFL buy it. Today.

Mike Fitzpatrick, sitting a few rows behind us, is approached. He doesn’t disagree and thinks that the price would be cheap – about $1. Unfortunately the residual debt could be a problem.

Strauss scores his 5000th Test run. And of his 150, more than 80 runs have leaked through third man.

Ponting’s captaincy is very much under the microscope, and his body language has some supporters tearing their hair out. When stumps are drawn England have reached 6-364, with Strauss on 161.

Had his wicket been obtained the Australians would probably have felt they’d come out on top on what seems to be another benign wicket.

As we leave the ground we are greeted by John and Janette Howard. We suggest to him that Australia needs two great comebacks – Shane Warne and himself.  He laughs.

We wander off into the English evening.

Comments

  1. Tim – that opening spell from Johnson & Co was quite something. Enough to turn a man (or woman) to drink!

  2. Ian Johnson didn’t hear anything he wouldn’t have heard before.

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