Crikey; I can’t imagine a much better day’s Test cricket than that. Can you?
In fact, apart fromwhen Australia’s batsmen were thumping England’s attack to all parts of the Swalec Stadium on the second and third days of the first Test, I can’t remember a predictable session in the entire series so far.
Today was a perfect example of team cricket: by that I mean that picking an outstanding player of the day would not only be pointless it would be grossly unfair to the many who played their parts so well and ensured that a game rudely disrupted by the weather goes into its final day with at least two results on the cards.
First of all, there was:
Ian Bell: another delightful fifty, which he failed to convert into something greater, but there was enough sweet timing to engage the purist and then he had the decency, just as he was beginning to get bogged down, to get out and leave the stage clear for….
Matt Prior and Andrew Flintoff: Prior continued his bullish approach to batting in this series with a number of crisp strokes at a crisp rate, while Freddie, on his favourite ground for batting, at last played something more than a cameo, perhaps reminding Ricky Ponting why he left it 65 overs before bringing on Shane Watson. And when these two departed there was….
Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad: among the best No8s and 9s in Test cricket already, Broad played a series of magnificent shots, one down the ground off the back foot on the up to Mitchell Johnson coming round the wicket really taking the breath away and Swann matching Johnson boundary for sledge and word for word, but…..
Mitchell Johnson: had the last laugh, switching to round the wicket and fooling Swann with a slower ball which brought an end to the most entertaining over of the day and, by adding the Nottinghamshire spinner to Ian Bell as a victim, suggested his worst struggles are over and he will still have an important part to play in this Ashes. And continuing to make his mark was…
Graham Onions: who celebrated earning a partial central contract with another burst towards the end of the day which got rid of Simon Katich and troubled Mike Hussey after Australia had threatened to wipe off their deficit and opened the way for….
Graeme Swann: again, who bowled one of the finest overs of off breaks at Ricky Ponting which, had Rudi Koertzen’s radar not been out of synch would have resulted in the Australia captain being dismissed leg-before, but not allowing that disappointment to affect him my plundering his middle and leg stumps with a ball that turned perfectly between the stretching batsman’s bat and pad two balls later, and finally….
Shane Watson: who may not be experienced in the opening slot, but looks more comfortable than many in that position. He had a solid, attractive technique and he could steal the man-of-the-match at the last from any of the above if he can turn that into a long, long innings tomorrow