A couple of mornings ago, Third Man returned to Sky, and saw under the sun in Bangalore, that the race was not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill.
No, time and chance happened to the new guy.
As the mighty Tendulka and Murali Veejay made the Australians wail, ‘all is vanity, emptiness, futility and meaninglessness,’ the Indian Test debutant, Cheteshwar Pujara got a bad case of pad-rash waiting 91 overs, 308 runs and over 24 hours for his turn.
There was some inconsistent bounce but that was almost all to worry about. Johnson, bowling left arm round, might cause the batsmen to wonder whether ‘this one’ would bounce hip high or higher, but more likely he’d bowl it full and three sets wide of off stump.
These were the 258th and 259th days of the young man’s 23rd year. He went to Bangalore averaging 60 with the bat from his 50 first class matches with a Triple already to his name.
When his time came to bat, Tendulka, gave him a warm welcome to Test cricket with plenty of back slapping and elbow squeezing encouragement. Johnson was almost as generous, serving up a straight ball that he blocked and then one that was full and wide which he drove through the covers to the boundary with one knee bent as if he’d being playing Test cricket for as long as his partner.
But if all is vain under the sun, it is also fleeting, warns Ecclesiastes.
Bowled from wide of the crease and with Johnson’s sinister round arm making the angle even wider the 85mph third ball pitched short and shot along the ground striking the helpless, grovelling batsman low on the pad.
The angle was so wide, the impact so much in line with leg stump that it looked for an instant as if providence would look kindly on him. But Bowden’s rheumatic, time-gnarled finger rose above his head.
Look up, look up, look above the sun.