Pietersen refused to accept a leading role, the crowd were largely ignored and Lancashire failed to be convincing on The Point of the Big Red One. These were the stories of the first day of the Second Test against Bangladesh at Old Trafford yesterday.
As Third Man predicted there was bounce, carry and turn from the wicket. This however seemed to be missed by both the Bangladeshi captain and England’s special batsman.
Pietersen’s greatness lies in the speed and accuracy with which he judges length allied to his size which allows him to nullify the effectiveness of good length bowling.
His reach on the front foot is huge and he gets there very quickly. With head nearer the ball than other batsmen can achieve to balls of a ‘good’ length he is in a near perfect position to apply all his considerable power through the ball.
Pietersen’s cover drive off Shakib Al Hasan was the most brutal example. The short extra cover must have thanked his God that the ball was out of his reach as it passed like a lightning bolt from Zeus.
If the bowler reacts to this assault by pitching a touch shorter in search of a better length to bowl at Pietersen, the batsman moves back and pulls or cuts depending on the likely sideways movement of the ball.
There is therefore almost no ‘length’ with which to probe Pietersen’s defences. Pietersen destroys length as the shore defies the waves.
Finally, Pietersen can achieve all this from the crease.
So it was all the more inexplicable that he should feel the need to dash down the wicket to the left-armer a few balls after this shot and after he had seen another ball turn and bounce from the wicket. Having ‘made’ that bowler adjust his length and speed through the air in order to pitch shorter he need only to rock back and dispatch the ball to leg or to off at his whim.
Equally inexplicable was the Bangladesh captain’s decision to greet the new batsman, Morgan, by removing one of the spinners and replacing him with ineffective sub-80 mph ‘pace’ bowling and, to his talented but inconsistent spinners, not to employ a short leg and a gully as well as a slip – an error that had already allowed Bell to escape being out first ball caught where short leg should have been.
Therefore, how pertinent it was for one of the commentators to ask, ‘In what other country would 10,000 people pay to watch Bangladesh play a Test match?’
The answer of course is that a day at a Test Match is for many a chance to dress up and enjoy the company of friends in strange clothes.
All the photographs on the excellent Cricinfo site feature the players, but the real stars were in the crowd.
Cardus would not have missed that story.
Sadly, the authorities at Lancashire failed to convince the media before hand of the point of The Point.
You need a narrative to sell an idea, a vision, a building. Lancashire’s narrative for their new conference venue that shares its location with a Test Match cricket ground was lame.
Prediction for Day Two: When England’s pacemen get the chance to bowl expect some steep bounce, a few finger jammers and some edges when the ball sporadically finds weaknesses where cracks meet in the pitch. Little explosions?