Tag Archives: Chris Tremlett

In Praise of the Duke, in Praise of the Wall, in Praise of the Broad: England v India Test 100 Day 3

The quality of the cricket on view on the third day of this classic Test lived up to expectations.  The best batsmen faced the best bowling and the ball moved sideways.

Sideways, not ‘sideways’.  ‘Sideways’ is a term normally reserved for exaggerated movement in the air or off the pitch.

Yesterday, as indeed on all three days of this match, the movement was not extraordinary, but it was distinctive.  It was the result of skill and it could be countered only by matching that skill with batting technique of the highest order (or in the case of Pietersen with peerless innovation).

There was a passage of play when the Master and the Wall, Tendulka and Dravid, batted together for 81 runs against twenty or so overs from Anderson, Tremlett and Broad, and there can never have been a better contest at this special venue which has staged over a hundred Test matches since the first in 1884.

Dravid triumphed, undefeated on 103.  Tendulka perished.  The former played as late as was humanly possible against a ball moving across him at 85 mph – surely the optimum speed for swing at pace. 

Dravid opened the face of his bat and played the ball square into the off-side with the blade angled backwards, his hands well in advance of the rest of the bat.

Tendulka playing a foot earlier, much straighter and with the blade perpendicular was often beaten and in truth never looked capable of surviving to make that first century at Lord’s which was palpably his prime ambition.

India may have expected to face two such bowlers with Anderson capable of well disguised swing in both directions and Tremlett trading extra bounce for such disguise, but they were to come up against a Broad determined to pitch the supply of last year’s Duke cricket ball being used in this series at a fulsome length.

It was Broad who dismissed Gambhir with a perfectly drawn French curve to trap the left hander, LBW.  It was Broad who, with fortune at his side, tempted the promising Mukund, anxious to reach ‘fifty’ to drag a wide half volley back onto his stumps for 49. 

It was Broad who might have had India five down for 159 had Strauss and Swann been able to cling on to straightforward slip catches from Dravid and Laxman in the same over.  It was Broad who finished his day with 4 for 37 in 22 overs; half as frugal and twice as potent as his companions.

As it was, no other batsman was capable of staying with Dravid, no other capable of playing the moving ball so consistently well.

India were able to save the follow on but are in a parlous position 193 runs in arrears, all second innings wickets standing and with two days of cricket remaining.

The day’s play heightened the value of Pietersen’s innings  and intensified the importance of the third umpire’s decision not to allow Dravid’s catch when the double-centurian turned Kumar to backward short leg.  This decision has made the difference between the two totals.

But the true star of this Test has been ‘the red’ used in this match with its tenacious, proud and hand-stitched seam – the product of two hundred and fifty year’s of artisanship.

It is said that Test cricket is dying, it is also said that Test cricket is prized by those who play it.  If so, then, a cricket ball must be developed that has a seam that withstands the harsher surfaces found in other countries and the players must insist on its adoption – such a development cannot be left to the politicking of the administrators.

It is the seam that creates the turbulence, and the skilful positioning of the seam through the air that creates the differential patterns of air flow that produce the movement which, when exploited by bowlers and countered by batsmen, so enthrals and entertains.

Spinners appreciate it too.

For cricket of the quality on show in this Test match, there must be a balance between bat and ball – bats have developed, so now must cricket balls.

England 474 for 8 dec and 5 for 0, India 286

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Getting Out in a Sucker’s Gap: England v Sri Lanka 3rd Test Day 2

Expecting little play on the second day of the third Test between England and Sri Lanka, the Squire decided to take his yacht, Bolivar, which is permanently moored a nautical mile or two from the Rose Bowl on the River Hamble, on the short hop across the Solent to Cowes. 

Yachting enthusiasts, of whom there are many in these parts, will know that the Squire accepted Bolivar in part payment for a gaming debt from the Earl of Blessington – the Earl and Countess having purchased the schooner from their friend, George Gordon Noel Byron, when that cricketer, poet, pugilist and philanderer had decided to dedicate himself to helping the Greeks win their independence form the EMU Ottoman yoke.

In the old days the Squire would often make this crossing to visit his good friend William Ward, staying at Northwood House and playing for Mr Ward’s celebrated XI.

The point is that on the morning of the second day of the Test, the Squire, his yacht-master Pilot Hindle and Third Man found themselves without the Time Machine and bobbing up and down in the harbour with not a cloud in the sky – the anticipated weather front, high winds and thunder storms  nowhere to be seen.

So, it was all hands on deck to beat back across the Solent.  On the Bolivar’s radio Jonathan Agnew was interviewing a young woman from the Met Office who was warning him that no one should be taken-in by this quiet spell of weather.  It was a sucker’s gap.

Third Man, though the sea is in his veins, is not a natural sailor and his stomach turned at the expression. The suckers gap refers to a bright area with little cloud before a cold front that has tempted many a pilot up into the sky and sailor out onto the ocean only for them to find the fine weather turning foul when they encounter the cumulonimbus clouds, and thunder and lightning developing behind a fast approaching front.

At the Rose Bowl, 23.2 overs were bowled and five wickets taken during the sucker’s gap.  Chris Tremlett took his haul from two to six wickets for 42 in 18.2 overs – and a place on the freshly painted honours board, while the Lankans sank ignominiously to 177 for 9.

It was a torrid time for the visitors who may have asked, ‘What gap?’  There seemed no interval at all in the pounding taken by their hands and bodies as the steep bounce and sideways movement continued to encourage the bowlers.

Samaraweera took another blow to the hand and must have been relieved when he edged one to gully.  Perera, hardly a Test number 7, was battered and pounded  by short stuff before flying a top gallant and edging to Prior.  Herath went down all guns blazing.  And the impressive Prasanna eventually lowered his flag when he hoisted Swann to mid wicket.

This left poor Broadside as the only wicketless bowler in these helpful conditions with 18 overs, 3 maidens, 0 for 50 – the maidens having come when he and Strauss perplexed the batsmen and most of the spectators by aiming over the head of the in-form Prasanna in order to keep him down at one end while Englandattacked numbers nine, ten, jack at the other.

Heavy rain is forecast for Day 3, it looks fine for Sunday but dubious again on the final day.

England are not the most adventurous in these seas so expect them to bat towards the safety of a lea shore … unless … there are more gaps in the weather.

Sri Lanka177/9

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