Tag Archives: Stuart Broad

Bernoulli is Key to Second Test

It is possible to comprehend a game of cricket in terms of resource management. 

The 101st Test encounter between England and India reached the half way stage in terms of wickets available to each side shortly after five o’clock on day two of five possible days – that is, in a touch under two-fifths of the available time.

Cricketers talk about a game being ‘in a hurry’.  This game is in the type of hurry that the hare was in when, wakened from a deep slumber beneath a shady tree by an intruding sense of unease, it spied the tortoise up-ahead a human foot from the finish line, and sped off flustered and unsteady, disorientated by the unfamiliar condition of the pursuing rather than the pursued.

The batsmen in this Test have been similarly disorientated and taken into unfamiliar territory by the nature of the Trent Bridge wicket that they are playing on and the characteristics of the liquid (air) through which the ball is travelling.

Help was at hand thanks to the presence in the ground of Professor Julius Sumner Miller.  (Third Man, on calmer reflection, may have been deceived by some fiendish impersonator in fancy dress.)

“Why is it so?” the batsmen could have asked the good Professor when the ball swung late or did not do so, or when the ball reared with the force of a Harrier jet taking off from aircraft carrier in a heavy sea or did so next delivery with the feebleness of a Tiger Moth.

With what passion Sumner Miller could have demonstrated in either dressing room the principle of Bernoulli with its commonsense-defying effects of pressure and temperature on liquids!

“My view is this,” the Professor might have explained to those Project Managers, Flower and Fletcher, “We teach nothing. We do not teach cricket nor do we teach cricketers. What is the same thing: No one is taught anything! Here lies the folly of this business. We try to teach somebody nothing. This is a sorry endeavour for no one can be taught a thing.  What we do, if we are successful, is to stir interest in the matter at hand, awaken enthusiasm for it, arouse a curiosity, kindle a feeling, fire up the imagination.”

Professional batsmen rarely show their emotions.  They discover early in their career the value of inscrutability.  They show no pain when hit.  They communicate no admiration when beaten by the bowler’s guile.

However, in this match we have seen more expressions of shock and awe from the batsmen than in a whole career, such has been the volatility produced by the extraordinary playing conditions.

Stuart Broad took six wickets for 46 in 24.1 overs.  He even took a hattrick, a rare enough event in Test cricket.  Yet long after his feat has been forgotten, the memory of VVS Laxman and Raul Dravid batting in these conditions in the morning session will remain etched on the memory.

93 runs they put on, most of them in boundaries.  Dravid, taming the willful ball as he shepherded it through an imaginary gap in that hurdled fence made by the slips and gully, went on to make 117.

Laxman, driving square through the covers with a languid bat or picking up the ball with the apparent effortlessness of a boy scrumping an apple in an orchard and tossing it over the wall made by midwicket for his friends to enjoy, will have been disappointed to edge a loosener from Bresnen to Prior for 54.

Interviewed after the end of the day’s play, when England remained 43 runs behind India’s first innings total of 288, with 9 of their available resource of wickets remaining, Dravid explained, “What we do, if we are successful, is to stir interest in the matter at hand, awaken enthusiasm for it, arouse a curiosity, kindle a feeling, fire up the imagination.”

So, it had been Sumner Miller.

It is therefore with awakened enthusiasm, curiosity and imagination that the resumption of play is awaited.  Resource Management be damned.

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Send For Mary Ann: England v India Test 101 Day 1

At 124 for 8, India who had won the toss in the second Test of the series and put England into bat had their sponsor’s boots firmly pressed down on the home side’s wind pipe.

It was then, after tea, that Broad and Swann impishly launched a counterattack.  India’s bowlers, who had previously been perfecting the tantric art of bowling balls round corners, reduced their length and invited the big shot, while the field scattered generously to allow the single.

When Swann departed, caught off his glove in the gully to a 75 mph ball from Praveen that leapt from a good length in a way that the 90mph Malcolm Marshall would have been pleased with, India allowed Broad to farm the bowling and shield the eleventh man, James Anderson.

Broad ended with 64, easily twice the score recorded by any of the other batsmen.  The last three in the England line-up put on nearly a hundred to almost double the score to 221, but it appeared not to matter in any way to the cool and composed MS Dhoni, he of the sang froid.

The Brit, a member of an Island race, has never valued languages other than his own and a half dozen or so that no-one living now uses such as Latin, Greek and Old Persian.  

So when a couple of million of them were transported a hundred years ago across to France to fight in the First World War their reaction to the incomprehensible sounds uttered by the locals was to paraphrase them into something that sounded … well … English.

The Gallic shrug articulated in the expression ça ne fait rien, “it does not matter”, became a catchphrase of the lowest ranks of the army whose duty it was to accept whatever fate and his bungling officers decreed in a fashion both resigned and cynical. 

In English mouths the phrase evolved via ‘san fairy Ann’ into the plaintive, ‘Send for Mary Ann’.

Could the influence of Shri Madhvacharya be detected at Trent Bridge on India's tactics during the first day's play of the second Test?

India’s captain at Trent Bridge yesterday appeared to be as fatalistic as the old British Tommy facing a hail of bullets.  “Dear Fellows,” he was heard to say, “We are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do.  Who are we to seek to influence the future?”

To which VVS Relaxman standing at first slip with knees as inflexible as iron girders intoned, “Even God cannot alter the flow of Vidhi.”

As the players left the field at the end of the England innings Anderson turned to Broad, “Stuart, I just don’t get it.  Man may not be able to will what he wills, but he is free to do what he wills.”

Ten minutes later the boy from Burnley, where the favourite tipple is still a ‘hot Benny’ or Benedictine  first sampled on the freezing Western Front*, translated these words into action, having Mukund caught by Pietersen in the gully with the very first ball of the Indian innings.

These fine philosophical distinctions surrounding predetermination will be further articulated when play resumes with India on 24 for 1 in pursuit of the 221 runs that England have on the board.

Send for Mary Ann or, “Deo Optimo Maximo,” as they say in Burnley. 

* 93 years after the Old Pals returned from the trenches, this East Lancashire town is still responsible for the consumption of more of this herbal liqueur than everywhere else in the world … put together!

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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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Of Seizing Stumps and Submissive Smiles

First, those stumps.  Six trophies were on offer at Adelaide as England, literally with the field to themselves, celebrated their victory and divided the spoils amongst themselves.  

One for Pietersen.  One for Cook.  One for Swann.  One for Anderson, whose two wickets in the first quarter of an hour secured the match, if not yet the Ashes, if not quite yet the series.  Which leaves two to be assigned.

Third Man thinks that England in their present frame of mind and Australia in theirs will take for granted that they are England’s to bequeath – that is, to give by their will and their will alone. 

One for their Field Marshall, Andy Flower, remembering that the only day that England may be judged to have lost so far in this series happened when he was absent.

And one for their fallen comrade, Stuart Broad, who Team England will do all they can to cuddle through the next twelve weeks of lonely rehabilitation for his muscle tear.

Secondly, the smiles.  

There is more than one kind of smile.  There are the smiles of happiness, of love, and of pride.  The smiles of genuine pleasure, the insolent smile and the shivering smile of determined vengeance.

But there is also the submissive smile of the Beta Male to the Alpha Male.  The smile of genuflection, with knee bent to the ground, eyes lowered and forehead foremost.  This has been the Australian smile, time after time.

From before Brisbane, Australia have communicated only DOUBT in themselves.  From early Shield and tour matches, from the 17 squad selection, from pre-match, mid-match and post-match interviews in Brisbane and in Adelaide, from the kicking of turf, the hunching of shoulders, the burying of necks in shoulders, the cursing, the being rattled – with every muscle they have screamed their disbelief.

Most matches are won before a ball is bowled.  They are won in the minds of those who compete.  They are won before the aptly named ‘boundary’ is crossed.

Australia once taught England the great lesson: start with the mind, for power comes from the will.  Over the last month or more they have bequeathed supremacy to England.

“Thanks mate.”

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