Having managed to sleep in, which ruled out a morning walk, and with plenty of writing backlog to work on it took a while to turn my attention to the events of Day One in Melbourne.
An hour’s walk would have provided something to hang England’s 6-226 on, but on a slow day you’d have to dig fairly thoroughly if you were going to avoid being overly negative. You could, after all, make a fairly solid case for watching paint dry as more interesting than the English run crawl.
Record chase more entertaining than run chase was one headline that caught the eye on the ABC News website, and wasn’t far off the mark. The so called world record for attendance, of course, probably isn’t. There have almost certainly been larger crowds at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, and there have definitely been many more entertaining Day Ones.
The key issue, having missed Adelaide and Melbourne, has been the decision to insert the old enemy after winning the toss, when the natural inclination in almost every set of circumstances is to win the toss and bat.
Clarke certainly didn’t seem that sure it was a good idea, but there are two angles that might be worth pondering.
First, of course, there might just have been something in the pitch, and it was good luck rather than good management that got Root through to the Lunch score of 1-71. Cook lasted an hour or so, and with an extra break through in that first session England could well have gone into a downhill slide. Three catches would have helped in that regard as well, and it’s interesting looking at the day’s play to ponder how much damage has been done to the English esprit de corps.
They’re not quite broken. Yet. But it might be close.
One thing that did disturb me was the lack of an aggressive response to blatant time wasting by Kevin Pietersen towards the end of the day’s play. Maybe he was just out to do what he could to get his side through to Stumps without further damage, but I suspect there was an additional bit of Niggle in there. It wasn’t what you’d call subtle time-wasting.
I would have liked to see a rather aggressive approach to the umpires, something along the lines of making sure he has to pay if we get slugged for slow over rates. The consensus in the commentary box seemed to be a belief there was very little the umpires could do about it, but I’d have been interested in seeing what would have happened if a protest about time-wasting had been followed by an appeal for Obstructing the Field.
To quote the first sentence of Law 37: Either batsman is out Obstructing the field if he wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action.
You’re not going to get it, of course. But you ask. And, just maybe, by repeating the appeal ad nauseam when the fielding side is in position and ready to go, and KP is wasting time you’re underlining the fact that you’re onto what he’s up to.
And a bush lawyer would be able to make plenty out of those words willfully attempts, obstruct or distract and action.
The other thing with the decision to insert might have been a degree of interest in seeing how we go when the coin falls the other way and the opposition decide to bat. Given the notion that the coin falls fifty-fifty you’d possibly want to see how things run in that sort of situation when the coin fails to co-operate.
But there’d also be a degree of seeing how close to broken they are, matched with the knowledge that we’re in for a much more competitive series in a month and a half’s time.
Juggling my attention between the resumption of play and the attempt to fill in the commentary, at thuds point, having just seen Johnson strike twice, with Pietersen as the second victim, let’s just turn our attention to the screen.