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Return to Lord's

Return to Lord's
Most often my occasional visits to HQ are the result of kind invitations from the great and the good of the current MCC hierarchy. Just occasionally I suffer a minor pang of guilt at accepting so much warm hospitality – but the feeling soon wears off after the first G&T. It is simply great fun as well as a major privilege to have the chance to meet so many old friends and colleagues, all in one place at the same time with a collective passion for the great game.
However, last Saturday, Susan and I were entertaining friends on our own account in the Tavern Stand, enjoying the “clubby” atmosphere and the buzz of spectator opinion all around – at least, most of the time… One gentleman with a stentorian voice gave a full running commentary on the play directed towards his immediate entourage but actually available to anyone within twenty yards. The simple things he got right but the subtleties evaded him.
When Graham Swann was first brought on to bowl at the Nursery end, it was, in his opinion, a blatant error asking our key slow bowler to spin the ball against the slope. What he failed to appreciate was that there were two powerful right-handers with a short boundary on the Tavern side. The tactic worked with a wicket in his first over. Later on, with two lefties at the crease, Swann changed ends which pleased our noisy neighbour if nothing else.
50 over cricket can become a little formulaic, particularly when the pitches are passive with nothing for the bowlers. The fact that this spicy contest against the old enemy provided a superb day's cricket was largely to do with a lively strip which had something in it for both bat and ball.
The Australians did well to bide their time while the ball was new and then clicked into full Twenty20 mode with wickets in hand for the last 10 overs. Then came the match winning thrust by the extraordinary, ungainly fast bowling of Tait who not only broke the 100 mph barrier but swung the new ball as well. It was a cricketing classic to see Andrew Strauss frozen in time with a visually perfect defensive stroke – and the off stump already half way back to the wicket-keeper.
The next little cricketing classic was the Ponting decision to introduce his young leg spinner against the injured Pietersen, batting with a runner. You need nimble footwork to play spin well ( there is not much time for it against the quicks) and the ploy worked a treat with a clumsy looking attempt at a back foot forcing shot producing an inside edge for yet another batting failure. Pietersen was already short of time and opportunities to re-establish himself as England's first choice batsman and this new injury shortens the timescale critically.
England can still take comfort and indeed pride in winning the Series 3-2 but there remain a number of unresolved selection issues. Not least is the persistent weakness of Anderson as our premier new ball bowler. He has definitely lost pace, movement and accuracy and I see no signs of batsmen giving him much respect. I would like to see Broad and Finn with the new ball with Bresnan as the third seamer. We shall see.