Danny Byrne,** … whose choice of title runs thsu: “India’s bowlers run through the England batting order. Day 1 at Trent Bridge.”
The coach from Victoria travelled along Wellington Road at the back of the Nursery End at Lords as it made its way north and out of London. Two new spaceships had recently crash landed either side of the original press centre since the last time I had visited, and the so-called traditional home of cricket resembled an apocalyptic nightmare with brightly coloured kids queuing up to enter at the North Gate as if they were going for an audition for a role in the latest Star Wars movie. I was pleased to be leaving all that behind and heading towards Nottingham to watch my preferred version of the game.
I’d read about the discovery of a new fungus that eats plastic and was delighted to observe that trials must be taking place along the route of the M1 motorway. There were no traffic cones to be seen anywhere and the coach arrived at its destination 40 minutes ahead of schedule. I caught the No. 11 bus to the Trent Bridge Inn and was surprised when the NHS Track and Trace code scanner on my phone didn’t recognise the venue. There was no problem getting a drink with virtually no-one wearing a face mask. The delicious Trent Bridge Ale was available for under £ 2 a pint and I started looking forward to the cricket with no ping to worry about.
I set off early on Wednesday morning and arrived at the West Gate on the Radcliffe Road 90 minutes before the start of play and was admitted into the ground in under a minute. There was no fuss, no checking NHS apps for Covid jabs, just the usual cursory bag check and friendly welcoming staff. Compare that with the Oval a month ago when I couldn’t find the app on my phone as I couldn’t see what I was doing standing in the full glare of the sun outside the main gate. It took nearly half an hour to gain entry for the ODI against Sri Lanka and even then, it was only after I found my vaccination card in my wallet and persuaded the official to accept that as an alternative to scanning my app that I was eventually allowed in.
My seat was in the Upper West section of the Radcliffe Road Stand, and I had a magnificent panoramic view of the hills in the distance on both sides of the wicket. Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat on a very green looking pitch which reminded a few people sitting near me of the days when Richard Hadlee and Clive Rice had played for Nottinghamshire and the only way of knowing which strip had been prepared was to look for where the stumps had been placed in the ground. The England side was inevitably quite different to what I had predicted yesterday with Pope apparently unfit and replaced by Lawrence and Bairstow being preferred as an extra batsman at the expense of using a recognised spinner.
The Indian selectors left out Ashwin and played fast bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur instead. Rahul was given the opening batsman slot and Mohammed Siraj was picked ahead of Ishant Sharma. Bumrah bowled the first over of the match and Burns was lbw to the fifth delivery. England wasted a review while the replay showed a prodigious amount of swing as the ball pitched in line and straightened. It was the fifth time this year that the scoreboard had shown 0 – 1 with England batting. The top three positions in the England batting order had now recorded 13 ducks already this year equal to the previous record set back in 1998 when Ambrose, Walsh, McGrath and Gillespie were hurling the ball down at the start of the innings.
Fifteen minutes had passed before the first run was recorded, but Crawley settled in reasonably well and by the first drinks interval the score had climbed to 29 – 1. Siraj replaced Bumrah after a 6 over spell and immediately looked just as threatening and dangerous as the opening bowlers. In the fourth over of his spell he was convinced he had Crawley caught behind off an inside edge and wasted a review getting Richard Kettleborough’s decision confirmed. Three balls later the exact same thing happened and this time the third umpire Richard Illingworth was able to detect a fine inside edge and Crawley was on his way for 27 (42 – 2). Root came to the crease and hit three successive boundaries off Siraj in the first over he faced. The difference in class between the England Captain and the rest of the batsmen had never been so easy to identify. The score at lunch was 61 – 2 from 25 overs.
After the interval Root played the shot of the day driving elegantly through extra cover. Sibley had survived for 131 minutes without ever looking comfortable before he inexplicably spooned a simple catch to Rahul at short mid-wicket (66 – 3). Bairstow came in at No. 5 and a thick edge from Root off Thakur fell just short of gully. When the England Captain reached 22, he became the highest run scorer for England in all forms of the game overtaking Alastair Cook’s career mark of 15,737. Jadeja was brought on in the 37th over, but with nothing in the pitch to assist the spinners his spell lasted for only 3 overs. An embarrassing run out was narrowly avoided when both batsmen nearly ended up standing alongside each other before Bairstow managed to scramble back to safety diving full length and requiring medical attention. The 50 partnership was completed from 112 deliveries with Root scoring most of the runs. It was finally broken when Kohli again used the DRS well and Shami was rewarded with a favourable lbw decision (138 – 4 ). Tea was taken at the fall of the wicket.
In typical England fashion a collapse followed with 5 wickets falling for the addition of only 17 runs from 51 balls. Lawrence was the first to go, caught down the leg side off a faint edge without scoring (138 – 5) to give Shami two wickets in an over. Buttler became the third batsman to record a duck when caught behind off Bumrah (145 – 6) and when Root was lbw to Thakur for 64 the writing was on the wall for England (155 – 7). Robinson’s dismissal was pathetic as he gently chipped the ball to mid-on for yet another duck (155 – 8) and it was left to Sam Curran to try to add a few more runs before he ran out of partners.
Broad managed to hit his first delivery through extra cover much to the delight of his home supporters, but they weren’t cheering when he was so plumb lbw to Bumrah to his third delivery that he didn’t bother wasting a review before returning to the pavilion (160 – 9). Curran hit Thakur for a six over cow corner and managed a few more boundaries before Anderson was adjudged to be lbw to Bumrah and Kohli quickly ran off towards the dressing rooms. Anderson successfully had the decision overturned and Kohli had to return to the field much to the amusement of the spectators. The next delivery made a complete mess of Anderson’s stumps. England was all out for 183 from 65.4 overs and Curran was left ploughing a lonely furrow on 27 not out.
Anderson and Broad managed to get the ball to swing and swerve in the air but couldn’t find the edge. Robinson looked fast and threatening and Curran had just the one over before stumps were drawn with the score 21 – 0 from 13 overs with Rohit Sharma and KH Rahul both on 9. Ten overs were lost to the match due to the appallingly slow over rates and it was great to be back watching Test Match moaning on about the same old issues as if Covid 19 had never intervened in the first place. We walked back through the Meadows and the pints of Harvest Pale in the Vat and Fiddle were just as delightful as always.
** Danny Byrne is an unregistered fringe member of the Barmyd Army. Unlike the Barmies, he watched the cricket in Galle during the last series from the second floor pavilion … and bar … of the Galle Cricket Club. That is where we met . So –just type in “Danny Byrne” and “Cricketique… ….. OR take your cue from thsi item = https://cricketique.wordpress.com/2019/08/19/daniel-byrnes-reflections-awaiting-the-galle-test-encounter/ …. and pursue other articles describing tirps in Sri Lanak in 2019