j1. TUMESCENCE AND FLACCIDITY
“Dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot”. No, this is not an Eastenders homage to the scene in which Alan Partridge tries to get the attention of Dan (Steven Mangham) on the Chorister’s Country Club car park, but the sequence of deliveries faced by DJ Sammy first thing this morning as he closed circumspectly in on a first Test hundred.
However, rare must it be that a captain’s personal aura of authority can have grown and shrivelled so much within such a short space of time. For it was toward the back end of the middle session that Jonathan Trott was making him look like one of the Academy net bowlers. Then, after tea, he bowled at KP with the keeper stood up. I’m not sure Derryck Murray ever did that to Colin Croft or Andy Roberts when they were third seamers. If only he had an all-rounder at number 6 to take off the heat, a Bravo, say…
2. ROACH MATERIAL
Few things are more deflating in cricket than taking wickets with no balls. Naturally, this is less of an issue when you are creating wicket-taking opportunities at regular intervals – when the ball is nipping, nibbling, hooping or otherwise misbehaving. But on a chapatti-flat pitch with the sun beating down and a three-and-half-man attack [note to self: pitch this as new Charlie Sheen vehicle], it is especially galling. But to do so twice is bordering on the criminal. Beneficiary both times of Kemar Roach’s sloppiness was Alastair Cook (on 1 and 12), who must have thought that all his Christmases had come at once (which would only be fair, given his birth date of December 25). However, the chef, one of the best Cooks to have played the game, failed to kick on. Roach, meanwhile, was last seen being kept away from his belt and shoelaces. “This is a league game, Smokey. There are rules”.
3. WE LOVE YOU RAVI, WE DO
Windies sole wicket-taker was the chunky spunk from Guyana, Ravi Rampaul, a man who has been pilloried recently for his Samitian approach to Body Mass Index, treatment that your correspondent considers downright ‘fattist’. Thus, despite bowling a few sharp bouncers (“double chin music”) and getting the ball to reverse swing nicely during the evening session, when he bowled a spell of 5-1-9-1, he was still subject to cruel chants from the sozzled crowd late in the afternoon.
Anyway, along with Chanderpaul, Rampaul’s presence in the side –, plus players like Davendra Bishoo, Sunil Narine, and Denish Ramdin around the squad – led me to ask the doyen of Caribbean cricket broadcasting, the august Tony Cozier, about the history behind the Indian influx to Trinidad and Guyana. I duly learned that they came as indentured labour to work on the holdings of freed slaves in the mid-nineteenth century, but only in the larger territories where land was ample.
4. HACKNEY DE PHRAIZ
In the course of the aforementioned history lesson, Tony Cozier mentioned that, unlike the Indians, who kept their cultural moorings, the freed African slaves took the names of their colonial masters. He then proceeded to reel off a list of men such as Shane Sillingford, Winston Benjamin, Patrick Patterson…
The wonderfully evocative names of Caribbean cricketers have long been a source of fascination for me, ever since the David Baddiel gag about them having a new quick called Cumbersome Briefcase. Not only are they one of the best vehicles through which to hear the melodiousness and cadences of Cozier’s voice, but they also fall into a few interesting categories, from the ideological (Fidel Edwards, Nixon MacLean, Nikita Miller) to the cannabis-themed (Kemar Roach, Floyd Reifer, Daren Ganga).
5. STRAUSS RAUS? NEIN
Strauss’s second hundred of the series, his twenty-first in Tests, led me to think about the way fortune and contingency stalk our lives, now bestowing their favours, now scuppering even our most mundane wishes. Had the scheduling been different, with a more potent or skilled bowling line-up then he might not have been able to render his position as captain quite so impregnable.
The skipper rarely looked troubled and batted at a tempo that suggested he was here for a long time rather than a good one. The four pillars of his batting were in evidence – back-foot tucks off his pads, cuts of varying lateness, cover drives and delicate lap sweeps – as he progressed serenely to 102 not out at stumps. In contrast to the effusive rib-cruncher at Lord’s, he this time received something of a shall-I-shan’t-I bear-hug from KP, who should look to rectify this and go full-on should Strauss make it a Daddy hundred tomorrow.
6. KP & THE SUNSHINE BAND
Finally, we could be in for another mawkish dose of faux-humility tomorrow as the former Cannock CC number 9, ‘Kelves’ Pietersen, will look to kick on from an occasionally brutal, regularly disdainful 72 not out into three figures. One of the most imposing and intimidating physical presences at the crease there has ever been, in the same bracket as Sir Viv and Haydos, Pietermaritzburg’s favourite son was especially contemptuous today toward the off-breaks of Shillingford, giving the charge to the first ball he faced to smear a six over long-on, while at one stage going down to play a lap sweep and improvising a Dilscoop-cum-ramp shot that went wide of slip – clearly an homage to his secret drinking buddy and notable one-day improviser, Nicholas Verity Knight.