Action November 23, 2006

The first hour from hell

England have just had the first hour from hell

England have just had the first hour from hell.

First they dropped the man who was their best bowler over the summer. The man Duncan Fletcher recently called “the best finger-spinner in the world” was no longer, apparently, the best finger spinner in this squad. It was the most depressing selection since England went to India 14 years ago without David Gower.

Then they lost the toss. Actually that may have been a good thing.

Then their national anthem was mauled by a nice-looking young woman.

Then Steve Harmison bowled the first ball: a wide. And not just an ordinary wide. There's a moment in the film The English Patient when Ralph Fiennes chews on a piece of fruit and pronounces it “a very plum plum”. Well, this was a very wide wide. And the English didn't feel very patient.

Then Andrew Flintoff made his first mistake: not having a third man. Justin Langer, living dangerously, helped himself to four fours there. The old pros who bang on about having a third man are not always wrong. If a batsman plays square of the wicket, you need a third man.

James Anderson replaced Harmison after two overs, but the method remained the same: all over the shop. Only Matthew Hoggard was himself. It was Test cricket at one end, and Twenty20 at the other.

There was a sniff of a run-out chance, but Anderson’s throw was just awful. Flintoff brought himself on to restore order. He bowled two no-balls. England had put their trust in rust, and they were paying the price.

Tim de Lisle is the editor of Intelligent Life magazine and a former editor of Wisden

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on November 23, 2006, 20:33 GMT

    Looking forward to your upcoming posts: The first day from hell, the first test from hell, the tour from hell. Get used to it. Situation back to normal.

  • testli5504537 on November 23, 2006, 18:25 GMT

    well tim is absolutely right.the decision to include giles is be fair no test team would play him(bangladesh have a got a more efficient rafique).earlier it was justified when eng had no choice but now we have panesar.the other inclusion which i am not happy with is that of jones.i mean he hasn't done anything to get back his place.this is so unfair to read who did well against pakistan.imagine jones dropping ponting,hussey,or gilchrist,that is never acceotable.and its bound to come.but i feel eng had to pick anderson and i believe he can do better.he is definitely better than mahmood.although the biggest dissapoitment is harmison,the no. 1 fast bowler not so long ago.its too frustrating.the most important thing is consistency,whether you are a batsman or a bowler.harmison has never achieved that.

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