England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 2nd day June 9, 2012

Anderson's absence and Onions' return

ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the day from the third (or is that first?) day at Edgbaston

Comeback of the day

Graham Onions admits he has experienced some 'dark days' since his last Test, at Cape Town in January 2010. A serious back injury necessitated surgery and the insertion of a titanium pin. For some time, it was feared he would never play again and Onions considered retraining as an umpire or a teacher. But, through the skill of his surgeon, the support of the England medical team and hours of hard work in the gym and in county cricket, Onions fully justified his recall with a performance that spoke volumes for his perseverance and desire. He was, arguably, the pick of the bowlers and will surely not have to wait as long for his next Test appearance.

Miss of the day

James Anderson. While the control of England's attack was hard to fault, the suspicion remains that Anderson may have been able to find a little more seam or swing movement. But it wasn't just Anderson's bowling that was missed. Ian Bell, making an appearance in the slip cordon partially due to the absence of Anderson, dropped two catches and Andrew Strauss dropped another. If Bell's first drop, when Adrian Barath on five edged Onions to third slip, was tricky - and, by these standards, it really was not - the second, again offered by Barath this time on 40 off Steven Finn, was unusually simple. Anderson, like Paul Collingwood before him, is always worth more than the runs and wickets he contributes.

Effort of the day

More than 80mm of rain - that's around 20mm more than the monthly average - had fallen on Edgbaston in the 60 hours before this Test finally began. It was, therefore, something of a miracle that play was finally able to begin on time on the third day in remarkably good conditions. The credit for that belongs almost entirely with Warwickshire's groundstaff. Most of them had hardly slept for the two previous nights and none of them had been home since the early hours of Thursday as, despite the wind and relentless rain, they continued the mopping-up operation and ensured that the covers kept the wicket and the run-up areas dry. It was a fine effort.

Shot of the day

The force is strong in Marlon Samuels at present. The fielder may have been pushed back on to the long-on fence, the ball may have been tossed up to invite the stroke and he might have been up against one of the best spinners in the game but, such is Samuels' form and confidence at present, he was happy to take it on. Skipping down the pitch, he launched the delivery from Graeme Swann over the long-on fence for six. Underlining his dominance, he drilled the next delivery for four through extra-cover and provided another demonstration

Strike(s) of the day

Many bowlers have attempted to bowl close to the stumps, but surely none have come closer than Finn on the first day of this game. Indeed, Finn, in the stride before his delivery, dislodged the bails with his right leg - usually his knee - at least a dozen times as he charged into bowl. It is hard to recall another bowler doing it nearly so often.

Spirit of the day

The atmosphere of an Edgbaston Test is quite special. While it will not be to everyone's taste - you are more likely to see a 'beer snake' than a cucumber sandwich - at a time when the Test game is fighting to retain its relevance, it is encouraging to see a decent sized crowd - the 17,000 here would have constituted a sell-out at every Test stadium outside London - including many more young people than is the case elsewhere. While Trent Bridge and Lord's do not welcome the Barmy Army and do not allow its trumpeter, Billy Cooper, to play, Edgbaston have gone in the other direction. Dedicating the Saturday of this Test to 'Barmy Army reunion day,' the ground was awash with spectators in fancy dress costumes and the sound of their songs.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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