England v Australia, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, 1st day August 4, 2005

The boundary bounty

The perils of pitching it short at Edgbaston

Despite being one down in the series and losing the toss at Edgbaston, defence was the last thing on the England batsmen's minds as they clattered a mind-boggling 65 boundaries - 55 fours and ten sixes - in 79.2 overs on the opening day. The batsman who set the tone was Marcus Trescothick, who repeatedly smeared fours through covers off Australia's opening bowlers. As many as 80% of his total runs - 72 out of 90 - were scored in fours and sixes, as he continued his phenomenal run at Edgbaston: he has now scored 622 Test runs at this ground at an average of 88.86.

England were also helped significantly by an extremely sluggish pitch which gave the Australian fast bowlers absolutely no assistance. Of the 337 balls bowled by Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz, only 49 were potentially wicket-taking - that is, they beat the bat, rapped the batsmen on the pads, or forced false strokes. Shane Warne, on the other hand, was much more effective on the first-day pitch, inducing 38 false strokes in the 153 deliveries he bowled.

On a slow track, the worst thing a bowler could do was pitch it short, and the graphic below shows just how severely the fast bowlers were punished whenever they erred in length: the 39 short balls disappeared for 95 runs, that's nearly two-and-a-half runs per short ball. Even Brett Lee, whose extra pace would have normally made batsmen hurry, was rendered innocuous, conceding 111 in 17 overs. And 54 of those runs came from the 21 deliveries he pitched short. That's a stat Steve Harmison and Co. can learn from when they come out to bowl on the second day.