England v New Zealand, 1st Test, Lord's, 2nd day May 16, 2008

Light on entertainment

  shares


In need of some enlightenment: Steve Bucknor checks his light meter yet again © Getty Images
 
Delays of the day
All five of them. Tedious in the extreme, and an insult to the spectators who, in most cases, had paid through the nose for a day's viewing at the home of cricket. The whistles and catcalls that greeted the umpires' endless deliberations were entirely justified. Cricket is first and foremost an entertainment, and as the Sky Sports cameras demonstrated by cutting to the uninhibited action in the nearby Regent's Park, the light that ate 41.3 overs out of the day was not unplayable by any stretch of the imagination. In the few overs that were possible, Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss suffered few problems against a New Zealand attack that, with the best will in the world, could hardly be compared to a West Indian pace battery from the 1980s.

Bowler of the day
Ryan Sidebottom was fractionally off the pace yesterday - not outrageously so, but such have been his returns in recent months that it was quite a revelation for him to finish the first day with a blank in the wicket's column. He opened his account with the well-thought-out wicket of Jacob Oram, but it was with the second new ball, however, that he truly made amends. Kyle Mills fell to a second delivery that swung wickedly through the gate, and Sidebottom cleaned up the innings for the addition of only two runs to his analysis. In all he took 4 for 5 in 9.2 overs today - that's the form that New Zealand know and dread.

Over of the day
England didn't have it all their own way, however. Where Brendon McCullum had started the resistance, Daniel Vettori completed it, with a hard-earned 48 from 100 balls. It ended meekly with a badly misjudged leave against Sidebottom, but his innings included a few moments of twinkle-toed improvisation. No-one suffered more than England's main man of the first day, James Anderson, who once again veered from excellent to execrable in the space of 24 hours. Three times in a row he banged the ball in, far too short and wide to be a threat, and watched as Vettori - with a variety of feigns, advances and dabs - three times threaded him past the slips to the backward point boundary.

Partnership of the day
Much has been made of the top-order alliance between Cook and Strauss. Both left-handers, both more adept at crease occupation than momentum-seizing, and as a partnership, somewhat under the spotlight after averaging a mere 35 in 27 innings together, dating back to the tour of India in March 2006. They were separated for a while, as Strauss was dropped and Michael Vaughan moved up to his old slot for the winter, but they've been reunited now and they've started with aplomb, adding 68 hassle-free runs in a stop-start day.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo