Plays of the day June 28, 2008

Dolly drops and snapping bats


In and out: butterfingered Tim Ambrose makes a meal of a Jamie How top-edge © Getty Images
 

Drop of the day
Jamie How tried to pull James Anderson on 4, the ball looping and skying to where a short fine leg would have positioned himself. England's diminutive little wicketkeeper, Tim Ambrose, jogged backwards quickly and made excellent ground, steadying himself all the while. The ball plopped into his gloves, panged off the middle finger of his right hand, and plopped out again. England's body language huffed disappointment and anger, as Ambrose plodded and moped, doubtless realising there were 46 more overs left in New Zealand's innings. Fortunately for him, How only lasted another four overs.

Bat-snapping of the day
Several years ago Michael Atherton, the former England captain, wondered why someone couldn't do the honourable, justifiable thing and break Glenn McGrath's arm. It was a perfectly reasonable request, never more so when considering McGrath had dismissed him a record 19 times. A similar tactic was employed today by Anderson, though choosing to snap Brendon McCullum's bat, not his arm. McCullum had only nudged the ball to midwicket yet the blade almost split in two, hanging on by the bat's thin outer covering. Perhaps the replacement didn't feel right for McCullum, as he fell in Anderson's next over, edging to first slip. "That's the sign of a bat that has been kept for too long in a dry place," Atherton noted. Perhaps he should have locked McGrath in a greenhouse.

Rookie mistake of the day
Welcome to captaincy, Kevin. Jacob Oram had calmly, almost anonymously moved onto 36 from 34 balls, and together with Scott Styris helped New Zealand recover from 124 for 4. Pietersen's decision to stick with Owais Shah's only occasional offbreaks, rather than the greater ability of Ravi Bopara's nagging seamers, raised a few eyebrows, not to mention the spirits of the outnumbered New Zealand fans. Oram heaved him into the Mound Stand over midwicket before opening his shoulders and depositing another six into the Edrich Stand to bring up a brutal fifty from 37 balls. Pietersen's said yesterday that he would "be smoking a cigar at mid-off" if they achieved all their goals, but there wasn't hope of him even enjoying a spivvy little roll-up with Oram (and later Stryis) threatening as they were.

Completely in, emphatically out
It is nothing short of perplexing watching Ian Bell attempt to assert himself. He began England's chase in silky, oozy fashion, flicking Kyle Mills for two beautifully timed fours through midwicket. Immediately, he showed his intent, class and authority at the crease, and he continued in the same vain against Mills later in his innings when he stood tall to drive him crisply off the back foot. The more settled he looks, the more complacent he becomes, the greater the infuriation for his fans. Rather predictably, on 27 he walked across his stumps to Mark Gillespie and that was that; a soupcon of an innings, once again leaving England impatiently hungry for more.

Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo