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May 7, 2009
Spell of the day
Graham Onions didn't have a wonderful introduction to Test cricket. He was bowled first-ball by a low full-toss, and then dropped short with his maiden delivery to be pulled ruthlessly through midwicket. But then, in his sixth over, everything started to click. Lendl Simmons received a brutal lifter to be caught at slip for Onions' maiden Test wicket, two balls later Jerome Taylor was strangled down the leg-side, then, to cap a memorable over, Sulieman Benn sliced a third-ball drive to third slip. Still Onions was not finished. He made it four in seven balls when Denesh Ramdin was pinned lbw one delivery, and had his Durham team-mate, Paul Collingwood, clung onto a sharp chance off Lionel Baker he'd have made it five in 12. Ultimately, it was 5 in 27, as Baker succumbed after a defiant cameo. Not a bad first day proper at the office.
Innings of the day
Ravi Bopara led the way on the first day, but he barely got a look in when play resumed today. Graeme Swann is not a man who lacks confidence in any department, and today he was on remarkable form. In all, he flogged eight of his nine fours on the up and through the off side, including six in the first hour this morning before Bopara had the chance to add to his own overnight tally of 14. Then, to cap his performance, Swann posted his maiden Test half-century by walloping Lionel Baker into the Mound Stand for six. By the time he was left unbeaten on 63, he had surpassed Ashley Giles' Test-best 59, and restated his growing claims to an Ashes starting berth.
Interruption of the day
England were motoring in the first hour of the morning, adding 24 handy runs in five overs as West Indies struggled to rediscover their first-day vim. So it came as a total surprise when the umpires wandered across to have a chat with the batsman, and gave them the chance to troop off for bad light. It seemed a senseless break in England's momentum, reminiscent of Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher's walk-off at Headingley 2003. But then, after a 15-minute hiatus, Swann resumed with three fours in five balls, and that was the end of that analogy.
Poor example of the day
Fidel Edwards was rightly aggrieved at the close of the first day's play, having suffered at the hands, quite literally, of his team-mates, who spilled three clear chances in the final session to delay his richly deserved five-wicket haul. When play resumed he would surely have wished to set the fielding example for his errant colleagues to follow. Instead, from the first ball of the day, he went down into the long barrier, and let a gentle push to mid-on roll straight through his legs.
Clanger of the day
As Edwards himself admitted at the close of the first day's play, it has been a long, long while since he's bowled on a pitch that rewards his natural pace. That hasn't, however, stopped him digging it in when the mood suits him, and one brute of a lifter struck James Anderson an ugly blow on the back of his helmet as he averted his gaze and braced for impact. After a lengthy delay and a switch of headgear - his old lid had a ball-shaped chunk taken out of the bottom edge - he groggily resumed and survived with some courage through to lunch.
Stat of the day
At the break, in fact, Anderson was 1 not out from 17 deliveries. Nothing remarkable in that, you might suggest. How wrong you'd be. By nudging the final ball of the session off his hip for a single to square leg, Anderson extended his world-record sequence of 47 innings without ever being dismissed for a duck. He has been unbeaten on 0 on ten occasions, and fallen for 1 seven times. But the dreaded blob remains elusive.
Bowling change of the day
When England's turn came to bowl, Broad took one half of the new ball - no surprise there. At the other end, however, Andrew Strauss pulled a complete fast one on the punters, pundits and West Indies players alike. With Swann on a high after his half-century, he was thrown the ball ahead of Anderson and both debutant seamers, Onions and Tim Bresnan, who didn't get to feature in the first innings at all. Perhaps the decision was influenced by Yuvraj Singh's over to Kevin Pietersen in Mohali, or KP's own opening of the bowling in the IPL last month. More likely, it was inspired by Swann's dominance of West Indies' openers, Chris Gayle and Devon Smith, who between them accounted for five of his 27 wickets prior to this Test.
Double whammy of the day
And sure enough, Smith soon succumbed to his nemesis, who has now claimed his wicket on four occasions in Test cricket. With the first ball of his second spell, moments before the tea break, Swann beat the inside-edge with one that zipped through the gate, and then, before West Indies knew what had hit them, he dealt Shivnarine Chanderpaul a knockout blow as well, which a beautiful tweaker that took the edge to slip. By the time their other sheet-anchorman, Brendan Nash, had fallen by the wayside as well, Swann had 3 for 16 in five overs, and the gravy-train had been set in motion. Over to Onions, to slice and dice the lower-order.
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