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February 27, 2009
The ball has been following Jerome Taylor. Late on the first evening he dropped Kevin Pietersen at fine leg, so he would have felt huge relief when Pietersen fell for 41. Taylor then had a chance to make amends when Ravi Bopara top-edged a pull towards deep backward-square. He sprinted round the boundary and got himself into a reasonable position, but as the ball hit his hands it bounced out while Taylor fell to ground. He probably felt like burying his head in the sand on the beach behind him.
Sorry KP, you must go
There's no argument about how important Pietersen's wicket is, and he clearly had the same feeling when he asked for his lbw against Fidel Edwards to be referred. Trying to whip a straight ball through midwicket, Pietersen was struck right in line with middle and even with the naked eye it was heading nowhere other than the stumps. Russell Tiffen thought so, but Pietersen then asked Paul Collingwood who didn't dissuade his partner from asking for the TV umpire to have a look. Although Daryl Harper took a long time he eventually supported Tiffen and Pietersen had to troop off.
Breaking the duck
Ravi Bopara won't have many fond memories of his first Test series, against Sri Lanka back in late 2007. His last three innings of the contest ended in ducks - two of them first ball - and he hasn't featured in a starting XI since. So he could have been forgiven a few nerves as he strode in to replace Pietersen against a lively Fidel Edwards. Stage one was surviving his first ball, stage two scoring and run, but he managed both straight away as he calmly flicked the ball to fine leg. He was up and running.
When Matt Prior's phone rang in the early hours of Monday morning to announce the birth of his son it also gave Tim Ambrose his return to the Test team. It has been planned as a one-off comeback before Prior flies back, but plans can change quickly and in the space of a dropped catch. Ambrose went for his favourite cut shot and his opposite number, Denesh Ramdin, couldn't glove the chance. Ambrose could have been walking off with a duck while Prior held his baby, but instead he scored his first Test half century for eight innings.
Third time lucky
Edwards probably didn't hold out much hope as Bopara's hook flew towards Taylor at fine leg. This time, though, it was straight to him and Taylor swallowed the catch with ease. Edwards gave Bopara a little send-off, which looked decidedly hollow considering he had 104 to his name but it showed how hard Edwards had been trying. Taylor's morning miss had cost exactly 100 runs. He has some ground to make up.
When would Andrew Strauss declare? After all England had to give themselves as much chance as possible to take 20 wickets. As Bopara and Ambrose were blitzing the ball all over the ground the total was mounting at rapid speed and there was clearly a plan in mind. Stuart Broad slammed an on-drive off Taylor, quickly turned and jogged off the ground with Ambrose in hot pursuit. That was a statement.
Oh, to be a fly on that wall
Shortly before Andrew Flintoff spoke to the media about his departure from the tour he spent half an hour with Gary Sobers. Now there's someone every allrounder should emulate. One topic that came up was that Sobers rarely got injured, a situation Flintoff can only dream of. Did Sobers offer any advice? "He said I should go out and play my shots," Flintoff said. "Which I really want to."
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