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February 4, 2009
Missing umpire, missing commentator
Asoka de Silva, the Sri Lankan umpire, was due to be standing in this Test but had trouble getting a visa. Tony Hill, the New Zealander, therefore took his place alongside Rudi Koertzen. There are three top ICC umpires standing in this game because of the continued trial of TV referrals, but the original third umpire Daryl Harper kept his position in the stands. de Silva wasn't the only person to have trouble getting to this Test. David Gower, who was due here in his commentating capacity, was stuck in Hampshire because of the heavy snow hitting the UK.
Any nerves, captain?
It wasn't the first time Andrew Strauss had come out to open the batting as England captain, but this time it was the real deal and not merely as a fill-in. He has taken his rapid promotion in his stride, but this morning looked a bag of nerves in the middle. He almost fell second ball when he bottom-edged a ball in front of second slip trying to leave. Another flat-footed play-and-miss followed next delivery before he was dropped at third slip by Xavier Marshall off Jerome Taylor. Finally, though, Taylor got what he deserved for a probing start when Strauss nibbled outside off and provided a low catch to Denesh Ramdin.
Collingwood's TV trial
Paul Collingwood became the first England batsmen involved in the umpire decision review system (or UDRS as it will never be known) when Chris Gayle asked for an lbw shout to be sent upstairs to Daryl Harper. Gayle let out a huge appeal when Collingwood was struck on the front pad playing a sweep. Rudi Koertzen said not out, but Gayle produce the 'T' signal and it went to Harper. A number of replays were used, but the decisive one was when the stump-to-stump mat was put in place which showed the ball striking outside the line. Decision made, and eventually it was confirmed on the field. One calculation had it taking two-and-half minutes, but it felt a little longer and it proved the on-field umpire spot on.
No point asking for that one
Collingwood, though, wasn't going to become the first Englishman reprieved by TV. When he swept at Sulieman Benn and was given out by Tony Hill he started to walk off then turned around, looking as though he wanted some advice on whether to refer. He seemed to ask Kevin Pietersen, but quickly turned on his heels and walked off. Looking at replays it was stone dead and would have wasted a referral. Pietersen might have said: "Sorry mate, that's plumb." It was.
In the full glare
Fidel Edwards was a bit off colour during his efforts, but he still made sure he followed-through up close to the batsmen. That was especially true when he bowled to Kevin Pietersen after tea and one ball, which was edged in the air between slip and gully, left him eye-balling the batsman and having a brief chat with Pietersen and Flintoff. He might have had a word with his captain, instead, and asked him for a few more slips.
The England players wore black armbands in memory of Bill Frindall, the world-renowned cricket scorer and statistician, who died last week. Most, if not all, of the England players will have had career milestones meticulously noted and recorded by Frindall so that their centuries or five-wicket hauls were there for all to recall in years to come. He would have spluttered when the PA mistakenly announced that Pietersen had passed 5000 Test runs when he was in fact on 4101. Bill didn't make those mistakes.
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