Sport on TV: Blake bowls off his short run as Jonny broadens the mind

It's back to the real world, then. And it doesn't matter how many times you frantically press the red button, you won't find your 15-hour fix of archery and handball and rhythmic gymnastics. In between the BBC's gold rush of adrenalin and Channel 4's powerfully trailed Paralympic coverage, it was left to Sky Sports and ITV to show the more habitual summer fare: the Lord's Test, and a meaningless international friendly on the eve of the new football season.

You couldn't escape the power of the Olympic rings, however. The Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, who is a big cricket fan, was on hand to ring the bell and start the proceedings at Lord's, and not surprisingly it didn't take him long to run up the stairs into the Sky commentary box.

"You can send it down a bit quicker than Jonathan Trott, can't you?" asked Michael Atherton as England dawdled mid-afternoon. "Yeah, definitely I can. I'm around 85, 90 [mph]," Blake revealed. "That makes you faster than anyone in the game," said Athers, inadvertently stating the bleeding obvious.

When asked what he was going to do after leaving London, Blake said: "I'm gonna go home, play some cricket, use my bowling machine, get my batting up to standard." Perhaps he has given up on the hope of ever beating Usain Bolt in major competition and opted to wield the mighty willow instead. So it seemed entirely appropriate that the world's second fastest man should be on hand as Andrew Strauss's team headed for No 2 status in world cricket.

After the parade of heroes over the last few weeks it was time for a faintly ridiculous villain, and Kevin Pietersen has duly played the part. "We'll try to keep talk of England's No 4 to a minimum," said Charles Colvile, only referring to him as "you know who" on the highlights of the first day's play.

They could have used KP for target practice if the archery was still going on. But of course he wasn't at Lord's – no doubt he was spending quality time with his agent. However, a ready-made replacement hero was on hand by the next day, and with his no-nonsense, Broad Acres attitude he seemed a more appropriate hero in this golden age of Olympic Yorkshiremen. Jonny Bairstow, according to analyst Mark Butcher, has a new style of batting, using the short-arm jab. Since it was the other fellow who had reinvented batting a few years ago himself, Jonny is certainly a suitable heir.

If KP was nowhere to be seen, nor were most of England's footballers on Wednesday night for the kickabout against Italy. The tone for a wasted evening was set by Andy Townsend in the ITV commentary box. "There's one or two players, of course, it means a lot to." How are we supposed to care if 22 or 23 players don't?

If there's one thing we've learned over the last few weeks it's the sheer dedication that is required over years of lonely training to be the best in the world. Then Ryan Bertrand came on. He was the shock choice for Chelsea in the Champions' League, then played a few games at the Olympics, then scored his first goal for his club at Wembley last weekend. Now he was making his international debut, all inside four months. Perhaps you can get to the top without too much effort after all.

Comments