Cricket / First Test: Salisbury fare is anything but plain

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WHEN all the bouquets had been handed out at the end of a dramatically entertaining first day, Ian Salisbury's name would not have been worth more than an honourable mention in most people's list. Yet I believe his whole performance rated much higher.

To start with, he spent Wednesday in bed with a temperature of 102 and was virtually out of consideration. He himself was determined to play, however, and although ghostly pale turned up for practice on Thursday and bowled some respectable leg-breaks in the nets.

He still was not anything like fully fit before the start but said that he would be all right, obviously praying that England would win the toss which would have given him at least another day's rest.

But Graham Gooch called wrong and so it was straight into the field for Salisbury. He did not catch his captain's eye until after lunch, and then with the fifth ball of his first over he had Manoj Prabhakar caught at slip driving when not to the pitch of the ball - a classic dismissal.

He went on to bowl 12 more overs and stood up better to Mohammad Azharuddin's cultured assault than anyone else in the England attack. He never ran for cover by pitching the ball short, and it was obvious that neither Azharuddin nor Sachin Tendulkar could guarantee to read his googly.

Salisbury's figures of 1 for 45 in 13 overs tell only a part of the story, for he could so easily have taken another wicket or two. For example, Azharuddin's airy square cut off the very first ball he faced cleared Robin Smith at backward point; it could have gone anywhere.

In addition to his bowling, Salisbury, who has not been blessed with a naturally athletic figure, ran his heart out in the field, launched himself headlong when necessary to save runs, and threw almost as well as anyone. He was my English hero of this first day's play.