Comment: Honours even under new captain

It could have been so different. For a second or so England looked to have got off to the best of all possible starts when the first ball of the match, a widish long hop from Stephen Harmison, caught Graham Smith’s bat high up and flew head high to Alastair Cook in the gully.

The unfortunate Essex man failed to hang on to the ball and a straightforward chance of a valuable wicket ended up on The Oval turf.

In the same Harmison over Smith got an inside edge onto a delicate part of his anatomy and dropped to the ground in agony and required a minute or so to recover.

The very next ball went through to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose. It was still climbing and deflected off his chest and onto Ambrose’s mouth. He required treatment which held up play for a few more minutes.

There were other close calls for Smith and his opening partner Neil McKenzie as Harmison and new ball partner James Anderson consistently beat the bat and Andrew Flintoff after he was introduced to the attack after 11 overs.

But there had still been no wicket. The sense of gloom and doom for England deepened as dark clouds rolled in over neighbouring Archbishop Tenison’s School. The England attack still had their tails up, but looked as if they were going to be frustrated just as they were working up a serious head of steam.

But Flintoff broke the spell. Having induced an edge from Smith that flew just wide of Cook at third slip, the Lancashire all-rounder finally gave new England captain Kevin Pietersen something to cheer with the last ball of his fifth over, the 20th of the South Africa innings, when McKenzie chased a wide ball and the resulting edge was taken by Cook. Shortly after that rain drove them off a quarter of an hour before the start of the interval and an early lunch was taken.

Scoring had been difficult throughout this first session. Harmison generally bowled an impressive line and length and went for just three runs an over, Flintoff was similar, with Anderson the tightest. There was time only for three overs from Stuart Broad, returning to the side after his one-test lay-off, which was not really enough for him to get into any sort of rhythm, although he troubled McKenzie in his first over, thereafter perhaps bowling a shade too short and wide.

Overall honours were about even by the time they trooped off for that early lunch.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment