And they said Test cricket was dead. Instead, it has now joined luminaries from Mark Twain to Pope John Paul II in having reports of its demise exaggerated.
After being revived in spectacular fashion for its 2,000th match at Lord's, it was bristling with life and excitement on the first day of its 2,001st outing yesterday. There were wickets galore, a belated and hugely important flurry of runs by England, a spat or two and a rip-roaring contest in the making.
If the Trent Bridge pitch was a touch too sporting, bowlers the world over would say it was about time. The ball swung throughout, seamed a little less and provided a prolonged test of method and application.
Had England possessed more of the latter they might have survived to make more than 221 all out. Then again, they might have made many fewer but for a rumbustious ninth-wicket partnership between Stuart Broad (whoever said he should be dropped ought to be clapped in irons in the tunnels running beneath Lord's) and Graeme Swann.
In 15 action-packed overs in the evening, England kept beating the bat but never repeated the success they managed with the first ball of India's innings when Abhinav Mukund drove Jimmy Anderson to gully. India finished at 24 for one but they will require all their experience and skill today.
Swann was taken to hospital for an X-ray on his hand, hit when he was out, but in this innings at least he may not be the difference for England. There will be some debate about the capricious nature of the surface, but the difficulties for batsmen were aggravated by cloud cover. Getting in was tough and getting out when that had been achieved, as three of England's batsmen did, invited criticism – not least of what playing one-day cricket had done for the virtue of patience.
Andrew Strauss, the England captain, is not one to show his feelings during a game, whichever of the twin imposters are in town. For all his sangfroid, close examination might have been able to detect a tear in the corner of his eye when he lost the toss.
Having called correctly at Lord's, opted to bowl and lost the match, MS Dhoni might have thought twice about bowling again. But one look at the overhead virtually demanded it. Where once it might have been highly unusual, the toss winners have fielded in seven of England's last 11 Tests.
It does not guarantee success, though India, who came into the match under a cloud as gloomy as that over Nottingham, must have felt it lifting as the morning and afternoon wore on. Strauss, by his own reluctant admission, would also have bowled. Pretty soon, he had to bat on the thing.
India's three seamers, lips smacking as they ran to the crease, all acquitted themselves with purpose. All are captivating coves. Praveen Kumar, who is 24 and in only his fifth Test match, is a feisty individual who makes England's own Mr Grumpy, Anderson, seem like a ray of Lancastrian sunshine. He is a serious bowler, who takes bowling seriously, perhaps a little too seriously at present.
Ishant Sharma shared the new ball with him. There was a difference in Sharma from the hippy figure seen at Lord's. His new haircut makes him now look something like a chartered accountant.
The third of the seam trio, Sree Sreesanth, was selected instead of the injured Zaheer Khan and was one of two changes in the tourists' team, along with Gautam Gambhir, who had not recovered from the elbow injury he sustained at Lord's and was replaced by Yuvraj Singh. Sreesanth achieved some notoriety in Nottingham four years ago and, though there were mischievous moments, he was clearly determined to be less combustible.
There had already been a scare or two by the time in the sixth over that Alastair Cook was out. He pushed forward to Sharma, was beaten by some movement and declared to be lbw. A review would have saved him – but there are no reviews. It was like the old days again.
Before lunch, Jonathan Trott, in most atypical fashion, drove at an outswinger from Sreesanth, the first ball he had received from the bowler, and saw it end up in VVS Laxman's hands at second slip.
There might have been another wicket before the break. Kumar forcibly disagreed with the decision of umpire Marais Erasmus not to give Kevin Pietersen out lbw. To see him berate the umpire, nose to nose, was at the least unedifying. To see Harbhajan Singh act as the peacemaker and usher away Kumar was astonishing. Harbhajan has plenty of previous when it comes to misbehaving.
England's innings was wrecked in the two-hour middle session. Pietersen, disturbed by a loose flap above the sightscreen at the pavilion end, was caught at third slip. Strauss had played 12 balls without scoring and was out to the next as he tried needlessly to break the shackles with an airy drive to Kumar. His best Test score of the season remains 32. Like this shot, it is not good enough.
His demise led to two more wickets in rapid succession, Eoin Morgan for his second duck in two matches, beaten by a ball moving away, and Matt Prior edging a peach of a ball to second slip.
A minor recovery was halted in its tracks when Tim Bresnan was squared up by Sharma and wonderfully caught by Rahul Dravid leaping to his left. Ian Bell, who had enjoyed his share of good fortune but also left good balls with some aplomb, played a rash square cut on the stroke of tea.
At 124 for eight, England looked doomed. Broad and Swann decided they had to chance their arm and in doing so they forced India to lose their previous discipline. In 70 joyous balls – joyous for England, that is – came 73 runs.
Both scythed to wonderful effect and India made the mistake of dropping too short, too often. Broad might have recognised himself in these bowlers. They were crucial runs and they enhanced another lovely day at the cricket.
How the first day unfolded at Trent Bridge
1034: The toss
India call correctly and elect to bowl. Bresnan comes in for Tremlett, as the visitors bring in Yuvraj Singh and Sreesanth for Gambhir and Zaheer respectively.
1132: Wicket – 7 for 1
Cook goes, lbw to Ishant Sharma for 2. The contact was above the knee roll and it may have been a touch high. The DRS debate is sparked into life again.
1155: Wicket – 25 for 2
Lord's run-getter Jonathan Trott is picked up early, caught behind by Sreesanth for just four. A premature end for England's run-machine.
1302: Lunch – 69 for 2
MS Dhoni's decision to bowl justified as a couple of early wickets put England on the back foot, followed by a good rebuilding by Strauss and Pietersen.
1346: Wicket – 73 for 3
Horror start to the afternoon for England as Pietersen jabs at one from back of a length, caught in the slips by Raina off the bowling of Sreesanth for 29.
1355: Chance – 76 for 3
Incident involving Sreesanth, seemingly claiming a caught-and-bowled chance from Bell that clearly didn't carry. Dhoni not impressed.
1425: Wicket – 85 for 4
Strauss' watchful innings comes to an end with a poor drive, edged to third slip. Strauss is furious with himself and rightly so. England in trouble
1435: Wicket – 85 for 5
Morgan goes lbw to Kumar for 0 and he doesn't like it. But he has to go for another duck. India with their tails up and the ball wobbling.
1443: Wicket – 88 for 6
The swinging ball does for Prior this time, and England are staring down the barrel after losing three wickets for three runs in the last half-hour. Well bowled Sree.
1458: Drop – 98 for 6
Bell dropped by Dravid in unusual fashion as his body hit the floor after a dive. Perhaps the Indian slips should be a few steps closer to the bowler.
1524: Wicket – 117 for 7
The collapse continues as a fantastic delivery from Sharma holds its line and squares up Bresnan completely. The edge behind brings Broad to the crease.
1536: Wicket – 124 for 8
Bell departs caught behind off the bowling of Sharma for 31. A poor, poor shot in retrospect, trying to play late and guiding it straight to Dhoni.
1541: Tea – 124 for 8
Nightmarish afternoon for England as India took six for 55 in the session. Broad and Swann now in charge of giving themselves something to bowl at.
1648: Wicket – 197 for 9
The fireworks are over and the partnership between Swann and Broad ends. One explodes from back of a length and takes Swann by surprise, caught by Mukund.
1707: Fifty for Broad
Fantastic counter-attacking batting from Broad as he smashes Kumar over his head to go to 50. Every run is vital here as the sun comes out for England.
1720: All out
Broad goes after a breathtaking 64 takes England to 221. His knock gives England a chance, and the tourists face a difficult period against the new ball.
1831: Stumps – 24 for 1
Anderson makes use of the conditions by removing Mukund with his first ball, and swing, seam and bounce mean that England aren't out of this yet.
Trent Bridge Scoreboard
Second Test (First day of five): India are trailing England by 197 runs with nine first-innings wickets in hand
India won toss
England First Innings
*A J Strauss c Raina b Kumar: 32
98 balls 0 sixes 4 fours
A N Cook lbw b Sharma: 2
16 balls 0 sixes 0 fours
I J L Trott c Laxman b Sreesanth: 4
15 balls 0 sixes 1 fours
K P Pietersen c Raina b Sreesanth: 29
53 balls 0 sixes 4 fours
I R Bell c Dhoni b Sharma: 31
81 balls 0 sixes 4 fours
E J G Morgan lbw b Kumar: 0
3 balls 0 sixes 0 fours
†M J Prior c Dravid b Sreesanth: 1
4 balls 0 sixes 0 fours
T T Bresnan c Dravid b Sharma: 11
23 balls 0 sixes 2 fours
S C J Broad c Tendulkar b Harbhajan Singh: 64
66 balls 0 sixes 9 fours
G P Swann c Mukund b Kumar: 28
35 balls 0 sixes 3 fours
J M Anderson not out: 6
18 balls 0 sixes 0 fours
Extras (b2 lb8 w3): 13
Total (68.4 overs): 221
Fall: 1-7, 2-23, 3-73, 4-85, 5-85, 6-88, 7-117, 8-124, 9-197.
P Kumar 22-8-45-3 (1wd) (5-1-7-0; 6-2-13-0; 6-4-7-2; 5-1-18-1), I Sharma 22-4-66-3 (2wd) (6-2-10-1; 3-0-6-0; 3-0-5-0; 2-0-13-0; 4-2-16-2; 4-0-16-0), S Sreesanth 19-1-77-3 (5-0-23-1; 7-1-14-2; 6-0-33-0; 1-0-7-0), Harbhajan Singh 4.4-0-22-1 (1-0-4-0; 2-0-12-0; 1.4-0-6-1), Yuvraj Singh 1-0-1-0 (1-0-1-0)
Progress: England 50 in 18.4 overs, Lunch: 69-2 in 27 overs (Strauss 29, Pietersen 27), 100 in 43.1 overs, Tea: 124-8 in 51 overs (Broad 6, Swann 0), 150 in 53.3 overs, 200 in 64.1 overs, Broad 50 off 56 balls (7 fours), England 221 all out in 68.4 overs, Close: 24-1 in 15 overs (Dravid 7, Laxman 13).
India First Innings
A Mukund c Pietersen b Anderson: 0
1 balls 0 sixes 0 fours
R Dravid not out: 7
38 balls 0 sixes 1 fours
V V S Laxman not out: 13
52 balls 0 sixes 2 fours
Extras (lb2 w1 nb1): 4
Total (for 1, 15 overs): 24
To bat: S R Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, S K Raina, *†M S Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, P S Kumar, S Sreesanth, I Sharma.
J M Anderson 5-2-10-1 (5-2-10-1), S C J Broad 7-3-5-0 (1wd) (7-3-5-0), T M Bresnan 3-0-7-0 (1nb) (3-0-7-0)
Umpires: Asad Raud (Pak) & M Erasmus (SA).
TV umpire: B F Bowden (NZ).
Match referee: R S Madugalle (S Lanka).Reuse content