Henry Blofeld: Hoggard and Harmison fall foul of Lord's slippery slope
Friday 21 May 2004
The natural slope at Lord's, which falls about seven feet from the north-west corner of the ground to the Tavern boundary in the south-east corner, has always caused severe problems for unsuspecting players. Unwary and inexperienced fast bowlers can find that it plays havoc with their rhythm as they run in down the slope or up against the slope from the Pavilion End.
These idiosyncrasies were underlined when the first Test started yesterday morning. Both of New Zealand's opening batsmen, like England's, are left-handers and Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison suddenly found that the difficulty of adjusting their line to the left-handers was exaggerated by this significant slope.
Life at Lord's is easier for left-handed opening batsmen than right-handers. Harmison, bowling from the Nursery End to a ridiculous field with seven men on the off side and only two down the slope on the leg side, soon found that he was slipping the ball too frequently down the hill. Stephen Fleming, who is so strong off his legs, wasted no time in pulling him to the Tavern boundary and playing him away through midwicket off his legs.
It was patently absurd to have seven fielders on the upside of the slope and to give Harmison almost no protection at all on the downside. It meant that in order to guard against slipping the ball down the leg side, he had to aim it too far outside the off stump to be a serious danger to the batsman. With the protection of at least a third fielder on the leg side Harmison would have been given the confidence to aim closer to the left-hander's off stump and so make the batsman play more often.
From the Pavilion End, Hoggard, for similar reasons, allowed the two left-handers to leave far too many balls alone. The slope meant that his natural line was to make the ball go away down the slope to the left-handers and two such canny batsmen as Mark Richardson and Fleming, who know exactly where their off stumps are, needed no encouragement to shoulder arms. It was a waste of the new ball.
The Lord's slope must make life easier for left-handed openers than for their right-handed counterparts. Harmison's seven-two field made it easier still, but both these bowlers have bowled at Lord's before and they should have been rather more streetwise on this first morning. It will be interesting to see how the New Zealand bowlers cope.
What time is the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble on? TV details and full card
Royal Rumble 2015: Roman Reigns triumphs after The Rock returns to set-up Wrestlemania showdown with Brock Lesnar
Brighton 2 Arsenal 3 player ratings: Did Tomas Rosicky's performance and goal make him man of the match at Amex Stadium?
Liverpool transfer news and rumours: Glen Johnson to stay; Fabian Delph move goes up in flames; Marc-Andre Ter Stegen for loan deal
Brighton vs Arsenal match report: Tomas Rosicky inspirational as Gunners avoid scare
- 1 Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally