Ian Bell: We can take first steps here on the road to greatness
Lord's mystique should inspire us for greater challenges to come and Sidebottom will help swing things our way
Sunday 18 May 2008
Everyone is aware of what is expected, everyone expects England to beat New Zealand. So far, so good. But it is vital that England remember that expectation does not mean foregone conclusion. These tourists are tough.
I guess we might have bowled them out slightly cheaper than we did, I guess we might have expected (that word again) to do so. But what the pundits' assessment of our task must not do is lead to us underestimating them. They are tough, and Brendon McCullum showed how tough.
He took a risk; you have to take a risk. But he is in the form of his life and the risks are more calculated. His 97 had its share of fortune but you need that. If he is not one of the best players in the world at present then I don't know who is. He mixed unorthodox shot-making with class. It made it difficult to set fields to him.
There is a lot surrounding any Test at Lord's, and who could not wish to start a new season here? On Monday night the squad went to the Vodafone Player of the Year dinner in the Long Room. What a pleasant occasion it was. They have been good sponsors of English cricket and this is a particularly pleasant occasion, a chance to reflect on the successes of the past year while bearing in mind the challenges ahead.
The England player of the year was Ryan Sidebottom, a thoroughly popular and deserved winner. He has been a good bowler for a long time, and word had spread about his performances for Nottinghamshire before his call-up for the England team last year.
He has taken plenty of wickets with skilful, on-the-button swing bowling, but he might have had more. I remember against India last summer he beat Sachin Tendulkar several times, and you don't do that without knowing your onions. In Sri Lanka he might have had more wickets in less conducive conditions but he went to New Zealand and got his just reward, and back home in England I should imagine it's just his cup of tea. It was tremendous to see him pick up the trophy.
As it turned out, he didn'tbowl as well as he might have done on the first day. But like all very fine bowlers he responded, and by the second day he was swinging the ball down the right lines. It was another really polished performance, and allied to Jimmy Anderson's three wickets was really encouraging. Jimmy took a wicket in his first over, but his general attack set the tone we wanted to set.
This is a wonderful time of year, the start of something. Everything about Lord's – the atmosphere, the tradition, the sense of history – guards against us taking a comme ci comme ça approach to our game.
And if the Kiwis got a few runs more than we might have wished, the start to our innings was just right. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, together again as an opening pair, judged it just right. They knew they could not wait to let the bowlers get them out and they played some convincing shots in tricky conditions, where margins for error were small.
It was exactly what the batting needed. The light was moderate and the loss of one wicket in that sort of climate can easily lead to two or three going down, which can change the game.
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food