But the first outing of what will be an exacting trip was not about victory or defeat, triumph or disaster and other similar impostors who could definitely be treated just the same in a match in which 32 players either batted or bowled, or did both. It was about, as has often been recited from within the team camp, giving the team a decent workout in the middle and trusting they emerged unscathed. Everybody did.
Nineteen wickets fell on the final day, enough to cause heart murmurs among pitch inspectors, but before descending in numbers on the CCI at the Brabourne Stadium (for which they should not need the excuse of a dodgy surface) the profession should rest easy in the knowledge that this was caused largely by a combination of generous batting and an imbalance in ability.
There were several early heartening aspects for Michael Vaughan's team, not the least of which was the bowling yesterday of Simon Jones. It is almost six months since Jones bowled a ball in anger after being forced to miss the final match of the Ashes series because of an ankle injury that required surgery. He had gone through the motions the previous day - though still swinging it - but yesterday he let loose the shackles and was quick and incisive, acquiring his two wickets by beating one man for pace and another with movement.
The contest between the spinners for a Test place took another step forward. Ian Blackwell made 59 from 73 balls to add to his four wickets in the CCI's first innings. Blackwell's rival, Monty Panesar, then took two wickets quickly. He immediately flighted one that spun past the bat, prompting Vaughan, who must have been sensitive to the observation that Panesar's trajectory had been a trifle flat the previous day, to turn round to the press box as if taking a note, to remind the inhabitants to do likewise.
From a distance his shorthand notes looked better than most of those he was looking towards, but the captain must also be aware that the Brabourne cat's wrong 'un would have turned on that pitch. Blackwell then finished off the match with two wickets of his own in eight balls. A selectorial conundrum is developing which may already no longer involve the squad's third spinner, Shaun Udal.
Marcus Trescothick was England's top scorer with a commanding 88 and only Blackwell of the others showed much inclination to hang around too long. It was assumed that a draw was favourite since the CCI had only 36 overs to see off. England won in 26.2, during which they used eight bowlers, which is almost certainly some kind of record for the most bowlers used in the fewest overs.Reuse content