On the Front Foot: Anderson makes goose of himself by avoiding first duck

So Jimmy Anderson's record of Test innings without a duck has reached 54. No England player has gone so long from the start of a career. But at what cost? At Headingley on Friday, Anderson pushed into the off-side and set off for a suicidal single. True, England were desperate for runs but this was a crazy risk given the parlous state of their innings. Anderson made his ground by diving but, it seemed, tweaked a hamstring. It might or might not have affected his bowling, which was dreadful. It is a lovely record to have but the sooner Anderson registers a duck – and it could happen as soon as today – the better it may be for all concerned. He has 24 innings to go to equal AB De Villiers' record of 78 duckless innings from the start of a career, 65 to match David Gower's all-time record sequence, in mid-career, of 119 innings in which he was not dismissed without scoring. One man with the opposite of Anderson's predilection for not getting ducks (does that make him a drake?) is Steve Harmison. Unencumbered by the need to score, Harmison came and went in short order and has now registered 20 Test ducks. Thus he went ahead of Derek Underwood, Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Caddick, and now needs one more to overtake Mike Atherton to hold the England record on his own.

Still spinning a nice line

The poems keep coming, for which many thanks, though some readers seem to be under the impression that they must pen verse about an Australian off spinner. Hence there is an entry this week from Fred Reece:

"It's hard," said a tweaker called Hauritz

When smashed through the covers for four.

"It's far harder," said Siddle,

"To play tunes on a fiddle Whilst sledging downhill at St Moritz."

Martyn Jackson of Cramlington also went down the Nathan line:

Angel-faced Aussie Nathan Hauritz,

Looks meek and mild,

As a Victorian child,

A latter day Little Dorrit.

Entries welcome at the email address below. The bumper ticket prize will be announced next week.

Grounds for optimism

The warmth of the welcome in Leeds has been stunning. The Headingley ground remains sepulchral but there are green shoots of recovery, embodied by the cranes which form the backdrop at the Kirkstall Lane End. Nothing has been too much trouble, though a new book called 'Austin Mitchell's Grand Book of Yorkshire Humour' (Great Northern Books, £7.99) reminds us of what folk from the Broad Acres think of their cricketing city. Bradford for cash, Halifax for dash, Wakefield for pride and poverty; Huddersfield for show, Sheffield's what's low, Leeds for dirty and vulgarity.

Headingley fails screen test

When Headingley is at last a stadium for the 21st century – oh happy day – doubtless all the cricketing luminaries from its past will be duly revered. From Ulyett, through Lord Hawke, Rhodes, via Sutcliffe, Hutton, Trueman, Illingworth and Boycott to Vaughan, all will be honoured. On that great day a thought should be spared also for the broad shoulders of Stewart Regan, not a famous cricketer but the chief executive of Yorkshire CCC who despite having opprobrium poured on him, not least from this direction, remains stoically optimistic and determined. Not sure about his claim to have the biggest replay screen in British sport, however. The screen at Trent Bridge looks larger and sharper from here.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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