On the Front Foot: Birds of a feather but Swann fails to take flight straightaway

To general disbelief, the new ball for England in the First Test was shared by off spinner Graeme Swann. It was a tactical ploy by Andrew Strauss because Swann had bamboozled Devon Smith in the West Indies, dismissing him three times. The ruse did not quite work and Swann was withdrawn after two overs – though he bowled Smith later. The last spinner to open for England was John Emburey, who did so with Graham Dilley at Old Trafford in 1988. He was captain and it was at the end of the day when West Indies had only two overs at the start of their innings. Before that, in similar circumstances, the off spinner Sam Staples shared the new ball with Wally Hammond at Durban in 1928. In earlier days it was a regular occurrence. Strauss is in good modern company. Mark Taylor, one of Australia's greatest captains, three times asked off spinner Colin Miller to open the bowling with Glenn McGrath, the second against England at Sydney in 1998 when Australia played three spinners. What's good enough for Taylor...

Still producing the goods

It was jolly good to see Peter Baxter, the erstwhile producer of 'Test Match Special', at Lord's signing copies of his excellent memoir 'Inside The Box' (Quiller, £18.99). In it he reveals the animosity between him and the late commentator Don Mosey, who loathed public schoolboys like Baxter. Mosey, a bluff Yorkshireman, did not bear this against Jonathan Agnew because apparently he did not rate Agnew's alma mater, Uppingham. Between roistering tales of tour exploits, Baxter diplomatically avoids dispensing much advice about the future direction of 'TMS'. But he does give a discreet plug for the superb Simon Mann, who is in the Christopher Martin-Jenkins league ("for the long-term future he should be a stalwart") and who, for inexplicable reasons, will be barely heard this summer.

And finally... nothing

If 'TMS' and BBC Radio continue to offer wall-to-wall coverage of the international game the same cannot be said of their TV counterparts. There was, abominably, no mention of the Lord's Test on the Ten O'Clock News on the first two days, bespeaking ignorance, folly and misjudgement.

Ring us another time

Defeat for West Indies inside three days deprived their former great off-break bowler Lance Gibbs of the chance to ring the five-minute bell before play yesterday. England's World Cup-winning team (women, that is) missed a chance to parade their booty round the ground at lunch too.

Blow to nether regions

In mentioning the shortlist for the Cricket Society Book of the Year last week, this column idiotically gave the wrong title to Joseph O'Neill's novel. Instead of 'Netherland' OTFF called it 'Amsterdam', a novel by Ian McEwan that contains even less cricket (i.e. none). The error unfortunately gives succour to those who think this space is all double Dutch.


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