Strauss and Cook's hard graft lifts the gloom

There was a distinct absence of dancing in the streets when Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook were reinstated as England's opening batsmen. Good players, sound individual Test records but as a first-wicket partnership they had been notably inauspicious. On the list of English double acts they were mixing with Cannon and Ball not Morecambe and Wise.

However, when Michael Vaughan decided it was better for him and the side that he moved again to No 3 the deal was sealed. Strauss and Cook were reborn, strutting their stuff together again. Their past misdemeanours were forgotten on the grounds that Vaughan preferred No 3 and Strauss liked opening.

It seemed an argument with an extremely tenuous base, not least because Strauss had made 177 last time out at No 3 and that Vaughan and Cook had done significantly as an opening pair better than Cook and Strauss. So, they had it all to do when they strode out in the early afternoon murk here yesterday. Given the prevailing conditions and the record they were the Gloomy Twosome more than the Sunshine Boys.

The smart money was on an early wicket. This was the duo who had averaged a mere 35.22 for the first wicket and more tellingly had contributed a mere 11.67 per cent of England's total runs (to give it some perspective Strauss and Marcus Trescothick of recent vintage supplied 16 per cent). And the ball had begun to swing round corners. Whichever measurement you used, it was not a batting day.

But the restored duo defied the scepticism with some brio. True, they flirted with the slip cordon at times in the early overs but who wouldn't. Hobbs and Sutcliffe, Jack and Herbert of that ilk, England's most successful opening partnership might have been edging the odd one.

Neither man had been in the most persuasive of early season form, though Strauss had had more moments than Cook. They had been building for this, were pretty composed though it was surprising that they looked so assertive. Maybe New Zealand might have pitched it up more but both batsmen seemed aware of the precise whereabouts of their off stump, not always the case.

These were merely the green shoots of recovery, of course, and though it was heartening from England's viewpoint that they had reach an unbroken 68 it was hardly a reason yet for told you so's.

It was the least satisfactory of cricketing days, irritating and frustrating for spectators, officials and players. There were five stoppages for bad light but this was nobody's fault. The gloom coincided with the announcement of the Marylebone Cricket Club masterplan. When this is executed it will make Lord's a grand ground fitter still for the 21st century and it happens to include floodlights. But they would not have helped on days like yesterday.

Shot of the day

*Left-handed batsmen tend either to look elegant or awkward and Daniel Vettori, the Kiwi captain, falls into the latter group. Despite this, he transfers his weight into the shot exquisitely and is a sweet timer of a cricket ball. An extra cover drive off the bowling of James Anderson highlighted this beautifully.

Ball of the day

*Batsmen do not face many high-quality left-arm seamers and when they do they are caused innumerable problems by them. Often there is very little they can do against the swinging ball and that was the case for the New Zealand tail-ender Kyle Mills, who was bowled by a magnificent inswinger from Ryan Sidebottom.

Moment of the day

*Sidebottom's dismissal of Mills was surrounded by four strong lbw shouts in the same over. Three were correctly given not out; the other was close. When Sidebottom took his sweater from the umpire Steve Bucknor at the end of the over they shared a wry smile. Both knew the bowler deserved more.

Weather

*TODAY

Play is expected to be interrupted by intermittent showers. The temperature will be a cool 14C.

*TOMORROW

An improvement in conditions should bring a full day's play. The sun may even reappear.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us