Kerrigan can defy the doubters
If it was not the most magical of test matches, nor was it the dullest by any means. To a certain extent the outcome at Trent Bridge demonstrated how spoilt we have become: draws like that were hardly a rarity in days gone by.
For England, Joe Root's big century, along with fifties from Robson and Ballance were the main reason for cheer, even if Anderson's wonderful effort was the match-changing innings (and the fans’ favourite).
The recall of Simon Kerrigan for the second test is recognition of the need for a better balance to the team. Michael Vaughan and others doubt whether he is ready to return. But Kerrigan is a very good bowler and has the ability to make a better stab at international cricket this time round. The only question is whether he has the confidence to really attack the crease. That was his downfall at the Oval last year: he tried to put the ball on the spot, rather than really bowling. Good luck to him.
England need more Ballance
If Kerrigan plays at Lord's but ends up not being able to hack it, England will have a problem, especially if it is Moeen Ali who is forced to make way for him. Joe Root is a handy bowler but he does not pose a major threat.
But perhaps the answer can be found in the final desulutory overs in Nottingham. With Jimmy Anderson having batted like Brian Lara, it was only natural that Alastair Cook should want to steam in like, well, like Jimmy Anderson. And with a cheeky wicket, who knows how much his appetite has been whetted.
Yet it was not Cook who caught the Roller's eye but rather his partner in bowling crimes, Gary Ballance. Like all modern leg-spinners he approached the crease like Warne. And then, remarkably, he delivered two or three balls that drifted, turned and bounced. If England need to achieve greater balance, there may be an obvious solution.
TMS has its brains in a spin
England's spinning travails are being watched closely by the man who left the team bereft in Australia, Graeme Swann. His departure mid-Ashes was poorly done but there is no doubting that he has been a welcome addition to the TMS commentary team. A discussion between Swann, Vic Marks, Phil Tufnell and Peter Such during the last test was a particularly fascinating element of the BBC's coverage of the match.
Phil Tufnell's transformation from cricketer to commentator via I’m a Celebrity success a decade ago was more perhaps surprising than Swann’s. Yet both have brought a mixture of humour and insight which works so well on radio. Michael Vaughan, despite his annoying habit of interrupting his co-commentator, completes an impressive triumvirate of recent(ish) appointments.
The conclusion to be drawn from this is simple: ex-spinners, and ex-batsman who bowled occasional off-breaks, are generally funnier, smarter and more insightful than the rest.
Pity the little cricket clubs
In his recent, imaginatively-titled autobiography, ‘Bouch: Through My Eyes’, South Africa’s former wicket-keeper, Mark Boucher, notes the difficulty faced by those who play their first-class cricket for smaller clubs. Having played for Border in South Africa’s domestic competition, Boucher ought to know what he is talking about. Wikipedia, that font of all knowledge, lists that club’s major achievement as being the record-holder for the lowest aggregate score by a first class side in a match: 16 in the first innings and 18 in the second in a Currie Cup game fifty-five years ago.
Boucher contends that the media are less interested in the achievements of the littler sides, which is possibly true. In this country, Derbyshire and Leicestershire infrequently hit the headlines. But there is clearly a bit of chicken and egg to all this: good performances engender media interest; media interest raises a club’s profile and status, which can improve performances.
To show some willing, those two county sides (Leicestershire and Derbyshire), which are sadly propping up division two of the Championship, will be the focus of TLR’s attention for the rest of the season. Today’s news is not great: Leicestershire are staring down the barrel of an impossible fourth innings chase against classy Worcestershire. Derbyshire meanwhile have seen Gloucestershire rack up 356 in their first-innings at Cheltenham, although there was a first Championship five-wicket haul for 19-year-old Tom Taylor and another good performance from Tony Palladino, who has enjoyed a productive season.