This England team have the top-class performers to rescue any situation
That was more like it. With more ups and downs than Alice the Camel at the start of her song, the test in the north (as Robb Stark might have it) was a joy to the world.
Further down the line, there may be some tricky questions for English selectors. But the best teams tough it out - just as England have done in this series - and have players who can dig their way from deep holes. In this series, the bowlers have all had their dream moments. And while the batting has relied too much on Bell and Pietersen, that's just the way it goes sometimes.
Even the West Indies in the '80s and Australia in the '90s were occasionally uncertain in their batting. But they had unheralded stalwarts like Gus Logie or blasters in the Adam Gilchrist mould who could rescue even dire situations. England may not have passed 400 in this series. Yet nor have they fallen for under 215 (and only twice for less than 330), which after unpromising starts and against a high-class attack is not something to be sniffed at. 3-0 with one to play may be bald but it’s a scoreline that brooks little argument.
With the series won, it’s time for some tweaks at the Oval
England might want to go out with a bang at the Oval but, with a tough winter in mind, it's time to give Jimmy Anderson a rest. Another game without top order wickets is hardly the end of the world but in the last two tests he has not shown the consistency of line and length which has characterised recent seasons.
Analysts marvel at Anderson's mastery of swing - yet he has become the best swing bowler in the world because he has increasingly known exactly where to bowl the ball, and just how to do it. There will undoubtedly be a temptation to bring in Chris Tremlett on his home ground. But Graham Onions deserves a tilt - not least since he is the obvious replacement if Anderson suffers an injury.
And, without wishing to bore on about it, surely this is as good an opportunity as any to blood Simon Kerrigan, especially now Monty Panesar has discovered that not only is there no ‘I’ in team, nor is there a ‘wee’.
Durham’s Riverside comes of age
Durham's Riverside ground may just have come of age as a test venue. After four one-sided, early-summer contests since 2003, it finally got the chance to showcase a real battle and - despite what the naysayers might, er, nay say - the pitch was a pretty decent one. A bit of spin, some bounce and lateral movement for the seamers and at times good - if slow - for batting.
But what is somehow most endearing, if paradoxical, about Durham's Chester-le-Street home is that it looks like a proper, old-fashioned test ground - from the perfectly curved proportions of the playing area to its gently-tiered seating. No floodlights here; no over-bearing grandstand. A bit more sun and it would have been reminiscent of the Oval circa 1985.
Of course, if Lord Howell has his way, the Riverside ground will be a fracking site by the time the Aussies next come, so let's enjoy it while it lasts.
Boycs and Perry need to leave the corridor of uncertainty and get a room
Naturally I am in love with Test Match Special. I once flounced out of bed, shouting "thanks for your support" at my then girlfriend when she claimed TMS at 6.30am was unconducive to sleep. (OK, I over-reacted, but still.)
What I do not like, however, is the disturbing love-in between TMS regular, Geoff Boycott, and American singing starlet Katy Perry. Listening to their peculiar exchange of messages on the radio was unrelentingly odd. Perry's love for Boycs is understandable but how on earth does he have such an impressive knowledge of her oeuvre?Reuse content