The truth, the whole truth... I did not bowl well

I did not bowl well in Australia's first innings at Headingley. There, I've said it. Hands up, an admission, a concession to the critics, the truth. I know, although I didn't hear personally, that there was something of an open season aimed at the manner of my bowling both on Thursday after England had lost the toss and on Friday when Australia's innings continued.

I did not bowl well in Australia's first innings at Headingley. There, I've said it. Hands up, an admission, a concession to the critics, the truth. I know, although I didn't hear personally, that there was something of an open season aimed at the manner of my bowling both on Thursday after England had lost the toss and on Friday when Australia's innings continued.

It's probably always been the way. I've gone from hero to villain enough times in an international career stretching back eight years to know that the circle will always turn. You just work in the belief – and pray a little too – that it will rotate your way again.

If you could put your finger on precisely why, you'd never perform indifferently again. It's called being human, I guess. All right, so the Headingley pitch has not been what England might either have expected or craved. But that didn't seem to matter on Thursday morning when the new ball was swinging. The Australians were in some discomfort. I felt we might be able to make this tell. There was then an incident that might well have changed the course of the day, if not the match.

Mark Ramprakash at wide slip took what seemed a fine diving catch off an outside edge from Ricky Ponting. There was some doubt over whether it carried, though the initial signs were that it had. Television replays proved inconclusive, Ponting was quite rightly given the benefit of the doubt. He had not scored at the time; he went on to make 144 mostly majestic runs.

Ponting has had a lean run in this Test series and generally against England he has failed to make his mark. Maybe then his time was bound to arrive. I can confirm that he is a versatile player with an enviable range of shots.

But after his reprieve the ball suddenly refused to do what it had done before. No swing for us and the Aussies put on more than 200 for the third wicket.

It was the kind of pitch where if you did not put the ball in the business areas it was going to go. I didn't and it went. But, heavens, I never stopped trying to do something, to get a wicket. I had Mark Waugh in some trouble on the first afternoon and eventually got him with one that pitched short and took him by surprise.

On Friday morning I tried to attack and it didn't come off. I wanted to find out what Simon Katich, their debutant batsman, was made of. When we took the new ball I did not come in from the Pavilion End. That has been the end from which I have always done damage at Leeds.

Earlier this summer I ran in from there and took 10 wickets against Yorkshire, the County Champions elect. I feel right there, I develop my rhythm there. That end went to Darren Gough, my new-ball partner and he took his ninth five-wicket haul in Test matches on Friday morning. It was a short but effective spell.

There have been some newspaper rumours that Goughy isn't about to make the tour to India later this year. I shall go if selected. The sub-continent might not be my bag of chips especially but maybe the responsibility and pressure of being without the bloke with whom I've opened the bowling for so long will do me good.

It is that jaded time of the summer. Somehow, I am not firing on all cylinders and I am having some blood tests. But jadedness also comes, I know, from being six Tests in and being on the receiving end a little too often.

It comes from not getting what you want. What we would have liked at Headingley was a hard, green surface. What we got was a bare pitch with tufts of grass and indentations. Peculiar it was. There were some difficulties for batsmen if they had to deal with the ball in the appropriate region (and all right, again, we let them off a bit too much) but otherwise good players could be footloose and fancy free. I know my old friend Henry Blofeld has probably been having mild dig at me. Which is fine by me, though sometimes I suspect that Henry describes passing double-deckers and static pigeons with more understanding than he relates the problems of cricketers, especially England cricketers.

It was really pleasing to see England make such a fist of matters in reply to Australia's first innings, not least Nasser Hussain. It is good to have him back as player and captain. He is always aksing what you want as a bowler and telling you what he wants. You want to respond to him. And he batted with real grit.

A final word on technology. It probably saved Marcus Trescothick when Mark Waugh claimed a slip catch, though Tresco unfortunately did not go on to make a hundred. Technology has proved that it is not conclusive and just because somebody might not be definitely out doesn't mean they're not out.

If technology does not provide proof I still think that the men in the middle, the umpires, should have the final say.

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