In the general scheme of things it may have been one small step for man, but it was a giant leap for James Tredwell. He was on the field for one ball on the third day of the first Test yesterday and it may be all his Test career amounts to.
But what a moment it was. Not only did he produce one of the most stunning of catches, which would have graced any match, but there is reasonable evidence to suppose that he should not have been there in the first place. Only in cricket could such things happen all at once.
Tredwell took his position at short midwicket to replace his captain, Alastair Cook, who had left the field following the fall of a wicket to the previous ball. That itself had involved an excellent piece of fielding when Michael Carberry engineered the run-out of the unexpectedly adhesive Naeem Islam.
So Graeme Swann came in to bowl and Mushfiqur Rahim, who had batted with immense aplomb, hit the ball hard on the leg side. It was in the air but it was timed and going for four.
Tredwell, who had barely had time to prepare, leapt instinctively, climbing high to his right and took the catch. Mushfiqur, on course for his second hundred in two matches at the Divisional Stadium, was out for 79 and, as Cook returned, Tredwell followed to be mobbed by his non-playing colleagues on the boundary.
It was breathtaking stuff and as Swann said later: "It was the best catch I have ever had taken off my bowling. I wish everybody could field like that but unfortunately they don't. I was just overjoyed Cooky was off the field because there is no chance in hell he would have caught it."
Tredwell was on the field because Cook wanted to go to the toilet (and let nobody dare suggest that it was because he wanted to check with the coach, Andy Flower, whether as temporary captain he should or should not enforce the follow-on).
However, the International Cricket Council's Test Match Playing Conditions are unequivocal in this matter. Section 2.1.3 stipulates: "Substitute fielders shall only be permitted in cases of injury, illness or other wholly acceptable reasons. Wholly acceptable reasons should be limited to extreme circumstances and should not include what is commonly referred to as a 'comfort break'."
Swann said of Cook: "I am reliably informed he was visiting his friend Armitage Shanks." Which is not his friend, Andy Flower. On being told that such absences did not permit substitute fielders, Swann said: "In that case he was off with an injury sustained while fielding."
Take it which way you will. Tredwell probably should not have been there (Cook was out to bat 15 minutes later) but it was a wonderful moment, which he will remember as long as he plays and beyond.Reuse content