Trent Bridge Diary: Omens not good for unchanged side after axe fell on Shrewsbury's men

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The Independent Online

England, as everybody now knows since the Diary mentioned it, have been unchanged for five successive matches only twice. The present lot may like to learn what was in store for the last bunch back in 1884. Having kept faith (if that is what selectors did then, given that their options on a long tour of Australia were somewhat limited with a squad of only 13) for the entire series, there were sweeping changes for the next Test. No fewer than seven players were omitted, although they had beaten Australia 3-2. The victorious skipper, Arthur Shrewsbury, kept his place but the captaincy was handed on. Of course, plenty had happened: England won in Melbourne in March 1885 and did not play again until meeting Australia at Old Trafford in July 1886. The gap of only a month until the next Test, against South Africa, may not be long enough to induce so many amendments.

A no-smoking stand

Talking of Shrewsbury, England's first professional captain long before Len Hutton's appointment in 1953, he graced Trent Bridge for 27 years. If the county were looking for someone after whom to name their new stand they could do worse, though in Notts they are hardly short of candidates. Shrewsbury played 377 of his 546 matches for Notts and scored 45 centuries for them. He was generally considered to be the best batsman of the age after W G Grace and was also a man ahead of his time, as demonstrated by his 236 when playing for Non-Smokers against Smokers, still the highest score for Non-Smokers. After all these years it could be used as a non-smoking message (Non-Smokers won by an innings). Instead, as is the modern way, the club are looking for a suitable commercial sponsor.

In dark over nightwatchman

James Anderson filled a rare, indeed perhaps unprecedented role, in England's first innings when he came out as the reserve nightwatchman. It was to protect Ryan Sidebottom, the incumbent since Matthew Hoggard's omission. England insisted that Anderson had batted merely because Sidebottom had a twinge in his back, but since Anderson had batted at 11 in the first two Tests, also behind Monty Panesar, this seems to be slightly disingenuous. Although he did not begin to trouble Alex Tudor's 99 not out in 1999 (against the same opposition) as an England nightwatchman's highest score, his 28 was probably a record reserve nightwatchman's score.

Even less of a greentop

The New Stand, as it is for the moment prosaically known until the corporates move in (what's the betting on a finance company?) has cost Trent Bridge some grass – 33 feet has been lost, although it is insisted the playing area is unchanged because ground equipment has been moved. Strange, though, it looks smaller.