In the annals of Test history there have been larger innings. There have been hundreds more dogged, courageous and stylish. Some of them might have been played at Lord's. But not many. Not anywhere.
Jonathan Trott's unbeaten 149 for England on the second day of the fourth Test against Pakistan here yesterday was one of the great innings. It gave every indication that he might go on to have a substantial international career in England's top order, but it is doubtful that he will assemble a piece of work that is needed quite so much by his team in such dire circumstances.
So successful was he, so bloody- minded and bent on doing his duty that England, from the peril of 47 for 5 and 102 for 7, recovered to 346 without further loss. In the sun-kissed evening, when the drama of the dark morning seemed from a different season, Stuart Broad made the first hundred of his career in any form of cricket.
Together the pair put on an unbroken 244 for England's eighth wicket and put their team ahead in the match. Broad stood tall and proud, driving with authority and clipping elegantly off his legs. It, too, was a hugely significant contribution, the highest innings by an England No 9, and may come to be seen as a milestone on the way to Broad becoming an authentic all-rounder.
But this above all was Trott's day, Trott's recovery. Why, he could even be forgiven for the eternity it takes him to prepare before receiving the ball. At this rate, it will come to be seen as a charming idiosyncrasy rather than an annoying delaying tactic. His South African heritage will be entirely forgotten and he will come to embody the English spirit.
Before Trott could get to work on his salvaging operation he had to watch a scene of batting carnage from the non-striker's end. England, having lost their captain the previous day, shed four more wickets in the first 22 minutes of the day, three before they had added to their overnight score, the whole quartet to Mohammad Aamer in eight balls. Never before had the numbers four, five and six in the order made ducks.
A brief revival was ended shortly after lunch when two more wickets fell, the damage all inflicted by the fast bowling prodigy Aamer, who was not so much delivering a precursor to greatness as proving his stature there and then.
He is 18 and yesterday, with supreme control of the early movement on offer – and he slanted it all ways and probably at some points into a sixth dimension – he became the youngest player to take 50 Test wickets.
Trott could have been forgiven for throwing down his bat and heading back to Cape Town, or even up the road to his adopted Birmingham. But he did not. He simply got on with the job of batting, reviving the art of leaving when necessary, and adhering to a strategy of trying to repel the moving ball by advancing towards it, down the track if necessary.
Crucially, he found two able and willing partners. Matt Prior helped to stem the flow of blood gushing from England's wounds at 47 for 5. Broad, in at 102 for 7, helped to accomplish much more.
His partnership with Trott for the eighth wicket was the highest against Pakistan (beating the record established in the previous match) and the second-highest of all, since Les Ames and Gubby Allen put on 246 against New Zealand 79 years ago.
If Trott had a stroke of fortune, it was in not having to face the lethal Aamer at the start of the day, or much at all in that diabolically incisive first spell. Aamer had taken four wickets by the time Trott arrived at the Nursery End for the first time to receive his 16th ball of the day.
Then again, batting at the Pavilion End he had to deal with the magician known as Mohammad Asif, which was not exactly shirking duties.
The start to proceedings could not have been more alarming for England. They were 39 for 1 and Aamer had three balls of an over to complete, play having been suspended the previous night. The second might have done for Alastair Cook, the third did so as he edged the ball when it cut sharply away.
What followed bespoke a batsman not in the appropriate frame of mind for the contest. Wherever Kevin Pietersen was as he essayed a booming drive at a wide ball from Aamer that went across him, it was not at Lord's on a Friday morning in late August.
It was a stroke ill-befitting both the circumstances of the match and the state of Pietersen's form. Had he missed and wafted at air, who knows? But he did not and the edge ended up with the wicketkeeper. Pietersen is, or was, or could have been, a great player. But he cannot go on like this, either for the good of the team, or for the good of Pietersen.
Two balls later and the old soldier himself, Paul Collingwood, was gone, beaten by one booming back in. The initial leg-before appeal was rejected but the review told the true story.
Trott got the scoreboard – or the runs column on it – moving for the day with two fours. But then Eoin Morgan, coming in on the back of scores of 17, 6, 17 and 5 since his maiden hundred at Trent Bridge, received another humdinger from Aamer which he edged and Yasir Hameed gobbled up at second slip.
Trott and Prior gradually restored an element of calm, though the latter had his moments. Trott's progress was marked as much by what he did not play as what he did.
His hundred took 195 balls and he did not score from 148 of them. He occasionally flirted at one outside off stump but mostly he let it pass by. His defence was splendid: the way he covered everything up would have done the secret service proud.
Almost immediately after lunch, however, Prior jabbed unerringly at Aamer and two balls later Graeme Swann prodded to gully. England were in big trouble again. But for the next four hours and more they mounted a magnificent recovery.
Fourth Test (Second day of five): England have scored 346 runs for seven wickets
Pakistan won toss
England First Innings
A Cook c Akmal b Aamer: 10
37 balls 1 four
J Trott not out: 149
302 balls 15 fours
K Pietersen c Akmal b Aamer: 0
P Collingwood lbw b Aamer: 0
E Morgan c Hameed b Aamer: 0
†M Prior c Akmal b Aamer: 22
72 balls 2 fours
G Swann c Ali b Aamer: 0
S Broad not out: 125
220 balls 11 fours 1 six
Extras (lb 9, w 7, nb 11): 27
Total (7 wkts, 110.5 overs): 346
Fall: 1-31 (Strauss), 2-39 (Cook), 3-39 (Pietersen), 4-39 (Collingwood), 5-47 (Morgan), 6-102 (Prior), 7-102 (Swann).
To bat: J M Anderson, S T Finn.
Bowling: M Aamer 23-5-73-6 (w1, nb3) (5-2-15-0, 6-2-14-4, 4-1-8-2, 2-0-10-0, 2-0-11-0, 4-0-15-0), M Asif 26-6-83-1 (nb2) (11-2-36-1, 4-1-7-0, 2-1-4-0, 2-0-7-0, 4-1-17-0, 3-1-12-0), W Riaz 22-4-74-0 (w2, nb6) (1-0-4-0, 6-2-11-0, 1-0-5-0, 9-1-31-0, 3-1-13-0, 2-0-10-0), S Ajmal 30-3-86-0 (2-0-9-0, 8-0-22-0, 8-1-23-0, 12—2—32-0), Y Hameed 1-1-0-0 (one spell), I Farhat 9-1-19-0 (one spell).
Second day progress: 50 in 17.1 overs, Lunch 97-5 (Trott 41, Prior 21) 36 overs, 100 in 37.3 overs, 150 in 53 overs, Tea 185-7 (Trott 77, Broad 46) 64 overs, 200 in 70.2 overs, 250 in 80.4 overs, 300 in 91.5 overs. Trott 50 90 balls, 7 fours. 100 195 balls, 13 fours. Broad 50 100 balls 3 fours, 1 six. 100 159 balls, 9 fours, 1 six.
Pakistan: Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat, *Salman Butt, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Yousuf, Umar Amin, †Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Aamer, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Asif.
Umpires: B F Bowden (NZ) & A L Hill (NZ).
TV replay umpire : S J Davis (Aus).
Match referee: RS Mahanama (Sri Lanka).
Reserve umpire: RT Robinson.
Lord's Timeline: Rollercoaster ride to glory
11.01: Third ball of the day and Cook is out to Mohammad Aamer. It pitched on off, and cut away. He might have left it alone – except he had to play at it and Kamran Akmal took the edge.
11.08: Aamer's next over, still no addition to the overnight score and Kevin Pietersen, facing his first ball, launches into a full-blooded drive to a ball sliding well across the off stump, merely edging it behind. A horrible shot betraying much.
11.13: No runs yet this morning but the third wicket arrives with Paul Collingwood beaten by sharp inswing from Aamer. Umpire Billy Bowden says not out, Pakistan ask for review and Collingwood has to go, probably not singing the praises of referrals as he does.
11.22: Another Aamer over, another wicket. Eoin Morgan obligingly nicks another away swinger to second slip.
11.29: Matt Prior drives to gully and is caught. Or is he? There is enough doubt to suggest the ball bounced and TV replays are hopelessly inconclusive, the downside of technology.
12.56: Invaluable fifty stand for the sixth wicket reached from 114 balls between Prior and Jonathan Trott who has watched all the carnage from the other end.
1.50: Prior, to his fourth ball after lunch, is persuaded to hang his bat outside off and is duly held behind.
1.51: Having had a look at one, Graeme Swann is out second ball, pushing one to gully, having failed to reach double figures for the fifth time in the series.
2.06: Trott reaches a noble fifty with a single from his 90th ball.
3.33: Pakistan start to get desperate with a couple of feeble lbw appeals against Broad who is now up to his fifty. Soon after the appeals he smashes a six and the partnership is safely to tea.
4.10: Saeed Ajmal raps Broad's pads but nothing doing from umpire Tony Hill and Pakistan's Salman Butt strangely does not go for a referral. Then Billy Bowden asks Trott to curtail his elaborate preparations.
4.31: Broad up to fifty with a four over midwicket and England are over the 200 mark.
4.47: A push to mid-on brings up Trott's century and Pakistan are so dispirited that his single becomes five with four overthrows from Umar Akmal.
5.55: Pakistan apply pressure on Broad in his nineties but he finds a gap through midwicket and he has his maiden Test century. He receives a standing ovation from the now sun-lit Lord's crowd.
6.20: Both batsmen look tired now and Board is subject to a review after being hit on the pad by Ajmal – it was outside the line
6.46: Much closer this one, after Broad is given out lbw but escapes on a review. He has now made the highest score by an England No 9.
7.00: An epic day's play ends with the partnership up to an astounding 244.Reuse content