W26hy it is wrong to blame bowlers

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The Independent Online
This has been a summer of relatively instant gratification for the England sports fan, so much so that after the emotional roller-coasters of Wembley and Wimbledon the patience required in watching a Test match, particularly when the opposition bats for the best part of two days, poses unfamiliar demands.

This has been reflected in the mood of the crowd at Trent Bridge, who sat through the first day almost in monastic silence and did not warm up yesterday until tea, by which time the number of wickets on the board reflected a degree of success, even if the runs did not.

When the other side scores as substantially as India have it is the nature of the critical English observer to blame the bowling. Here, the likes of Mark Ealham, Min Patel and Alan Mullally, the debutant and the two rookies, as well as the inherently insecure Chris Lewis, back at the scene of one of his unhappy past associations, have been vulnerable to harsh judgement.

In fact, given the nature of the Nottingham pitch, properly prepared as a genuine Test match surface, and remembering the personal pressures with which they were contending, none let his team-mates down. David Lloyd, the coach, has rightly been fully supportive.

He described the handiwork of the groundsman Frank Dalling as "a Test match pitch as you would expect it to be". And, even armed with Dalling's view that it would "not turn this month", he refused to accept that it was too good a surface.

He was happy enough with his bowlers' efforts in securing only two wickets on the first day, so the compliments he was handing out last night came as no surprise. Mullally, in particular, coped with the demands impressively, shouldering the burden of 40 overs without ever threatening to become ragged. And Ealham, who has his doubters, can be satisfied that no one got hold of him, as some feared would happen.

England cannot contemplate winning this Test, but provided that their batsmen do not make a hash of things the draw that will win the series looks safe, although the raucous factions who became enlivened after tea yesterday may not find much to excite them even if they stay until Tuesday.