The Over: Sri Lanka v England – 2nd Test, Days 4 & 5

Do our eyes deceive us? An England win? Well bless our cotton socks…

We’re still scratching our heads about the Tim Bresnan thing. That’s now 11 out of 11 he’s won and he must think this Test match lark is the easiest thing in the world. He didn’t have the finest game of his career, but he’s an underrated player – his bowling average is the best in the side and he’s one of the seven players in the side who average over 40 with the bat. He’s not flashy and he’s probably not as talented as Finn, but assuming Broad is fit for the first game against the Windies, the selectors could quite easily plump for the man from Pontefract.

DRS hasn’t had a happy time this series. The umpires have largely been good but with Hot Spot in absentia, the whole thing starts to look remarkably unsatisfactory. It’s entirely right that if in doubt, the umpire’s decision should stand, and let’s not forget how far we’ve come from Daryl Harper being unable to use the volume knob in the West Indies, but it’s not perfect. But then again, it may never be until we have UMPIRE 9000 computers standing in Test matches and replying to appeals with ‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t give that out’. But by then the machines will be our overlords anyway and we won’t have time to play cricket after our 22 hour shift down the salt mine.

Graeme Swann is, after all, a pretty damn good spinner. As the saying goes, form is temporary but class is permanent and actually, when you look at the figures, he’s taken 29 wickets at 23.48 this winter. He’s overtaken Tony Lock to move into third on the list of all-time English spinners and has the best strike rate of any with more than 120 wickets. He’s turned 33, but you would think that he’s got at least another 3-4 years left in him and should comfortably claim top spot from Derek Underwood by then.

Whoever scheduled this series at the hottest time of the year in Sri Lanka should be locked in a corrugated iron hut in the middle of the outfield for a few weeks a la Alec Guinness in Bridge on the River Kwai. This was pretty unfair on all the players and umpires and gave all the overweight England fans even more excuse than they usually need to get mostly naked. Which nobody wants. He can be joined by the bloke who only scheduled this series to be two Tests.

The horrible flashbacks started when Strauss had his off stump pegged back for nought. Not again… Thank goodness for the cool heads of Cook and… well, not Pietersen, but definitely Cook. Well done to KP though, despite the fact that more often than not his approach wouldn’t have come off and he would have been pilloried in the press for recklessness. When he gets it right though, there’s no one more compelling to watch.

We’re sure he’s a very nice man but Tony Greig is, in our opinion, an absolutely awful commentator. He has at least lost the habit he had a few years ago of saying ‘Oh Boy!’ every time something utterly mundane happened, but he’s now taken to using ‘beautifully’ instead, whether it be ‘beautifully played’, ‘beautifully bowled’, ‘that was a beautiful cup of tea’ etc. etc. etc. However, his greatest fault is that he just gets things wrong all the time. If he says the batsmen are running three, they’ll only run two; if he says the ball dropped short of slip, chances are it carried at waist height; if he says the ball was missing leg stump, Hawkeye has it knocking out middle. Maybe we’re just old-fashioned, but we thought the idea of commentating was to tell the audience what’s going on, accurately if possible. He inexplicably made it as high as 8th on a list of greatest Australian cricket commentators in 2007, garnering 625 votes from people who had presumably never heard him speak. Quite how anyone with both hemispheres of their brain intact could not vote Richie Benaud as the best Aussie pundit of all time is beyond us…


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