A good cricket pitch is one that produces good cricket – a strip that offers the bowlers just enough help, but also enables good batsmen to dig in and execute their shots. Lord’s is a beautiful cricket ground, but its pitch isn’t quite up to the same standard. The cricket played (at least in this match) therefore hasn’t quite been as compelling as we’d hope.
There was a spell yesterday afternoon when Jordan and Plunkett were running in hard, bowling between 87 – 91 mph, and doing their very best to extract some life out of the benign surface. They largely failed. There was no pace, no bounce, no movement, and almost no point – especially when a batsman of pure class, an all time great, is determined not to give it away.
Basically, I don’t think it’s fair to judge England’s bowlers on yesterday’s evidence. Any attack in the world, even Australia’s and South Africa’s, would’ve looked impotent on this featherbed. It’s no coincidence that Joe Root made his only score of note in nine Ashes tests last year at this very venue.
In the end, England actually did pretty well to take six wickets in the day. They stuck to their task – almost as well as that Sri Lankan left hander whose name escapes me – and if they manage to blow away the tail in the first hour, we still might squeeze a victory on Monday.
All the newcomers did pretty well. Jordan looked threatening at times, and although his figures could be better, Plunkett showed he’ll be a threat this summer: he gave Jayawardene the hurry up, and was still bowling briskly in the final session. When Broad’s pace fell to around 80mph, Plunkett was still occasionally nudging 90. England will need someone like this moving forward. Bresnan would have looked like a bog standard trundler on this pitch.
I’d also like to give Mo a mention. Moeen bowled pretty well and looked no worse than Herath. He is more than a part-timer: he bowled with reasonable control and nice loop at times. He’s not Graeme Swann, but he’s no worse than the majority of so called specialist spinners available. The selectors realise this; which is precisely why he’s playing. Pining for a world class spinner we don’t have is an exercise in futility.