England v Pakistan – 1st Test, 1st Day

Before I move on to any assessment of today’s play, I thought it was right to wish Michael Carberry all the very best wishes from all on here (and I’m pretty sure for once, I’m speaking for all of you) in his battle against cancer. I’m always hit quite hard when hearing about people younger than me, fitter than me etc. falling foul of that awful disease. I wish Michael all the best. It’s all we can do. Good luck.

With that awful news breaking at the end of the day’s play, complaining or moaning about the action seems somewhat out of place. But let’s get the good out of the way first. As Chris said yesterday, real lives really do interrupt our ability to do full justice to what went on. Chris was there today and can no doubt let us know his views on what he saw. I was in the office – the workers, united, will never be able to watch weekday cricket – and could follow it only on the internet, until I managed to sneak out early, courtesy of a ragging toothache (and I’m not moaning, my fault) and watch the last half hour. I therefore missed (just) Misbah completing his century and the brilliant press up celebration. I did catch his interview with Ian Ward afterwards, and there looked a man totally at ease with his place and role in life. 42 years old and looking every bit a test batsman, totally contemptuous of Moeen Ali, on top of many of the other pressures exerted on him. In a world where we dismiss players if they have a bad run on the older side of 32, there is a testament to the class is permanent as long as the body is willing. 10 press ups? I could barely get myself out of bed.

England nicked four out before Shafiq, a very impressive player in the Emirates, and looking a class act here, joined with his skipper to put the Pakistanis in a decent position before he got tempted by a little outswinger (having missed one barely shortly before) and it clipped the bottom of his bat to be pouched by Bairstow. The wicket off the final ball of the day, via a shot that would have had our media tut tutting but appeared to have Misbah laughing, made it a top day for Chris Woakes, who took four of the six wickets to fall and by common consent, it seems, was the pick of the bowlers. George Dobell’s head, I understand, has swollen to the size of a small planet, and there is no truth in the rumour that he is currently marching through St. John’s Wood with a placard saying “I told you so”.

Following the game as much as I could – I have a job, I have a massive interest in the Tour de France, I have a massive interest in the politics at the moment, and wouldn’t mind knowing about the golf too – it seems there was much wailing about Mr. Finn. On the day when David Saker was appointed as assistant manager to Buzz Lehmann (I just made it up, heaven knows why), 4 Fux special project was on display for all to see. Now the Selfey’s of this world place no blame for Finn’s regression on 4 Fux, as of course he is his mate (now, who were we to accuse the media of cosy relationships, how dare we) and he wouldn’t do that, but there’s a massive correlation between his downturn and him being told constantly by all and sundry to change actions, bowl dry etc. etc. I like Finn, but can’t help but feel he’s been a prime asset wasted. Hope is getting less and less. Every time he gets into rhythm, he then seems to lose it as quickly. With Jake Ball performing well, Woakes having a great time and also the added weight he brings with the bat, Finn risks slipping a fair way down the line if Anderson, Stokes and Wood are all fit and firing.

This is based on reports. It seems likely I’ll be able to watch him bowl for a little bit on Saturday as, if I imagine this game will go, we manage to take the last four wickets before lunch tomorrow. Misbah doesn’t have, off the top of my head, a wonderful record past 100, and Sarfraz is placed above what looks quite a long tail. However, while England pundits are saying 350 is below par, they seem to be rather too confident that England will get there given our recent track record. This looks a flat deck, but then they are illegal now for the moanerati who purvey this line like a stuck record every time we have a wicket that isn’t seaming all over the shop (could we wait a bit to see how the game plays out, please?). One wicket fell on day 1 last year, and the game was over within four days. Yeah, let’s see how it goes.

Talking of four days, and I know Chris has been hot on this one, recall how Colin the Never Wrong has been burbling on about four day tests with 100 overs per day in them (looking forward to that in tropical areas – what time you intend to start play, 7:30 am?), today England provided the spectators with 87 overs of action in half an hour over the allotted time. Those three overs will never be seen again. The studio and interviews warbled on for another 30 minutes after play – those three overs could have been bowled, the TV cameras were still there, but hey, no, it’s not important – and cricket that could have been played, wasn’t. Chris is never a happy bunny at this, and made his views very clear:

There’s so much farting about in cricket that you have to wonder why this is still allowed to happen. But it is. And there’s nothing we can do about it. I’ll let the Wanderer go into more detail because believe me, as good as I am at a moan on a pet peeve, this Crampton is Champion.

Look forward to any comments, hope you can get to see some of the action (more than me) and I’ll no doubt have lots of stuff coming out of my visit on Saturday, including a load of pictures, and of course, extra overs for the ones lost today. Ho Ho.

Comments for Day 2 below. Isn’t it nice to have, for at least the first day, some hard competitive cricket. Thanks Misbah.