Evening all. Pleased to know, no doubt, that my laptop appears to be in its final cycle of life for reasons best known to itself, so it has taken a while to get up and running. Add to that my little appointment this afternoon, and cricket has been on the periphery. So the round up will be brief.
314 for 4 after winning the toss is a very good position. Joe Root took the honours with a very impressive 141 not out, and must be looking to convert this one into a super daddy century tomorrow. Virat Kohli, a man he is compared to in this new breed of top test batsmen, has been filling his boots with a double in Antigua and it would be nice to match. I heard Vic Marks say on the radio that this sealed the issue with him at number three, which is a little premature given in 2013, when he played his second test as opener at Lord’s he made a 180+. We do seem to be in an awful rush to anoint changes as successes. Joe is a fine player, I still think he’s better suited at 4, but that doesn’t matter at the moment. What does is that he made a century, has taken England into a strong position, and 314 for 4 seems even stronger knowing he’s back tomorrow.
Of course there was a century for Alastair Cook. These are now greeted like Christmas Day – of course, the birthday of our captain – by children. The punditerati fall over themselves to celebrate his genius. They compare his records to the greats – he matched Bradman’s 29 centuries today, don’t you know, and also the most hundreds by an England captain too – and give off the effect that his hundred today is a return to some normalcy. Well, it isn’t, is it? It’s his second test hundred at home since May/June 2013. Since then he has gone home series against Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Australia and Sri Lanka again without making a century, with just the excellent 162 v New Zealand in there to break the duck. It was Cook’s first first innings ton at home since his century v South Africa at The Oval in 2012. Cook’s centuries are becoming more spaced apart – his last was 11 test matches ago – and yet we are constantly reminded of his record. I know, people will think this is just me nitpicking because I am anti-Cook. I’m anti people telling me incorrect assumptions, that’s what I am. Cook has played a very good innings today, and one that may have taken the initiative back in this series. Well done.
I noted the Manchester humourists were crying out no-ball whenever Amir bowled. You pay your money, you are entitled to have your say as long as it isn’t abusive or offensive. Amir took a couple of wickets and was viewed as the pick of the bowlers, while Yasir Shah had one of those days, and now seems a lot more human.
Chuntering will start over Alex Hales and James Vince. The latter is going to get it first, no doubt. James Vince has never convinced me he’s remotely test class, but I’ve also got to caveat that by saying I’ve not seen a lot of him. Vince was one of those guys that came with a reputation, but George Dobell said last year, or even the year before, that he scores runs off bad balls fine, but has real difficulties with good ones. His penchant here seems to be nicking off after playing a couple of glorious shots. Pringle has been a staunch advocate, but he’s selling his shares now, as once again he invokes Ramprakash (what did Mark do to him to make him invoke him so) in the “he looks nice but doesn’t have the temperament” piece. England are in a quandary now with Vince. Boot him out and what do you replace him with? Keep him, and know that one score could be the outlier that Robson and Lyth (two other discards) scored rather earlier in their truncated test careers. The knives were doubly sharpened for Compton, both this and the first time around, whereas the arms are ready to be put around Vince’s shoulders. There there. Meanwhile, Hales is not starting the innings well for us, and those whispers are going to start.
OK, enough from me. This was a good toss to win, and England have made hay. They find themselves in a strong position, and Root going on will make that stronger. Still Bairstow, Stokes and Moeen to come after Woakes too. Let’s all go off and read what Newman has had to say to complete a wonderful day.
Comments on Day 2 tomorrow, and wishing Chris a safe evening and return to England after the events in Munich. Keep as safe as you can, sir.