Sunday, October 22, 2006

'If There's a Smile on my Face....'

Three positives to take away from yesterday's debacle: -

New Kid on the Block - It was hugely impressive to see Saj Mahmood announce himself to the Australians - in no uncertain terms.

Within five minutes of arriving at the crease Saj was indulging in some 'verbals' with Glenn McGrath no less! Sadly the stump microphone didn't pick up all the subtle nuances of their erudite exchange but I got the impression that McGrath said something along the lines of 'you can't talk like that to me' and then had a whinge to the umpire! Better still, Steve Bucknor gave 'Grandad' Glenn a bit of a finger wagging, which is rather satisfying - a bit like shouting out ''Please sir, McGrath has got a sweet sir!" in class, and seeing poor old McGrath hauled out in front of the class to spit out said gobstoppper in the bin!

Things got even better after that, as our Asian Dub Sensation looked very comfortable with the bat, and then laid down a huge marker for the Ashes series by bowling Gilchrist with a beauty and persauding 'Rickeee' to give Strauss some catching practice in the slips.

The Aussies will be targeting him - early evidence suggests the Bolton Boy is well up for the challenge...

Jimmy Jimmy - Cards on the table time, I've never been Anderson's biggest fan - but yesterday he was (to me) a revelation. Accurate, hostile, moving the ball off the seam - and a big reduction in the number of 'four' balls served up. In short - very impressive.

Our bowling attack still has a few too many question marks for comfort (Will Freddie be fit, will Harmy find his radar, will Matty cope under clear blue skies...???) but yesterday demonstrated that there's some comforting depth in the 'quick' department.

For Whom the Bell Tolls - The Aussies last memory of Ian Bell would have been his sad pair at the Oval last year, although if you're going to notch up a couple of ducks I can't think of a better scenario to have them instantly forgotten! Since then, he's hardly put a foot wrong, and has almost developed a strut around the place as the runs (and confidence) have piled up - to the extent that over-confidence probably got him out.

We're going to miss Vaughan this winter - but on this showing, Bell can take up a lot of the slack the injured skipper's absence creates.

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