Five things to look out for at Lord’s today
It will be a full house, people have been queueing since the early hours of the morning and many thousands are likely to be disappointed, along the lines of the 10,000 locked out at Old Trafford in the 2005 Ashes. MCC is expecting it to be a record fifth-day crowd, beating the 24,000 here for Flintoff’s canonisation on the final day of the Ashes 2009 Test. The make-up of the crowd will be different to usual. It will be younger and much more Asian. England probably won’t get booed as they did in the World Twenty20 match against India at Lord’s in 2009 but the roof will be raised for every Indian boundary. England mustn’t get rattled by what may seem a slightly odd atmosphere. And when Sachin comes in, it won’t be the polite if sustained applause that greeted him on Saturday.
It’s not quite the Lord’s road that groundsman Mick Hunt prepared for the Sri Lanka Test here in June. It is drier for one thing, so there is some natural wear and tear whereas against Sri Lanka the weather was so bad that by the end of the Test the pitch was only really about three days old. There are signs of uneven bounce and some turn for Graeme Swann. Chris Tremlett from the Nursery End could be very interesting. Bowlers need to bowl a tighter line from that end because the slope runs away to the Mound Stand and if he can keep the batsmen in the crease he could benefit from the odd one keeping low. The slight concern is that Tremlett looked laboured last night. He did say recently that he had a slight back niggle. Fingers crossed that he is fresh today.
As Mike Selvey wrote in The Observer yesterday, it takes two to tango and the pincer movement by Tremlett and Stuart Broad to remove Sachin Tendulkar was one of the most impressive aspects of their outcricket on Saturday. Tremlett pushed Tendulkar back into the crease and then Broad tempted him to drive at an away-swinger without moving his feet.
This has been Broad’s match so far. He almost didn’t get picked but, right from his first spell in India’s first innings, his planets have looked in better alignment than for 18 months. He has twice won a Test for England, at The Oval in 2009 and Durban a few months later, and he has that capability.
Wickets have tended to fall in clusters in this match so even if India make a good start and are buoyed by noisy support, England need to maintain cool heads. This is a big test for Swann, the world’s No.1 spinner against the world’s best players of spin bowling. He looked to be firing it in last night and consequently pitching too short. He needs to remain patient and float it up there, getting the ball above the batsman’s eyeline. Let the pitch and the pressure do the rest.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John