Indian bowlers struggle again
Close: Fourth Test, day one, The Oval
Match score: England 75-0 (Strauss 38*, Cook 34*)
Session score: Rain
Commentators and spectators have had cause to curse the slothful over-rates in this series but today was an occasion when punters would actually have been thankful for India bowling even more slowly than normal.
Twenty-six overs were completed before lunch which is a solitary over above the magic number. Twenty-five or fewer in a day’s play means spectators are entitled to a 50% refund. India fans have been hoping for a refund all series.
Instead those who forked out for today are left with few memories from a pedestrian and ultimately very damp day. Play was called off for the day just after 5pm.
An Alastair Cook square-cut and an Andrew Strauss on-drive aside, there wasn’t much to fill Channel 5′s highlights. They might as well just crack straight on with Celebrity Big Brother.
At no stage did India give the impression that either they wanted or expected their miserables fortunes to change in this Test.
There was uncertainty at the start when the toss was delayed by a few minutes because it was unclear if Praveen Kumar was going to play or not. He didn’t and the team-sheet had to be hurriedly rejigged to include RP Singh, a left-armer who hasn’t played a Test for three years and was promptly asked to bowl the first over, most of which disappeared down the leg side.
At the other end Ishant Sharma bowled without threat, the seam scrambling all the place like an ill-disciplined spaniel.
There was no urgency, no intent, no attempt at hostility. Strauss and Cook were simply allowed to compile an unbroken stand with the minimum of fuss or fright.
Shot of the day: Strauss’s on-drive off Sreesanth.
Ball of the day: No contest: a piece of the peak of Strauss’s helmet flies off after it is hit by a Sharma bouncer, the one moment of Indian aggression.
Commentary of the day: Nasser Hussain to David Lloyd: “Did you really just ask me ‘is that the Houses of Parliament’”?
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John