Having been offline all week with a nasty bug (the computer, not me), I’ve been following England’s performance East of Suez via TMS and the newspapers. (Consequently, it wasn’t until I got back online that I realised that there were any doubts about the legality of Ajmal’s action).
I see that the Independent has signed up Ian Bell as a columnist (he previously graced the pages of the Evening Standard). Belly appears with the tagline View From The Middle (the middle of the dressing room, mostly, in this match).
I don’t know whether Bell writes his own stuff but, if not, his ghost has captured perfectly the tone of his interviews – resembling an American airman captured during the Korean War and subjected to fiendish Chinese brainwashing techniques.
Bell’s column only appears on the first day of the Test. So what was on his mind?
“I was fortunate that wrist X-rays showed no fracture after I was hit right at the end of my final practice session before the first Test.
While at the hospital, I read an article about Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistan off-spinner, and his new delivery, which they’re calling the ‘teesra’. We’d seen some footage of it in a recent one-day match against Sri Lanka.
If he has developed another delivery, though, brilliant. Let’s take it on. If he’s got three different deliveries and you still score runs against him, what a plus that is for the team. He was the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2011 and I know how good it feels to score runs against that class of bowler, so that’s our challenge in these three Tests.
Now that we are top of the ICC Test ranking, we still need to be there in a year’s time. If we could win this series and follow it by winning in Sri Lanka and India later in the year, it would be one of our biggest achievements.”
Wouldn’t it just?
We shall have to wait until next week to see how Belly has reacted to this week’s events – (Bell c. A. Akmal b. Ajmal 0 & lbw Ajmal 4 – Ajmal 10-97 in the match – Pakistan win by 10 wickets.)
Perhaps, under the heading “Why Ajmal Makes Me Want To Chuck!”, he will launch an amazing attack on the spinner and reveal how the stress led to him embarking on a drink-fuelled spree ending in a three-in-a-bed love romp involving the wife of the Emir of Abu Dhabi?
Or perhaps they will have looked in the mirror, asked themselves some hard questions, decided to draw a line under it and found some positives to take out going forward?
We shall have to see.
And what of the England Lions, who, a little further East, are touring Bangladesh (or, as they seem to refer to it, Bangladonkey?) Is Captain James Taylor managing to stamp his personality on the team? Coverage is sparse in the English newspapers, so we shall have to look to Twitter for the answer, which I think is Yes.
Before leaving Taylor tweeted –