From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.32 :: NO.22 :: May. 30, 2009
It was almost perfect: Tim Bresnan snaffled his first Test wickets; James Anderson bowled with such wondrous skill that it was not heretical to include names such as Richard Hadlee or Bob Massie in the same sentence when trying to describe his ability to make the ball twist in the air towards the end of its flightpath; England romped to another massive victory.
But to top everything, Paul Collingwood, emergency keeper and pukka in his England cap and Matt Prior's lime-green gloves, caught out the most prolific batsman in world cricket. Shivnarine Chanderpaul edged another snaking delivery from Anderson and England's cheerful new stumper made no mistake.
Collingwood clearly enjoyed his fresh responsibilities even before that catch came along. We kept spotting him with a broad grin on his face. Every time he caught the ball he seemed to smile; very often this was followed by an appeal. He went about his business with the zest of an emergency goalkeeper or a prop forward invited to play at inside centre. "This keeping, it can't be that difficult, can it?"
Collingwood made a pretty good fist of it, which was helped by the absence of Graeme Swann from the attack since the off-spinner was not needed. A certain amount of pandemonium can result when the specialist wicketkeeper goes missing.
In somerset they still talk of the one-day match at Taunton against Leicestershire in 1973 when Brian Close, not a man to be dwarfed by a fresh challenge, took over the wicketkeeping duties from an injured Jim Parks.
After a few problems, and a few more byes, Close decided to throw away the gloves and kept barehanded - with no discernible improvement in the outcome. Somerset, in an invincible position, lost the match.
At Lord's in 1986, England used four keepers in the same Test against New Zealand. The regulations were not so binding in those days. So with Bruce French injured, first Bill Athey (who was in the team) kept, then Bob Taylor (who was in a hospitality box), then Bobby Parks (who was Hampshire's keeper). Nowadays, such extravagances are not permitted - otherwise we can be sure that Alec Stewart, in attendance with his media duties, would have answered his country's call.
There was the odd moment when Collingwood appeared to be out of his depth - and in the wrong place. Keeping to Anderson was not so far removed from keeping to a wrist spinner, who has the capacity to bowl a leg-spinner and a googly without any discernible change of action.
It was hard for all the West Indian batsmen to distinguish between Anderson's in-swinger and out-swinger. This also proved a trial for Collingwood especially when a lefthander was on strike. On one occasion, he was obviously expecting another out-swinger; Anderson delivered an in-swinger, which darted down the leg-side and the conservative estimate is that Collingwood was 10 feet adrift of where he needed to be to have a chance of preventing four byes.
It was, perhaps, the time to draw upon the wise words of Brian "Tonker" Taylor, Essex's sergeant-major keeper of the 60s and 70s, who did not take kindly to the likes of the mischievous Ray East sending the ball down the leg-side. "Raymond, see these gloves. Hit them."
Collingwood will remember his excursion into keeping with affection; he will not, however, be contemplating a career change. Like many of us who have marvelled at the glorious simplicity of the work and art of Taylor, French, Jack Russell or James Foster, Collingwood discovered that "this keeping is not quite as easy as it looks".
Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street, May 14 to 18. England won by an innings and 83 runs.
England 1st innings: A. J. Strauss c Ramdin b Gayle 26; A. N. Cook c Gayle b Benn 160; R. S. Bopara b Baker 108; J. M. Anderson b Edwards 14; K. P. Pietersen c Simmons b Benn 49; P. D. Collingwood (not out) 60; M. J. Prior c Benn b Simmons 63; S. C. J. Broad (not out) 28; Extras (b 20, lb 5, w 8, nb 28) 61; Total (for six wkts. decl.) 569.
Fall of wickets: 1-69, 2-282, 3-326, 4-410, 5-419, 6-513.
West Indies bowling: Taylor 20-2-68-0; Edwards 25-1-113-1; Baker 30-3-119-1; Gayle 14-2-31-1; Benn 43-8-146-2; Simmons 14-0-60-1; Sarwan 1-0-7-0.
West Indies 1st innings: D. S. Smith b Anderson 7; C. H. Gayle lbw b Anderson 19; R. R. Sarwan c Bresnan b Broad 100; L. M. P. Simmons c Strauss b Anderson 8; S. Chanderpaul c Prior b Broad 23; B. P. Nash b Anderson 10; D. Ramdin c Swann b Anderson 55; J. E. Taylor lbw b Onions 10; S. J. Benn (run out) 35; F. H. Edwards c Strauss b Broad 11; L. S. Baker (not out) 0; Extras (b 2, lb 21, w 2, nb 7) 32; Total 310.
Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-38, 3-68, 4-167, 5-188, 6-205, 7-216, 8-286, 9-310.
England bowling: Anderson 26.3-5-87-5; Broad 16-2-62-3; Onions 18-6-52-1; Bresnan 10-2-35-0; Swann 14-4-51-0.
West Indies 2nd innings: D. S. Smith lbw b Swann 11; C. H. Gayle c Strauss b Onions 54; R. R. Sarwan lbw b Onions 22; L. M. P. Simmons c sub b Anderson 10; S. Chanderpaul c Collingwood b Anderson 47; B. P. Nash c sub b Bresnan 1; D. Ramdin c Anderson b Bresnan 0; J. E. Taylor b Anderson 5; S. J. Benn b Anderson 0; F. H. Edwards c sub b Bresnan 4; L. S. Baker (not out) 4; Extras (b 8, lb 5, w 5) 18; Total 176.
Fall of wickets: 1-53, 2-88, 3-89, 4-141, 5-142, 6-146, 7-163, 8-167, 9-168.
England bowling: Anderson 16-5-38-4; Broad 5-1-21-0; Swann 3-0-13-1; Onions 6-0-46-2;Bresnan 14-2-45-3.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009
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