Today is the day of the 51allout Christmas party. Actually, pretty much every day between the autumn equinox and Shrove Tuesday is the day of a 51allout Christmas party – but today is the biggy. It’s the day that Editor Steve gives us a low-five and slaps a five pound note in each of our palms, points at the bar, and says “choose your weapons.”
So apologies for another review of the day’s play that doesn’t conform to our usual pro forma. But hey, who wants to be restricted by rules and regulations, let alone a standard template that we drew up during a County Championship rain break?
If day one was turgid, day two was reassuringly less stodgy. First up, Matt Prior and Joe Root continued their partnership until the former missed a straight one from R Ashwin. Although Tim Bresnan continued his frankly dobbins year by getting out to his second ball, Graeme Swann ably pushed things along whilst Root continued to bat sensibly. Given how bad the England bowlers have been batting in 2012, the score of 330 looked rather competent.
The cliche of this match so far has been that no-one knows what a good score for this pitch is until both sides have batted. Well, we now know: India’s top order again misfired like a drunk duke on a pheasant shoot. We could probably lay some blame with India, but it would undermine the sheer brilliance of the England bowlers, in particular James Anderson. His third-ball inswinger to Verinder Sehwag was a screamer; his dominance over Sachin Tendulkar culminated not only in Anderson becoming the bowler to have dismissed the Little Master most often, but also – surely, sadly and hopefully – will bring the curtain down on one of the most illustrious careers in all sport.
England are in a fine position now; they could throw it carelessly away in the face of some lower-order resistance, or they could stamp down their authority in a way that hasn’t been since the Oval in 2011. We suspect the latter, and we’ve only had a few pre-pub gins.