Sometime in the lunch session on Day 3, fellow twitterer SnickedCricket criticized Cricinfo for calling it another brilliant day for cricket. After all, he had just seen Hussey and Haddin dominate for a couple of hours, with no wicketing prospects in sight for England.
Except, he was quick to admit, he had missed the first hour or so of play. That made all the difference. The first hour wasn’t only scintillating, with excellent stuff from Jimmy Anderson (and, to a certain degree, Stuart Broad). It also exemplified the virtues of Test cricket. Two batsmen struggled, scoring next to nothing, and were beaten by ball after ball. If you were just looking at the scoreline, you would concluded this was a boring display. Not true — this was an extended period you’re unlikely to see in ODIs or T20s, and I argue it’s one of the best moments in a Test: that ill-defined feeling that something is about to happen, a crescendo of tension.
Usually, it ends with a wicket (as it did when Ishant Sharma tested Ponting for an hour or so in Perth). And it feels damn, damn good. But today, it went the other way — and that made all the difference. Just a few inches, a nick here or there, a little luck from the physics gods, and England could have been 200 runs ahead now, not behind.