We were hugely, hugely impressed with Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie in the Lord’s Test. We don’t care what the pitch was like – just imagine coming out to bat after you’ve been so comprehensively trampled for three days. Imagine what would have happened to England in the same situation.
Beaten men play crap cricket. These pair summoned some almighty resolve to do what they did. Playing one beautiful shot is easy – that’s a one-off. Playing virtually no stupid shots for an entire day is quite another. You can’t fluke that. That is near-superhuman concentration.
Would Andrew Flintoff have dispatched them? Maybe, but there’s no way of knowing, so let’s not go down that road – it looks busy down there, for one thing. It seems fairly certain that he’ll return now though and that IS a big deal. It’s like real cricket’s back.
If Flintoff does replace Collingwood, we’ve some good news for those who are worried about a potentially flimsy middle order. Someone’s had a word with Fred and given him some top quality coaching which should sort out his batting once and for all.
In his own words: “I’ve been seeing the ball well all season, but my body and my hands aren’t going in the right places.”
Diagnosing the problem’s 80 percent of the battle.