What’s today’s barometer reading?

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Eventually you have to stop watching the ball in order to do other things

Some read yesterday’s post as being criticism of Ian Bell, which wasn’t really how it was intended. We just feel that of all the England players, his performances are the ones that most closely correlate with how the team fares. On day five of the third Test against New Zealand, Bell played out of his skin.

Not literally, that would be hideous – although it would doubtless disconcert the bowlers sufficiently that they would struggle with their lines and lengths. No, he just played very well. In fact maybe that’s a more appropriately functional phrase for a delightfully, fantastically functional performance. On day five of the third Test against New Zealand, Ian Bell played very well.

Matt Prior is garnering the headlines and we certainly aren’t saying that he doesn’t deserve them, but Bell’s contribution was more sizeable – not in runs maybe, but as treasured fount of wisdom, poet, philosopher and all-round good egg, Bert, once pointed out, runs are not the correct unit of measurement when batting for a draw.

With that in mind, here is an alternative scorecard for England’s second innings:

  1. Alastair Cook – 145
  2. Nick Compton – 3
  3. Jonathan Trott – 66
  4. Ian Bell – 271
  5. Steven Finn – 10
  6. Joe Root – 79
  7. Jonny Bairstow – 19
  8. Matt Prior – 182
  9. Stuart Broad – 77
  10. Jimmy Anderson – 2
  11. Monty Panesar – 5

This isn’t the first time that Bell’s made an enormous contribution towards securing a draw and nor was it the first time he’s sidestepped much of his due acclaim through being dismissed before the end of the match. The characters present in the final act are deemed to be the heroes because that’s the way conventional narratives work, but who did the bulk of the work?

There’s a feeling in cricket that unless a batsman sees it through to the finish he has somehow failed, but that’s a rather childish black and white way of looking at a team game. The guy who cuts the ribbon to open a building hasn’t built it. Look at the man hours for a true reflection of construction efforts.

Ian Bell put in a four-and-a-half hour shift. That may not be a full working day and he may have been leaning on his bat at the non-striker’s end for half of it, but it’s probably more than we’ve ever managed.


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  1. Frequent contributor!

    Is that what it’s come down to? All these years, all the pain, all the hurt, everything that we’ve been through together, you and you and me. Two Ashes series, Australians, Giles Clarke, the occasional misplaced apostrophe… and all that’s left is “frequent contributor”. Can I introduce you to Bert – he’s a frequent contributor you know.

    1. Anyway, moving on, and in fact living up to my new name:

      Ian Bell
      Did very well
      Keeping England’s chances alive
      Which will keep him in the team for the forseeable future despite the fact that he’ll only average 35.

      That was from January 2010, from an article about spoons that could have been used unchanged in this particular Bell epoch.

    2. Oh yeh, you referenced it. Should pay more attention. Soz.

      Still, frequency counter going up.

    3. And to answer your question, I think I’d like to be described as “Treasured fount of wisdom, poet, philosopher, and all-round good egg, Bert…”

    4. Never let it be said that we don’t do requests for our frequent contributors about once every six years.

    5. I don’t know what to say. I’ve printed a copy of this page to give to my mum. She’ll be so proud.

  2. Are we allowed to point out that Bell was dropped just before lunch.

    Also to point out that Matt Prior’s 182 (and Monty’s 5) should have red ink and/or asterisks beside them.

    Mind you, having seen the highlights this morning, Monty did try a couple of heroic failures during his short knock, most amusingly of all the near run out when he dived to early and only just managed to get the tip of his bat beyond the line.

    Roll on the summer.

  3. If NZ could catch it would have been over much quicker. But then if my auntie had proverbials she’d be my etc and so on.

    1. Now I am rather ashamed of my comment in that article. This is the trouble if you go around digging up historical documents.

  4. I was impressed by Joe Root in the fourth innings. He didn’t score many or even bat for all that long compared to some of the others, but he seems to be “made of the right stuff.” I noticed that before every ball he mutters something that looked like “Watch the ball, mate. Watch the ball.” I reckon he’s got the grit and temperament required. He could be a modern-day Collingwood, but with a bit more class. Sort of a Colly-Vaughan-Bell hybrid.

  5. Also…does anyone here know how many series of three or more Test matches have finished 0-0?


    1. How many tests have finished with the non-striker being Mankaded because he was outside the crease busy eating a croissant?


  6. Also of note, Ian Bell went past Compton (D) and Trescothick in the all-time England run scorers in this innings. Went past Hussain in the same test, I think, and Vaughan earlier in the series.

    1. Well I apologise for having such a mainstream opinion. Next time I shall endeavour to be more contrary.

  7. In other equally important cricketing matters does anyone have a semblance of an idea why Laurie Evans bowled 24 overs 0 for 119 for the bears in Dubai today? Strange and worrying times. He’s a batsman, no?

    1. If you were Warwickshire, would you really want to bowl any of your frontline bowlers into the ground on a flatty in what is more or less an exhibition match?

      Laurie Evans was a Whitgift boy. He simply does what he is told. Minimum of fuss. It’s the Croydon way.

  8. All I can conclude is that Monty is pretty good at saving test matches. They should send him up the order with his track record.

  9. And what about Peter Fulton? Word is he’s a sheep farmer. It’s a real shame they didn’t name a man of the match or of the series. 5 and a half innings of sledging from Prior, then suddenly the fury wsa unleashed. Not so much on the off side, but still.

    After that, well, I figure poor Prior had no other choice but to make it up somehow. The catch to dismiss Fulton was a start, but clearly not sufficient…

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