If you could play God for the
day and build the perfect bowler, he'd look a little something like Chris
Six foot eight inches tall,
strong and muscular, capable of bowling at 90 miles per hour and exploiting
bounce from heights most of us cannot reach without a broom handle.
Failing that (if we were short
of the requisite clay, for example), we'd probably create a Steven Finn, just
an inch shorter, or a Stuart Broad, rarely the shortest in any pace attack when
he stands at 6'6".
And yet, when the tallest
attack ever to grace Test cricket got their turn to take centre stage at
Lord's, it fell flatter than the track on which they were asked to bowl.
There has not been a great
deal on offer for the bowlers in this Test - as has often been the case in
Lord's Tests of recent years - but England did not help themselves as the three
pacers slumped into the same mistakes.
Tremlett, the tormentor in
Cardiff, struggled with his line and length less than a week later. Finn's
radar was wonkier still, making the Surrey man look like Glenn McGrath, while
Broad, in a series of spells reminiscent of his Test career to date, ploughed
in manfully and came away with nothing.
Broad was bowling a fraction
too short for the most part, a trap he fell into as Tillakaratne Dilshan
unleashed fury. And it meant that he was offering much the same as Finn and
Tremlett, whose natural lengths are also a whisker back of what would be
considered a good area.
Who could Strauss turn to for
something different? He looked increasingly short of ideas as the runs piled
up. Nobody could have blamed him if his mind turned to his absent strike
bowler, James Anderson. For that matter, he might even have wished he had Jade
Dernbach to throw the ball.
When Cowers spoke to Michael
Holding earlier in the spring he was quick to dispel the idea that the great
West Indies team were merely a barrage of samey pace bowlers.
"There was variety," Holding
reminded. "Joel Garner was 6'8", I was 6'3 and a half, Andy Roberts
was 6', Colin Croft was 6'4". Croft was bowling wide of the stumps, Garner
bowled closed to the stumps while Roberts had variety in pace and he was the
first of that quartet to think about bowling slower balls."
Finn, Tremlett and Broad all
have very decent claims to an England place - but not at the same time, in the
All shapes and sizes are
needed in a bowling attack (well, almost all, Samit Patel), and striking the
right balance of options is every bit as important as simply selecting the best
three men available.
It may yet not cost England on
this occasion. The trio will not, one hopes, bowl so poorly again. Perhaps too,
they'll get the sort of breaks of fortune that they were denied when Cook
dropped a regulation chance from Tharanga Paranavitana off Finn in just the
But England will need to take
a second look at the balance of their attack for the third and possibly decisive
Test at the Rose Bowl if Anderson remains unavailable, because the conveyor
belt of height is not the answer.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Dilshan's ferocious innings included a six which struck an unsuspecting spectator. After medical attention, he was OK - England's attack was not.
STAT OF THE DAY: The Sri Lanka skipper joins the list of batsman to have their name on the hallowed honours board at Lord's. But such are the vagaries of cricket that it means Tillakaratne Dilshan will be a name beside Ajit Agarkar's on the board- but not Sachin Tendulkar.
TWEET OF THE DAY: "Nothing wrong with a bit of hair treatment....!!!!" Michael Vaughan reassures Wayne Rooney that tackling premature balding is just fine. Cowers is agog to see if the striker's hair will now resemble the Jacques Kallis/Doug Bollinger school of cricket rug.