Cow Corner

Lukewarm start to the summer

Cow Corner

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The first day of the earliest Test match in English cricketing history started in widespread ambivalence and ended with widespread incompetence.

Debutants Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions must have thought they were as popular as a coughing Mexican as they were awarded their England caps in front of a handful of spectators in temperatures that were decidedly fresh.

West Indies captain Chris Gayle only landed in London yesterday and must have been ruing why his board had decided to step in for Indian Premier League hamstrung Sri Lanka - the original replacement for Zimbabwe - on a cold morning when he could have been admiring cheerleaders and swelling his bank balance in South Africa.

The swarm of empty seats was hardly surprising when you consider it is £55 a head to sit in the Mound Stand lower tier and if you had decided to take leave of your senses and book a ticket online, you would have received a follow-up e-mail suggesting you partake in "Lunch and Afternoon Tea for just £73.50pp" or a picnic hamper which presumably would cost the same as the GDP of Zimbabwe.

Can you be surprised that no-one was there to watch a tour that is not even part of the Future Tours Programme and seems to have been crow barred into the already packed schedule purely for financial gain.

IPL was the talk yet again when two more of that League's contingent departed in quick succession to leave England floundering at 109-5.

But if Kevin Pietersen had had a knock at the Rose Bowl he still would have been unable to do anything about a first-ball jaffer from Fidel Edwards.

England's head coach Andy Flower did warn this his side were "under-prepared" and none more so than Delhi Daredevils' leading drinks carrier Paul Collingwood and his lack of middle time was evident in his short stay at the crease.

However the mutterings from the members about match practice seemed to carry less weight as Ravi Bopara of Kings XI Punjab scored his second Test century in as many matches.

This on the same day Michael Vaughan mustered just 16 at Edgbaston and after a dodgy start to his Test career, Bopara is looking like someone could perhaps forge a decent career.

Of course bigger challenges lie ahead than the West Indies whose last series win in this country came when Ravi's diet was still predominately rusks.

Bopara was helped by a shambolic fielding performance from the West Indies, the tone set by Lionel Baker's futile dive in the morning that would have done Emmanuel Eboue proud and ended in a final session when they dropped no fewer than six catches.

Maybe the tourists were just shelling those catches to make sure the match goes five days to further swell those Lord's coffers.

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Time for Pietersen to be dropped. Useless in the West­ Indies, pathetic in the IPL. He is living on some past glories and does not warrant selection on recent form," kestephenson calls for the exclusion of the bloke who averages 50.51 in Test cricket.

STAT OF THE DAY: The West Indies have dropped 31% of their potential catches in Test cricket this century.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Some of Ravi Bopara's 14 fours were rather elegant the slog over the top off Gayle late in the day was dismissive.

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