Exactly where that goes is anyone’s guess, but I suspect that, on this track at least, chasing anything much over 150 batting last is going to be difficult. Given the current situation, where England are, effectively, 2 for 15 that would involve taking 8 for 135 in the first two sessions tonight, and if we can do that, with our batting surrounded by rather severe question marks, maybe a target of 150 will turn out to be just a tad too high.
Time will tell, as it will with young Mr Agar, who displayed a remarkable maturity in a tricky situation. He certainly doesn’t appear to have the same technical issues some of the other bats have, and for the moment I reckon he can expect an extended run batting Eight from here on.
He’ll need to deliver with the ball as well, but there’s definitely a possibility of a spin bowling all-rounder, which raises some interesting possibilities if he can show form with the ball and continue to post significant scores with the bat.
He could possibly step up a place or two in the order, but I wouldn’t be looking any higher than Seven, possibly with Haddin at Six, in a situation where you wanted to play an extra spinner and still have three quicks because Watto doesn’t bowl much any more.
Or maybe because Watto hasn’t been able to deliver the runs consistently enough to hold his place.
Interestingly, and I’m not suggesting we’re looking at another Sobers, Imran or Hadlee, most of the great all-rounders have started as specialist bowlers whose batting has moved them up into the middle order.
Without getting ahead of ourselves, let’s wait and see how things pan out. You can predict the inevitable slump in performances as the bowling fraternity work him out and identify weaknesses and technical points that can be attacked, but he looks like someone who’ll add a welcome degree of flexibility.
As far as the rest of the day’s play goes Hughes showed a commendable degree of grit and stickability, while Smith and Haddin both had me scratching my head at the apparent abandonment of the old conventional wisdom involving the placement of the front foot and the subsequent position of the head.
That, I would suggest, m’lud, is a key issue in dealing with the ball when it’s reversing since it’ll probably close the gate between bat and pad (and quite possibly allow the adjustment that’ll get the ball hitting the middle rather than snicking the inside or outside edge).
As far as Day Three and the eventual outcome is concerned, the big question is going to involve the size of the target, and whether we can somehow cobble together more than a hundred out of the combination of Rogers (who I see as the key), Watson and Cowan, both of whom need to deliver big time in the not too distant future.
Chasing more than 150 looks to be rather tricky for this side in these conditions, but if One, Two and Three can get the total past the ton, and my suspicions about the ephemeral nature of the reverse elements is correct, anything less than, maybe, 250 may well be doable.
And, as noted yesterday, time will tell.