Lyon is very much a work in progress (I’ve made that point repeatedly) so having been tonked three fours before Clarke took the offie off this time around, you might have expected him to be shielded from Pietersen. What came next suggests there’s been a bit of thought go into this little battle.

Lyon was back at the bowling crease a mere six overs later, with one key difference. He switched to around the wicket rather than over the wicket. I was particularly interested in Lyons’ comment to the ABC’s Jim Maxwell that coming around the wicket brings in the lbw, caught slip and caught bat-pad, so it just keeps me in the game a lot more.

That seems to run right in the face of the old time conventional wisdom about right armers going around the wicket, which takes LBW out of the question if the ball pitches outside leg stump. Lyon must therefore be looking to pitch in line, straighten the offie to bring in the LBW and bat pad, and use the arm ball to bring slip into play.

It was an arm ball that ended up accounting for Pietersen, caught behind, rather than at slip, but there you go. Earlier Lyon had picked up Trott at short leg (diving effort from Khawaja under the lid), so two wickets in the space of a dozen runs (all boundaries from Pietersen) off 16 balls suggests that there’s progress being made in the work in progress.

Throw in Bell and Bairstow and you’ve got an underrated offie ripping the guts out of the much vaunted English middle order. You could, of course, be hypercritical of the approach adopted by the English bats, but I’m inclined to the view, on the whole, you can only bat as well as you’re allowed to.

From time to time, on flat tracks, with the ball doing absolutely nothing, batsmen can do absolutely as they like. Equally, once in a while, the bowlers find a track that suits them or someone manages a day when the ball comes out just right, but, on the whole, the battle between bat and ball comes down to a waiting game as the bowlers probe and the bats counter attack.

Based on Day One in Durham one has to suspect we’re in for an intriguing contest at what seems to be a low scoring venue.

Much of that will, of course, depend on how we bat when we get to the crease, and I’m reasonably bullish about the prospects after the top order finally got it together in Manchester. Forget the declaration batting in the second dig, and muse, for a moment, on what might have been had Khawaja got started rather than dudded and you’d possibly be bullish as well.

For anyone who has been missing the Hughesy take on the cricket, apologies for a total silence through the Old Trafford Test, which coincided with a fair chunk of road trip due to visitors from Japan. I managed a fair chunk of the pre-lunch session on Day One there after a long day on the water over to Whitehaven Beach, but road trip considerations, neck muscles that were giving me hell on the Friday and Saturday and an early departure for Cairns on Sunday morning meant the Sports Desk wasn’t going to get too much chance to opine on developments.

But, like the Australian side, we’re very much back in business, and if you’re after an interesting read, try this very interesting piece on Peter Siddle (here).

© Ian L Hughes 2021