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Caerdydd Day One: If he only had a brain (KP that is, not MJ)

Submitted by rickeyre on July 9, 2009 - 3:17pm

Your team is 241 for 4, twenty overs till stumps on the first day. You are one of the senior players in your team. You are 69 not out. The opposition bowler pitches a slow ball short and about two metres wide of off stump. Do you:

  1. Leave it alone?
  2. Take two steps down to the pitch of the ball and smash it to the cover fence for four?
  3. Keep your feet still, stretch as far as you can to pull the ball off the cue-end of the bat lofting it to the on-side?

For most of us, the answer is (a). For most of the world's best Test-standard batsmen, the answer is (b). For self-serving brainless show-offs, the answer is (c). Hello Kevin Pietersen, caught Katich bowled Hauritz. You never did get to captain England in an Ashes Test, did you?

In the final wash, I think it was still marginally England's day, ending at 336 for 7. Andrew Strauss made the right call after winning the toss, but as Pietersen and Collingwood pulled them back from 90 for 3 he may well have been hopeful that England could reach 450-500 sometime Thursday. With Flintoff and Prior (the latter an attractive but inappropriate 56 from 62 balls) out late in the day, that dream looks dashed.

Not an easy day to give 3-2-1 votes for the start of my 2009 Midwinter-Midwinter, as there were no obvious standouts. I've given Paul Collingwood the three points for the day's top gungho-less score of 64, even if it wasn't always that pretty. Hard to separate the three Aussie pacemen, but I've just gone for shock selection Ulverstone Benny Hilfenhaus as the pick of the trio and given him two points. Pietersen should have been player of the day, but his ludicrous dismissal pushed him down to one point. Matt Prior, Mitch Johnson and Pete Siddle all unlucky to miss out.

Keep an eye on #mwmw on Twitter for discussion of the Midwinter-Midwinter and my update every morning around 7-8am Aus time.

I'll link to a selection of match reports and analyses here every day rather than blather on for too long about events that I may not necessarily have always been awake for. Today, I give you: Chloe Saltau (The Age), Gideon Haigh (Business Spectator), David Hopps (The Guardian), Mike Atherton (The Times) and cricket blogisto extraordinaire Nick Whittock.