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Lord's Day Five: Freddie's swansong, Swannie's fredsong

Submitted by rickeyre on July 22, 2009 - 10:20am

If Graeme Swann never bowls another ball, let him be remembered for that dipping, inswinging off-break which suckered Australian should-be-captain Michael Clarke on the final morning of the Second Test at the Home of Archery. Deify Andrew Flintoff if you will, but the Fredster's performance on Monday morning was as much Swan Lake as Swan Song.

It being 36 hours since the end of the Test as I write this, I'll just cobble together a few thoughts about the final day and related events. Firstly, that was a thoroughly deserving victory for England. Australia's fourth-innings target of 522 was historically well off the radar, and they deserve praise for making it as far as 406. Michael Clarke's innings was superb right up until his final defeat. Mitchell Johnson played an impressive knock whilst running out of partners, but that is not why he was chosen to represent Australia. I expect to see him, at best, carrying the drinks or running the fluorescent bats at Edgbaston.

While this series now has the tinge of 2005 Revisited about it, England's staying power is in doubt. Kevin Pietersen's fitness is questionable, as is Flintoff's, as, apparently, is Onions'. Ravi Bopara is a good five or six, why is he at three? Andrew Strauss' captaincy still doesn't cut it for me, I'm afraid. Not sure who I'd prefer though. Collingwood?

I'm not one to harp too much about umpiring (refer my T2D4 wrap), but I reckon one hundred Tests would be a good point for Rudi Koertzen to declare. I have some fairly left-field ideas about the future of umpiring mulling about in my head, maybe I can turn them into something rational and put pen to paper finger to keyboard on the subject before the start of the Third Test.

Finally, Lord's itself. I've been there twice, for a Middlesex county championship game and for the fourth day of a Test match that ended in three, and it's a beautiful place to watch cricket, but for me no pseudo-spiritual experience of a cricket ground matches visiting Broadhalfpenny Down. (Can't get thirty thousand spectators into that ground though, nor does it have any obvious spot for the third umpire cameras.)

While I have no time for the Marylebone Cricket Club culture, I love the hushed silence that is a trademark of Test matches played there. But it was disappointing to hear the booing at the post-match ceremonials, especially when directed at Ricky Ponting and Rudi Koertzen. But then, if they stage a bog-standard Indian-style tv-oriented post-match show, then that is what is to be expected. The good old days of the crowd milling around under the pavillion is sadly (but, with security in mind, necessarily) missed.

As the game finished before lunch, I award a reduced set of votes for the day in the Midwinter-Midwinter. Flintoff 2, Swann 1. Vikki Harber's Little Boy misses out despite his late-order 63. The Midwinter-Midwinter is a cumulative award over the whole series, and deliberately operating on a unique set of rules, but a big thank you to those who have provided feedback on Twitter. Your views will be heard, though probably not acted upon (a bit like the New South Wales government, really).

A catch-up on the daily Paper Rout is still on my to-do list, but I'll finish for now with this thought: the Second Test was the length of almost nine Twenty20 games. I dare you to name nine Twenty20 games as memorable as this Test match. Or even one.