David Gower believes there was “an element of implied ageism” in the decision by Sky not to renew his contract once the Ashes finishes next week. The comments come as the former England captain, who has spent more than 20 years with the television broadcaster, prepares for his final Test match behind the mic at the Oval on Thursday.
The silent treatment. It’s one of those theories, reverse psychology if you will, that is applied to those opponents who are believed to crave the limelight, the attention. Those who need something or someone to rise up against in order to perform at their best. No surprises, then, that it was tried by many against one Pietersen, Kevin.
They were, both, a once-in-a-generation match. A once-in-a-generation innings. Only there were two. Within 42 days of each other, in fact. Perhaps it was fate, written in the stars. The answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything is, of course, 42. “42 days, in this instance,” said Douglas Adam’s supernatural computer, Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
Twenty-something Stuart Broad was all about the headlines. The eight-for at Trent Bridge, five-for-one at Newlands or dismantling India in Manchester. He formed a partnership with James Anderson that beat all that had gone before. There was always a sense, however, of Anderson as the reliable performer, Broad the young upstart, blowing hot, but occasionally cold.
The instinctive reaction was one of pity. A man doing his job, not particularly well, but doing it nonetheless. Umpire Joel Wilson struck a lonely figure in the middle of the vast expanse of Edgbaston, surrounded by a crowd known for its intensity and a press box notorious for its unforgiving nature. The less said about social media the better.
About halfway through the afternoon session on day three, England’s ninth-wicket stand tilted from the vaguely irritating to the deeply frustrating phase for Australia. The interactive scoreboard had just flashed up a 50, the partnership neatly compiled between Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad, before the television cameras quickly panned to Steve Smith.
As the country froze one man held his nerve. Effortlessly he glided in, like a ship soaring across unruffled seas, Jofra Archer, a man who, just a year ago, no one in the country could have known might be here, delivering for England.
It started with a bang, but not as we thought. In a tournament in which runs were touted, 500 even, it was the bowlers who first made their mark.
West Indies bumped out Pakistan for 105 and New Zealand’s quicks skittled Sri Lanka for not many more the following day. It was exciting, it was unexpected and it lay the foundations for an exhilarating tournament to come.
INTERVIEW Neil McKenzie tells Isabelle Westbury how he has convinced players to trust in their ability
Bangladesh announced themselves at this World Cup with a comprehensive, all-round victory over South Africa . A washout and two close losses, though, mean that they now have it all to do to make the knockout stages. Any comeback will start against the West Indies on Monday, and the approaches of these two teams could not be more dissimilar.
On the opening morning of the men’s Cricket World Cup at The Oval, the queue extending from the adjacent underground station was encouraging. The bottleneck, however, was formed not by excited fans but by commuters, puzzled by the appearance of a large shiny trophy on a cardboard pedestal outside. Briefly obstructing their daily shuffle, it was an irritant, soon forgotten.