36th over: Pakistan 61-1 (Abid Ali 31, Azhar Ali 5) If you had to back an England bowler to get a top-order batsman top-edging a bouncer over the slips, that bowler would surely be Archer, but it’s just happened to Azhar and the man responsible was Woakes. What a trouper he is.
35th over: Pakistan 59-1 (Abid Ali 31, Azhar Ali 3) Bess has an appeal for caught at short leg as Abid plays outside a bouncy off break, but it was off the thigh pad, and miles from the bat.
Back to Russian. “I think ‘ochki’ (очки) as suggested by Robin Haslehurst as runs or points is wrong,” says Iain Noble. “The Russian word for points is tochki (точки). The word ‘ochki’ also means a pair (of spectacles) so that is the likelier meaning.” Then he adds: “Arthur Ransome, former foreign correspondent of this great organ, married Trotsky’s secretary.” Random but riveting.
34th over: Pakistan 59-1 (Abid Ali 31, Azhar Ali 3) Off goes Jofra as Root sticks to his new policy of giving him short spells. That one was four overs, which only went for three runs. On comes Chris Woakes, Cinderella finally making it to the ball. He goes past Azhar’s outside edge with a beauty.
33rd over: Pakistan 59-1 (Abid Ali 31, Azhar Ali 3) Azhar takes a comfy single. Bess bowls a few more nothing balls, and then he gets it right, going wider to Abid and beating him with the one that goes on with the arm. That’s Besser.
32nd over: Pakistan 58-1 (Abid Ali 31, Azhar Ali 2) The ball has gone soft and the game has gone quiet. If there were any spectators in, they’d be nodding off. Another maiden from Archer and that’s drinks, after 14 of the allotted 52 overs. Pakistan are showing some grit; England, while still well on top, are not making things happen fast enough.
31st over: Pakistan 58-1 (Abid Ali 31, Azhar Ali 2) Abid pushes for two and flicks for a single. Bess is bowling too straight, the commentators reckon, and Joe Root seems to be saying the same thing with a signal from slip. If Root gets really irritated, he can always turn to his other off-spinner – himself.
30th over: Pakistan 55-1 (Abid Ali 28, Azhar Ali 2) Jofra is mostly into his steady mode, bowling 88mph in the channel. Azhar, watchful, is leaving or blocking. The over ends with a snorter, touching 91mph, but Azhar is equal to it and jags his head out of the way.
29th over: Pakistan 55-1 (Abid Ali 28, Azhar Ali 2) A maiden from Bess, who’s made a decent start without threatening at all. Story of his Test career so far.
28th over: Pakistan 55-1 (Abid Ali 28, Azhar Ali 2) Sore finger or not, Abid keeps Archer out and dabs a single to fine leg. Azhar gets off the mark with a tuck for two; maybe his eye is still in from last night.
“Afternoon, Tim,” says Phil Sawyer, picking up on my remark about the number of overs in this session (15:45). “52 is obviously also redolent of the controversial ‘New 52’ continuity introduced by DC comics several years ago to try to attract a new readership after decades of often bewilderingly complex plotlines and crossover events. Why yes, I’ve been single for quite a while now. Why do you ask?”
27th over: Pakistan 52-1 (Abid Ali 27, Azhar Ali 0) It’s a double change as Anderson gives way to Dom Bess. The milestone-hunters may have to wait for another hour or so. I suspect Azhar is quite pleased to see some slow stuff so early in his innings. And Chris Woakes mildly displeased.
26th over: Pakistan 51-1 (Abid Ali 26, Azhar Ali 0) Broad goes off the field, presumably to check his bowling average for the summer (13.13). On comes Jofra Archer, whose average is rather different – 43.75. He deserves better, and begins with a maiden to Azhar, moving through the gears from 84mph to 88.
25th over: Pakistan 51-1 (Abid Ali 26, Azhar Ali 0) With one opener gone and the other one bruised, Anderson tries to turn the screw by bringing in a leg slip for Abid Ali, but he stands firm and pushes into the covers for two.
24th over: Pakistan 49-1 (Abid Ali 24, Azhar Ali 0) So Azhar Ali comes out to bat for the third time in this match – he sent himself out to open last night, but wasn’t required and was able to change his tune this morning. Also, Pakistan maintain their long-standing policy of not having an opening partnership of 50 in England. The last was in 1996, apparently.
Wicket! Masood lbw b Broad 18 (Pakistan 49-1)
It was umpire’s call, so Shan Masood was a little unlucky – but he did play no stroke to a ball that was either brushing off stump or missing it by a millimetre. That’s yet another wicket for Broad, his 29th in five Tests since being left out.
Wicket? Masood given lbw b Broad 18
He’s reviewing, but he played no stroke and it just brushed his pad, slap in front of off…
23rd over: Pakistan 49-0 (Shan Masood 18, Abid Ali 24) Abid picks up a couple with a thick inside edge off Anderson. “He’s definitely looking more confident as an opener now,” says Wasim Akram, not totally convincingly. The curse of the commentator strikes instantly as Abid is rapped on the glove, fending a lifter off his ribs. He is holding his finger as if it’s broken. The physio trots out to administer a cloud of spray, and Abid resumes with a play-and-miss.
22nd over: Pakistan 47-0 (Shan Masood 18, Abid Ali 22) Broad cranks up the accelerator to 84 now, and he beats Masood with a David Warner special – angled in, swinging away. Masood fights back with a straight drive, the first four of this monster session.
21st over: Pakistan 43-0 (Shan Masood 14, Abid Ali 22) Masood takes a single off his pads. When he makes it to 14 against Anderson, he usually gets to 140. There’s another appeal against Abid Ali, for caught behind, but again it’s a bit token and when it’s turned down, England don’t review.
Here’s Richard Morris. “While I would normally hesitate to fence with Mr Forth on stats, I think he’s forgotten that three of this England XI’s highest scores were Not Out (Sibley, Pope and Woakes) which I think makes the team average high score actually a shade over 193. Drop Archer for Stokes in the next Test (I know, I know) and the average moves to a world-beating 222.” Ha. I had a thought about Ian Forth’s stat, too: didn’t England have three 250 men at once in the last days of Alastair Cook – him, Root and Stokes?
20th over: Pakistan 42-0 (Shan Masood 13, Abid Ali 22) You’ll never guess who’s bowling at the other end. Yes, it’s Stuart Broad, who, for once, looks like the veteran he is, running in with knees not pumping at all and dishing up military medium, 79-82mph. Abid Ali plays out another maiden.
19th over: Pakistan 42-0 (Shan Masood 13, Abid Ali 22) Anderson has five men saving the single and only three close catchers, which is absurd – although he may have decided that the catchers won’t catch the ball anyway. That’s a maiden to Abid Ali, with nothing happening bar a half-hearted shout for LBW off the last ball.
Yes, it’s Jimmy. In case you’re just back from the Antarctic, he needs two more wickets for 600 in Tests.
The England players go into their huddle at the start of what could be a 52-over session. This is a ridiculous length, but at least it’s a satisfying number, redolent of weeks in the year or cards in the pack. Also, the number of Tests played by Don Bradman.
Something tells me Joe Root is going to ask Jimmy Anderson to bowl. He’s turning his arm over on the outfield.
Play will start in just over five minutes, if the weather gods don’t get in the way again.
“Ed Bayling,” says Robin Hazlehurst, “needs to try his best Bond-villain accent when saying Kriz, and he will realise it is where the batsmen stands. Ochki are indeed glasses, but are also points in games, so it is used here for runs (also ‘rans’). A six is translated as ‘a six-point shot’. Not sure about the derivation of it, and it does sound beautifully like every batsman getting a pair, but it isn’t actually.” Single quotes, author’s own. Thanks Robin.
Afternoon everyone and thanks Daniel. He’s right, you know; playing top-level sport is nothing to the pressures of the OBO. It’s been socially distanced for decades. You don’t even set eyes on your partner. And while Jimmy Anderson may sometimes curse his slip fielders, at least he never has to go through a long email replacing double quotes with single ones.
“52 over session?!” exclaims an aghast Craig Fawcett. “Isn’t there something in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that prevents a cricketer from fielding for 52 overs (under Test conditions)?”
Fielding? Fielding?! Pah! These lads should try OBOing. On which seamless segue, that’s me done for the day – thanks so much for your company and comments, it’s been a belter. Sorry if I’ve not got to you, but please do get in touch with Tim de Lisle, who’ll guide you through the evening sesh.
“Apologies if I’m late to the party with this one,” says Paul Lakin, “but, Pete Salmon, I see your Cicero and raise you Peter Cook: ‘I met a man at a party. He said ‘I’m writing a novel.’ I replied ‘Neither am I’.”
What does one do when one requires a third style of quotation mark?
“If it’s any help,” offers Ed Bayling, “my basic Duolingo Russian leads me to deduce that the footnotes in Christopher Edge’s book are mostly explanations of the basics: ‘Batsman’, ‘Bowler’, ‘Century’, ‘Runs’ (which appears to translate as ‘glasses’), ‘Pitch’ and one that looks like ‘kriz’, which I’m stuck on. Perhaps someone cleverer than me could assist?”
“Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers sees the story climax at a cricket game where Lord Peter Wimsey’s ability as a batsman moves the plot along nicely,” reckons Richard Jansz-Moore. “Also AA Thomson’s Exquisite Burden has a great chapter on a cricket match. Sadly that one appears to be out of print and I only read it as my grandparents had a copy. Well worth a read though if anyone can find a copy.”
I’m trying so hard not to make sport of Ian McEwan’s 613-page squash match, but you all keep baiting me.
“Australia’s team for the first Test of the 2005 series had an average highest score of 197,” says the multitalented Steve Hudson. “I can’t imagine that would ever have been bettered.” I wondered about them because Gillespie has a test 200 and Warne and Lee could also bat, but I thought McGrath might’ve hampered them. Might they have had a higher average for Edgbaston?
“So, WG Grace had a high-pitched, slightly comical West Country accent?” asks Steve Hudson. “In the biopic, wouldn’t Pam Ayres be perfect?”
Good news! Play will resume at 3.45pm BST
Tea has already been taken, so we’ll have 52 overs from then, and can go till 7.30 to get them in if weather and light permit.
“If there are no spectators hence no ticket sales, and if one day of the Test is rained off, why not just add another day to compensate and avoid draws through bad weather?” asks Hugh Paterson. “TV channels would be happy.”
I’m not sure they would, given they’ll have scheduled stuff for Wednesday, but the Test championship mitigates against jiggery-pokery of that sort because all matches need to be played under identical conditions. Also, we’ve accepted that the weather is part of cricket, and couldn’t add time on in the middle of a match because then England would’ve batted longer except they didn’t know to.
“A Season In Sinji,’ says Andrew Burton, “written in 1967 by JL Carr, has lashings of cricket plus a Second World War setting, proper characters (a hissable villain who turns out to be just another damaged human being) and a sequence of gradually devastating emotional payoffs. Highly recommended.”
Not to be confused with JD Carr, the Fawad Alam of his dad.
“Rider Sandman, the hero of Bernard Cornwell’s book ‘Gallows Thief’, is a professional cricketer,” offers Ian Andrew.
And if I am my father’s son, I am right in saying that Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was a decent left-arm spinner.
“I’ve been engaged in a little stat guru fossicking today,” overshares Ian Forth. “Two points emerged from this rabbit holing: next time England take the field they will likely have Crawley, Root and Stokes in the team, three men who have Test high-scores of 250+. This has only happened twice before: Barrington, Edrich and Graveney in 1965-68 and Hutton, May and Compton in 1954-55. And as if that were not enough of a statsgasm, this Test could have England fielding a side with its members boasting the highest-ever average Test high-score (i.e. add up all their test high scores and divide by 11), that figure being 158.55. I’m happy to be disproved on the second stat, there’s always scope to learn and improve in this life.
I fear that final line is contrary to the spirit of the OBO, but otherwise, this is majestic work. On the second point, given Broad and Woakes have Test tons and Bess has a Test 50, you might be right.
“On the topic of the Americans not doing cricket,” says Christopher Edge, “this was proved true when my children’s novel, The Black Crow Conspiracy, which featured a chapter set against the backdrop of a 1902 Authors v Artists cricket match at Lords with Arthur Conan Doyle on the cusp of a century, was brought out in an American edition. I found all references to fielding positions such as silly mid-off had been summarily changed to ‘the outfield’! The same book has just been published in Russian too and although I can’t read the language I note this same chapter features the most footnotes! It seems cricket in fiction just doesn’t translate to some countries…”
That is sensational!
Chin up, keep at it, and other words of ignoramus’ advice
“Just reading the back and forth about books leads me to a pet subject,” muses Kim Thonger. “Different outcomes to cricket matches in parallel but slightly different universes. Imagine one close by where Jimmy’s four dropped catches in 30-something deliveries had all been snaffled instead and he’s already on 601 and thinking happily about the next 99 to take him to 700. We could make a screenplay to be filmed by Christopher Nolan in his inimitable unfathomable style, with Colin Farrell as Jimmy. To improve box office receipts I suggest we involve Brad Pitt somehow, possibly as a grizzled third umpire with maverick tendencies.”
I can only countenance Michael Gough as himself, but would permit Pitt as a bungling but strangely lovable text commentator.
“Please tell Max Millings not to lament, as we’ve been living his memoirs via the OBO for fifteen years or more,” says Brad McMillan. “Therefore, even while remaining ‘unpublished’, he’s already reached his audience and, sadly, missed out on the royalties. I’ve enjoyed the the experience though, so please also send him my thanks.”
What greater royalties could there be than those?
“I don’t think Brian Blessed would do at all,” says Ben Mallalieu. “WG had by all accounts a slightly comical high-pitched voice, a bit like David Beckham. I have often wondered if there is a correlation between high-pitched voices and sporting prowess. Any thoughts?”
I’ve always enjoyed how Jos Buttler’s voice is the precise opposite of Jos Buttler’s batting.
“Re: C. Aubrey Smith’s Hollywood Cricket Club,” says Richard Farmer. “Did you know that Boris Karloff was the first player to score a century for the HCC.”
Of Boris Karloffdrive, as they called him. I did not, but that is incredible, thanks.
It’s looking much drier now, so I’d hope for a start not that long after three – assuming it doesn’t rain again, which it doesn’t look like it’s going to.
There’ll now be an inspection at 3pm
Hopefully we’ll get a start sometime after that.
“Since someone mentioned the era,” emails Roger Higgs, “I was reading about Conan Doyle, who was a keen sportsman (in addition to doctor, campaigner for justice, spiritualist etc!) and played some first class cricket. His batting average was not too bad but he only claimed one wicket as a bowler – WG Grace!”
Similarly, I’ve only failed to identify one Oscar-winning screenwriter as an OBOer – Simon Beaufoy!
“It’s true that the American moneybags, Daddy Warbucks types, rarely fund anything without a Stateside slant,” says James Debens. “My feature-length musical remake of The Odd Couple, with former cricket stars David Boon and Fast Eddie Hemmings in the lead roles, has yet to be picked up by anyone but the Italian broadcasters Raiuno. And even they insist that Monica Bellucci plays the lightly sweating third umpire. It’s not enough that Hamfatter, Scouting For Girls and Deep Blue Something have agreed to pen original cricket-themed songs or that Pete Waterman will pack up his train set and let us turn his back garden into Lord’s. (Rod Stewart backed out when we wouldn’t cast Gavin Hamilton).”
Surely Fast Eddie is already playing himself in the Hustler (of not-so-quick singles).