I was reading an interview by former England international Phil Tufnell recently, and he had some very nice things to say about me. Which felt good, but even he admitted that I would never be a Jonty Rhodes on the field, which made Tuesday’s run out of Sourav Ganguly all the more special.
He probably went for a non-existent second run, and thus became my first international run-out victim. Does that rank alongside getting the great Sachin Tendulkar as my first Test wicket? Probably not, but it felt pretty good all the same.
In fact, everything about Tuesday’s game was special, from the batting of Ian Bell and Alistair Cook to the marvellous bowling of Andrew Flintoff.
Considering India had gone into the game as marginal favourites, we were perhaps expecting more of a challenge, but I think Bell and Cook took care of that right from the moment they came together, so the game never really got away from us at any stage.
The Indian attack probably missed a fifth bowler, and as I had said in my last article, the bowlers’ performance against the English Lions in the warm-up game at Northampton has probably indicated that they weren’t completely comfortable with the change in playing conditions yet. However, this is a long series, and given the enormous experience that the Indians have, a fight back from them is almost a certainty.
We have had the best start possible to the series, but with matches scheduled only a couple of days apart, we will have our hands full with travel, practise, and playing.
There will be plenty of opportunities to be distracted from the job at hand, which is to take an unbeatable series lead.
In this connection, I must make special mention of Freddie Flintoff. A lot of people had been a little sceptical of Freddie’s ability to return to the international arena after his longish lay-off.
I would say he has answered most of them fair and square. In fact, the four months that he spent away from the cricket seem to have given him some kind of extra energy.
On Tuesday, he bowled fast consistently, and his length was mostly faultless. His aggression and intensity rubbed off on the rest of us too, so that the teamwork really started to make its presence felt.
The way in which Freddie targeted Dhoni in his second spell was a lesson in short-pitched bowling, and if he continues bowling the way he is, we can look forward to yet another interesting game at Bristol.
Speaking of Bristol, I haven’t played a one-day game there yet, so I can’t say what the conditions will be like. The ground itself is associated with such legends of English cricket as WG Grace and Wally Hammond, and I have been told that the wicket is good and can favour spinners, so obviously I am hoping to make my presence felt. As for a couple of spot-on throws, I’m certainly not ruling them out!