Test cricket returned in all its splendour during the first morning of England’s five-match series with India at Trent Bridge. England finished the session on 61-2 off 25 overs, with Rory Burns and Zak Crawley falling for 0 and 27 respectively to the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj.
After a month of white-ball cricket and the quickfire controversy of the Hundred, it was hugely comforting to sit in front of a fascinating battle between bat and ball. India dominated the two hours, regularly beating the bat and finding movement in the air and off the pitch. England will feel fortunate to have lost just the two.
Dom Sibley batted in his own unique way, scratching outside the off stump and nurdling off his pads to reach 18 not out at lunch. Joe Root joined ‘the Vicar’, scampering to 12 and highlighting that his is undoubtedly the decisive wicket.
The morning was poetry, but how do we explain that to the new-found fans of the Hundred? There was no neon, no DJ, no sixes. The forward defensives, the leaves, the plays and misses will be somewhat alien to many of cricket’s newcomers. The fact that they represent something so much purer, so much more beautiful than sets of five and strategic timeouts will not be an easy sell.
But for now let’s enjoy two teams knuckling down within the famous ebbs and flows of cricket’s best format. ‘Every ball matters’ is the slogan of the Hundred, but at Trent Bridge that mantra seems far more apt. Bring on the next six weeks.