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Adelaide Day One: Somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous

Submitted by rickeyre on December 5, 2009 - 11:43am

To use an awkward metaphor, it never rains but it pours when it comes to the scheduling of Test cricket. (Especially when there's a one-day game which fits said metaphor more literally.) We go months and months without any Test cricket, and then suddenly we have three series running concurrently.

And so it was on Friday that for about two hours we had the exhilaration of simultaneously following: Day Three, India v Sri Lanka at Mumbai; Day Two, New Zealand v Pakistan at Wellington; Day One, Australia v West Indies at Adelaide. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Just exhausting. Three games of wildly varying textures, each one with that joyous "Let's See You Do That In The IPL" feel about them.

At the Basin Reserve, New Zealand would have thought little of avoiding the follow-on when they reached 65 for 4. Nor, indeed, at 85 for 4, six-and-a-half overs before they were all out for 99. I'll leave it to Black Caps blogista Iain O'Brien (last of the four ducks in the NZ innings) to give a contracted-player's eye view of that episode.

Over at the Brabourne Stadium, Virender Sehwag's brutal 284 not out on Thursday set us up with the prospect that he would double his score by Friday's end. But with the Indian media about to charge into stats porn overdrive, Sehwag pushed a return catch to Muttiah Muralitharan with his innings on 293.

The reactions on Twitter at the departure of the batsman, who a day earlier had been a trending topic, was massive. Between the occasional congratulations and "well done Viru" were many many Indian twitterati who were "shattered", "gutted" and "depressed" at the end of Sehwag's innings. Meanwhile, the headlines blared it out: "SEHWAG MISSES WORLD RECORD". India On Top Despite Sehwag Heartbreak. Heartbreak!

He didn't get to 501. He didn't get to 400. Problem? Sehwag failed to complete his third Test triple-hundred. Currently, he shares the record for most Test 300's with Don Bradman and Brian Lara, all of whom have scored two. The game suddenly lost all interest, as Indian tail-enders Dravid and Tendulkar were left to struggle against the fiercest bowlers Sri Lanka had to offer.

I feel I should have more to say about Stats Porn in a future blog entry. (Don't worry, I'll keep it PG at most.) And as India pursues its 101st Test win of all time, I move on to Paragraph Eight and the Test at Adelaide.

There was a time not so long ago when a team score of 250 on the opening day of a Test match was a good start, 300 was extraordinary. On Friday, the West Indies batted first at the Adelaide Oval and when stumps were drawn after 85 overs, they were 336 for 6. Yet no one seriously expects that they will win.

Chris Gayle, having demonstrated at Thursday's press conference that he had never heard of Doug Bollinger, hit a six off said NSW left-hander before becoming his second victim of the morning, falling to a one-handed Aussie rules mark by Brad Haddin. 26 from 23 balls. I'm so happy that Gayle understands the difference between Test cricket and Twenty20.

A heartening day for Dwayne Bravo with his third Test hundred. He ought to be one of the most exciting players in this series. Chanderpaul returned to the realm of Mature Elder Statesman before his innings of 62 ended with a phrase that leaves me shaking my head in cynical bemusement: "Controversial Umpiring Review".

Not quite four runs per over in the day from the West Indies. A far cry from the Tavares and Boycotts of not-so-long ago. We expect faster scoring these days from our Test batsmen, and that's not so bad so long as they keep an eye on the long haul. Modern-day cricket has only one Virender Sehwag, and his name is not Chris Gayle.

Footnote: India declared at 726 for 9 yesterday, their highest total in Test history. That's not Stats Porn, btw. Rather a Stats Viagra Overdose.