Normal Service

I said here about a week ago that I could understand why England had begun the series with Giles batting at eight in order to shorten their tail. This was largely true, but perhaps I was trying just a bit too hard to see things from Duncan's point of view. Because, deep down, like virtually every other England follower, I was wondering why the hell Monty wasn't there. Today, normal service was resumed. Normal service which, with every trademark wicket celebration, made you realise just how important a figure Monty became to the side during last summer and just how ridiculous it is that England have gone through two losing Tests with him kicking his heels on the sidelines.

I may also have read a bit too much into the fact that Monty hadn't taken many wickets in the games outside the Tests. Okay, he didn't bowl as well or as economically as he can, and he had some luck, but I think today showed that he's one of those priceless people who perform better the higher the standard of game they're involved in. England have had more than enough players over the years who have done the exact opposite for that to be reason itself to choose him virtually every time. I reckon he might just be there to stay.

It was also great to see Harmison getting his act together. Intensive practice, a bit of life in the pitch and the early wicket of the invincible Ponting seem to have done the trick, in the short term at least. A confidence player.

With two down by the close it's now up to the batsmen to confirm the advantage which England won in the field. It won't be easy, but Strauss is overdue a big one and there will be opportunities tomorrow for Pietersen, Flintoff and Jones to atone for their last day errors in Adelaide. Colly will fancy his chances, too.

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