Opening Gambits

When it emerged yesterday morning that Australia had dropped Philip Hughes, there was a strong temptation to write a piece castigating their selectors for replacing him with Shane Watson when there appeared to be better and more obvious alternatives, such as Mike Hussey, who learned his trade as an opening batsman.

Now, in the light of what happened between 5 and 7 yesterday afternoon, I'm glad I didn't, although the arguments against Watson still stand, and it's difficult to envisage him staying at the top of the Australian order for very long.

Yesterday afternoon, though, England did their level best to make him look good, bowling with poor consistency and concentration in front of what sounded like a boisterous and over-hyped crowd. The two may not be unconnected; England have a tendency to believe their own publicity too readily, and, with the cheers of the Lord's crowd still ringing in their ears and supplemented by those of Edgbaston, they looked like a side lacking focus.

James Anderson, of whom a lot was expected in this series, and Stuart Broad, of whm a lot was hoped, are particular concerns, and they and their team-mates need to show a lot more when play resumes in three hours' time.

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