Only a royal baby will distract from Lord's


Cricket enjoyed its rule and is not ready to abdicate its short-lived crown just yet. It will take the royal baby to finally kick this one off the park.

How do you follow that? It is probably not sensible to build up the sequel too much, but the Test match at Trent Bridge between England and Australia was perfect in almost every sense.

It had priority on the British back pages – Andy Murray mania and the Lions were a good prelude – and there was no annoying football tournament to distract the attention. Suarez, Rooney and drug-addled sprinters have never seemed so dull.

Cricket enjoyed its rule and is not ready to abdicate its short-lived crown just yet. It will take the royal baby to finally kick this one off the park.

The Open at Muirfield will become a sporting bedfellow for four days, no doubt distracting a little more from the increased expectation and attention at Lord's. Even so, cricket came up trumps in the exclusive free window that it enjoyed at Nottingham.

The little white balls that land in Scotland will have to go some to compete. Perhaps Rory McIlroy walking off the course after breaking a club and shooting 80 will come close. Maybe Australia will get their revenge via Adam Scott, his monstrous putter and his sledging American caddie.

This Aussie team were supposed to be featherweights but England weighed in only at light middleweight when the two turned up nervous as kittens last Wednesday. The result was carnage on both sides.

Andy Flower's relief was palpable to such an extent that you know he is not entirely comfortable with watching his team post Andrew Strauss. Darren Lehmann is someone who enjoys a drink and a fag but he was more interested in his stress ball on Sunday. The agonies of cricket coaches are becoming more public. Except no one really wants to listen to Mickey Arthur's sideshow.

Alastair Cook could not remember a match that had ebbed and flowed like this one. Journalists were ready to write the match obituary when the tourists were 117-9 early on the second day. It was almost perverse that the game could serve up so many dynamic and head-swirling twists and make it into the fifth day.

There was also a daring and good-looking teenage sensation thrown into the mix. Hollywood might not be interested, but this was just so much better than anyone could have imagined. Cricket just got sexy, although the sight of Peter Siddle and Brad Haddin could make a soft focus camera lens crack.

Geoff Boycott suggested it may have been better for the longevity of the series if Australia had snatched the match. His point may be a good one if England win the toss this week. If they lose it, Australia need to cash in by finding some batsmen that can make James Anderson suffer in thirty degree heat. Steven Finn could be a dangerous wounded animal on his home ground.

To think, cricket used to have a rest day. What a terrible marketing ploy that would be now. If this particular series can come anywhere near the fever pitch that kept us guessing for the best part of a week, then we might have queues outside Old Trafford again.

Nottingham 2013 may be as good as it gets. Whatever happens, it was great while it lasted and the memories are strong already. One down and nine to go…

<b>Tim Ellis</b>