Mind games?

22:50 – Cook & Compton are walking out to bat for the second time in this nightmare of a match. England trail by 293 and there are six sessions less an hour left in this match. One might call this an interesting situation. Or fucking desperate. 10mins later and the ball has already beaten the bat four times. Of course the coaches would say this is an ideal opportunity for the batsmen to show what they’re made of, and who would dare deny it. But it will be very hard for them to maintain a positive mindset. Their first innings drubbing, Rutherford’s fluent 170 and McCullum’s late onslaught – just as classy but so much more violent – all that must have left its mark. Rutherford’s will no doubt be the innings of the match (unless one of the England batsmen can produce something very special) but McCullum’s 74 off 59 was awesome. He wasn’t just slogging and trusting his luck; his flurry of 4s and 6s off Broad and Anderson (two in one over!) all came from wonderful cricket shots. Wherever they put it, he hit. Wonderful to behold, but – my oh my – what that must do to a team’s morale!

And yet, if these two can stay there till lunch and accelerate afterwards, they just might start to believe in the stuff of heroes. Such is the beauty of Test cricket.

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