Line of body or bodyline?

It lasted a little over 25 minutes and exactly six overs. Enough deliveries for the England openers to get their eye in but insufficient to build an innings. Australia predictably began with Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson, who has been consistently touching speeds of 150 kmph and above.

To Michael Carberry, Johnson bowled a series of deliveries that nipped past the bat and moved towards the slips. With time running out, he changed his plan. Johnson banged the ball short aiming at Carberry's bodyline. The leg-slip just added to the pressure. The ploy worked. Intimidated by the thunderbolts, the opener, while dealing with a delivery angled into him, edged to leg-slip where Nathan Lyon took a stunning catch.

Australia smelt blood. Lyon would get company. Leg-gully and short-leg added to the crowd behind the batsman's back.

A short mid-on too was in place assoon as nightwatchman James Anderson and skipper Alastair Cook aimed to play out the next two and a half overs before stumps.

The second ball Anderson faced was clocked at 149 from Johnson and aimed at the ribs. In the next over, Harris softened up Anderson with similar deliveries. Cook too had to fend off balls that headed to his throat.

It was only his good fortune that saved him from the leg-side trap. Up in the commentary box the question was asked: Have we seen these fields since the 30s? The reference was made to the bodyline series. Clarke, though, was playing by the rules by having only two fielders in catching position in the arc between the wicket-keeper and the square-leg umpire.

Clarke could intimidate opponents because he had an express fast bowler in Johnson. South Africa during the Durban Test too adopted this approach as they too had bowlers who could bowl in high 140s.

... contd.

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