Ok I’m sorry but I had to get all the Onion-related puns out of the way before we move on, at least it kept the tabloid hacks busy for a few minutes. As did rumours that Phil Mustard and Ryan Sidebottom will join forces with Onions in an amusingly titled surname XI.
Puns aside, a victory for England within three days is something not to be sniffed at, even if it was to be expected. The early summer conditions and the lush green-tinged pitch was always going to favour England’s eager pack of seam bowlers. But still the boys had a job to do after the winter of discontent.
The England innings was, of course, dominated by Bopara. His cool, calm and collected innings of 143 is just what England needed if they want to have a settled batting line-up this summer. The other contenders have hardly been covering themselves in glory.
Of the bowlers, well Graham Onions will deservedly take many of the plaudits. After a nervy start a magic three-wicket over in the first innings set England on their way while a well executed inswinger removed Devon Smith’s middle stump in the second innings. He will smell more wickets in the second test, but will he have as much success against the Aussies?
A special mention also needs to go Graeme Swann. In his first home cricket international, he grabbed three crucial wickets in each innings as well as an impressive knock of 63. As much as I like Monty Panesar, his infectious enthusiasm for the game has won him a lot of fans, I feel Swann is a much more reliable option, his ability to hold a bat is a bonus too.
Tim Bresnan can consider himself a little unlucky to have bowled so few overs. But as England turned the screw on the tourists Strauss couldn’t afford to be sentimental. He should get his chance in the next game at Chester-Le-Street but whether he will remain in the side come July is much more uncertain.
So all in all a good three days’ work (spare a thought for the 20,000 people who had Saturday tickets, why did it have to start on Wednesday???) and the boys should go and seal a series win in the North-East.
But it should only be treated as a warm-up for the bigger challenges that lie ahead, after all the Windies didn’t put up much resistance – Lord’s in chilly May is a long way from Jamaica and it showed (just wait till they get to Durham!)
But after the winter we have had, it seems a safe cricket bet that any win is most welcome.