ADAM LYTH reacted to the umpire’s raised finger with the air of a man who hoped that the world hadn’t noticed what all the world had seen.
He walked sheepishly down the pitch towards the non-striker’s end, praying that Alastair Cook, his opening partner, would give him permission to review the decision that had just terminated his maiden Test innings, and that the cameras hadn’t captured the all-important evidence.
Lyth had pushed forward to a fine delivery from Tim Southee, the right-arm pace bowler, and got the faintest nick to wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
Deep down, Lyth knew that he had hit the ball and so did Cook and everyone watching.
“Sorry, Lythy, but I don’t think we can review that,” said Cook, or words to that effect.
Click on the video above to watch Ben Stokes discuss the first day’s play at Lord’s
“No, didn’t think so,” said Lyth, or words to that effect. “I’ll be on my way then, skip.”
And thus was recorded the scorecard entry: A. Lyth c Watling b Southee 7.
It was, however, an excellent seven – as much as sevens can ever be excellent.
“It is a strange thing to say,” reflected Michael Vaughan on the radio, “but Adam Lyth scored a good seven.
“He looked comfortable out there, but he got a good ball from Tim Southee. He likes to get on with it and score. But you look at basic things like footwork when people make their debut. Lyth’s looked the same as it did in county cricket.”
None of which would have been much consolation to the 27-year-old left-hander as he sloped back to the dressing room. Up on the pavilion balcony, Lyth could later be seen slowly removing his pads, his disappointment masked behind thick shades.
Test cricket can be a cruel game, a game where a player can look as good as he does every week playing for Yorkshire and then, just like that, be undone by a jaffa.
Thus Lyth learned one of the oldest of cricketing lessons.
Test cricket is hard, Test cricket is different, Test cricket is, quite literally, a different type of test.
Lyth showed enough during his 29 minutes at the crease, however, to suggest that he is more than good enough to rise to the challenge.
The 666th man to represent England (Lyth was presented with his cap before the start of play by England’s new director of cricket Andrew Strauss), he otherwise defended well, left impressively and produced four scoring strokes in his 17-ball stay.
On a picture-perfect Lord’s morning, with the sun beating down from a cobalt blue sky, Lyth had got off the mark first ball with a single to point off the left-armer Trent Boult.
Later, he clipped Southee for a single off his pads, got two runs for a neat tuck off the hips off Matt Henry – the pace bowler making his own Test debut – and then three runs for a tidy punch off Henry past mid-off.
But then Southee worked his magic.
Just when Lyth looked to have shaken off his early nerves and played himself in, despite having had little cricket of late due to being a drinks waiter on the West Indies tour, he got the ball that highlighted the gulf in class between Test and county cricket.
Lyth did not go hard at that ball, he did not chase it and he kept his head still.
He did little wrong, in fact, but when a ball has got your name on it, it has got your name on it, and Snickometer showed the tell-tale tremor that DRS would have confirmed.
No sooner had Lyth departed when his Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance also perished. Pushing forward without complete control, Ballance edged Boult to Southee, who took a fine diving catch to his left at third slip.
The ball had swung just enough to clip the outside edge, and Ballance had scored one from nine deliveries.
When Cook top-edged a pull to the wicketkeeper off Henry, who then produced a beauty to bowl Ian Bell, England were 30-4 after being sent into bat.
But Joe Root made it a much happier day from Yorkshire’s perspective when he combined in a fifth-wicket stand of 161 with Ben Stokes.
Stokes fell eight runs short of a hundred, and Root came even closer, reaching 98 before he was caught behind trying to hit Henry through the off-side to bring up his century.
It was a wonderful innings, and it would surely have increased Lyth’s determination to follow Root’s example in the second innings.