Geoffrey Boycott would not have been impressed by Theresa May’s batting. She kept playing and missing, and her run rate was not just slow, as Boycott’s often was.
For over half an hour she prodded at the bowling, sent the odd ball skidding off the bottom of her bat past the stumps, but scored not a single run and was lucky not to get herself out.
On a normal Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn can be relied on to send down a ludicrous quantity of wides and no-balls. Today he at least aimed his six medium-pace deliveries at the stumps, plugging away at the subject of what the Government thinks about the Customs Union, and this improvement in line and length was enough to have the Prime Minister in trouble.
He began by asking whether she agreed with the Foreign Secretary “that the plan for a customs partnership…is in fact ‘crazy’?”
May’s plan seems to be to agree with no one, but to avoid saying that she does not agree. Corbyn quoted something said by the Business Secretary which is incompatible with what the Foreign Secretary has said, and May declined to agree, or indeed disagree, with either of them.
In Corbyn’s next delivery, he quoted a reference by the Father of the House to “these wild right-wing people”. Ken Clarke gave a benevolent smile. He has long relished referring to his Eurosceptic parliamentary colleagues in that way, which is why they declined several opportunities to make him their leader.
May became leader because in the EU referendum she did not campaign with passion for either the Leave or the Remain side. In theory, she was a Remainer, but in practice she scored no runs at all for that team, nor even tried to score.
And this, it emerges, is an odd way to lead a country. As Corbyn said, one would have thought after 23 months she might have been able to negotiate an agreement with her own Cabinet.
He did turn her into a figure of fun. If Corbyn were a more brilliant debater, he could have humiliated her by making jokes about her at which her own backbenchers laughed. But he did manage to show up her indecisiveness.
The session was umpired by the Deputy Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, because the Speaker, John Bercow, was in Glasgow for the funeral of his predecessor, Michael Martin.
Hoyle produced a completely different atmosphere in the House, no longer tense with feeling between MPs and the chair, and also less raucous.
This relaxation did not favour May, who is by nature a tense performer, and was better for Corbyn, whose preferred style is laid-back.
Ian Blackford, for the Scots Nats, asked the Prime Minister if she would have “the backbone” to send Boris Johnson “to the backbenches”.
But no, there the Foreign Secretary was, sitting on the front bench and preparing to make a statement about Iraq, during which he found occasion, in response to a question from the Father of the House, to insist he is “completely in conformity” with Government policy on the Customs Union, “since that policy is yet to be decided”.