Rwanda in the Under 19 T20 World Cup

A look at Rwanda’s involvement in the inaugural Women’s U19 T20 World Cup, plus some recent photographs.

Greetings from the frozen wastes of West Norfolk – the freeze here has now got to the stage where Bawsey Drain is partially frozen over, never mind the ponds. In today’s post I look at a great story to emerge from the inaugural Womens U19 T20 World Cup, and make some suggestions for the future.

THE BIGGEST SUCCESS OF THE TOURNAMENT

Obviously in absolute terms this will belong to whoever ends up lifting the trophy, which will not be Rwanda, whose journey will end at the Super Six stage (England, New Zealand and India are all looking strong, and no one familiar with Australia in knock out stages would dare rule them out), but in relative terms, to reach the Super Six stage, and to win one match at that stage (v West Indies) on Rwanda’s resources far outranks any of the achievements of the big guns.

RWANDA’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

Rwanda are an excellent bowling side (Henriette Ishimwe, who took four wickets in four balls to seal the win over Zimbabwe had a comparatively quiet match in the Super Six win over West Indies, when the spinners dominated) but struggle with the bat – that great win over West Indies was achieved with only four wickets and two overs to spare even after dismissing their opponents very cheaply. If a side is going to be weak in one department I would prefer it to be batting, as a good bowling side can often make up for frailties with the bat, whereas there is nowhere to hide if your bowlers cannot do the job.

RWANDA GOING FORWARD

The top sides should make space for Rwanda in their schedules – more competition against them could only improve Rwanda. I would also like to see domestic competitions (Rachael Heyhoe-Flint trophy, Charlotte Edwards cup, The Hundred, The WBBL, and coming into existence later this month, the WIPL) include Rwandans among their overseas signings. There are a number of current Rwandan players who would be excellent value as an overseas signing in these leagues. A new nation with no prior cricketing heritage making its presence felt on the world stage can only be a good thing for those of who want the game we love to continue to grow and develop, and I give these young Rwandan women my heartfelt congratulations for their contribution to this tournament.

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Time for my usual sign off…

England U19 Women Start Super Sixes in the Same Vein as they Ended First Round

A brief bit about England’s great start to the Super Six stage of the inaugural U19 Women’s World Cup, and some photographs.

Today the Super Sixes stage of the inaugural Women’s Under 19 T20 World Cup got underway. England were in action against Ireland first up. A dominant batting performance, headlined by Grace Scrivens scoring 93, while Liberty Heap backed her up with 42, and with Seren Smale and Niamh Holland providing late cameos to boost the final total saw England rack up 207-2 from their 20 overs. England were equally dominant with the ball, with Hannah Baker (leg spin) and Sophia Smale (slow left arm) each collecting three cheap wickets. Ireland limped to 86 all out, and England had won by 121 runs, giving them a net RR of +6.050 as well as the two points for the win. The longer this tournament goes on the stronger this England side look. Full scorecard here.

SOPHIA AND SEREN SMALE

In spite of sharing a surname and both having forenames beginning with S Sophia and Seren Smale are apparently unrelated. Sophia, the left arm slow bowler, hails originally from Newport, Monmouthshire, while Seren, a keeper/batter was born in Wrexham, Denbighshire.

Sophia Smale has already had some success in The Hundred, but it is probably Seren Smale who has the easier route to full international honours – as a keeper and a good batter she has two ways of gaining recognition, while unless England opt to play two left arm slow bowlers (unusual in the modern era to put it mildly) in the same XI Sophia Smale has Sophie Ecclestone between her and full international recognition. Nonetheless, I hope and expect that both will gain full international honours.

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Even in the sub-zero temperatures that we are currently experiencing in King’s Lynn there are still plenty of opportunities for photography, so here is my usual sign off…

Events in the Womens U19 World Cup

A look at a couple of incidents from the inaugural Women’s Under 19 T20 World Cup and of course a photo gallery.

The inaugural Women’s Under 19 T20 World Cup is currently taking place in South Africa. 16 teams are involved, ranging from top tier cricketing nations like Australia, England and India to newcomers to the cricketing world stage such as Indonesia and Rwanda. In this post I look at two incidents from the tournament.

PAKISTAN V RWANDA – ROATeNSE STRIKES

For more about the ROATeNSE as I call it, please visit this post. This one happened near the end of the Rwanda innings, and attracted the usual howls of protest from those opposed to this form of dismissal (I have yet to meet a logical argument against it – it rarely if ever gets beyond “I don’t like it, so it shouldn’t happen.”). I note three things about this particular dismissal:

  1. The bowler ran in smoothly and only changed tack when noting as she was about to bowl that the non-striker was out of her ground.
  2. There was nothing marginal about it – the batter had her bat trailing behind her, and the toe end of that implement, closest part of bat or body to the crease line, was at least a foot out, possibly 18 inches, while the batter herself was at least a full yard beyond the crease line.
  3. This was not a situation in which an accusation of desperation (a popular tactic among opponents of the ROATeNSE) could be made – Rwanda had lost a lot of wickets and were headed for a poor score (Pakistan won easily in the end, with just over two overs to spare).

In addition to the above important points I also noticed (I saw a video clip of the incident) that the non-striker could see the bowler at all times and was still careless enough to stray out of her ground.

FOUR IN FOUR AND A CHANGE TO THE I XI

Today Rwanda were in action again, this time against Zimbabwe. They managed 119 from their 20 overs, and when Zimbabwe were 80-6 in response a close finish looked on. At that point Rwandan seamer Henriette Ishimwe took the last four wickets with consecutive balls giving Rwanda victory by 39 runs. When I did my all time XI series for each letter of the alphabet in the second half of 2022 the Is had a very weak seam combination, and this proof of Ishimwe’s skill is sufficient to induce a change – she replaces Anthony Ireland in that XI (she is also a useful lower order bat, whereas the Zimbabwean was a genuine number 11). That leads on to a question that crops whenever this wicket taking sequence happens:

IS IT A DOUBLE HAT TRICK?

Some people notice that the sequence WWWW contains two sets of three Ws – nos 1,2 and 3, and nos 2,3 and 4 and ignoring the fact that using this to call the sequence a double hat tricks means counting the second and third wickets twice (once in each hat trick) insist on referring to it as a double hat trick.

For me this is absolute nonsense – only four distinct wickets are taken, so it is four wickets in four balls, while a double hat trick would be six in six – two independent sequences of three in three in succession.

Additionally, the phrase hat trick exists because of a match that took place at the Hyde Park ground in Sheffield in the early 1850s. In that match Heathfield Harman Stephenson, captain of the itinerant All England XI, took three wickets with successive balls and the crowd were so impressed by his feat that they passed a hat around to collect money for him. Both hat and coins were presented to Stephenson. I doubt very much that a fourth successive wicket would have got the hat passed around again, but had Stephenson taken another three in succession either then or later it might well have been, and had another bowler matched his achievement it probably would have been.

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My usual sign off…

A Topsy-Turvy Melbourne Derby

A look at today’s Melbourne derby in the Big Bash League plus some photographs.

This morning’s live BBL radio commentary saw the two Melbourne sides, Renegades and Stars face one another. Stars following Heat’s win earlier were languishing at the bottom of the heap, Renegades one of a number of sides battling for qualification slots (Only Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers are genuinely comfortably placed to qualify).

THE RENEGADES INNINGS

Renegades batted first, and they started dreadfully, managing just 17-1 from their four overs of opening Power Play. They began to recover in overs 5-10, reaching 63-3 at the halfway stage of their innings. The second half of their innings was a massive improvement, a well timed Power Surge continuing the recovery, and then a magnificent late innings from Jonathan Wells helping to boost their final total to 161-7.

THE STARS RESPONSE

Stars began their reply sensationally, passing 80, with all their wickets standing in just the eighth over. Once the first wicket fell however, they were unable to maintain the momentum, and began to lose wickets at regular intervals. Not even the assistance of two balls hitting the closed roof of the stadium and being thus awarded six a piece did much for the second half of the Stars innings. A succession of overs in which runs weren’t scored and wickets fell ultimately saw the Stars needing 12 from the final over to win. Nick Larkin, the sole remaining batter of any substance, made a complete and utter mess of playing that final over. He declined singles off the first two balls, wishing to keept the strike for himself, but then took the single off the third, leaving a tailender on strike with 11 needed off three balls. A run out off the fourth ball did at least get Larkin back on strike, but 11 were now needed off two balls. Larkin hit the first for four. The final ball of the match was full, just wide of the stumps, but not enough so to be called a wide, and Larkin ridiculously failed even to get bat to it, the resultant dot giving Renegades victory by six runs, boosting their qualification hopes and pretty much exterminating such qualification hopes as Stars had still retained. Arguably Stars were favourites to win right until the start of the 19th over of their innings, at which point they needed 15. Good teams go all out to break the back of things with an over to spare in these circumstances, and it was really this over, with only three runs coming it from it that killed the Stars. This loss will be hard to recover from because Stars will know that they should have been comfortable winners.

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My usual sign off…

Miscellany

London Underground at 160 years old and a couple of cricket bits, plus some photographs.

I have a number of things to post about, and will cover them in order.

LONDON UNDERGROUND 160

On January the 10th 2023 London Underground, the oldest underground railway system in the world, turned 160. From a modest seven stations when what was then called the Metropolitan Railway opened (this section of track is now part of the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines, but only Great Portland Street to Farringdon feature today’s Metropolitan line (the Metropolitan line platforms at Baker Street, two terminal platforms and two through platforms are later additions after the network began to expand, while platforms 5-6 have been restored to look as close to the 1863 originals as feasible) the system has grown to almost 300 stations and over 250 miles of track. After the initial opening, the biggest development was the development of electric locomotives, which enabled the opening of lines running further below ground and built with less surface level disruption, making use of the blue clay on which London sits and the Greathead Shield. The first deep level tube line, the City & South London Railway, now part of the Northern line, opened in 1890.

Big Bash League

Yesterday (I missed today’s game because of an important meeting) Brisbane Heat took on Perth Scorchers. Heat looked set for a formidable total when they reached the halfway stage of their innings at 80-2, but a disastrous third quarter of the innings, including a Power Surge that they took at a sensible time but failed miserably to cash in on yielded 25-2, and even with a decent final quarter of their innings they mustered 155 from their 20 overs, respectable but not the truly formidable score that looked on at halfway. Scorchers began poorly in response, managing only 25-2 in the opening four overs, but Heat then blundered, entrusting the fifth over to part time leggie Marnus Labuschagne. No fewer than 20 runs were plundered from that over. Even so, at the halfway stage of the chase Scorchers were still fractionally behind the rate, being 75-2, needing 81 off the last ten. It was the third quarter of the Scorcher’s allocation that killed the game – where Heat had scored 25-2 from overs 11-15, Scorchers, who also took their Power Surge in this period, and in their case made excellent use of it, scored 60-0 from overs 11-15. The winning hit was a six, off the second ball of the 17th over, with the third wicket pair still together. Scorchers top the table, with a game in hand on their closest challengers as well, while Heat are currently stone last, though they have a game in hand on the team immediately above them.

AUSTRALIA CANCEL TOUR OF AFGHANISTAN

Australia were due to tour Afghanistan but have cancelled that tour in protest at the activities of the Taliban. This has caused considerable controversy, but I, old enough to remember South Africa’s isolation (caused by racial rather than sexual discrimination, though I suspect the likes of Balthazar Johannes Vorster were as misogynist as they were racist) am entirely in favour of the move (please note that individual South Africans were allowed to play in domestic competitions around the world, they were just not allowed to compete under the banner of South Africa) and hope that other countries will stand up to be counted.

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My usual sign off…

The ROATeNSE

My take on a form of dismissal that is quite wrongly deemed controversial. Run outs at the non-striker’s end are a form of dismissal fully sanctioned by the laws of cricket.

The title of this post refers to the running out of a non-striker who backs up too far too early (Run Out AT The Non-Strikers End with the lower case e slipped in to make it pronounceable – ROA (as in road) – TeNSE. When someone effects this form of dismissal there is always a lot of controversy, with many seeing it as sharp practice while others recognize it for what it is, a form of dismissal which has full sanction under the laws of cricket and for which the batter, and the batter alone is to blame. I look at in more detail in the rest of this post.

NOMENCLATURE

This type of dismissal is often termed a ‘Mankad’, which derives from Mulvantrai Himmatlal ‘Vinoo’ Mankad of India, who was the first to make such a dismissal in a test match. Surviving members of the Mankad family are split on the issue, with a grandson having recently declared in favour of the use of the term and a son having even more recently declared against it. My own feeling is that one of the foremost of all test match all rounders (reached the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets at that level in just 23 matches, a figure bettered only by Ian Botham who got there in 21) is ill-served by being chiefly known for his association with this type of dismissal, and also using the fact that he was the first to do it in a test match conceals the long history of this type of dismissal, going back at least to the 1830s and 40s when one Thomas Barker (Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire) did it a number of times in matches at various levels. The serious alternative to ROATeNSE for me is “bowler’s stumping”, putting it on a par with a keeper stumping a striker who misses the ball when out of their ground.

A FAILED ROATeNSE

Some of those opposed to this mode of dismissal claim it requires little skill, so I now mention a recent Big Bash League incident involving Australian leg spinner Adam Zampa. Zampa was into his delivery stride when he altered course and attempted to run out an encroaching non-striker, but it was given not out because his arm was beyond the vertical – he made his decision a fraction too late. Zampa, in defiance of the opinions publicly expressed by coach David Hussey, refused to apologize for his actions, insisting rightly that he had been correct to go for the dismissal. The fact that the mode of dismissal can be fluffed shows that it does require skill.

A SUGGESTED REWORDING

In order for greater clarity I would change the wording of the section of the laws devoted to this dismissal, ruling that until the ball has actually been released the bowling crease belongs to the bowler, and the non-striker leaves it at their own risk. This form of dismissal is part of the game and will remain so – batters need to learn that even at the non-strikers end they need to keep their eyes on the bowler and not make an early move out of their ground, and to accpet being run out if they leave themselves open to this form of dismissal. A few months ago Deepti Sharma (India) dismissed Charlie Dean (England) by this means in an international match. My sympathies were entirely with the bowler: not only had Dean been serially leaving her ground early when at the non-strikers end (over 70 times in her innings), her offending had grown worse following the dismissal of Amy Jones which made her senior partner, and Deepti Sharma just before the over in which the dismissal occurred had spoken to the Indian captain, so Dean really should have been alert to the fact that such a dismissal was on the cards.

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Heat’s Horror Day

A look at today#s BBL game, and how Brisbane Heat got absolutely blown apart by the team who came into today bottom of the table.

Today in the Big Bash League Brisbane Heat took on Sydney Thunder, with both sides desperate for a win.

THE HEAT INNINGS

Jimmy Peirson won the toss for Brisbane Heat and decided that they would bat first. This was the first and only thing that went right for them all match.

After six overs they were limping at 26-3. Peirson joined Munro for a rebuilding act at that point, and the pair were still together at the end of the 14th over, and the scoring rate was still below six an over. Time for the Power Surge you would think, but Peirson bottled taking it. A few balls into the 15th over Peirson was out and the chance of taking the Surge with two well set batters together had gone. In the end Peirson’s cowardice resulted in Heat’s Power Surge being the last two overs of their innings, with six wickets down. Unsurprisingly in those circumstances they did little with it, and ended with a final total of 121-6. In a T20, even on a pitch that is not particularly batter friendly that kind of score should never be enough…

THE THUNDER INNINGS

…Sydney Thunder’s openers, Gilkes and Hales, immediately put Heat’s pathetic effort in to proper context. By the halfway stage of the innings they were 87-0, needing just 35 more to win. A brutal onslaught against Swepson in the 11th over reduced that target to 10 off nine overs, and three fours in four balls by Hales off Steketee in the next over completed a ten wicket win for Thunder with 50 balls to spare. Gilkes, Sydney Thunder’s keeper as well as one of their opening batters, was named Player of the Match, having scored 56* (34) to Hales’ 59* (36). Sydney Thunder won so comprehensively that Peirson bungling the timing of Brisbane Heat’s Power Surge probably did no more than increase the severity of the beating that Heat took, but nevertheless it was terrible captaincy by him. I personally thought he should have called it at the end of the 12th by when he and Munro had been together six overs, and not calling it at the end of the 13th or the end of the 14th, when the pair were still together was beyond stupid. It is hard to see how Heat pick themselves up from this blasting at the hands of the team who came into today bottom of the table, and it is hard to see how Peirson can be allowed to remain captain. Scorecard here.

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My usual sign off…

Strikers and Renegades lose unbeaten records in successive days

A look at developments in the Big Bash League, including yet another example of a Power Surge blunder.

Today Hobart Hurricanes beat Melbourne Renegades by eight runs, a result that means every team in the Big Bash League has won at least one match and suffered at least one defeat. However as I was only able to follow that game by way of cricinfo and therefore have only a fragmentary picture of it I shall say nothing further about it. Yesterday’s match, between Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat, in which the former lost their own unbeaten record is a different matter, as there was radio commentary on that one.

THE BRISBANE HEAT INNINGS

Having won the toss and decided to bat Heat did not start well, but Sam Billings played a superb knock. They also took their two over Power Surge (see here for my thoughts on this) at a sensible time. They reached 166-7 in the end, with Billings scoring 79.

ANOTHER POWER SURGE MESS UP

Strikers were behind the rate right through the chase, but would probably have won had they taken any of three opportunities to claim the Power Surge with Colin de Grandhomme and Thomas Kelly at the crease. These opportunities would have been claiming the Surge for overs 13-14, 14-15 or 15-16. Failure to take it for the first was semi-defensible, the second failure was crazy and the third downright criminal. Strikers’ exceedingly experienced skipper Peter Siddle should have got a message out to the two batters instructing them to take the Power Surge once they had twice failed to do so. In the event Kelly fell in the 15th over, De Grandhomme in the 16th, with the Surge still unused, which left only lower order batters for the Strikers. Strikers never did get on terms with the required run rate, and it was only Siddle hitting the last ball of the match for six, with the result already settled, that kept the margin to six runs. Michael Neser bowled an excellent 19th over for the Heat, basically closing out the match for them, and finishing with 2-23 from his four overs. Mark Steketee took four wickets but was also expensive. However, batters usually get favoured when there is competition for the Player of the Match award, and so unsurprisingly it went to Billings for his knock. This was the third time in as many days that a team being over cautious about going for the Power Surge were punished by losing the match. In the situation the Strikers were in it was essential to take the Surge when De Grandhomme and Kelly were together. I would have preferred an out and out throw down of the gauntlet, taking it for overs 11 and 12 to the actual over-caution shown by the players. Only Peter Siddle, as experienced as he is, will know why when they weren’t claiming it for themselves he did not attempt to get a message out to the two batters telling them that they needed to do so.

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My usual sign off…

Power Surges

A look at the Big Bash League’s great innovation, the Power Surge and how best to use it, with a couple of classic examples of it being misused on successive days.

With the Big Bash League now in full swing this post is dedicated to that competition’s great innovation, the Power Surge (they had two others but have binned both the ‘supersub’ and the ‘Bash Boost Point’). I am writing it because yesterday and today I saw two classic examples of mistiming the Power Surge, whereas in the WBBL earlier this year the sides were nearly all excellent at judging when to go for it.

WHAT IS A POWER SURGE?

Most T20 innings around the world begin with six overs of ‘Power Play’, when only two fielders are allowed to be posted more than 30 yards from the bat and then have 14 overs of regular play when up to five fielders can be outside that 30 yard radius. The Power Surge variation, which I am a huge supporter of, has the innings start with four overs of Power Play, with the remaining two to be taken at the batting side’s discretion at any point after the end of the 10th over.

WHEN SHOULD THE POWER SURGE BE TAKEN?

There are a range of good answers depending on exact circumstances but the key thing to remember is that a successful Power Surge is not just about how many runs you score from those overs, it is about how many more runs you score from those overs than you would have done in regular play. Therefore using it in the ‘death overs’, when you would be scoring very fast anyway is not making full use of it. Ideally you would want both batters to have faced at least a few balls by calling for the Power Surge but if by the end of the 15th over you have not found a really suitable time to take it then take it for overs 16-17 irrespective of anything else, as a launchpad into the death overs.

POWER SURGE FAIL 1: JIMMY PEIRSON (BRISBANE HEAT)

Brisbane Heat made an awful start to yesterday’s match against Melbourne Renegades, losing three early wickets. However at the end of the 10th over, the fourth wicket partnership was still going, and this represented the golden opportunity to take the Power Surge with two set batters there to make use of it. Both batters fell in the 11th over, meaning a spot of retrenchment was needed. At the end of the 14th over the sixth wicket stand was still going, both batters had faced a reasonable number of balls, and this represented what will call the silver opportunity to take the Power Surge – both batters in to an extent, and enough overs left for the Surge to act as a good launch pad. Peirson neglected to call for it, and the partnership was broken in the 15th over. Peirson dithered and delayed over the Power Surge, and only took it when obliged to for the last two overs of the innings. Those two overs did yield a respectable number of runs, but not in my opinion any more than overs 19 and 20 would with regular field placements. Heat finished with 137-8. This looked a good total when Renegades were 9-4 in response, but Andre Russell and Akeal Hosein played excellent innings, while Finch anchored the innings at the other end. Renegades timed their Power Surge better than Heat, and Finch after playing second fiddle to Russell and Hosein stepped up at the death to see his side to a deserved victory.

POWER SURGE FAIL 2: MATT WADE (HURRICANES)

Today’s match (Sydney Sixers v Hobart Hurricanes) was complicated by a long rain delay, which reduced it to a 14 overs per side contest, and reduced the Power Play and Power Surge allocations to three and one overs respectively. Sixers won the toss, batted first, and although they missed a golden opportunity, when both openers were still there at the end of the seventh over, they did take a silver opportunity, taking it for the 11th over of their innings. They finished with 137-6 from their 14 overs. Hurricanes dropped behind the rate from the start of their innings, but were incredibly reluctant to use their Surge over. Eventually, they claimed it for the 13th over, but by then they needed 45 off two overs, and although Asif Ali made good use of that Surge Over, 21 were still needed off the final over. When an excellent boundary catch by Jordan Silk put a stop to Ali’s antics early in the final over the writing was on the wall, and only a six off the last ball of the match with it already lost restricted the final margin to six runs. Again the criticism of the Hurricanes approach is that Ali could easily have gone crazy in the penultimate over of the match against regular field placings, and had they taken the Power Surge earlier they may have been in a position when a big penultimate over would actually have put them in charge.

AN ALL TIME FRANCHISE XI

Since I am writing about franchise cricket, which I don’t do all that often I end with a challenge and an example answer: Using your own country as the home country and IPL overseas player rules (i.e. up to four in an XI) name your franchise XI made up exclusively of players from before the franchise era.

Thomas’ sample answer:

Home Country: England

XI in batting order:

  1. G St A Sobers (West Indies, left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, gun fielder)
  2. G L Jessop (Right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, gun fielder)
  3. F E Woolley (Left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder).
  4. D C S Compton (Right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner)
  5. *K R Miller (Australia, right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, gun fielder, captain)
  6. +L E G Ames (right handed batter, keeper)
  7. G H Hirst (right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler, gun fielder)
  8. J B King (United States, right arm fast bowler, right handed batter)
  9. J C Laker (off spinner, right handed batter)
  10. A Shaw (right arm slow/medium bowler, right handed batter)
  11. C V Grimmett (Australia, leg spinner, right handed batter)

Feel free to comment with your own XIs.

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Time for my usual sign off…

England’s Clean Sweep in Pakistan

A look back at the events of the third Pakistan v England test, which ended in the early hours of yesterday morning UK time.

At just about 5:40AM UK time yesterday Ben Duckett smashed a four to take England from 166-2 to 170-2 in the final innings of the test series in Pakistan, and in so doing created a piece of cricket history – no visiting side had ever won a clean sweep in a three+ match series in Pakistan until that moment. This post looks back at the events of the third match of the series (I covered the first two matches extensively already) and then at the key moments of this extraordinary series.

THIRD TEST: DAY ONE

Rehan Ahmed was given a debut for England, and Ben Foakes was recalled to the XI, Will Jacks and James Anderson being rested. For Pakistan Nauman Ali played in place Zahid Mahmood. Babar Azam won the toss and decided to bat, which looked like good news for Pakistan. Pakistan scored 304, with various players making useful runs but no one getting a massive score, and by the close England had lost Crawley. Nevertheless, England would have considered getting Pakistan all out on day one a good day’s work.

DAY TWO

England looked to be struggling at 145-5, when Ben Foakes joined Harry Brook, but a big stand between these two and some useful contributions from the rest of the order saw England to 354, a first innings advantage of 50. Pakistan were 21-0 by the close.

DAY THREE

This was the day the fate of the match was settled. Pakistan were 54-3 at one point, all three wickets to Leach to give him seven in the match. Then Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel shared a century stand. The key turning point came when Babar Azam smashed a slow long hop from Rehan Ahmed straight to Pope at midwicket. From then on the Pakistan middle and lower order imploded, a combination of poor shots from them and good work from England seeing a high water mark of 164-3 turn into 216 all out. Rehan Ahmed had 5-48 and Joe Root nabbed a wicket with his occasional off spin. Rehan Ahmed’s debut match figures of 7-137 were the best such by an England leg spinner since Charles ‘Father’ Marriott took 11-96 v West Indies at The Oval in 1933. Marriott, then 37 and a part time cricketer (he worked as a schoolmaster and turned out for Kent in the summer holidays) never played for England again, Ahmed should do so on many occasions. Leach’s seven wickets with his left arm spin were enough to make him the leading test wicket taker of 2022.

England needed 167 to win and there were 17 overs to be bowled that evening. Traditional test thinking would suggest a cautious approach and looking to get through without losing any wickets, but Crawley and Duckett set off at a merry pace. When Crawley was out Stokes made a typical Stokes move – the events of Pakistan’s second innings suggested that this was Rehan Ahmed’s day, so Stokes sent him in at number three. This divided opinion among those following the match – some, like me, thought it was superb, others grumbled about it being disrespectful to Pakistan. It had limited success, Ahmed making a rapid 10, but I think it was right nevertheless. In 1986 when John Bracewell scored his maiden test hundred against England, NZ skipper Jeremy Coney tossed him the ball that evening although it was earlier in the England innings than he would usually have deployed his off spinner, and was rewarded with a wicket – it was Bracewell’s day. Stokes then went in himself for the remainder of the evening. Stokes and Duckett played well together and England closed on 112-2, 55 short of victory. I thought, as I said in my post on Monday that this was far preferable to 40-0.

DAY FOUR

Stokes and Duckett never looked like doing anything other than knocking the runs off and the main focus of interest soon became whether Ben Stokes could hit his 108th career test match six, thereby breaking the record held by England head coach Brendon McCullum. The answer to that was no, and with McCullum’s native New Zealand being England’s next opponents the two are tied on 107 sixes in test cricket. England won by eight wickets, with among those not to bat in the innings being Root (thin series but still England’s finest), Brook (soon to collect both the Player of the Match and Player of the Series awards) and Pope. This time last year a rabble of an England test team were being obliterated in Australia, and if you had told me that 12 months on an England test side would be winning 3-0 away from home without Root scoring many runs I would have laughed outright.

PLAYER RATINGS

These my England player ratings in batting order:

Zak Crawley 4 – failed in the first innings, made a half decent score in the second.

Ben Duckett 8 – a comparative failure first up (26), but 82* in the final innings rounded out an excellent comeback series for him.

Ollie Pope 6.5 – a 50 in the only innings in which he batted, and although he was gifted it by a terrible shot from the batter his catch to dismiss Babar Azam and start the implosion of the Pakistan second innings was a good one.

Joe Root 5 – a duck in the only innings in which he batted, but three wickets for him across the two Pakistan innings count for something.

Harry Brook 9 – a superb century which pulled England out of some strife in the first innings. He had a superb series and should be part of the England test side for many years to come.

Ben Stokes 8.5 – a fairly quiet match for Stokes the player (26 and 35* with the bat, eight overs for 20 with the ball) though that second innings carried England to victory, but a fantastic match for Stokes the captain.

Ben Foakes 7.5 – a good and much needed 50 in the only innings in which he was needed to bat, and impeccable as ever behind the stumps.

Rehan Ahmed 8.5 – had a great time with the ball, and an entertaining one as “night hawk” in the final innings. His success bodes well for England’s future.

Ollie Robinson 6 – a useful contribution with the bat in England’s first innings, and didn’t do a lot wrong with the ball, though this was never a surface to suit him and his light workload reflects that fact.

Mark Wood 7 – an entertaining cameo with the bat, and on a surface that offered nothing to a fast bowler he gave it everything he had every time he was asked to bowl.

Jack Leach 7 – England’s work horse in this match – 57 overs across the two innings yielded him combined figures of 7-212 and his scalps included Abdullah Shafique (who had made a splendid start to his test career until this match) in both innings and Shan Masood and Azhar Ali (giving the latter a Bradman-like end to his career – bowled for a duck by an English spinner who batted at number 11) in the second – four of his seven scalps thus coming from the top three in the Pakistan order.

SERIES KEY MOMENTS

  1. Day one – England score 500 in 75 overs. This set a template for attacking cricket, and indicated that England weren’t about to just settle for an all round boosting of batting averages on a flat pitch.
  2. Day four – THAT declaration – Stokes sets Pakistan 343 in four sessions, albeit knowing that the light will be truncating the first and fourth of those sessions.
  3. Day five – England keep pressing, and claim the final wicket with maybe 1.3 overs left before the light closed proceedings.
  4. Second test day one – England attack on a turner. Many criticized England’s approach in the first innings of this match, but they managed 281 from 51.4 overs, and my own belief is that they would have made many fewer runs had they been obsessed with batting time. England went on to win, as a fourth innings target of over 350 proved too much for Pakistan.
  5. Third test day one – England bowl Pakistan out in less than a day after the latter have chosen to bat.
  6. Day two – England bounce back from 145-5 to claim a first innings lead of 50.
  7. Day three – Rehan Ahmed takes five wickets as Pakistan slump from 164-3 to 216 all out, England knock off two thirds of their victory target in the 17 overs they have to face that evening.
  8. Day four – Stokes and Duckett carry England to an eight wicket victory, Duckett making the winning hit, which means that England whose total tally of test match wins in Pakistan prior to this series totalled two had secured a 3-0 win in this series.

PHOTOGRAPHS

These pictures are split – I left the camera I took them with at work on Thursday, which was the peak of the freeze and retrieved it yesterday. To further increase the variation there are some night time pictures there…