A brief account of today’s second #INDvENG ODI, telling the story of a remarkable chase.
This post is an account of the match that has just finished in Pune.
Morgan and Billings were both injured, being replaced by Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone, while Reece Topley came in for Mark Wood, leaving England without an out and out speedster. For India Shreyas Iyer was injured and Rishabh Pant was selected in his place. Stand in skipper Jos Buttler won the toss and decided that England would bowl, which at the time looked questionable.
THE INDIAN INNINGS
India started steadily, and built through the middle overs. Rashid Khan and Moeen Ali both bowled reasonably well but neither looked like getting wickets, and after 40 overs India were 210-3. Then, as in match one, England had a horror show in the final ten overs, as the Indian score mushroomed to 336-6. Though he picked up a couple of wickets among the mayhem Tom Curran has surely bowled his last for England. Moeen Ali was economical, but never looked like taking a wicket. India’s total looked formidable.
Roy and Bairstow got England away to a strong start, but when Roy was out the game was far from settled either way. Ben Stokes came in at no3, and reached 50 from 40 balls, though he was a trifle fortunate to be given the benefit of the doubt on a very close run out caused by the fact that he had failed to realize the danger and was jogging rather than running full pelt. Having got himself a start Stokes proceeded to go absolutely berserk, blasting 49 from his next 11 balls before edging one behind to miss out on a century by the narrowest of margins. Bairstow and Buttler fell in quick succession, but England were so far ahead of the rate that even losing three wickets so quickly was barely a set back. Some solid blows from debutant Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan took England home, Malan enjoying one moment of good fortune when an edged shot flew through third man for four – had India posted anyone in the slip area they would probably have been in business. I will draw a veil over the Indian bowling figures, none of which their owners would wish to be publicised. Hardik Pandya, supposed tn be an all rounder, was not called upon to bowl while his team mates took horrendous punishment. England had 6.3 overs as well as six wickets to spare when they completed the task and levelled the series.
England need to find a way of not being destroyed in the final ten overs – it has happened in both matches this series, though they made up for it today with the bat. They also have a virtual obligation to select leg spinner Matt Parkinson for the final game, given that he has been in bio-secure bubbles since January and played no cricket. India have a quandary in the spin bowling department – Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya were both slaughtered today. Also there are questions about their batting in the first 40 overs – it is not great to be reliant on a massive burst in the final 10, especially when it is not guaranteed that said burst will be enough: they scored 126 in overs 41-50 inclusive today and England made the chase look like an absolute cake walk. Sunday’s grand finale starts at 9:00AM UK time (an hour later than the first two games because British Summer Time kicks in overnight between Saturday and Sunday, with 12:59AM becoming 2:00AM as the clocks move forward an hour).
A brief account of England’s impressive victory in the first T20I at Ahmedabad and some photographs.
The T20I series between Indian and England got underway at Ahmedabad, where all five fixtures will be played, at 1:30 UK time this afternoon. This post tells the story of that match.
A GREAT TEAM BOWLING PERFORMANCE
England won the toss and put India in. Somewhat surprisingly they omitted Moeen Ali, relying on one spinner (Adil Rashid), with Archer, Wood, Jordan, Curran and Stokes their other bowling options. India were on the back foot right from the start, with Adil Rashid going for only two runs in the opening over, Jofra Archer opening from the other end with a wicket maiden and then Rashid claiming the prize scalp of Kohli in his second over. In the end, as every England bowler produced the goods only Shreyas Iyer, whose selection for the game was not universally popular among Indian fans, with a splendid 67 off 47 balls contributed anything of note. Axar Patel scored seven off the final three balls of the innings, but the final total was only 124-7, which did not look defensible. Archer had 3-23 from his four overs.
At the IPL auction a few weeks ago Jason Roy went unsold, which may well have been in his mind, along with rumblings about a possible recall for Alex Hales who has been in stellar form of late (leading run scorer in BBL10) as he and Jos Buttler walked out to open England’s reply. Buttler scored 27 off 24 balls, slow by his standards, but valuable in the context of the match. Roy played magnificently, before being pinned LBW for 49, at which point it was 89-2, and England were so far ahead of the run rate that even a major collapse would probably not have derailed them. As it was Bairstow, in at no 4, scored an unbeaten 26 off 17, while Malan, the world no1 rated T20I batter, was also unbeaten from his regular slot at no3, with 24 off 20. England had eight wickets and 27 balls to spare when Malan hit the winning six. Deservedly, given that he was the best of the bunch, and it was the bowlers who put England in complete control of the match Archer’s 4-1-23-3 has earned him Player of the Match.
This is match one of a five match series, but England have been hugely impressive and must surely now be favourites to justify their world no1 ranking in this format by winning the series. I expect India to come out fighting in the next game, but England look just too strong for them. With a World T20 coming up in this part of the world England look like putting down a serious marker for that event.
Three all-time England T20XIs selected with differing criteria in response to a twitter challenge from The Cricket Men, some photographs and a video.
This post is a response to a challenge thrown out on twitter yesterday by The Cricket Men. I have extended their brief, and rather than one XI will be naming three: one made up exclusively of T20 players, one which features two past greats who methods I believe would have been especially suited to T20, and one which is made up entirely of past greats.
CONVENTIONAL T20 XI
Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. An explosive batter, just right for opening a T20 innings.
+Jos Buttler – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Possibly the finest limited overs batter England have ever had, and a shoo-in for this XI.
Dawid Malan – left handed batter, occasional left arm spinner. Officially the highest rated T20I batter ever, with 915 points following his amazing series against South Africa.
Jonny Bairstow – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. One of the most devastating of short form batters around. His 86 not out in the first match of the series against South Africa first kept England in the contest and then led them to victory.
Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Explosive with the bat, and a golden arm with the ball, though probably seventh bowler in this combination.
Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. A must for this XI.
Sam Curran – left handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler. His stocks went through the roof in this year’s IPL, and his performances against South Africa confirmed his advancement.
Chris Woakes – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A big hitting batter and a crafty operator with the ball.
Adil Rashid – right handed batter, leg spinner. He is superb in this form of the game, economical with the ball even when he is not picking up wickets.
*Graeme Swann – right handed batter, off spinner. I preferred him to Moeen Ali for the second spinner’s role because he was a much better bowler, although not as good in his secondary role.
Jofra Archer – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. With all due respect to Messrs Flintoff and Stokes, likely sixth and seventh bowlers in this combination, we need some genuine pace at our disposal, and for me Archer is the man to provide it
PAST GREATS INTO THE MIX
My second XI involves the addition of two blasts from the past who I consider would have been particularly effective in this format:
*Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Jessop was the fastest scoring top line batter the game has ever seen, and bear in mind that for most of his career a ball had to go right out of the ground as opposed to just over the ropes to count six. He was also a highly skilled quick bowler who once bowled unchanged through a first class innings conceding just three runs (v Northants in 1907, in a total of 12 all out – George Dennett 8-9, Jessop 2-3). Finally, he was what is now termed a ‘gun’ fielder to the extent that most reckonings of his contribution in this department have him effectively coming to the crease already 30 not out. I have also named him as captain, a job he did for Gloucestershire for some years.
Derek Underwood – right handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. He was famously miserly at the bowling crease, and his style of bowling, with taking the pace of the ball so often being desirable at T20, would seem well suited to this format.
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
My final selection comprises entirely players from the past:
*WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of varying types, excellent close catcher, captain. With his range of skills and forceful personality he just has to feature.
Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant fielder. His attacking brilliance with the bat makes him well suited to the no3 slot in this team and he would also be full value in the field.
Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. Capable of scoring all round the wicket.
+Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. In the 1930s the Walter Lawrence trophy, awarded to the scorer of the fastest first class hundred of the English season, was launched. In two of it’s first three seasons it went to Les Ames, the only recognized keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds. He holds the record for career first class stumpings – 418 of them in total.
Percy Fender – right handed batter, leg spinner. The scorer of the fastest competitive first class century (35 minutes vs Northants, there have been a few instances of players getting to the mark quicker against bowlers deliberately feeding them runs to bring about a declaration), a brilliant fielder, and a regular wicket taker. Also, although no one could usurp the mighty WG for the captaincy, I acknowledge his skills in this area by naming him vice captain of the XI.
George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest all rounders ever to play the game, and his attacking approach would be well suited to short form cricket. Like Jessop he was what we now call a ‘gun’ fielder, in his case usually patrolling mid off.
Billy Bates – right handed batter, off spinner. He had a remarkable record, including a 55 and two seven-fors in the same test match, at Melbourne in 1883. Playing for the Players against the Gentlemen in 1881 he had a spell of 17 overs for eight runs (so much for those carefree, all-attacking amateurs!), so he could certainly keep it tight.
Bill Lockwood – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Variation of pace was mentioned in the context of certain earlier bowlers, notably Alfred Shaw and the Australia FR Spofforth, but the first bowler about whom the phrase ‘slower ball’ was regularly used was this man, and his version appears to have been the deadliest to see the light of day until Franklyn Stephenson came on the scene almost a century later. Given the role the slower balls play in the armoury of T20 bowlers I suggest that one of the great early masters of the craft has to be included.
William Mycroft – right handed batter, left arm fast bowler. His extraordinary record (863 wickets in 138 first matches at 12.09 apiece), the fact that he could move the ball as well as propel it at great pace and his the fact that he bowled left handed all militate in his favour.
BRIEF ANALYSES OF THE XIS
My pure T20 squad has good batting depth, with everyone in it having some degree of skill with the bat, and seven genuine bowling options. It is well equipped to handle every challenge and would give a good account of itself.
The second squad has even greater bowling depth, and although it features one genuine tailender in Underwood the bowling depth is awesome.
My final offering, the blasts from the past combination, is simply awesome, with recognized batting talent all the way down to Lockwood at no9, and so much depth and variety in the bowling that Compton, by no means poor in that department, would probably be 10th choice bowler on most surfaces.
A FEW OF THE MISSING
These names all relate to the blasts from the past. Alfred Shaw, the man who bowled more first class overs than he conceded runs, was one I would have loved to include, while two fast medium bowlers who hit the ball miles when they batted, Jim Smith of Middlesex and Arthur Wellard of Somerset also commanded attention but could not quite get in. Cecil Parkin of Lancashire, with his penchant for bowling six different types of delivery per over, would have been good in T20, and I nearly selected him ahead of Bates. The great SF Barnes would have been formidable at any form of the game but I think he would have found being limited to four overs per innings insupportable, so he missed out. Some of you will doubtless have your own ideas, and I hope you will post them in the comments.
A very contrasting set of photographs, featuring yesterday’s snow and today’s far more benign weather.
To finish, here is a video of the snow falling yesterday (a rare happening in King’s Lynn):
The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, with some comment on the MCC v Surrey macth and some photographs.
Welcome to this latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, which I type just as coverage of an IPL game between Rajasthan Royals and The Kings XI Punjab gets underway. Today I conclude the coverage of my fifth XI and introduce the sixth XI in batting order. I will start my coverage of that XI with the bowlers for a reason that will be explained when I introduce the squad. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the fifth XI can be found here and the most recent post in the series can be found here. Before I get into the main meat of my post there is a bit of cricket to report on…
POPE AND SMITH PUT SURREY IN CONTROL AGAINST MCC
Surrey finished day 2 of the MCC v Champion County match in Dubai on 389-4, 124 ahead with six first innings wickets still standing. The architects of this unassailable looking position were Olly Pope with a career best 183 not out and debutant wicketkeeper Jamie Smith who had already impressed with the gloves, who was 123 not out by the close. Their partnership was worth an unbroken 245, a record stand for any wicket for Surrey v MCC. Smith needs two more runs tomorrow to set a new record for someone making their first-class debut for Surrey. He is still some way short of the all-time debutant’s record, 240 by a South African named Eric Marx. Pope has already had full England experience and would appear likely to get more in the not too distant future, while Smith has a ton in an under-19 international to his credit, and on the evidence of his innings today against a decent attack who had started the day well (Sam Cook took two wickets early on, and MCC captain Stuart Broad – a man with over 430 test wickets to his credit – also bowled well early on) may well be a candidate for full international honours as well. What should Surrey’s plan be for tomorrow (day three of four)? I would say all out attack with the bat in the morning session, and if not all out by then declare at lunch with what would be a huge lead and get stuck in to the MCC second innings. It is now time to for the business part of this post, starting with…
THE FIFTH XI SPIN BOWLERS
My spin bowlers for this squad are an off-spinner and a leg-spinner respectively, giving good variation. One was a great of the early 2000s, the other is a late developer who has only recently begun to establish himself at the highest level. I deal with them in chronological order, beginning with…
417 test wickets, albeit at a slightly expensive 32.46 each, are impressive bowling credentials. His performances against Australia in 2001, when he virtually won India a series against them were simply extraordinary, and when England visited India around the same time they were equally at sea against him. For a brief period in the early 2000s he was probably second only to the amazing Murali (mentioned in this post) among offspinners.
Only 60 test wickets at an average of 39.83, although his ODI record (128 wickets at 29.74, economy rate 5.58) is good. However, his recent performances since his somewhat controversial recall to the test ranks have been good, including his first five-for at that level, as England’s spinners outdid Sri Lanka’s in the latter’s backyard. England have not produced many internationally successful legspinners down the years – among English bowlers of this type only Doug Wright has as many as 100 test wickets, and he paid 39 a piece for them. Scottish born leggie Ian Peebles’45 test wickets at 30.93 included that of Bradman on two occasions (Peebles went on to become one of the better writers about the game). Tich Freeman (he was only 5’2″ tall), second leading wicket taker in first-class history with 3,776 at 18.42 was only asked to play for his country on 12 occasions, capturing 66 wickets at that level at 25.86 each. Adil Rashid is therefore faring better than most English legspinners, and I believe that he still has a few good years left in him.
THE FAST BOWLERS
It is now time to focus on my new-ball pairing, an Aussie combo featuring serious pace from one end and unrelenting accuracy from the other. We will start with…
310 test wickets at just over 30 a piece. At Trent Bridge in 2005 he caused nerves in the England camp after a match that the latter had largely dominated. England got home on that occasion, the margin being three wickets, but Lee’s bowling in the final innings with only 129 to defend certainly caused a few nerves. In the final match of that amazing series at The Oval he came off second best when a blistering post-lunch spell to Kevin Pietersen was met with spectacular and very successful aggression from the batter.
In the only Ashes series on which he was part of a losing combination Glenn McGrath (563 test wickets at 21.64) was out injured for both of the matches that his team lost, and this is no coincidence. In the first match at Lord’s England bowled Australia out for 190 and things seemed to be looking good for the home side. McGrath produced an opening burst of 5-2 to make things look very different, and Australia ended up winning by 239 runs, although Pietersen made two fifties on his test debut for one English positive. When Australia went to the Caribbean in 1995 (The West Indies were still a mighty fine side then) McGrath said before the series started that the Australian fast bowlers needed to give their West Indian counterparts a hard time, which was a brave statement from a genuine no 11 who knew he would be a sitting duck for any retaliation on their part. Australia, due in no small part to regularly dismissing the West Indies lower order cheaply went on to take the series, the first side to do that against the West Indies since 1980. From then until the end of McGrath’s career in the 5-0 whitewash Ashes of 2006/7 Australia dominated the world game, and he was one of the chief reasons why.
This is my XI that features a West Indian pace quartet – an intention that I have mentioned previously. My next post will feature them in detail and will (I hope) be just a bit special – I have a reason for wanting that specific post to be somewhat special, see if you can guess before I reveal why at the start of it.
Here is my usual reward for those who have made it through to the end:
My account of the first test match between India and England at Rajkot.
At just after 11AM GMT yesterday the first test match of the five match series between Inida and England was confirmed as a draw.
THE FIRST INNINGS
Alastair Cook made the first right move of the series when he won the toss and chose to bat (on a plumb pitch, with the only hope of interesting developments being if it deteriorated this was a clear cut decision). Gary Ballance’s wretched form had finally caught up with him, and 19 year old Haseeb Hameed whose family originated in these parts came in for his debut, with Ben Duckett dropping to number four so that Hameed could open. In the two match series in Bangladesh England’s top five had a combined record of three 50 plus scores in 20 innings with no one reaching three figures. Here Joe Root and Moeen Ali (nos 3 and 5 respectively) racked up centuries, and Ben Stokes, for once given a base from which he could build rather than attempt to rebuild added another as England totalled 537, effectively putting defeat out of the question right from the start.
Ravi Ashwin, the offspinner who was expected to prove far too good for England’s batting finished with the less than commanding innings figures of 2-167. Jadeja, on home turf (with that surname he is definitely connected to the old royal family of Nawanagar, who ruled here in the days of the princely states, and produced cricketing legends of earlier times Ranjitsinhji and Duleepsinhji) took three wickets.
THE SECOND INNINGS
Murali Vijay and Chesteshwar Pujara each reached three figures, while Ashwin somewhat redeemed his bowling figures with 70. India were all out for 488, giving England a lead of 49. These two huge first innings scores had been acquired comparatively slowly as both sides bowled tightly, and the fourth of five days was nearing its conclusion by the time India’s last wicket fell. Adil Rashid, given the opportunity to bowl with runs on the board, picked up 4-114, while the other spinners, Moeen Ali and Zafar Ansari each picked up two wickets. None of the faster bowlers were able to extract anything from this pitch, but Stuart Broad, playing in his 100th test, was economical, taking 1-78 from his 29 overs and Woakes who finished wicketless was positively Scrooge like in only conceding 57 from 31 overs.
THE THIRD INNINGS
While it would have been nice to see England go on the all-out attack and see if they could make a genuinely challenging declaration I can fully understand, especially given events in Dhakanot so long ago, why Cook took the safer option of batting the game into oblivion before declaring to see if his bowlers could take a few Indian wickets at the end.Cook himself made 130, his 30th test century, while the debutant Hameed made 82, and Ben Stokes, promoted to have a bash before the declaration made 29 not out in quick time. England called a halt at 260-3, leaving India a purely nominal target of 310 off 49 overs. Ashwin took 1-63 in this innings, giving him match figures of 3-230.
THE FOURTH INNINGS
Given that four and a half days of action had produced a combined 1295-23 it was most unlikely that any result other than a draw would eventuate, so the real question was whether England could nab some wickets and thereby claim a moral victory. In the event, India finished on 172-6, with only Virat Kohli, 49 not out, emerging from the innings with real credit. Rashid took 3-64, emerging with comfortably the best match bowling performance on either side, while Woakes, Ansari and Ali all picked up wickets.
THE FINAL VERDICT
A total match score over the five days of 1467-29 makes the truth about this game obvious. The pitch, which never offered serious assistance to any kind of bowler, won hands down. For England almost everyone emerged with some kind of credit, with most of the batsmen making runs and the bowlers sticking well to the Sisyphean task inflicted on them by the groundsman. India, although never in serious danger of losing this game have less to be happy about – although he is a spinner rather than a quick bowler Ashwin’s 3-230 in this match have a bit of a look of Gillespie ’05 about them. England have bounced back well from their disaster in Dhaka. Haseeb Hameed has made a splendid start to his career, and has probably settled the question of an opening partner for Cook – in a few years time England will probably be faced with finding someone to replace Cook as Hameed’s opening partner.
Musical Keys, Cricket, Photography and some links.
The title of this post refers to Saturday’s Musical Keys session at the Scout Hut on Beulah Street (a place that by now is almost as familiar to me as my own humble abode such is the number of events I have attended there). I also have plenty of other stuff to share.
Having missed the previous Musical Keys session because I was attending the “Marxism and Nature” Day Schoolin London (well done to the International Socialism Journal team, you organised a great event) I was anticipating this session more eagerly than usual. Then came the news that the branch chair would probably not be able to attend as her son was playing up, which meant that I would be the sole NAS West Norfolk committee member present.
THE WALK THERE
I decided to go via Bawsey Drain (there was no decision to make as regards the mode of transport although it is a longish walk) and I was able to take some pictures along the way.
THE SESSION ITSELF
I was specifically requested to take pictures during this session by John and Kirsten, who run the sessions for Musical Keys. Therefore I have lots of pictures. The session began with the focus exclusively on a kind of wooden drum, shaped like a three dimensional capital T, which had been cunningly wired up to a computer.
Later in the session people were encouraged to try other instruments – two electronic keyboards were available and both were used, I sampled an acoustic guitar and also an electric bass guitar, and a single drum was available for most of the session, with the full set (which tends to drown out everything else) in action for the last few minutes.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BANGLADESH – ENGLAND SERIES
The result of the second match in this two match series, which I celebrated here, was splendid not just for Bangladesh, but also for cricket as a whole. England now head for a five match series in India, where they can confidently expect every pitch to be turning from minute one of every match (and can have no complaints given the number of times they have had sub-continental teams play on green seamers at places such as Durham and Leeds early in the English season). Frankly having seen how England have handled spin friendly conditions in Bangladesh, India should probably reckon that any series outcome other than 5-0 to them is a disappointment.
England this series have been exposed in several areas:
Top order batting – in four completed innings the top five contributed only three individual scores above 50 between them, one a piece for Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Duckett. Cook’s 39 in his final innings of the series was his best effort, while Ballance failed badly in all four innings, being out to a particularly gruesome shot in the final one.
Spin bowling – of the four front-line spinners played by England in this series (Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Zafar Ansari and Gareth Batty) none produced a really convincing performance overall, although Moeen Ali took five wickets during Bangladesh’s collapse from 170-1 to 220 all out in the first innings at Dhaka and Rashid 4-52 in second innings of that same match. England, in a spin dominated series, were saved from complete embarrassment by Ben Stokes who captured 11 wickets at 10.09 to be their joint leading wicket taker, as well as being their leading run scorer.
Captaincy – Alastair Cook had an even poorer series in this respect than he did with the bat. Whenever the spinners were bowling they had right from the word go fielders at deep long off and at deep point – meaning that singles were always easily obtainable. These field setting seem horribly like covering the bad ball (of which it must be said there were far too many from all of England’s spinners).
I am going to finish this section with individual player ratings for all those used by England (the player of the series on either side was Mehedi of Bangladesh btw).
Alastair Cook (C): a poor series with the bat and a poorer one as captain. Rating 3/10.
Ben Duckett: looked unconvincing in his first three innings, but redeemed himself to an extent in the fourth – his approach in that innings got Bangladesh on the back foot. His dismissal straight after tea in that innings was the trigger for Bangladesh’s greatest ever session in the field in test cricket. Rating 5/10
Joe Root: a gritty 50 in the first innings at Dhaka when no one else offered serious resistance until the partnership between Rashid and Woakes was his only major contribution with the bat. Rating 5/10
Gary Ballance: after his first three innings of this series I commented that he was not batting long enough to know what sort of form he was in. His fourth innings was equally brief, but the shot with which it ended was truly dreadful. Rating 0/10
Moeen Ali: a useful 50 in Chittagong, and wickets in both games. However as an off-spinner he was comprehensively outclassed by 19 year old Mehedi on the other side. Rating 7/10
Ben Stokes: England’s player of the series, his 85 at Chittagong was England’s highest individual score of the series, he was the teams overall leading run scorer and joint leading wicket taker (this latter in a series were quick bowlers were mainly bystanders). Without his efforts this series would certainly have been 2-0 to Bangladesh. Rating 9/10
Jonny Bairstow (WK): A competent series with gloves in difficult conditions and a fifty in the first match. Rating 6/10
Zafar Ansari: his selection in place of fellow Surrey man Batty for the second match of the series gave England a more varied bowling attack, and he picked up a couple of wickets. He failed to contribute with the bat. Rating 4/10
Chris Woakes: significant contributions with the bat in both matches, though his bowling was not of much significance in this series. Rating 5/10
Adil Rashid: A useful batting effort in the first innings at Dhaka, when he and Woakes rescued their supposed betters and gave England a lead, his bowling in favourable conditions was disappointing. Rating 5/10
Stuart Broad: Bowled well at Chittagong, was rested for Dhaka. Rating 5/10
Gareth Batty: His selection for this tour at the age of 39 and after a 12 year hiatus in his international career was a major indictment of English spin bowling, and he contributed little in the one match he played, at Chittagong. Rating 2/10
Stephen Finn: Came in for Stuart Broad at Dhaka, and his only contribution of note was to become the answer to the quiz question “whose dismissal gave Bangladesh their first ever test victory against England?” Rating 1/10
FAWKES IN THE WALKS
This has historically been a very successful event and I hope it will be so again. However, as an autistic person who reacts badly to sudden loud noises, I would also like to say that fireworks should be restricted to official displays of this sort.
An account of the amazing Test Match which concluded earlier this morning in Chittagong.
This is going to be a rarity – a blog post from me with no pictures. Please note that although I am a native of one of the countries involved in the Test Match that has just concluded and that is the basis for this post I am writing as a cricket fan first and foremost.
THE FINAL MORNING
At 4:45AM my time the alarm went off, and I tuned in to the coverage of the final day’s play in the first Test Match of the two match series between Bangladesh and England. The situation when darkness ended the fourth days play was that Bangladesh needed 33 to win with two wickets standing. Going into this match the two teams had met eight times in the test arena and England had won all eight, most by ridiculously large margins. The first question to be answered was who Cook would ask to bowl first up, and the fact that his choice fell on Broad and Stokes, the two fast men, and that no one seriously disagreed with said choice on a pitch that has offered serious turn for the entire duration of the match has to count as an indictment of England’s three front line spinners in this game, Batty, Rashid and Ali and by extension of the lack of decent spinners playing in English cricket at the moment.
Bangladesh added 10 runs to their overnight total before Ben Stokes had an LBW appeal against Taijul Islam turned down, sent it upstairs (the 25th time in this game that on on-field decision had been treated thus – easily a new record, the previous highest being a mere 19). For the 11th time umpire Ravi concluded from the evidence he studied that his on-field colleague had made the wrong decision (and for the eighth of those 11 times the on-field umpire involved was Kumar Dharmasena) and Bangladesh were nine down. Two balls later Shafiul Islam was struck on the pads, the finger was raised, the decision was inevitably reviewed, but on this occasion it was deemed to be correct and England had won, with Sabbir Rahman stranded on 64 not out.
If that match was to end in an England victory it was only appropriate that the final wickets should fall to Stokes whose match figures of 6-46 (4-26 and 2-20) were paired with a total match aggregate of over 100 runs, including the highest individual score of the game, 85 in England’s second innings, making the recipient of the man-of-the-match award clear cut. It was also in keeping with this match that it should finish with a decision being reviewed and therefore that it was the TV replay umpire who actually confirmed the final result.
BOWLER FRIENDLY PITCH PROVIDES A MAGNIFICENT MATCH
The pitch at Chittagong has been a curio in a more than one way. It has turned from the first, batting never being easy. It has also reversed the normal in that the spinners have been most dangerous with a new ball and the quicker bowlers more dangerous with an older one – to the extent that the reason England did not take the new ball this morning although they were entitled to was that they had decided to start with two quickies – had they trusted their spinners taking the new ball would have been obvious.
This match was fascinating throughout because it was not high scoring, and because the bowlers were always in the game.
CONGRATULATIONS AND COMMISERATIONS TO BANGLADESH
The heading for this section is not a contradiction – I congratulate Bangladesh for a spirited effort over the whole course of the game and for coming very close to recording their first ever victory over a major test nation (their seven test victories to date have been five against Zimbabwe and two against a West Indies riven by internal strife). It would possibly have been better for cricket as a whole if Bangladesh had actually won, but there is a single solitary counter-argument: this being a two match series if Bangladesh had won no one could then have blamed the groundsman at Dhaka where the second match will take place for preparing a pitch to make Adelaide Oval look like a terror track, whereas in the actual situation it is virtually obligatory to produce a pitch with some life in it.
THE REST OF ENGLAND’S WINTER
After the second and final match of this series (for the record I would make a rule that no series should contain fewer than three matches, my disapproval of ultra-short series being that strong) England head to India for a five match test-series. It is very likely that every pitch England encounter there will turn viciously from moment one, and England cannot rely on Stokes, magnificent cricketer though he is, to dig them out of every hole they find themselves in. The spinners will need to earn their keep for these six matches.
Bangladesh came very close to making history in Chittagong. I hope for their and cricket’s sake that they succeed in scaling the summit of Mt Improbable in Dhaka, which match starts on Friday. This Test Match was Bangladesh’s first in a period of fourteen months – they need to be given more test matches. Another issue raised by the England schedule outlined above is that quite clearly Bangladesh were perceived as being a decent warm-up for the main event in India. They have done enough over four and a bit days in Chittagong to suggest that in the not too distant future a series against Bangladesh could and should be regarded as a serious event in its own right.I end with a couple of links to cricinfo:
This is the first of a several posts I shall be producing today. I hope you will all enjoy it.
AUSTRALIA WIN THE BATTLE HAVING ALREADY LOST THE WAR
Australia won the Oval test match very comfortably to narrow the series score to 3-2 in England’s favour. Although it takes a little gloss of England’s overall victory this cannot really be considered significant – there have been many occasions when a side who have already won the series early have failed in the final match. Examples include England in 1928-9, 1986-7 and 2015, and Australia in 1902, 1924-25, 1968, 1993 and 1997. For the rest of this post I am going to look at England’s players through the series…
ENGLAND SUCCESSES AND FAILURES
So, who did what?
Alastair Cook: as captain he unequivocally did was required – his task was to win the Ashes and that objective was achieved with a match to spare. As a batsman he had an ordinary series, with no century and only two really significant scores, one of which was made with the match already lost (85 at the Oval).
Adam Lyth: he was an unequivocal failure at the top of the order. Nevertheless, while I would have no quarrel with him being dropped at this point, I maintain that the England selectors were right to give him the whole home season of tests in which to make his mark – and as a veteran of the second half of the 1980s and the whole of the 1990s, during which England were an international laughing stock I saw far too many occasions when selectors chopped and changed and changed and chopped so that no one ever knew whether they were coming or going I was delighted to see this example of consistency of approach.
Ian Bell: By his own standards a poor series – only three 50 plus scores and none of them a century.
Joe Root: Quite simply magnificent – his century at Trent Bridge on a pitch on which the Aussies had rolled over for 60 in 18.3 overs was a classic innings, made when runs had to be earned.
Gary Ballance: Only played the first couple of matches, but he will be back.
Jonny Bairstow: A fine innings at Trent Bridge, when he backed Joe Root splendidly, but not much else to show for his participation in the series.
Ben Stokes: Mr X Factor – runs, wickets and the moment of the series – that catch at Trent Bridge.
Jos Buttler: A shocking series with the bat, adequate behind the stumps.
Moeen Ali: A fine cricketer, but not in the way England used him in this series – he is not a front-line spinner. In the UAE where pitches are likely to take spin he could be useful as an opening batsman (a role he plays for his county) and back up spinner to Adil Rashid and possibly another.
Mark Wood: A good prospect, and Cook’s decision to give him the opportunity (which he took) to wrap up the Trent Bridge match was an excellent piece of captaincy.
James Anderson: The only England bowler to date to have taken 400 test wickets – it is a tribute to messrs Broad, Finn and Wood that he was not missed at Trent Bridge. The UAE would be a good tour for him to miss – there will be no assistance for him there, and he will be needed in South Africa.
Stuart Broad: Can one be player of the series almost entirely on the strength of one spell of bowling? Yes, if that one spell is 8-15 off 9.3 overs and makes the outcome of the series effectively certain.
Stephen Finn: After a couple of years in the wilderness he is back to some thing like his best, he achieved one of a run of four straight six plus wicket hauls by four different England bowlers (the others were Anderson, Stokes and Broad).
As well as the sporting events that I shall be writing about I have some important links to share. Faced with more sport than I had time to follow I had to make choices, and with I settled on cricket and athletics (in the form of the European Team Championships). I will write about each in turn starting with…
A FINAL MATCH THRILLER
To set the scene for Saturday’s action, the series was level at 2-2, and records had been tumbling left, right and centre throughout. The actual result was pretty much a secondary consideration given the quality of the cricket that had been on show through the series.
NEW ZEALAND BATTING
Very early on in their innings New Zealand passed their all-time record aggregate for a five match ODI series, a feat that England had achieved in the previous match. For the first time in the series batsmen found it difficult to really get going, and it took some big hitting in the closing stages to get New Zealand to their eventual 283-9, the lowest first innings score of the series.
THE INTERVAL AND DUCKWORTH-LEWIS
During the interval between innings it rained, and it kept raining for some time (this is England after all). Eventually, by the time play was possible again there was time for England to bat for 26 overs, and the Duckworth-Lewis calculation (a very complicated formula that has produced the least unfair way for resolving rain affected ODIs yet devised) gave England a target of 192 off 26 overs.
The England innings got off to a disastrous start, with three wickets falling in next to no time. The fourth and fifth wickets did not take a whole lot longer to fall, and at that stage England were looking down both barrels. Then Eoin Morgan and Jonathan Bairstow, the latter only playing because of an injury to Jos Buttler (scorer of the first and second quickest ODI centuries by an Englishman) shared a good partnership. When Morgan was out, England were still second favourites, but Adil Rashid joined his fellow Yorkshireman Bairstow for a partnership that gradually brought the asking rate back to manageable levels. Seventeen were needed off the last two overs when for the first of them the ball was given to a debutant who until his late call-up had been playing Devonshire League cricket. Bowling the penultimate over in these circumstances would be tough for anyone, and in the end the last over was not required, as a combination of fine strokes from Bairstow and Rashid and a loss of nerve by the bowler settled the issue.
A RAPID TURNAROUND
Just a few months ago England were having their all-time worst ever World Cup campaign, being hammered by all and sundry and being exposed as being sadly behind the times in their approach to one day cricket. To have come from that to even taking part in a series that is a jewel in the crown of international cricket (and ultimately winning it) is an extraordinary transformation. What brought this about? Well England were forced to recognise by the sheer awfulness of that World Cup campaign that they had to change. The new picks for this series were guys noted for 20-20 (ultra-short form) success. Also, however there has been an attitude change. In this series, England never went on to the defensive, there was never a period of seriously slow scoring. Even when those three early wickets went down on Saturday, there was no ‘consolidation’. In the second half of the summer England have another set of visitors from the antipodes to contend with, and it will be interesting to see what kind of account they can give of themselves in that situation.
EUROPEAN TEAM ATHLETICS
The European Team Athletics championship, which I watched on i-player, is decided on a points system. The top nine countries from last year, plus three promoted from the second group, do battle. Twelve points are accrued for winning an event, down to one for finishing. A disqualification in a track event, or a failure to record a valid distance/ height in a throwing or jumping event results in a zero.
In the end, after a some excellent results, and some very bad ones, Britain finished in fifth place, behind Russia (winning comfortably on home soil), Germany, France and Poland.
Probably the person who overachieved the most for Britain was Rhianwedd Price who, on international debut, came third in the 1,500m.
CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT THE FAIRY POSSUM
This tiny marsupial is on the critically endangered list, and the campaign to protect it by creating a preserved environment for it is being run by The Wilderness Society. I have two important links for you:
AN ACCOUNT OF A TRIP TO THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
This is an excellent piece detailing both the visit and what was seen, and the differing approaches taken by Autism Mom (the author of the piece), the Navigator and Autism Dad. I have already shared this piece with my twitter and I am delighted to include this link to dinos-photos-and-his-own-world.
I hope that you have all enjoyed this post, and that you will be encouraged to share it. For those of you who have stayed with this post right to the end I have a final message…