ODI Series Decider Goes To The Wire

An account of the concluding ODI between India and England, plus some thoughts on over rates and some photographs.

This post is devoted to the events of yesterday’s final and deciding ODI between India and England.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England decided to retain both Malan and Livingstone, so Billings missed out. They also opted to replace Tom Curran with Mark Wood, a decision that would have been indisputable had Wood been fully fit, but it rapidly became clear that he was not. India replaced Kuldeep Yadav with T Natarajan, changing the balance of their bowling attack. Jos Buttler won the toss and decided to bowl.

THE INDIAN INNINGS

India got off to a flying start, with Sam Curran and Reece Topley both somewhat wayward. Mark Wood bowled fast in spite of obviously not being well. It took the arrival of the spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali at the bowling crease to stem the flow at all. Rashid accounted for both openers, one bowled and one caught and bowled, in successive overs, while Ali clean bowled Virat Kohli. Liam Livingstone had made his first contribution to the game with a fine piece of fielding out on the boundary that saved two runs. KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant maintained the momentum and for a while it looked like something close to 400 was on for India, but then Livingstone got Rahul, as the batter could only put a filthy full toss straight into the hands of a fielder. Thereafter England picked up wickets regularly, and India were all out for 329 in the 49th over. At that stage it looked anyone’s game, with England possibly favourites.

THE ENGLAND REPLY

For once neither Roy nor Bairstow managed a substantial score, and Stokes and Buttler both also went fairly cheaply. At that stage it was 95-4 and England looked in deep trouble. Livingstone and Malan batted well however and at the end of the 20th England were 132-4, two fifths of the way to the target after two fifths of the overs and having lost two fifths of their wickets. Livingstone was fifth out, having batted well, and then Malan having completed a fine 50 was sixth to go. That brought Sam Curran in join Moeen Ali, with England in deep trouble. At the end of the 30th England were 196-6. Moeen Ali’s departure seemed to be the final nail, but Rashid provided Curran support, and then extraordinarily, Mark Wood, for all that he was obviously not well, continued the support work, while Curran was playing a very special innings. Wood was ninth out, but even Topley, the most genuine of genuine number 11s, did his bit, and at the end of the 49th England were 316-9 needing 14 to win, and crucially Curran was at the strikers end. He did his best, but the task was just too much, and England were beaten by seven runs, with Curran 95 not out off 83 balls.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH

Sam Curran was named Player of the Match for his fighting knock, a decision which Indian skipper Kohli disapproved of. Shardul Thakur with 30 and four wickets was the obvious alternative candidate, and normally I would say that this award should go to someone from the winning side. However, at the point at which Curran came in to bat England were staring an absolute hammering in the face, with a three figure margin looking likely, and Curran turned that around to the extent that the game ended as a nail biter. Also most of Curran’s batting was done with the support of a no9, a sick no10 and a n011. Thus on this occasion I think the decision to give the award to someone from the losing side was justified, although I would not have quarrelled with the award going to Thakur.

OVER RATES

This match was conducted at a tempo that to borrow from the world of music could only fairly be described as ‘adagio molto’ – very slow. 100 overs occupied eight and a quarter hours of actual playing time, with England being in the field for three hours fifty minutes and India for four hours twenty five minutes. This leads me to revisit an old idea of mine in slightly revised form: based on the 15 overs per hour officially required in test matches I would allocate each team a fixed time slot to bowl their overs of three hours and 20 minutes, and for each over they have not bowled in that period the batting team get awarded penalty runs at a rate of ten per over or double the scoring rate, whichever is the greater. Obviously umpires would have to watch out for batters deliberately wasting time in the hope of securing penalty runs. If this was adopted there might be one ODI series/ tournament in which extras had a Bradmanesque aggregate but I reckon over rates would speed up pretty quickly. Here is a very famous slow tempo piece of music, Albinoni’s “Adagio for Organ and Strings”, from youtube:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Suggestions For Tomorrow’s Deciding ODI

A look ahead to tomorrow’s final ODI between India and England, some photographs and the resumption of one of NAS West Norfolk’s activities.

The main body of this post is devoted to looking at what England should do in terms of selection for tomorrow’s final match of the tour of India.

THE BATTING

Morgan remains unavailable, though Billings could be picked. Personally although most of the work was done by Bairstow and Stokes I think that both Malan and Livingstone did enough to warrant continued selection, so I would not recall Billings. I believe an element of flexibility is needed after the 1,2,3 – if the second wicket goes before over 30 then either Malan (if Stokes is second out) or Livingstone (if both openers are out, meaning that the left handed Stokes is still in) come in at no4. If the second wicket goes after over 30 then skipper Buttler should promote himself and treat it like a T20.

THE BOWLING

Tom Curran has to go – he is not quick, he does not take many wickets and he is not exceptionally economical. I hope Wood will be fit, in which case he plays. Also, Adil Rashid has not been impressive, and Matt Parkinson has been in bio-secure bubbles since January for no cricket, so for my money he has to play. Reece Topley did quite enough to retain his place, so he rounds out the bowling options.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

Bear in mind the caveats in the section about the batting, and that therefore this is a ‘likely’, not a ‘set’ batting order:

  1. Jason Roy
  2. Jonny Bairstow
  3. Ben Stokes
  4. Liam Livingstone
  5. Dawid Malan
  6. *+Jos Buttler
  7. Moeen Ali
  8. Sam Curran
  9. Mark Wood
  10. Reece Topley
  11. Matt Parkinson

PHOTOGRAPHS

This usual sign off has a variation to it: today for the first time in over a year an NAS West Norfolk activity happened: music therapy at the scout hut on Beulah Street. This was organized in two 45 minute sessions, and at no time were there more than four people in the room, which is a very large room, and the back door was open to keep it properly ventilated (and with a classic Norfolk ‘lazy wind’ – can’t be bothered going round you, so it goes straight through you – blowing outside I can tell you that the place was most definitely properly ventilated!). Explanation complete, it is finally time for the photographs…

India v England ODI Series Goes To Decider On Sunday

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.

THE PRELIMINARIES

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.

ENGLAND’S CHASE

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

India Win The First ODI

An account of yesterday’s India v England ODI, some geological stuff and some photographs.

This post looks back at yesterday’s first ODI between India and England, which took place in Pune.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England’s chosen team was: Roy, Bairstow, Stokes, *Morgan, +Buttler, Billings, Ali, S Curran, T Curran, Rashid, Wood. Livingstone and Parkinson were players many would have wanted to see who were left on the bench. India handed debuts to K Pandya and Krishna, with KL Rahul named as wicket keeper. Their team was: Sharma, Dhawan, *Kohli, Iyer, +Rahul, H Pandya, K Pandya, Thakur, Kumar, K Yadav, Krishna. Morgan won the toss and chose to bowl.

INDIA’S INNINGS

Dhawan played superbly in the early part of the innings, but England also bowled decently and with 9.3 overs to go India were 205-5 with Krunal Pandya on international debut joining KL Rahul. Both these players batted beautifully, England bowled very poorly in the closing stages, a recurring problem for the current outfit, and the total mushroomed to 317-5 by the end of the innings.

ENGLAND’S RESPONSE

Roy and Bairstow began superbly, and at 135-0 in the 14th over that target of 318 was looking manageable. Then Roy fell for 46, his fourth recent instance of getting to 40 and not completing a half century. Stokes was unable to get going at all, Bairstow lost momentum due to the problems at the other end and missed out on his century, and as wickets continued to fall England looked a panic-stricken side. Moeen Ali hinted at a late revival with 30, but when he and then Sam Curran fell in short order to leave Tom Curran, Rashid and Wood nearly 80 to score between them the writing was well and truly on the wall. England were all out for 251, beaten by 66 runs. The debutant Krishna had 4-54, the best figures of the day, but the most significant contribution was from the experienced Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who had figures of 2-30 from nine overs, applying the squeeze at a crucial stage. Roy and Bairstow gave England an excellent platform, but once wickets started to fall no one was able to steady the ship, and the cold hard truth is that England lost all ten wickets for 116 runs on a flat pitch.

LOOKING AHEAD

The batting, Roy and Bairstow apart, looks unreliable. Billings and Morgan are both injury worries, and I think Livingstone has to come in- Stokes did not look comfortable at three, while Livingstone habitually bats high in the order. Among the bowlers Tom Curran has to go – he has taken one wicket in his last nine ODIs, and if you are not taking wickets you have to keep it tight, and he is not doing so at present – India scored 63 off his ten overs without having to exert themselves to punish him. Personally I would be inclined to change the balance of the attack and bring Parkinson in to replace him, but could accept the alternative of selecting Reece Topley in his place. India would inevitably look to target Parkinson if he was selected and I would counter that by giving him the new ball because openers sometimes struggle when confronted with spin first up. I am not going to call for Morgan to go just yet, but he could do with a decent score some time soon, and he needs to a little less inflexible – perhaps the occasional decision to bat first when he wins the toss, and perhaps giving more consideration to certain players.

GEOLOGY CORNER

Courtesy of twitter (in the form of Science, Space & Nature) I can provide some film of a volcanic eruption on Iceland (please click picture link below to view):

Collapsing Crater 🌋🇮🇸✨

the first eruption on Reykjanes Peninsula in over 800 years, situated in Geldingadalur by Festarfjall mountain. Definitely the most surreal thing to ever experienced. You could feel extreme heat coming from the lava
Credit: h0rdur/IG pic.twitter.com/rLZR2Ec9LH— Science, Space & Nature (@ScienceIsNew) March 23, 2021

From the Natural History Museum twitter feed comes some info about the first ever Geological Map of a country (Great Britain) – see screenshot below, and click here for more.

I end this section with a picture of one of the maps on display in my bungalow, an old palaeontological map of Great Britain and Ireland:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

India Take T20I Series

A look at today’s events in Ahmedabad, a mathematical challenge, a new nature themed project and some photographs.

I have a couple of bonus features as well as an account of goings on in Ahmedabad today.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England were unchanged once again, while India chose to give themselves an extra bowling option, selecting T Natarajan in place of KL Rahul. Kohli moved up to open with Rohit Sharma. Eoin Morgan won the toss and chose to bowl.

THE INDIAN INNINGS

Rohit Sharma batted magnificently, scoring a rapid 65, getting out when seemingly nailed on for a century and more. Kohli played the anchor role to perfection and there were explosive contributions from Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya, promoted on account of his big hitting. India reached 224-2 from their 20, with no England bowler escaping. The highlight for England in the field was a dismissal that appears in the scorebook as C Roy B Rashid, one of the most misleading such entries in cricket history – the wicket was in fact almost solely down to Chris Jordan who ran round the boundary, made an amazing catch and had the presence of mind to realize that his momentum was taking him over the rope and the skill to lob the ball to Roy before that happened. It was a piece of fielding genius to stand with any in the game’s long history.

THE ENGLAND RESPONSE

Roy fell early, but Buttler and the much maligned Dawid Malan batted well for a time, and kept England in the hunt in the process. Both went past 50, Buttler making 52, and Malan going on to 68, in the process of which he became the quickest ever to complete 1,000 T20I runs, getting to that landmark in his 24th innings in that form of the game, two innings fewer than the next best, Babar Azam. However, both were out in quick succession and England soon dropped out of the hunt thereafter. In the end they were 188-8 from their 20, beaten by 36 runs. The crucial intervention on a day which saw 412 runs scored came from Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who took 2-15 from his four overs. Absent him 397 runs came of 36 overs, a rate of 11.03, while he went for 3.75 per over. He has quite correctly been named Player of the Match. More details of today’s events can be found here.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

As so often with these, my source is brilliant.org, but I am being a little unorthodox this time – they changed the wording of their question following complaints, and I am reverting to the original:

You can see this question in its original setting here, but I also have two subsidiary questions: a) what complaints do you think led to the wording being changed? b) Were those complaints actually valid given that this was posed as a mathematical not a philosophical question. Full explanations and answers on Monday.

NATURE AND PHOTOGRAPHS

As a segue into my usual sign off, I include a link to a twitter project being run by my friends Team4Nature. Below is a screenshot to explain things, while the tweet can be seen by clicking here.

Time for my usual sign off…

T20I Series in India Goes to a Decider

An account of today’s #INDvENG T20I cricket match and a solution to yesterday’s mathematical teaser, plus some photographs.

This post looks at an extraordinary game of cricket that has just taken place in India. I also provide a solution to the mathematical conundrum from brilliant.org that I posed yesterday and of course a few photographs.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England were unchanged, India had two changes. Ishan Kishan had a minor injury and was replaced by Suryakumar Yadav. Yuzvendra Chahal was dropped and replaced by another leg spinner, Rahul Chahar. Eoin Morgan won the toss and chose to bowl.

THE INDIAN INNINGS

Neither of India’s openers were massively convincing, and Kohli at no 4 also failed with the bat. However, Suryakumar Yadav played a quite magnificent innings, at one stage threatening to record a century, and Rishabh Pant also played very nicely. India put up 185-8 in the end, a total that looked defensible but not unassailable. Jofra Archer took four wickets, Mark Wood was also impressive, but Adil Rashid had an off day for once, and Jordan, Stokes and Curran were all unimpressive as well.

THE ENGLAND RESPONSE

Buttler failed, Malan got a bit of a start but did not go on, Roy reached 40 for the third time of the series and for the third time of the series got out with a seriously big score apparently beckoning. Bairstow and Stokes batted well together before Bairstow was out, and then it looked like Stokes and Morgan were taking England close. However, both fell to Thakur in consecutive deliveries at the start of the 18th. Curran and Jordan played decently for the rest of that over, but then Curran fell in the 19th. A four off the last ball of the 19th by Archer reduced the requirement to 23 off the final over. Thakur, who had put India in command with his bowling at the start of the 18th now lost his bearings and at one point the ask was down to ten off three balls, but then he regathered his nerve, and India emerged victorious by eight runs, setting up a final game decider on Saturday. Although the standard of play was high an both sides it is not really acceptable for 40 overs of cricket to occupy four and a quarter hours of playing time as happened today.

SOLUTION TO A TEASER

Yesterday I set you the following:

In total there are 512 small cubes in the structure. Of these 216 (6x6x6) are purely internal and therefore unpainted, eight are corner cubes and painted on three faces, which leaves 288 cubes painted on either one or two faces. The cubes painted on one face are those in the centre of each visible face, which number 36 on each face = 216 in total. This leaves 72 cubes painted on two faces, and 216 – 72 = 144. For a cube with side length n, there will eight corner pieces, (n-2) ^ 3 centre pieces that are thus unpainted, 6 ((n-2)^2) pieces that are painted on one face only and 12 (n-2) pieces that are painted on exactly two faces. Though these equations only start to work once n is greater than 2 – a 2 x 2 x 2 cube has eight blocks each of which are painted on three faces.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

England Re-establish Lead in T20 Series in India

An account of India v England yesterday, some stuff about the environment, a mathematical teaser and a bumper crop of photos.

Yesterday the third of five T20Is between India and England took place in Ahmedabad. The first part of this post gives an account of proceedings in that match, and then I have a couple of bonus features as well as my usual sign off.

THE PRELIMINARIES

For England Mark Wood was fit again and came back into the side in place of Tom Curran, and that was the only change. For India Rohit Sharma returned to the ranks and Suryakumar Yadav who had not even batted on his debut was benched to make way for him. England won the toss, and with the series 1-1 and both matches won by chasing sides, chose to bowl first, the correct decision (although if he wins the toss tomorrow he should gamble and bat first as there as World T20 Cup coming up in India and England will probably need to win at least one match batting first to lift that trophy).

THE INDIAN INNINGS

England bowled magnificently in the Power Play overs, restricting India to 24-3 from the first six overs of their innings. After 15 overs India were 87-5, but they then had what would prove to be their only good period of the match, plundering 69 off the final five overs of their innings to post 156-6 from their 20 overs. Half of this total came off the bat of Virat Kohli. Mark Wood, at his best, had 3-31 from his four overs, and 16 of those runs were hit off the third, fourth and fifth balls of his final over. Every other bowler contributed to a fine team effort, with Rashid being wicketless but bowling his full four overs for 26 runs.

THE ENGLAND RESPONSE

Roy fell cheaply after successive good scores in the first two matches, but Buttler underlined his status as England’s finest white ball batter, looking in complete command right from the start of his innings. Malan got a start, but on this occasion did not turn it into anything big, though he still managed to contribute to a fifty partnership. Bairstow, a superb white ball batter, joined Buttler, and these two players were still together when the match was won in the 18th of 20 overs, Buttler 83 not out off 54 and Bairstow 40 not out off 26 balls. None of the Indian bowlers looked terribly threatening, and Yuzvendra Chahal, their chosen leg spinner, looked leagues below Adil Rashid. Washington Sundar is an economical off spinner, but what India desperately needed and could not get were wickets. A total of 180 might have been defendable by keeping things as tight as possible, but 156 was never. likely to be defended unless India got wickets, and a lot of them. Buttler, who had also done well with the gloves, was the only conceivable candidate for Player of the Match.

THE REMAINING FIXTURES

Although some people either through mischief or through idiocy were questioning Malan’s place in the England side based on two comparative failures the truth is that there are only two changes at present that would make any real sense, and I would be disinclined to make either while the series remains live: Moeen Ali to replace either Sam Curran or Chris Jordan, giving an extra spin option, and/or Liam Livingstone to replace Stokes as no5 batter and sixth bowling option (he can spin the ball both ways, although he is not a regular bowler).

For India things are more complicated – their top order batting has struggled in this series, with fatally poor starts in the first and third matches and an indifferent one in the second, and the bowling attack as currently constituted is simply not good enough. He did not fare too badly this time, but for me if he is going to be worth his place Hardik Pandya needs to be batting in the top half of the order and being India’s sixth bowler, not their fifth. I do not see how Chahal can retain his place – he is leaking runs consistently and rarely threatens to take wickets. The obvious struggling batter is KL Rahul, with one run in his last four innings (note to Malan bashers – that IS the sort of form on which you can talk about dropping a highly ranked batter.

ENVIRONMENT THOUGHTS

The Green Party candidate in the London Mayoral election, Sian Berry (please, Londoners, do the right things this time and elect her) has proposed the creation of a ‘habitat crime unit’ which would tackle habitat and ecological crimes in the capital. I think this is an excellent idea. You can read full details of it by clicking here.

The London Parklet campaign today tweeted out a superb graphic created by Emma Paxton on redesigning cities to be greener. You can see the tweet by clicking here, and I present a screenshot of the graphic below:

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

I have not presented one of these for a while, but I enjoyed solving this one this morning:

This was originally set as a multiple choice question, but I am not giving readers that luxury, although you can see it in it’s original setting by clicking here. Solution in my next post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Now it is time for my usual sign off, including my first blue tit of 2021…

Two Formats, Two Successful Chases

A look at two successful run chases from yesterday.

Yesterday was the fifth and final day of the second Afghanistan v Zimbabwe test match and also the day of the second T20I between India and England. This post looks at both games.

AFGHANISTAN V ZIMBABWE

Going into the final day Zimbabwe had a small lead but only three second innings wickets standing. For a time the overnight pair of Sean Williams and Donald Tiripano kept the resistance going, with Williams reaching 150. Tiripano fell only five runs short of becoming only the second ever batter named Donald to rack up a test century. The resistance did not quite end there, with Zimbabwe finally being all out for 365, an advantage of 107. Afghanistan were never in serious trouble in the chase, though the loss of three wickets as the target approached reduced the margin from nine to six wickets.

While acknowledging Zimbabwe’s great fight back I am personally pleased that Afghanistan won and thereby levelled the series. They had very comfortably the better of the game overall, and also if they had lost the follow on (see my previous post)would have become obsolete in the minds of a lot of captains. The truth is that Zimbabwe’s great fightback has no bearing on the decision to enforce the follow on, and I wonder how many were questioning it when Zimbabwe were 142-7, still 116 short of making Afghanistan bat a second time. If any Afghanistan decision was questionable it was the decision to declare the first innings at 545-4 rather than pushing on past 600.

The other notable feature of this match was the workload shouldered by leg spinner Rashid Khan – 99 overs in the match, in which he captured 11 wickets (he now has 34 test wickets in five matches at that level, including two hauls of 10 in a match), three more than Zimbabwe as a whole managed across both Afghanistan innings. This was the most since Muralitharan sent down 116 overs of off spin at The Oval in 1998, taking 16 wickets in the process. The overall test record was set by Hedley Verity, at 774 balls across the two innings of the last timeless test (eight ball overs in that match), while in first class cricket CS Nayudu tops the list having once bowled 917 balls in the course of a match. Another notable workload was the 124 overs bowled in the Adelaide test in the 1928-9 Ashes by JC ‘Farmer’ White (13 wickets, and England won albeit only just). The single innings record was set by Sonny Ramadhin at Edgbaston in 1957, when he wheeled down 98 overs in England’s second innings. Tom Veivers bowled 95.2 overs in England’s innings at Old Trafford in 1964 (A 656-8 declared, Simpson 311, E 611 all out, Barrington 256, A 4-0).

A full scorecard for the match can be viewed here.

INDIA V ENGLAND

Mark Wood had a niggle and was replaced by Tom Curran, a decision that many questioned at the time. India won the toss and put England in. No one really sparked for England, though Roy managed 46, and there were several scores in the 20s. It was only poor fielding by India that enabled England to reach 164-6 from their 20. When Sam Curran opened the defence with a wicket maiden things looked interesting. However, Kohli and Ishan Kishan, making his debut, soon put India well on top. No English bowler was really impressive, and the fielding was sloppy, lowlighted by bad dropped catches on the part of Buttler and Stokes. By the time Kishan fell for a magnificent 56 off 32 balls the game was effectively up for England. There was still time for Pant to score a rapid 26, while Kohli anchored the chase. The skipper finished things with a six, taking him to 73 not out. Shreyas Iyer was 8 not out, following his 50 in the previous match. Tom Curran bowled two overs for 26 and never looked like causing anyone any problems. Although Kohli had the highest score of the day Kishan was quite correctly named Player of the Match for his game changing innings. For India Rohit Sharma is now available again and will presumably displace KL Rahul who has had a horrible time of late, while they might also look at ways to give themselves a sixth genuine bowling option – although it did not affect them this time, Hardik Pandya as fifth bowler seems a trifle hair raising. For England Wood will return in place of Tom Curran if fit, if not either Reece Topley or if England want an extra spin option Moeen Ali could come in. The other possible move is Liam Livingstone, mainly a batter but also capable of spinning the ball both ways, to come for Stokes. A full scorecard can be viewed here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

The Follow On

A look at a subject that has been brought back into the news by events in the current Afghanistan v Zimbabwe test match: the follow on and whether or not to enforce it.

In this post I look at the question of whether or not to enforce the follow on. This is prompted by match that is still just in progress between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, in which Zimbabwe have just avoided an innings defeat after Afghanistan chose to enforce the follow on.

A POTTED HISTORY
OF THE FOLLOW ON

The follow on is a method by which a team batting second who finish their first innings a certain margin behind their opponents can be made to bat again straight away. At first at was compulsory, though the exact margins varied. In the early days of test cricket the required advantage was 80 runs, and on one occasion a first innings score of 172 was enough for England to beat Australia by an innings. That was increased to 100, then 120, and then 150. In the 1890s there were instances of fielding sides deliberately giving away runs so that they would not have to enforce the follow on and that led eventually to it becoming a choice as to whether it would be enforced or not.

THE FOLLOW ON IN ACTION

At Sydney in 1894 when it was still compulsory to enforce the follow on England came back from a 261 run first innings deficit to win by 10 runs. However, two players who made useful contributions for England in their second innings 437, Ford (48) and Briggs (42) benefitted from dreadful dropped catches, and George Giffen made the mistake of not attempting to push the scoring rate along on the fifth evening of a timeless match. Overnight rain coupled with a strong Sydney sun then turned the pitch into a minefield on which left arm spinners Peel (6-67) and Briggs were basically unplayable.

At Headingley in 1981, by when it long been a choice of whether to enforce the follow on or not Australia were again victims of an astonishing come back by England. Richie Benaud, former Aussie skipper turned commentator, fully endorsed Kim Hughes’ decision to send England back in, and there would not have been many doubters when England were 41-4 and later 135-7, still 92 adrift, in that second innings. Even with Botham, Dilley and Old all making significant contributions England only had 130 to defend in the final innings, and when Australia were 56-1 just before lunch on the final day there still would not have been many questioning Hughes’ decision. At that point Bob Willis was given the ball at the Kirkstall Lane End for a last ditch spell to revive his test career. Trevor Chappell could only fend a bouncer into the hands of keeper Bob Taylor, Kim Hughes fell to fine slip catch by Botham and right on the stroke of lunch Yallop was caught by Gatting at forward short leg to make it 58-4. This little clatter to end the morning session was crucial as it gave the Australians a lunch interval to contemplate the fact that for the first time in the match defeat was a real possibility. When Border, Dyson, Marsh and Lawson all fell rapidly after lunch Australia were 75-8 and definitely second favourites. Lillee and Bright smacked 35 in four overs in a final twist to the tale, but then Lillee mistimed a drive and fell to a running, diving catch by Gatting, and a perfect middle stump yorker from Willis accounted for Bright to give England victory by 18 runs.

The third occasion that a test match was lost by a side who enforced the follow on was at Kolkata in 2001, and on that occasion the three heroes were VVS Laxman (281 not out), Rahul Dravid (180) and Harbhajan Singh who bowled Australia out in their second innings. That remains the sum total of test matches lost by a team enforcing the follow on.

One test match has been lost by a team declining to enforce – Australia vs South Africa, when Australia were rolled for 99 in their second innings and SA chased the target down. Frank Woolley in “King of Games” cites an example at first class level, a game he was involved in. Warwickshire, captained by Frank Foster, declined to send Kent in again and Kent’s two left arm spinners, Blythe and Woolley himself each took 5-8 as Warwickshire were bowled out for 16. Kent chased the target down without over much difficulty. Other occasions when sides have come unstuck in the third as opposed to fourth innings of matches include Derbyshire v Essex 1904 when Essex managed just 97 in the third innings, precisely 500 fewer than they had achieved in the first and Derbyshire won by nine wickets, and Lancashire against Warwickshire in 1982, when a sea fret at Southport enabled Les MacFarlane to record a career best 6-59 with his swingers as Warwickshire followed a first innings 523-4 declared (Humpage 254, Kallicharran 230 not out) with 111 all out, and Lancashire won by ten wickets.

TWO RECENT EXAMPLES

In the first match of the recent India v England series England had the opportunity to enforce the follow-on (current margin required is 200, enforcement is voluntary) after India had responded to their 578 with a modest 334. Joe Root chose not to so, and for me he was right, as the pitch was showing signs of deterioration and there was enough time left in the game to build a big lead and bowl India out a second time. The opportunity nearly arose for India in the second game, and again it would have been folly for them to enforce it in the circumstances.

We now come to Afghanistan v Zimbabwe, which series is taking place in the United Arab Emirates (for reasons that should be obvious Afghanistan cannot stage home matches at present). Going into the current match Zimbabwe are one up in the series having won the opener. Afghanistan posted 545-4 declared in their first innings, Hashmatullah Shahidi becoming the first Afghan to score a test double century (200 not out), and Asghar Afghan scoring 164. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 287 in their first innings. With the game already deep into the third of five scheduled days and needing a win Afghanistan enforced the follow on. When Zimbabwe were 142-7, still 116 adrift few would have been questioning that call, but Sean Williams and Donald Tiripano have shown impressive fight, adding 124 so far and getting Zimbabwe to the close of day four on 266-7, an advantage of eight. If Zimbabwe can conjure up another 120 against bowler’s who have had a night’s rest they might make things interesting. However, this does not reflect on the decision to enforce the follow on, which I consider every bit as correct as Root’s decision not to do so against India in Chennai. It would be a poor batting performance to collapse in the face of a target of 130, and if any decision the Afghans have made would be open to question it would be the first innings declaration rather than pushing on past 600.

TO ENFORCE OR NOT TO ENFORCE? THAT IS THE Q

The answer is: it depends on the circumstances. If there is lots of time left in the game and the pitch seems likely to misbehave later then it can make sense not to enforce. Also, if it is the final match of a series and a draw will be sufficient then there is a case for not enforcing as it is slightly less unlikely that you will lose outright if you don’t enforce (though defeat with that kind of lead is rare anyway). If however you are a match down and it is already quite late in the game (the Afghanistan situation) then failing to enforce would be an act of arrant folly. Overall I would say that one should be inclined to enforce, and that there should be a strong reason, as there was in Chennai, for doing otherwise.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Not inappropriately for a post in which a team who could be considered the wrens of the test cricket world have featured so prominently today’s usual sign off is headed by the first wren I have seen in 2021…

England Open T20I Series With An Emphatic Victory

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.

ROY’S REVENGE

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.

LOOKING AHEAD

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.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…