England’s Record Run Chase

An account of England’s victory over India which they completed earlier today, and some of my recent photographs.

This post looks back at the match just concluded between England and India, officially the fifth of the 2021 series.

A LONG DELAYED FINALE

India won the the fourth test of the 2021 series comfortably, and then in the run up to the fifth test there was a Covid scare in the Indian camp. By the letter of the law the match should have been forfeited since England were able to play and India were refusing to put a team out, but because the BCCI pulls the ICCs strings a compromise was arranged, whereby the match would be played in 2022 instead. England after a miserable winter in Australia and then the West Indies had started 2022 in a blaze of glory, recording three successive spectacular victories over World Test Champions New Zealand (who won’t get to defend their title in consequence of this). India made some curious selecorial decisions (Pujara as makeshift opener when Mayank Agarwal was available, Thakur preferred to Ashwin, Vihari at three and Shreyas Iyer in the middle order all definitely questionable and the persistence with an aging, chronically out of form Kohli didn’t look right either), England had two obvious question marks, Crawley at the top of the order and the decision to drop Jamie Overton for the returning Anderson (Anderson’s return had to happen, but I would have had Broad make way for him).

INDIA IN CHARGE FOR THREE DAYS…

India had the better of all of the first three days, with only a century by Jonny Bairstow restricting England’s deficit on first innings to 132. India were then 126-3 in their second innings by the end of day three, leading by 258. James Anderson had underlined his enduring class in the Indian first innings by taking 5-60 while everyone else was was being thrashed. Rishabh Pant played a great innings for India, and was the centrepiece of their total of 416. At the end of day three (just under four playing sessions ago) you would have got generous odds on an England win, though probably not quite the 500-1 famously offered at Headingley in 1981.

…AND THEN

In the first part of day four India failed to make the most of their advantage, rather frittering away their last seven wickets for the addition of a further 120. Pujara scored a gritty 66, Pant a more flamboyant 57, but overall India would have been disappointed with a total of 245 all out, and would have been aware that they had not completely killed the game when they might have done. Ben Stokes claimed four wickets for England.

Just for once England did not lose their first wicket ridiculously early. Crawley and Lees both batted well, but just before tea Crawley was out for 46, leaving one that bowled him. This meant that Pope had to begin his innings twice over, either side of the interval. He managed the first, but not the second. Then Root made a horrible misjudgement which caused Lees to be run out. That was 109-3, 269 more still needed for victory, and Bairstow joined Root. Not only were this pair still together at the close, they had done a lot to break the back of the chase, taking England to 259-3, 119 short of victory with the final day to come. The final morning began with India surely needing to break the stand quickly, and probably needing to have both players out within the first half hour to keep their hopes alive. India showed themselves mentally already beaten when they set fields that effectively said “help yourselves to singles but please don’t bash us”. Root and Bairstow accepted the singles but did not comply with the second part of India’s implied request – anything loose (and India provided a fair quantity of this) was ruthlessly punished. After just an hour and a half of the fifth day, including two ball replacements (a huge number of balls have needed to be replaced in this season’s tests) the job was completed, with a single off the fourth ball of the 77th over of the innings. England won by seven wickets, Root 142*, Bairstow 114*. Root’s hundred was his 28th in test cricket, obliterating the so-called ‘curse of 27’, a piece of nonsense that had arisen due to Steven Smith and Virat Kohli both being stuck on 27 test tons for some considerable time. The truth is that a total of 20 players have scored as many as 27 test centuries, and 16, including Root, have gone on to at least 28, while only four (Allan Border, Graeme Smith, Steven Smith, Virat Kohli) failing to do so. It was also Root’s fifth test hundred of 2022, to follow the six he scored in 2021. Bairstow’s century was his fourth in five test innings, his sixth of 2022 and his second of this match. The Root/ Bairstow stand of 269* was the fourth biggest ever in a fourth innings behind 301 by Arthur Morris and Don Bradman at Headingley in 1948 (Aus won by seven wickets), 287* by Gordon Greenidge and Larry Gomes at Lord’s in 1984 (WI won by nine wickets) and 280 by Bill Edrich and Paul Gibb at Durban in 1939 (a preposterous draw, with England 654-5 chasing 696 for victory when play had to be abandoned). This was also the fourth successive time England had chased 275 or over to win a test match, and England’s record successful run chase, beating the 362-9 at Headingley in 2019.

Bairstow was named Player of the Match for his twin tons, and Root Player of the Series for his 737 runs across the five matches. Virat Kohli’s only noteworthy contributions to this match were sledging Bairstow when that worthy was struggling in the first innings, since which moment Bairstow scored a further 207 runs for once out and a disgraceful display of aggression at the fall of an English wicket yesterday which involved charging straight across the pitch and earned him a ticking off from the umpires and may yet have further repercussions in the form of a fine or even a ban.

For England, as well as the two batting guns Root and Bairstow, Anderson maintained his high standing, Potts looked the real deal, Leach came back well from a hammering in the first innings (1-28 from 12 overs in the second). Broad, two second innings scalps not withstanding, looks to be a fading force at test level. Lees and Pope both deserve extended runs in the side (Pope has just been assigned a new role at number three and has done quite well there, and Lees has shown a lot of promise). Zak Crawley’s second innings 46 should not be enough to save him from the axe, and I fully expect Lees to have a new opening partner against South Africa in six weeks time. India’s carelessness with the bat on the fourth morning probably cost them 100 runs, but the way this England handle fourth innings run chases even that might not have been enough. A full scorecard of the match can be viewed here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

England 3 New Zealand 0: A Retrospective

A look back at the England v New Zealand test series.

Having finally concluded my series about my Scottish holiday I now look back at the series between England and New Zealand that concluded yesterday.

MATCH ONE: A NEW ERA DAWNS

The length of England’s injury list in the fast bowling department and well justified concerns about the top order batting made what already seemed a tough ask appear even tougher. However, Matt Potts of Durham, given his call up to fill one of the vacant slots in the pace bowling department had a superb debut, Broad and Anderson both bowled well on their return to the side, and England won impressively.

MATCH TWO: A DRAMATIC TURNAROUND

Prospects didn’t seem too rosy when England put New Zealand in on a flat pitch and the visitors racked up 550 in the first innings. However, England responded in kind, with Ollie Pope, whose presence at number three, where he had never previously batted in FC cricket, was a cause of some disquiet making a big hundred, Joe Root confirming his status as the greatest England batter of the 21st century with 176 and various other players producing runs. NZ managed to set England 299 to win, having looked in trouble at one stage of their second innings. When Root departed early and England were three down still needing well over 200 for the win the prognosis looked grim. Jonny Bairstow, enjoying a remarkable revival to his career in red ball cricket, played a remarkable innings, with Ben Stokes providing his principal support. Bairstow scored the second fastest test century by an England batter ever, beaten only by Gilbert Jessop’s 1902 effort against Australia, also in a fourth innings run chase. The Yorkshireman was 136* when England completed a five wicket win, with keeper Foakes undefeated at the other end in support.

MATCH 3: 55-6 AND THEN…

James Anderson was unable to play this match, meaning that Devonian born Surrey fast bowler and lower middle order batter Jamie Overton got a first test cap. New Zealand tallied 329 in the first innings, Leach the left armspinner answering some increasingly vociferous critics with 5-100. When Jamie Overton walked out to bat the score was 55-6 and NZ were probably contemplating enforcing the follow on. They were to end up in deficit on first innings. Overton on debut was 89* by the end of the second day, and the seventh wicket stand between him and Bairstow was worth 209, England being 264-6. On day three Overton agonisingly failed to complete a debut century, falling on 97. Bairstow went on to 162, the lower order providing some support, and England, all out for 360, led by 31 on first innings. NZ mustered 326 second time round, with Mitchell and Blundell sharing yet another long partnership in the middle order. Leach, remarkably, achieved a second five wicket haul, 5-66 this time, on a pitch that has seldom been kind to spinners in recent times. England thus need 296 to win. Lees was out early on this occasion, Crawley made a very fortuitous 25 before a chance offered to the slip/ gully region (a mode of dismissal he suffers unacceptably often), but Joe Root and Ollie Pope saw England to 183-2 by the end of day four, 113 more needed and eight wickets standing. Pope did not last long on the final morning, but his departure merely signalled more Bairstow fireworks. Bairstow was a little too brilliant on this occasion, depriving his fellow tyke Root of what would have been that worthy’s 28th test century. England won by seven wickets and taken the series 3-0. Leach was named Player of the Match for his bowling effort, while Root just pipped Bairstow to the Player of the Series award.

POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES

The new mindset that Brendon ‘Baz’ McCullum has instilled in his charges has been a huge positive. The comeback from the depths of 55-6 in reply to 329 in the third match illustrated the spirit in the camp. Pope finally seems to be reproducing his first class form in the test arena, Bairstow has been a revelation, reigniting a test career that looked done not so long ago. Potts and J Overton have both shown great promise early in their test careers, with Potts in particular seeming destined for great career. Leach has ended any discussion about who England’s no1 test spinner is with his bowling at Headingley (with a tour to Pakistan coming at the end of the summer the question of back up spinners will need looking at, and I have several ideas there which I will explore more fully nearer the time). Although temporarily indisposed (lower back pains which turned out to be an early symptom of Covid) Foakes remains first choice keeper. Lees has played a couple of decent knocks at the top this series, and Pope is looking good at three (and in any case that experiment needs rather more time than one three match series before it can be judged). A new opener is needed to replace Crawley. After 24 test matches Crawley averages 26.68 overall, and much less than that as on opener – in the course of this series Crawley’s average as an opener dipped below that of Mike Brearley, and of course for a lot of Brearley’s career his batting was not the main reason for him having a place in the side. While I can understand that it would have been difficult to call up a replacement opener for the one-off match against India that starts on Friday I am absolutely certain that there should be a new name up top (for me one of Chris Dent or Ben Compton) by the time the series against South Africa gets underway.

Overall this series has been hugely positive for England, and although India are likely to prove tougher opposition England are better placed than one could have imagined when they left the West Indies a few months ago with a record showing one victory in their last 17 test matches.

PHOTOGRAPHS

As always I conclude this post by sharing some of my photos…

A Draw in Antigua

A look back at the West Indies v England test match in Antigua.

The first test match in three match series between the West Indies and England ended in a draw yesterday. This post looks back at the match.

THE PRELIMINARIES

England made a cautious selection, opting for both Woakes and Overton, leaving out Saqib Mahmood. The West Indies meanwhile went for Holder at number six and four specialist bowlers as well. Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat first.

ENGLAND FIRST INNINGS

England made a disastrous start, slumping to 48-4. A fightback spearheaded by Bairstow and featuring good contributions from Stokes, Foakes and Woakes saw England end the first day 268-6 and possible back on track. On the second morning England battled on to 311 and it looked very much game on.

WEST INDIES FIRST INNINGS

West Indies did not score at all quickly, but they batted a very long time on a surface which had little life. Wood, the only bowler England had who was capable of bowling genuinely fast, left the field injured fairly early in the innings. Leach bowled well but without luck, keeping things tight but not taking wickets. Stokes, supposedly having his workload managed, was made to bowl 28 overs in the innings. Eventually the West Indies were all out for 375, Nkrumah Bonner scoring a very slow century to anchor the innings.

ENGLAND SECOND INNINGS

Zak Crawley delivered with the bat for once, and Root moved into second place on the England century makers list and became the leading scorer of centuries as England captain (24 in his career, still nine short of Alastair Cook’s tally and 13 as skipper). With Wood injured a measure of caution was necessary when it came to the declaration, and Root declared leaving WI a target of 286 in 70 overs.

WEST INDIES SECOND INNINGS

It was soon obvious that West Indies were not going to attempt the target, but when they lost their fourth wicket with quite a bit of time remaining England had genuine hope. Root made a point about his team’s mindset by staying out there until West Indies had six wickets left with only five balls to go – only then did he accept the draw. There was some adverse comment about this, but he did the right thing, not giving up on the chance of victory until he absolutely had to.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

England v India: Preliminaries and Opening Exchanges

A look at the opening exchanges in the England v India test series which got under way at 11:00 today.

The five match test series between England and India is under way, the first match at Trent Bridge having started at 11:00AM. This post looks at early developments.

ENGLAND SELECTIONS

England’s plans were thrown into confusion when Ben Stokes announced that he would be taking a break from cricket for mental health related reasons. I do not know when or even whether Stokes will return to competitive action – he should take as much time as he needs. However, neither that nor an injury to Ollie Pope excuse England’s actual selection. They have gone hypernegative, selecting only four front line bowlers none of whom is a spinner and none of whom is an out and out speedster. The team they have chosen is Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Bairstow, Lawrence, +Buttler, S Curran, Robinson, Broad, Anderson. I would have selected Hameed in place of Crawley, with him and Sibley then being in a bat off for who keeps their place in the side when Tom Abell, the man best equipped to bat three for England in this format, is fit again. I would not have selected Bairstow at all, going with Buttler at six and five genuine bowling options. My preferred line up from those available would have been Burns, Sibley, Hameed, *Root, Lawrence, +Buttler, S Curran, Robinson, Wood, Leach, Anderson. I regard the non-selection of Leach as criminal. In 16 test matches he has taken 62 wickets at 29.98 – that is his bowling average is the right side of 30 (only just admittedly) and he takes 3.875 wickets per match, which is around the par mark – most sides have five serious bowling options and to win you need to take 20 wickets, and 20/5 = 4. When then add in leaving out the only genuine speedster available, Wood, you have an attack that has no depth (only four front line options), and very little variety (three right arm fast mediums, all over six feet in height, with the only serious variation Curran’s left arm fast medium – no variation in pace whatsoever).

The side England have named has “picked to avoid defeat” rather than “picked to win” written all over it in bold capitals.

INDIAN SELECTIONS

Far fewer problems for the visitors although they somewhat surprisingly left out Ashwin, probably the best finger spinner in the world at the moment. They decided, again on ground of batting strength to rely on Jadeja as their sole spin option, with Thakur at eight and the three specialist quicks, Siraj, Bumrah and Shami at 9, 10 and 11. The alternative once they had decided on four seamers would have been take a chance an Ashwin at seven. While debatable this selection is not definitively wrong as some of England’s are.

THE PLAY SO FAR

England won the toss and chose to bat, the right thing to do on a sunny morning with clouds forecast for later in the match. They were off to a dreadful start when Burns fell in the first over. Sibley and Crawley held out for a while before Crawley was removed for 27. That brought Root to the crease and he and Sibley saw things through to lunch at 61-2. Sibley’s typically patient innings ended just after lunch, for 18,making the score 66-3. Root and Bairstow are still together at 73-3. Root is on 18, while Bairstow has reached two and has survived 15 balls which is quite impressive by his recent test standards. Bairstow has just scored a four off Bumrah to make it 77-3. Bumrah, Shami and Siraj have a wicket a piece.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off – the butterflies are out in force at the moment…

As I publish this post England are on 82-3, Root on 23 and Bairstow on 6.

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…

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…

The Case Against A Test Recall For Jonny Bairstow

The case against the proposed recall to the England test squad of Jonny Bairstow.

Apparently England are considering recalling Bairstow to the test squad due to an injury to Ollie Pope. In this post I set out the reasons why they should not be doing so.

TRIED AND UNTRUSTED

Bairstow was dropped from the test squad because he was consistently failing to deliver in that format. His brilliance in limited overs cricket is unquestionable, but the case of Jason Roy should serve as a warning. Roy had a fantastic 2019 World Cup, and was drafted into the test squad off the back of it. Save for one good innings against Ireland at Lord’s he never looked like making the grade as a test batter. Not only that, the knock that his confidence took through his failures in test cricket has impacted on his international white ball form to the extent that his place in the squad is now in jeopardy.

DANIEL LAWRENCE AND JAMES BRACEY

On any rational assessment Daniel Lawrence and James Bracey should be ahead of Bairstow in the queue for a test place. Both have fine recent first class records, both made runs in intra-squad games in the preparation for the Covid-hit 2020 home international season. I would probably opt for Lawrence of the two, but fully acknowledge the case for Bracey. Lawrence and Bracey are both very much players for the future, and the upcoming series in Sri Lanka would give them a chance to stake a long term claim, whereas Bairstow would be a very regressive selection.

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

The proving ground for long format players is supposed to the county championship, and even in the abbreviated 2020 season, where Essex and Somerset played six matches each and everyone else five more than one youngster accepted opportunities that came their way. The inclusion of Bairstow in a test squad would smack of ‘closed shop’ practices and look suspiciously like a slap in the face not just for the players I have actually named above, but for the County Championship. Jordan Cox of Kent had an amazing season, especially for someone who was still in his teens at the time (he has just turned 20), and has every right to expect a test call to come sooner rather than later, and like Lawrence and Bracey he would be more deserving of such than Jonny Bairstow.

The other alternative route the selectors could go down given his recent success with the bat is to promote Buttler to no 6 and give the wicket keeper’s role to Foakes. This too would be superior to the non-solution of a recall for Bairstow, especially if given the nature of Sri Lankan pitches they plan to elevate Matthew Parkinson, the young leg spinner.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some recent photographs…

100 Cricketers – The Fifth XI Allrounders

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, dealing with the all-rounders from my fifth XI, mentioning a couple of matches from today and incljuding some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, in which we shall look at the two all-rounders in the fifth XI. The introductory piece to the whole series can be found here, the piece in which I introduce the fifth XI here and the most recent piece here. Before I get to the main meat of the post there are two items of business to attend to.

ENGLAND WOMEN START T20 SERIES V SRI LANKA WITH BIG WIN

Having bowled Sri Lanka out for 94, with two youngsters, Linsey Smith (slow left-arm, 3-18 from her four overs) and Freya Davies (right-arm fast medium, 2-28 from her four) doing exceptionally well and the experienced Anya Shrubsole taking 2-20 from here four, England reached the target in 14.2 overs, for the loss of only two wickets, Tammy Beaumont unbeaten on 50 at the end. 

MCC V SURREY

The traditional curtain-raiser for the English first-class season, although it now takes place in Dubai, the MCC v Champion County fixture got under way today. It is the MCC’s (Marylebone Cricket Club) last remaining first-class game, and this time they picked the team from five county squads who were already out in Dubai. MCC reached 265 in their first innings, Daniel Lawrence (for whom international recognition must surely not be long away) top scoring with 58, while Will Rhodes (46) and Tom Abell (41) made significant contributions as well. South African born quick bowler Conor McKerr and the more locally born left-arm spinner Freddie van den Bergh each picked up three wickets. Surrey’s debutant wicketkeeper Jamie Smith took a catch, made a stumping and finished off a run out. In reply Surrey were 20-0 from three overs by the close. Now to the main business of this post, starting with…

+JONNY BAIRSTOW

An attacking batter and a good wicketkeeper, Jonny Bairstow earns his place at no 6 in this squad. Those who follow this blog closely will know that I have advocated that England play Bairstow as a specialist batter at no3, although at the moment, with 69 last time out Joe Denly is the man in possession, and unlikely to be dropped just yet. My reasons for this are twofold:

  1. England have problems at the top end of their order, with Cook having retired afvter an illustrious career, Stoneman recently been dropped for not being good enough, and Jennings obviously (to all save those so blind that they will not see) not up to the job at international level – a test batting average of 25.19 after 17 matches is practically down in the Brearley bracket without him having the captaincy skills to compensate. As you will see from this post, the second part of my solution to England’s top order problems is even more radical and features someone mentioned earlier in this piece.
  2. England have an even better wicketkeeper who is averaging over 40 so far in his brief test career in Ben Foakes, and it is he who should be donning the gauntlets for them.

In other words, England’s current needs dictate (at least to me) that Bairstow play as a specialist batter, but for the purpose of this series of posts I acknowledge his skills as a wicketkeeper by nominating him in that role. That leaves the number 7…

KAPIL DEV

The only player to have both scored 5,000 test runs (5,248 at 31.05) and taken 400 test wickets (434 at 29.64), Kapil Dev also captained India victory in the 1983 World Cup. For much of his career he had little or no recognized pace support in the Indian attack (even Manoj Prabhakar, his longest serving new-ball partner, was never much above medium). In 1990 at Lord’s Kapil Dev produced one of the most astonishing displays of hitting ever seen in a test match. England had made a massive 653-4 declared (Gooch 333), and in reply India were 430-9, and Narendra Hirwani, a legspinner who had taken 16 wickets in a remarkable debut against the West Indies, but was one of the most genuine of genuine number 11s was at the other end. India needed 24 to avoid the follow-on, and it was widely expected that getting them would save them the match. Kapil Dev rose to the occasion by htting off-spinner Eddie Hemmings for four successive sixes. As it happened, England made rapid runs in their second innings, Gooch scoring another century to rewrite the record books – his match aggregate of 456 remains a test record – and India failed to bat out time in their second innings, so the first innings rescue act was all in vain. 

In the next post in this series it will be the specialist bowlers from our fifth XI in the spotlight, and I will introduce the sixth XI in batting order.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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England One Day International Record

Some stuff about the ODI at the MCG, a neurodiversity quote, a mathematical puzzle and some photographs

INTRODUCTION

After the horrors of the Ashes test series it makes a change to write about a winning performance from an England cricket team in Australia. I also have a few other things to share of course, including more of my photos.

RECORDS GALORE AT THE MCG

The pitch at the MCG for the first of five One Day Internationals (50 overs per side) was a vast improvement of the strip they had produced for the test match, and the players produced a match worthy of the occasion. England won the toss and chose to field. England;s improvement in this form of the game since their horror show at the 2015 World Cup has been such that even before they started batting an Australia tally of 304 seemed inadequate.

England got away to a quick start, although Jonny Bairstow did a ‘Vince’ – looking very impressive for 20-odd and then giving it away. Alex Hales also fell cheaply, but Joe Root came out and played excellently, while Jason Roy produced the major innings that England needed from one of their top order. When his score reached 124 Roy had an England ODI record for the MCG, and that soon became an all-comers MCG record, to match Cook’s all-comers test record score for the MCG. When he went from 171 to 175 Roy establish a new England ODI individual scoring record. His dismissal for 180, with 200 just a possibility was a disappointment but by then the result was not in doubt, and even the loss of a couple more wickets in the dying overs served only to reduce the final margin. England won by five wickets with seven deliveries to spare, and it was a much more conclusive victory than those figures suggest because three of the wickets came with the outcome already settled courtesy of Roy. Joe Root also deserves credit for his support role to Roy’s pyrotechnics, a selfless display that saw him finish just short of his own hundred when the winning runs were scored. The Test squad has a lengthy shopping list of new players needed (two openers given Cook’s age, at least one new batsman for the middle order, a couple of genuine quicks and a serious spinner at minimum), but the ODI squad is in splendid fettle.

A CLASSIC NEURODIVERSITY COMMENT

This comes courtesy of twitter:

ND

PHOTOGRAPHIC INTERLUDE

Moorhenmixed birdslapwingsGulls and lapwings IItwo lapwingslapwing IIlapwing IGulls and lapwingsboat

A PUZZLE

Those of you who have read Alison’s response to my nominating her for a Blogger Recognition Award will have noticed that she specifically mentioned enjoying the puzzles that sometimes feature here. Here courtesy of the mathematical website brilliant is another:

Cioncatenation

PHOTOGRAPHS

The colony of muscovy ducks that I first saw in late 2017 are still in residence along a section of the Gaywood River that is close to where it enters The Walks en route to becoming the Millfleet, in which guise it flows into the Great Ouse…

Group shotdark muscovyGrey Muscovy IGrey Muscovy IIIMuscovy headdark muscoviesdark muscovy IIdark muscovy iiidark musciovi ivdark muscovy with white frontdark muscovies IIdark muscovies IIIdark muscovy with white front IIdark muscovy with white front IIIDark muscovy with white front VDark muscovy V

 

Ashes Composite XI

My composite Ashes XI with reasoning and justification. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A common feature of final days of series is the selection of a composite XI based on performances in said series. This is my effort for the current Ashes series. I am going to name my team in batting order first and then explain/amplify/justify these selections.

THE TEAM

My team in batting order (England player names in dark blue, Aus in green):

  1. Alastair Cook
  2. David Warner
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Steven Smith (Captain)
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)
  7. Mitchell Marsh
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jimmy Anderson

MY REASONING

The openers need no justification – the only major contribution from an opener not named Warner in the series was Cook’s monumental innings at the MCG. Number three is a thorny one. James Vince has demonstrated clearly that he does not belong there, and his huge score here at the SCG notwithstanding I remain skeptical about Usman Khawaja, hence my decision to promote England’s leading run scorer in the series to a position he occupies for his county. Number four, and with it the captaincy was the easiest selection of the whole lot. Shaun Marsh has not put a foot wrong since being called up to replace the inadequate Handscomb at number 5, and I regarded him as a must pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tim Paine have both had good series with the gloves, but I have opted for Bairstow as definitely the superior batsman. Mitchell Marsh has had a magnificent series, and was an absolute shoe-in at number 7, especially as Moeen Ali has had a terrible series – he has batted poorly in every match and his bowling average reads like a Bradman batting average. Of the specialist bowlers I have picked those at number 8,9 and 10 in the batting order are absolute stand outs. Number 11 was tricky, since Anderson with virtually no support has had a good series, and the better supported Hazlewood as also had a fine series. Accepting that even were it possible vivisection is not permissible (though ‘Anderwood’ is only one letter removed from a former test great!) I have opted for Anderson as I rate his the greater achievement. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Looking at the makeup of the team (and accepting that Hazlewood for Anderson and Khawaja for Malan would both be valid changes), Australian picks predominate in both batting and bowling, though it is especially the bowling, which in my team comes out at 4-1 (including all-rounder Mitchell Marsh) to Australia and is reality more like 4.3-0.7 (rating my selection of Anderson over Hazlewood as a 70:30 pick) which has split the sides. England have collected barely more than half of the 100 wickets that were available to them at the start of the series, whereas Australia assuming that they take the six England wickets that remain in this match will have managed 90, failing to take 20 opposition wickets only on the MCG pitch. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

I always like to include a few photographs in my blog posts, so I end with these recently taken pictures:

FW
The first five pictures were taken while walking to the Scout Hut on Beulah Street for Musical Keys yesterday.

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PW1
These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.

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