C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas le test cricket: c’est de la folie
If Pierre Bosquet were alive today he might have uttered those words…. the French Army general wasn’t too familiar with the suburbs of Birmingham, but if he lived another 150 years and had perchanced upon one of the ECB’s phenomenally expensive match tickets, he’d be shaking his head at this nonsense, every much as he might have done at Cardigan’s finest. Well, maybe not.
But it has to be said, this is madness cricket. We have a slightly helpful wicket, two teams who know their weaknesses are their batting, and with some ridiculous macho bullshit drivel of positivity and aggression come what may. This nearly resulted in a two day test match, the surest way to make a cricket board and a TV station tear their hair out. Two teams playing as if they want two days off, and looking like they’ll do it with something to spare. Someone ring the Belfry and block off those Saturday and Sunday tee times to ruin their weekends!
My phone alert for wickets are going off mid-meeting so that the person sitting next to me thinks I have a nervous tick. I’m looking at the phone constantly, not believing there isn’t an alert within five minutes of the last one. These appear to be two teams who refuse to slow down.
Is it entertaining? Of course it is. The two team’s weaknesses are as stark as their strengths. You can’t predict this nonsense. There are several players nowhere near permanent test class on either team when it comes to the bat. If you get the gun players cheap (Aussie’s top three, The Deer Hunter, FEC and when he’s on Ian Bell) then the rest of the team seem to fold. Moeen Ali being a glorious exception for England, and so far, Peter Nevill for the Aussies. At Lord’s Australia’s batsmen won them the game by applying the scoreboard pressure and putting the wind beneath the bowler’s wings. At Cardiff, we outbowled Australia, and we are doing it here. It’s lovely to see Steven Finn back on song. Some people should be hanging their heads at this. The same theory applied to Thorpe (what else does he bring to the table but runs) was applied to Finn, and the rest is history. He fell apart at the seams after he was dropped and became unselectable (I was screaming at the TV when he was bowling at Trent Bridge in 2013). Now he’s back with a little ole bang, with five for in this innings (and three more on offer) and the England bowling cupboard does not seem so bare – except for the worrying injury to Anderson which is not clear in its severity just yet.
I’d also like to take time out to praise Stuart Broad’s knock. He dug in, supported Moeen Ali, and put on a massively important 87 with our bearded wonder. He’s taken an amazing amount of stick, but he’s responded. Fantastic to see, because he could be really, really useful if it his batting prowess is coming back.
So, Australia are a few ahead with three wickets remaining. TLG has tickets tomorrow, so may have some time off to explore local hostelries. This may not last until lunch. If it’s still going at tea, we might have a right old test match. They somehow eke out 100 more runs, and our mettle will be tested.
But, let’s face it. England’s position est magnifique, and this match has certainly been a folie. Pierre would have been doing his pieces.