Sharjah – Day 5 – The Final Act

He's got us by the......
He’s got us by the……

This won’t be a long piece (it is). I’ve not had the best 48 hours (and thanks for those who have sent kind wishes, but the real sympathy must go to my cousin who lost her mum, and to mine and my wife’s friend who is about to lose hers), and added to that terrible stuff having a raging migraine and head cold is not the stuff to make you want to blog.

So let’s get that self-pitying stuff out the way before someone gets all prissy about it and I flee to some grotty South London boozer to avoid the flak.

Karl Marx once said that “Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes.” (and you don’t know how many deadly dull Marx quotes I had to go through to get to that one) and despite some of the more doom-prone members of my lovely comments section, I have seen some steps of real movement. I think James Taylor’s first innings was very promising. I think Jonny Bairstow hasn’t done at all badly with the bat. I think we’ve seen, in Mark Wood, a bowler who will do well on the sub-continent. It’s not all doom and gloom. But it’s not all sunshine and light either. Tomorrow, we’re going to need something special to pull this off, and hope is in short supply. This won’t be a draw. 240 in a day to level a series does not indicate that we’ll be trying to avoid defeat. They will deserve untold stick for that.

Now, I’ve got to be honest, and say that I’ve seen very little of the last three day’s play because I have a job. Following the game has come from comments here, and various people on Twitter. In a theme I’m going to adopt a bit more as the weeks go on, the tendency for extreme reactions in the press is getting tedious. This is, at one time, the worst display by spin some people have ever seen. Really? Is it? Richard Dawson? Simon Kerrigan? Ian Salisbury? Come on, people. I’ve seen England cough up 600 on pitches like this, and yes, they had good pace attacks too. I’m not saying our spinners are the world’s best, but we are a bit hanging judge here. If it’s not the worst ever, it’s the greatest ever, and yes, we’ve heard that about Broad and Anderson. There was an article I linked from Awful Announcing, which people have picked up here, about the Kardashianisation of Sports Reporting. These are good people (and not so good) resorting to this pants on fire, I don’t remember yesterday type stuff. It’s ADHD reporting and ex-pros are the worst at it. I’m looking at Shiny Toy Vaughan in particular.

This has been a series to appreciate stuff we’ve missed. Younus Khan, Misbah, Cook’s 263, Root’s consistency, the tantalising flair, if just for one afternoon, of Adil Rashid. There’s the two Khan’s Yasir and Imran, different in approach, in reputation, in appreciation of their talents. The left arm fury of Wahab on a mission, or the metronomic consistency on pitches with little assistance by Anderson and Broad. To lose this series 2-0 would not be a disgrace. They have come on some way for the experience, but lost key parts to it. More of this is for review if I get the chance, but this has been a series to savour, when I’ve seen it. It’s not the breakneck, madhouse that is Ashes cricket, but what test cricket was like when I was younger. Wickets were hard earned, but so were runs. Chances had to be taken, because they were few and far between. Hafeez has probably sealed the series, but is there one more chapter to be written. One more story of derring-do to finish this contest.

I still have hope…

It was noted that Kevin Pietersen made 115 this evening for Sunfoil Dolphins. I’ve not seen the strength of anti-reactions I usually see, which indicates that the print media have now sought to leave this be. Maybe. I saw some made a case, which any sensible person would back, that he should be in our World T20 team. I saw some doubt the class of opponent. It is what it is. He still is a damn fine player. That’s not the issue, and I wish people would stop that pretence. It’s personal. The end.

Australia host New Zealand in the first test at the Gabba (reminding me of my trip down that way in the same week in 2002 – oh those memories). Personally, I think Australia will win pretty comfortably, probably 2-0, maybe even whitewashing them. They are playing on the three wickets that would suit the hosts the most, and while it will be entertaining, it may bring the Aussies back up to their confident best/worst. There are huge question marks, but Aussie seems to regenerate better than most.

India v South Africa tomorrow as well, I believe. In Mohali. Again, a fascinating series, and will depend on the pitches put up for the games. South Africa are resilient on all surfaces, and I fancy a drawn series. Maybe 1-1?

Kusal Perera. You poor thing. Something about 99s.

A couple of things I saw from domestic cricket around the globe. How about those Sui Southern Gas Corporation guys who torched (geddit) Hyderabad in a pretty one-sided affair, with a particularly inflammable subject taking 5 for 29 in the first innings. He even added 60 to SSGC’s first innings pouring oil on troubled waters for the hosts. Enough of that.

We could be on the brink of another double ton early on tomorrow……

Comments on all the international cricket, a hope that Nathan Lyon’s #1 fan makes a seasonal reappearance, and that we can all enjoy the valedictory pieces of our press-men, as many come home after the test series.

As tradition dictates……”comments below”