Can you believe we are STARTING an international series on 19 September. I haven’t seen anything so stupid since the T20 series against West Indies in 2011. Look it up. England open up their ODI campaign against the Caribbean Select XI at Old Trafford with the four subsequent matches at Trent Bridge, Bristol, The Oval and finally BransgroveDome. The international series ending in the dark at the home of the ECB stooge who kept his team up and filled it with Kolpaks. I find that fitting.
Of course we are building towards the 2019 World Cup and not, absolutely not, trying to squeeze the fruit so hard the pips squeak. When is too much just too much? Are Sky really demanding that we have to resort to Autumn Internationals? Is this nonsense absolutely necessary. Where are the players complaining that this series comes around one month before we travel to Australia for the only series that seems to matter to anyone these days? Where we define our status in world cricket, regardless of whether India are number one, or anyone else for that matter. Win the Ashes and you erase everything else for a while. But no. Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes will be dragged around England, risking injury on cold damp evenings to satiate television’s need for any form of international cricket to prevent their newly devoted channel being just masterclass, cricket’s greatest, endless repeats of their lunchtime features and a couple of ICC tournament reviews.
I think this is disrespectful to the visitors, the paying spectator, who is just expected to keep turning up for this (and they do) and the cricket fan. The County Championship has been decided so we aren’t in the embarrassing position where a TV company that has exclusive rights to the sport in this country for another 2 years is forced to ignore the conclusion when it was most likely to happen. Talk about catch a break. But then, who really cares about country cricket except the diehard cricket fan who is now treated like some circus freak show by the powers that be and that paragon of integrity (#39 in top arslikhan form) Empty Suit.
But we have a series to comment on, and this blog tries to keep up with all that is happening. I don’t really have a feel for who is playing, and what England are up to. Will Roy reclaim his place at the top of the order after a disastrous Champions Trophy and a first baller in the T20, or will Jonny keep the slot. Can Hales maintain his run of white ball form that has him among the most dangerous players in world cricket at the moment? Whispers are circling about Eoin Morgan – certainly at T20 level – and you know he has no capital in the bank with the ECB or media – those three ODI tons this year will soon be forgotten. Will Rashid be the ODI force he is now limited to? Can the bowling keep the scores down? And possibly most importantly, will England still play with the same ethos which makes them a good team to watch which, given the world’s predilection for meaningless, context-free, here today gone tomorrow T20 should be all that matters, right? It is, after all, the “entertainment business”. Who cares about winning when it’s the entertainment that matters. That’s what TV stations pay for. That’s what YOU want. Stop dragging out dull 280s. Only 350-400 matters now.
This is just the second ODI played between England and the West Indies at Old Trafford since the Viv Richard’s tour de force in 1984. I know many of our readers are of a certain vintage and will have no trouble recalling the greatest ODI innings I have ever seen, and will be ever likely to see, but for those that aren’t, you are the unlucky ones. So instead of going into an in-depth preview of an ODI game most of you on here don’t give a flying one, let’s indulge some nostalgia and enjoy…
People who say to me that the game has moved rapidly forward have a bit of a point, but only a bit of one. Watch the shots Viv plays in this innings. These are long boundaries, these are not the bats used in the modern game, and there weren’t fielding restrictions like today. This 189 was made on the back of a horrendous West Indies collapse, where Viv not only had to keep a decent pace up, but also had to marshall the tail. When Joel Garner was 9th out, the score was only 166. With this magnificent effort they got to 272 in 55 overs. With modern bats, possibly shorter boundaries, and the inability to put the field exactly where you want, this could have been well over 200. Yes, I know he had 5 overs more than the modern game, but still. Note – a three game series, played as an appetiser for the tests, in the height of summer.
Viv was the scariest batsman I have ever seen. I remember, vaguely, his double hundreds in 1976, and yet he scored just two test hundreds after that in four subsequent tours. This 189 was a gem, but once he’d made his 100 in the first test in the Blackwash series, he never made another international century in England. It didn’t matter. He was the masterblaster, the man you absolutely positively had to get out. He made yo want Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes to stay in for fear of what he might unleash. If Lara is the best I’ve ever seen (when on top form, I’ve seen nothing like him – so can it Sachin fans) then Viv is the one I’d most like to see in this era. I’m truly frightened what he could have achieved.
So while I indulge in nostalgia, it’s funny to compare the eras. The 1984 team, intent and completing world domination with a fire so strong, that no-one came close to putting it out for a number of years, compared to the current crop of traveling mercenaries run by a board so incompetent, Birmingham City are asking them for tips. Viv Richards was their icon, Chris Gayle this. Yes, Gayle has two test triple centuries, but you do have to wonder what Viv thinks about Universal God, or whatever it is he calls himself these days. Viv went off to Packer, that’s true. But his legend lives on, while Gayle’s is as a T20 gun for hire. In the interview with Sky on Saturday you did get the hint that Gayle still might regret slagging test cricket off, recognising that he might need to go back to that format. For that’s where true legends are made. Legends like Viv.
Makes the international gravy train, with its more is less culture seem rather puny to me. Enjoy the game. I’ll be online for most of it. Too much of anything is never enough. Not for the powers that be.
Agree that Viv was truly a phenom in ODIs.
Also agree that Lara was more devastating than Sachin when in form. I doubt even hardcore Sachin fans would doubt that statement. ,
Oh they do, Sri. Trust me.
Hardcore Sachin fans, as I found out on Cricinfo, were even prepared to argue that his double hundred at Gwailor was a greater innings than Viv’s 189*….
…I stopped commenting on Cricinfo shortly afterwards.
Depends on who you interact with on cricinfo. Most of the fans posting there from any country are jingoistic and would not be really people known for cricket awareness. Not worth debating with most and honestly I would not call them hard core sachin fans. .
Let’s say. in my early days of cricket blogging, when I made the contention that at their very peak, that Lara was the best I’d ever seen, a keen Sachin fan decided to argue.
When I said it was just an opinion.
When I said, OK. That’s enough.
I never said that Lara was the best ever over a long period. I said at their peaks, at their very best, I preferred Lara. If it was making the most runs, at the best average over a decade and a half I’d have picked Jacques Kallis. 🙂
I agree than from every view point when in serious form Lara outdid Sachin.
Sachin did much better however away against Oz, England, NZ etc than Lara did. This coupled with his consistency over time edged him ahead of Lara in many people’s assessments though there are analysts who still disagreel.
Just watched that video. What Sir Viv would have achieved in today’s game?
My friend sat next to him once on a flight to Antigua. (Viv’s friend gave up his seat for half an hour so they could chat) a few years back. Said he was a lovely guy.
Back in 2004 my friend and I were walking around the back of the Mound Stand during the break in the ODI and we looked up and Viv was walking next to us on the left. Now, I’m not one for over-enthusiasm but I felt I was in the presence of God. The man had an aura. An aura. I said to Trevor (my friend of many years despite being West Ham!) “look, it’s Viv” as if he didn’t have a clue! A couple of black fellas walked up to him and asked for an autograph. I stopped and listened, hoping he said yes and then getting my programme ready. “So sorry, man, but if I sign for you, I’ll be surrounded and I’m due on commentary in five minutes” He shook their hands and walked on – touched by God. And away he went.
I like my childhood and 291 is mine. He’s my cricketing formative years. He made me fear every single player who walked out to bat with a Stuart Surridge Jumbo. That was a deity walking away. And I was in his airspace.
Sometimes I act like a One Direction fan.
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I had the outrageous good fortune to be there for the 189*. Only decided to go on the day. Just about got in and sat on grass area between boundary rope and fence (wouldn’t allow that these days). I was just behind the long on fielder (Gatts I seem to remember). Still remember those two sixes off Neil foster sailing over my head and out of the ground. I really feel priveliged to have been there and witnessed the best innings I have ever seen. Even remember WI fans (there were loads at grounds then) haranguing our beloved derek Pringle saying he was useless and should stick to county cricket. Met the great man for a brief handshake in Barbados during 1990 tour (pre barmy army thank heavens). He was doing a radio interview in the hotel I was staying at. Yep he had that aura of god about him alright. Felt like an overgrown teeny bopper afterwards. Viv was my first real cricket idol. Best batsman I have ever seen full stop.
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I saw Sir Viv’s 145 at Lords in 1980. I was an impressionable 17 yr old.
Majestic innings. I still remember his back foot drive for four off Botham early in the innings. He went forward, saw the length was a little bit shorter than initially thought, rocked back and with a straight bat cracked it through extra cover. Glorious.
Also remember Joel Garner’s telescopic arms catching someone in the gulley. No one had a right to reach that far.
One thing not mentioned much is that all those West Indian players were good catchers in the slips. I know they got plenty of practice but not much went down.
I really did hate that West Indies team of the 70’s and 80’s. They hammered us (England) at every opportunity. It was merciless. Depressing for me in my late teens.
Now. It’s a different story. I’d give my right arm just to watch that team and those players play one more test at their peak. (Bradmans invincibles would be second I think)
Off topic I know but I’d love to see a post of which Test team of all time the writers would watch if they could.
I’m not a writer, but I would dearly love to see the WI 1970s/80s v Australia c. 1995-2006.
I have played these Tests on International Cricket Captain, *obviously*. Australia won the home series 3-2 after a frankly ridiculous 5th Test in Sydney in which WI led by 350 with 5 second innings wickets in hand, Warne took 8 wickets including the last five for peanuts, Hayden somehow made a run a ball hundred against the new ball and Australia chased 390-odd for the loss of only 5 wickets. But WI won the return series 3-1 (St. John’s being drawn) – the margin in the decisive match was only about 25 runs.
“Where are the players complaining that this series comes around one month before we travel to Australia for the only series that seems to matter to anyone these days?”
Well, the Australian players are being dragged around India for some white-ball nonsense at the same time so I guess it’s 1-1 in this department.
Australia had four of their likely Ashes starting line-up playing in the first ODI (Warner, Smith, Maxwell, Cummins) plus a couple of possibles in Cartwright and Wade.
True Simon. That said, they’ve played two test matches since the Champions Trophy, whereas we’ve played seven tests and our seasons started in May.
The players can at least put a halt to this grind, but weaken this position by understandably grabbing the T20 money if they can. AB de V is the tip of the iceberg. I fear for Stokes in particular.
Both teams have played 7 Tests this year.
Since the start of July?
The main point I’m making Simon is we are flogging our best players right up to the most important away series in our calendar. The Aussies will be at home. The Aussies have played two tests since the end of March.
Of course the point I’m making is that both boards are flogging their players into the ground. Australia have played less cricket June-September but then it’s their off-season so they would!
England’s Test specialists aren’t exactly overworked. They had the first five months of this year off and now are off from Sept 9th to Nov 4th (or 23rd if we don’t include Ashes warm-up games). The all-format players are the worry (I’d gave Stokes the ODI series off – and probably Ali and Root too. Woakes is a tricky one). But I’d argue the same is true of Australia’s all-format players (noticing that their entire first-choice opening attack is currently injured).
The whole English season was bent out of shape by the CT. That’s why we’re finishing so late. Thank heavens the ECB bullied their way into hosting it!
Can I say in advance that next summers schedule is stark raving bonkers as well. Assuming anyone is still standing after the NZ tour
Viv was the greatest I’ve seen (watching since 1975 – I just missed Sobers – peak Lara would be a close second).
Players should be compared to the norms of their era (unless that norm can be shown to be universal – which is obviously not the case with ODIs). Viv had an ODI SR of 90 in an era (1975-91) when the norm was 66. He sustained that over a huge number of matches and while averaging 47 (which was dragged down at the end because Viv played on a little too long). So that’s 25 points above his era’s SR norm or 36% above.
The only modern player who can match that is (ducks anticipated brickbats!) ABDV. He has an SR of 117 since 2014 while the norm is 85 and maintained an average of 65 while playing lots of games (yes really!). I’ve chosen 2014 as a benchmark because that’s when ODI SRs really took off.
The stats say ABDV is even better than Viv in ODIs but I wouldn’t agree. Why? I guess it’s the feeling that Viv did it when it really mattered. Specifically, there’s the 1979 WC Final – although to be fair to ABDV, he was going like a train in the 2015 WC SF when it rained and then his bowlers let him down. Then there’s that certain special something – Viv felt he was defining something whereas ABDV doesn’t (or perhaps he does define something – but it’s not something I like very much).
I still can’t quite forgive Viv for getting out in the 20s both times I saw him in the flesh though! (Those were in domestic one-dayers – one at Hove and one at Portsmouth).
Meanwhile, modesty forbids….
“This event will also be the official launch party of the publication of our wonderful new book: The Cricketer Anthology of the Ashes. This superb anthology showcases 100 years of peerless writing on the Ashes from The Cricketer magazine. Insightful new contributions from today’s best cricket writers including Gideon Haigh, Simon Hughes and Huw Turbervill sit alongside vintage reports, features and comment pieces from greats including Pelham ‘Plum’ Warner, EW Swanton and Christopher Martin-Jenkins. For only £35 (£30 if you are a subscriber) you can purchase a ticket for this event which will include a signed hardback copy of this book on its day of release. They will also be available to purchase on the night for £20. “
Well… that’s my number one sorted out when the annual vote comes.
Just by the by, this means that all of my chosen no.1s played for Middlesex!
I suppose Guy Tipping The Balance or whatever his name wrote it.
I’d start calling him Twiggy, but that besmirches Robert Hardy’s comic genius creation.
There he is. Up in the pantheon. Alongside Haigh.
Turbervill is quite a good writer (although not in Haigh or Atherton’s pantheon), but Hughes?! Dear God.
So grateful to you for that video. Reckon Viv had presence like no other.
I particular enjoyed the proper commentating. No “didn’t try to overhit the ball” every 5 minutes, no continual musing over seam position (this year’s Sky catchphrase) and no “has he got enough of it?” I do miss Benaud and Laker.
I was privileged to see Viv at Hove against Sussex and John Snow way back. He got a double hundred and made it look easy.
Ah, Viv… I missed the 70s (because of young age, not drugs), but he was my first sporting hero.
In other news, Bairstow gets the nod to open in the ODIs. I think this is good news (though not for Jason Roy), as one of the problems with YJB at #7 (and combined with scheduling etc.) means he just doesn’t bat enough. He needs time at the crease and opening in ODIs is about the only way he’s going to get some more.
Not sure why people thought Roy would walk back in. YJB as opener looks good to me and he didn’t exactly let us down in the semi-final, did he? Roy had a long run of iffy form and he’s not exactly bashed the door down to get back in as an Alex Hales has done this season (that sort of form, I mean).
Here’s his 80-odd in the 3rd ODI which includes several outrageous shots of Bob Willis.
Yep, I’m not sure we’ll see Roy again. Johnny’s too good.
Goodness me, that first six off Willis… The only Viv looked in any way hurried was when he was dashing off to beat the crowd.
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What stood out for me was the objectivity of Laker and Dexter just calling it as they saw it, not having to bolster the pride of the English team, not worried about losing friends by pointing out the wayward English bowling nor by praising the extraordinary batting. What might the moronic Swann have been saying in their shoes? You can tell that Lord Ted was relishing the decisive footwork and clean hitting
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This is high farce at Old Trafford. A lovely day in Manchester after a couple of days of on and off rain, has meant that some areas of the field are unfit. They are not likely to improve much as time goes by. They are kicking the can down the road by delaying inspections. Not good.
Blame is seemingly being assigned to the pop concerts over the summer. They’ve worn the field and sealed in the top. That’s not good either.
Easy to sit here and say get on with it. The ex-pros saying it are hypocrites. Journos get cheap responses. But then saying “imagine if x or y does their ACL” are also off the mark too. Take that attitude and you’ll only ever play in perfect conditions.
But on a day when all other teams are playing today, we have had a delay.
As I write 42 overs a side game.
There seems to be a large amount of apathy regarding this game today, and perhaps the series as a whole.
I think it a combination of the time of year, the fact we have seem alot of cricket this summer (both because of teh Chaps Trophy), and because it’s ‘only’ the west indies.
One thing I noticed is the highlights on 5 are tucked away at midnight. I know the match will finish mid evening, but that is taking the piss.
I really don’t want to be apathetic. But this is a dog and pony show at the end of the summer because we had an international tournament plonked into the June slot. The 50 over game is now very much the third wheel on a two wheeled bicycle, and outside of major tournaments, doesn’t get attention here, or very much outside.
And not feeling super after some sort of virus isn’t helping my bonhomie.
At least in chess you can resign. I am not exactly getting the impression that West Indies try their hardest. And if they do, well …