A far better day for England than they’ve had in Test cricket in a fair while, and one where they have the chance tomorrow to take a hold on this game and get in a position to win their first Test in nine matches. What it doesn’t do is change any of the issues England have, and nor should it be deemed as evidence that all is suddenly rosy in the garden of English cricket once again. To do that would be to ignore the mounting evidence in favour of living purely in the moment and excusing the structural problems that have been there for some time, and were merely brought into focus last week.
That England bowled well, given conditions in which the ball swings should be no surprise to anyone. That when dismissing the opposition for a small total batting seems much easier should also be something to be expected, for the game has not changed so much that the fundamentals no longer apply.
Perhaps it is reading too much into things to see Vaughan’s suggestion that Broad be dropped as providing a kick up the backside, for it would suggest that a player who has been England”s best performer even on tours where the rest of the team has been abject has been coasting, which although a barb aimed at him regularly, doesn’t always accord with his overall record. Broad himself wasn’t having any of it, suggesting after play that the criticism was as much about people promoting their newspaper columns as anything else. One thing that can be said for Broad, he often eschews the anodyne media speak and says what he thinks – it’s sufficiently rare these days to be notable.
Nevertheless, today he was excellent, pitching the ball up, as he does when he is at his very best, and looking the lethal predator he so often appears to be in such conditions. Anderson too, although often tidy outside off stump rather than threatening, showed his ability in helpful conditions once more. There is nothing in what happened today to change the view that when circumstances allow, they are as good as anyone. That is not damning with faint praise, but a reflection of their very considerable skills.
Sam Curran was given his debut after Ben Stokes failed a fitness test, while Mark Wood was the usual bowling sacrificial lamb in response to an abject batting display. This remains very odd, for Wood may not have been fantastic at Lord’s, but nor was he especially poor, particularly when the bowling attack as a whole was given little chance in defending such a poor score. Nor does the argument that he struggles with back to back Tests hold up given England’s seamers hardly were flogged into the ground over five days.
It’s not that none of the arguments are unreasonable, it’s that if they do why pick him to begin with? It seems what it always has done – muddled thinking. Brought in for a single Test, and then discarded. It’s hard to escape the cynical feeling that perhaps his best avenue would be to improve his batting.
Curran himself picked up one wicket to close out the innings, and bowled tidily enough for the most part without looking especially threatening or especially quick, which shouldn’t be so shocking from a 19 year old, and nor should he be judged upon it. That will be on the selectors, for he is a promising cricketer who needs to be nurtured.
Wisdom after the event might dictate that choosing to bat first was the wrong decision, but few expected the degree of movement that transpired, certainly not the commentators, nor it seemed the England team who would have chosen to bat as well. Sometimes it just happens that way.
At 79-7 Pakistan were really staring down the barrel, but Shadab Khan and Hasab Ali at least provided some respectability with a counterattack, that as normal left the bowlers looking somewhat bereft of ideas. Lower order hitting remains one of the more pleasurable sights on the Test cricket field.
In reply, England looked generally comfortable. Keaton Jennings made a decent contribution without going on, Alastair Cook looked in good touch – his late dismissal being down to being too early on the pull rather than too late – while Joe Root looked like Joe Root does. The evening session had some playing and missing, but no more than might be expected from a Headingley Test, and concluding 68 behind and with 8 wickets in hand, England look very well placed to take control.
Cook himself was setting a record with his 154th consecutive Test. It is to be hoped that someone, somewhere one day breaks his record – not for a second because he doesn’t deserve to enjoy a remarkable feat, but because it would mean that Test cricket remains healthy in the future. But it appears distinctly likely that this will remain his for all time. In which case, it remains remarkable, though perhaps not quite so much as Dave Nourse who played every Test of South Africa’s first 22 years in the game. Cook’s achievement is outstanding, Nourse’s is extraordinary.
And yet. The one thing that typifies England’s batting is its brittleness, and should tomorrow be a bowling day, as the forecast perhaps suggests, then Pakistan are anything but out of it.
England’s day by a significant margin, but they’re not there yet.
I presume “that’s just the way Cook plays” is going to be the line on his shot selection?
(I don’t actually care, but you just know if Root had gotten out like that we’d hear a lot more about it.)
Not much else to add, a return to our home bowling form, alongside a bit of luck with the toss.
I think it would take a lot for England to mess this up from this point… Pakistan will be hoping that the showers tomorrow bring a bit of extra for the bowlers.
England went with a night watchman at two wickets down, and only 70 runs behind? Confident then?
Perhaps they should make Shinny toy coach. He has had more impact on Broad than all the other backroom jokers. It’s all very well claiming he had no effect Stuart, but why did it take this for you to start to perform? Save it for your book.
Night watchman? Not a bit of it. Dom Bess earned his stripes at Lords and is England’s new no. 4. I understand he bowls a bit of part time off spin too, but clearly that’s not why he was picked.
They’re a bit between a rock and a hard place on this one after Bairstow didn’t use one in the Ashes and got out. There are arguments either way, but it would be good if they settled on a policy and stuck to it. Bess at least can bat a bit tomorrow.
Joking aside, using a night watchman at this juncture is interesting given the talk of the middle order all batting one place too high. If Bess manages to stick around for a bit in the morning he’ll have protected Malan and Bairstow and made a collapse that bit less likely (no, not impossible – this is England 2018 – just less likely). So I’d say, given England’s recent batting fragility, it was a pragmatic move. It’ll be interesting to see how Buttler decides to play if England have actually got themselves a bit of platform by the time he comes in.
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Good summary TLG and glad to see the realism, that one good bowling spell does not mean all is suddenly rosey.
Just to pick up on one thing, something I have been pondering. At the the end of the last thread/post a few of us were discussing why we would not label Broad and Anderson all time greats. TLG you rightly point out that they bowled well today, as they often do, when conditions suit them. With Broad, however, this is not always true and why, he is even more frustrating.
Broad has shown, such as in the 2013 ashes in Australia and in the UAE in 2012, that he can bowl extremely well on flat decks that don’t offer assistance. I really think he had it in him to be truly world class; he can be effective on any wicket. His inconsistency, however, has hampered him, which is why he is often referred to as mercurial and is so frustrating! I think Anderson has achieved to the maximum of his ability, however, Broad has underachieved in relation to his potential.
He’s definitely underachieved with the bat, which is relevant in the sense that he could have been near all rounder status like a Wasim or Hadlee.
It’s a very interesting question that. His overall figures are skewed by his very poor start, but (and statsguru isn’t working for me at the moment, and I wanted to look it up), if my guess is right and he’s averaging about 25 with the ball over the last five or six years, how is that not world class?*
*my guess might be wrong. The hell with it, I’ll go for a punt as above!
Last 5 years:
Stuard Broad: 61 tests, 219 wickets, average 27.34
Jimmy Anderson: 56 tests, 231 wickets, average 23.43
Stuart Broad: 118 tests, 414 wickets, average 29.03
Jimmy Anderson: 138 tests, 538 wickets, average 27.26
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Thank you sir. A trifle higher than I expected for him. He’s not had a great recent period. I’d still say 27 is world class – if not world beating. Not many are that good.
Those Anderson figures are exceptional though.
Cheers. Yes I think it’s very good during this era of inflated averages.
It’s very interesting to look at both Anderson and Broad’s cumulative bowling averages through their careers:
Anderson averaged 39 after first 20 tests. Broad averaged 40 after 20 tests. They’ve done extremely well to drag those averages down to where they are.
Yes they are, I am shocked by that, very impressive and definitely world class!
Thanks for these impressive stats. Broad and Anderson are a pair of uniquely, special bowlers. We’ve been lucky to have them.
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They’re the best English bowlers I’ve ever seen. Simple as that. Not perfect, not all time cricketing greats, but the best we’ve produced in a long, long time.
Edit: I need to qualify that – I’m talking about actually seen live.
Sorry perhaps my phrasing was wrong, by truly world class, I really meant all time great. I think Broad had it in him to be right up there. No doubt 25 to 27 odd over past 5 years is world class by current standards, but not in ‘all time’ terms, that would be someone like Steyn.
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Oh I agree. World beating definitely not. World class over their careers, yes I would say so.
I do suspect we’ll look on Broad and Anderson with a lot more fondness when they’ve finished than we afford them now. Especially us English, and not just because of a negative perception about the future.
It’s been frustrating at times certainly, but it’s also been a privilege to watch them. I find it very hard to be too critical of them: I get their weaknesses totally, but in the right conditions they’re utter magicians.
I would argue that what is really remarkable about their careers is not wickets taken or averages, but matches played.
For two fast bowlers to play 138, and 118 test matches, and still have more in the tank is rare. Most fast bowlers never have that kind of longevity of fitness. Most break down with back or some sort of shoulder injury’s after a period of time.
Averages a shade under 30 are very good, but not all time great status. What has made them England’s two leading wicket takers of all time is longevity of career. Who knows why this has been achieved? Modern sports science? diet? self discipline? or maybe just luck. Perhaps their bodies are very robust to wear and tear. Who knows? Certainly without them and particularly at home England would have been up the creek without a paddle. If you think England are bad now wait till they are gone. We might be playing Ireland and Zimbabwe a lot more.
Take your point, but Anderson’s average is a bit better than “a shade under 30” and it’s still dropping. It only dipped under 30 four years ago, and under 29 two years ago.
By the time he finishes, it might well be in the 25s, and that does put him into a very fine category indeed – not a Glenn McGrath, but certainly comparable with say, Walsh.
He’s had a fair bit of stick recently, but it’s an average of 19 over the last 15 Tests, which is seriously impressive.
I’m not saying he’s immune from being questioned or that he’s someone we should elevate to GOAT status, but even apart from the longevity, it’s become a hell of a record.
And if we are going to do the marginal comparisons, Anderson also has a better strike rate than Walsh or Pollock. Steyn’s strike rate by the way is utterly absurd.
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Not too belittle them, but you also have to put their longevity in the context of international cricket, and the remuneration they receive compared to say Boult, Southee, Steyn, and a whole host of other quicks, who don’t happen to be from the lesser nations (moneywise).
Mark Wood makes about 8 times as much on his central contract as Boult and Southee do. So not strange that Boult and Southee waste a bit of their Test bowling potential to make a bit of money as their talent well warrants (and that is fully justified IMO).
Also, unlike their predecessors, Broad and Anderson don’t play that much domestic cricket. Botham played 300 (non-Test) first class games. For Anderson, the count is currently 90. So in terms of days on the field, quicks from the past are still way ahead of Anderson (at the moment, Botham has over his career bowled about 15 000 more balls than Anderson in FC games (Tests included).
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I would agree with most of that. I believe he is the better bowler of the two, and his record of reducing his average in recent years is very impressive. That is because he gets the ball to swing in a way most other bowlers can’t deliver. My only criticism is if it doesn’t swing (quite often away from home) he tends to waste the new ball by bowling inocuous balls outside the off stump, which batsman are happy not to score off, therefore keeping his runs average down.
Broad on the other hand tends to have magic spells where he can win an entire test match in one session. We certainly won’t see these records ever beaten in my view because I doubt there will be the amount of test matches played in future years. Is any bowler going to play 138 test matches in the future in a world of 20/20?
The longevity issue could also been extended to Cook. Not the best technique in the world or indeed a style of batting you would pay to watch, but very effective, and very long lasting. Interesting they have all emerged at the very same time. Freak of nature? or something more profound of the modern era?
May have mentioned in a previous piece that I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they all came through in an era where red ball cricket was prioritised… 😉
Anderson and Broad make an effective pair. I can understand the pain for English fans that despite these two, they have ended up losing many matches. If two such bowlers had played for India with the fab 4 away, India would have been much more successful.
It is almost as of they wish to protect their economy rates rather than get wickets at times. Must be very frustrating for supporters of the England team. Coupled with the egos and sense of entitlement, I can understand why they are jekyll and Hyde to English fans despite their excellent record playing for England.
Still can’t help but think that this England batting lineup has a fair chance of succumbing to around 250 and Pakistan having enough on the board for Shadab to have a real go 4th innings.
I was actually a bit annoyed by Jimmy yesterday morning. In his 8 over opening spell he didn’t aim at the stumps ONCE. He improved after lunch, but it was Woakes who took the two set batsmen out.
Hoping for it to hoop around this morning. I think it might have been the correct decision to bat yesterday if you’d had Dean Elgar and Mike Atherton opening, as the pitch looked fine, and once the sun burst through with the older ball (Shadab was in at this point) it became a lot easier.
Finally some play. 2:45 start.
Root’s gone. Whisper, whisper… He didn’t even get to 50 this time, let alone convert a promising start into a century. And he scored fewer than Alastair…
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Fairly sensible response to Broad from Vaughan
I agree Sri , I’m finding it Interesting this spat between Broad and Vaughan. It’s a long time since we saw someone on the MSM media call out one of the too big to fail players.
“I think it was a bit of a wild guess,” Broad said, before suggesting Vaughan was motivated by self-publicity. “It’s [about] personal columns and radio shows that need ‘likes’ and airtime, isn’t it?”
That may be true, but I don’t think this helps Broads case…..
(Broad also confirmed that he had phoned Vaughan to register his “disappointment” at the comments.)
Well, it obviously was not something he brushed off lightly then? We all have issues with shinny toy but, I think this did need saying. The set up was too comfortable and cushy. Im not really sure that is a good look when a player starts phoning the media to complain. Rather suggests the whole ECB/media set up as been far too matey for too long.
By the way, isn’t Isn’t that what the coach is supposed to do? Call players out?
Broad always an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and reminds me always of Draco malfoy 😁.
Good bowler most of the time including in most away tours but has been given too much license by the people managing team behavior and also by match referees. Same applies to Anderson.
Actually, both have made great contributions to English cricket and deserve to be very popular with fans but their poor attitude leads to their getting disliked by many fans with a lot of fans not being able to identify with them.
To use an Indian example, every Indian fan felt good about Kapil dev. Broad and Anderson have done a lot for England but people mostly have a negative view of them. Surprisingly, they have not been able to look inward and change for the better
While we are aware that there has been a been a bit of a schism in the cricket management group that Vaughan is infamously aligned to, let me just say that one of those people in that original management group with Shiny Toy was….Stuart Broad. Given Vaughan also, supposedly, worked quite hard on the group’s behalf, Broad might also be aware that a fellow client would be… the England captain. If you remember last year, Shiny Toy had a pop at England after the Trent Bridge defeat to South Africa saying the team disrespected test cricket and Root reportedly got upset.
Given Vaughan is described as being close to Root, I wonder if Joe gets Vaughan to float stuff out there to get attention. Maybe that’s me being cynical. Maybe I’m off beam. But I wouldn’t put it past this lot, not at all. Shiny Toy gets to break the story, say the unsayable and then pronounce “it’s only an opinion”, but he’s close to this team, no matter what Broad said.
I didn’t know some of that, thanks boss. I don’t follow all the ins, and outs of who works for who.
What I do know is that it was time some of the senior players got called out. Nobody else in the media will do it. (Don’t want to lose access at the ECB) On that issue I support what shinny toy did.
However, there may well be other nuances of how and why it was done. That I can completely believe. English cricket is a swamp. Watch out for swamp creatures.