England v Ireland, One Off Test*, Day 2 – Same Old Shit, Plus Jack Leach

Wally Hammond. Herbert Sutcliffe. Sir Len Hutton. Jack Leach. Just four of the 28 English batsmen of all-time to have Test career averages above 45 as opener, and Leach is the only one to do so since Strauss’ retirement in 2012. Scoring 92 runs from 162 balls, the opener from Somerset has almost certainly secured his place in the side for the forthcoming Ashes series.

Jason Roy also showed some of his one-day form in this innings, having been demoted to three. Smashing 72 from 78 balls is an impressive feat in Test cricket, and showed how he was probably always better suited for the middle order. England’s issue is that they only have one capable top order batsman in Leach, and seven or eight who would be best suited batting at five.

Not that this should be any excuse for what happened after their talismanic opening bat lost his wicket. When Murtagh finally tempted Leach to edge one to slip, the ball was 45 overs old and the Irish had been fielding in sweltering conditions for half of the day. It was a huge opportunity for England’s aggressive batsmen to annihilate the tourists in great conditions, and instead they folded like a cheap deckchair. From 182/3, they slid to 249/7. Bairstow bagged a pair, although at least he got his pad in the way of one instead of being clean bowled this time. Denly had a comedy run out, although he wasn’t laughing. Moeen Ali edged a short ball to the wicketkeeper. Root failed to convert his promising start into a fifty. It was deja vu all over again.

And so, for the umpteenth time, it fell to the bowlers to put a respectable face on proceedings. The 8th, 9th and 10th wicket partnerships have added 65 runs so far, taking England’s lead to 181 runs. That is already a tough task for Ireland, having been restricted to 207 in their first innings. If Broad and Stone were able to add another 20 runs for the final wicket tomorrow then you might say England were favourites to win.

The day ended prematurely with thunderstorms and rain, which has the pleasant side effect of ensuring a decent amount of play tomorrow (weather permitting). Sean ( @thegreatbucko ) and Chris ( @thelegglance ) both have tickets for day three (although not seated together), so there will likely be in-depth match reports from them in the coming days. Once the hangovers wear off, at least.

Ireland have a real shot of a famous first Test victory at Lord’s tomorrow, and it could well be an exciting climax. No doubt the opportunity to do it against England will make it even sweeter for the Irish.

If you have any comments on the game, or embarassing pictures of Chris and Sean in the stands tomorrow, post them below.

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51 thoughts on “England v Ireland, One Off Test*, Day 2 – Same Old Shit, Plus Jack Leach

  1. Sean Jul 25, 2019 / 7:14 pm

    How long have you followed me Danny? It’s @seanbcricket, tsk tsk

    Like

  2. quebecer Jul 25, 2019 / 9:07 pm

    Much as he’s easy to love, Moeen’s batting is a serious concern. He’s one of those people who always looks awful when he gets out (especially early) but he’s just not scoring at all – and hasn’t been for a considerable while. Hate to say it, but I don’t think he should be picked for Aus. Leach is a better bowler, and Mo’s batting is adding nothing.

    Woakes too has had a terrible test, and should also be looking over his shoulder. The point was made (and very fairly) the other day that his record in England over the last two years is very good – and the powers that be certainly love him. However, that record stands up when looking at averages, but not when examining how many games he’s positively influenced. Scurran averages less with the bat and more with the ball, but those runs are far more consistent, rather than skewed by one big score. Similarly, Scurran’s wicket taking is also more consistent over the series he’s played, as well as being important in those games.

    I’m not suggesting it should be Scurran over Woakes, just that Woakes isn’t helping us win as much as his home averages suggest.

    As for the top 3, god knows.

    Like

    • Northern Light Jul 25, 2019 / 10:20 pm

      It’s all very well looking at how good a player is with reference not just to his averages, but you have to remember that he does play for Surrey. Now I have nothing against Surrey as such, but….well….. you know, they need all the players they can muster right now or they’ll be a minor county once the ECB Franchine Bonanza takes over….

      Like

      • Quebecer Jul 25, 2019 / 10:56 pm

        Yeah, and he”s short too.

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    • dlpthomas Jul 26, 2019 / 2:39 am

      I agree with dropping Moeen and I’d drop Bairstow as well (or at the very least, take the gloves off him). Foakes is a better keeper and has a better technique with the bat. Bairstow has talent but there is something “flighty” / “high maintenance” about him and his performance in the first innings was bizarre.

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    • dlpthomas Jul 26, 2019 / 2:43 am

      “As for the top 3, god knows”

      Maybe some of Archer’s mates back in Barbados can bat

      Like

    • Quebecer Jul 26, 2019 / 1:35 pm

      Ahem. I hope you all appreciate the enormous effort I’ve been making to reverse jinx Chris Woakes, directly leading to his 6fer this morning. Yes,that’s it. That’s what I was doing.

      Like

    • dannycricket Jul 26, 2019 / 3:24 pm

      A good man wouldn’t come back to say “I told you so” to everyone who doubted Woakes in the comments.

      Fortunately, I never claimed to be a good man…

      Like

      • Quebecer Jul 26, 2019 / 3:28 pm

        🙂 there is perhaps a discussion to be had over certain performances padding stats, but somehow I feel it should be on another day.

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        • Marek Jul 28, 2019 / 9:19 pm

          Well, it’s now another day!

          It’s not whether or not one game is performance padding, or his ability to influence games, that worries me–it’s that for most of the time his Test record as a bowler has been abysmal.

          If I remember correctly, until this test, taking out the three-month period in 2016 when he was wonderful, he averages over 60 and has a strike rate of over 100. That’s nowhere near Test quality. And it’s not as if he’s a promising young bowler any more…

          Like

  3. dArthez Jul 26, 2019 / 10:14 am

    Looks like the weather gods are favouring England again.

    Like

  4. Metatone Jul 26, 2019 / 10:18 am

    Ireland need 182 to win.
    Great chance, they just need to stay calm and accumulate.

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    • metatone Jul 26, 2019 / 10:27 am

      Rain delay – hope it’s a short one – but again, staying calm will be Ireland’s biggest challenge.

      Like

  5. dArthez Jul 26, 2019 / 10:21 am

    In other news, Mohammad Amir has announced his retirement from Tests. Has nothing to do with the financial state of Test cricket outside of the Big 3, I am sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dArthez Jul 26, 2019 / 10:43 am

    With regards to that 45 average stat, it should be noted that 7 of those played as an opener in 1 Test only (6 of whom in one innings only), with Downton (1984, one innings) and Vaughan (38 Tests) be the last to have done so. Basically, England have had one regular opener in the last 35 years who averaged more than 45 while opening.

    Just 7 England batsmen managed to open and average 45+, from a minimum of 10 Tests (as openers). Mind you, India and Pakistan had 2, Sri Lanka had none, South Africa had 5, West Indies 3, New Zealand 2, and Australia 14. Australia are clearly the outlier here, and even then they average just 1 45+-opener per decade.

    Which seems to suggest that for an opener to average 45 is something special (and I honestly would not be surprised if the readers here can name the majority of openers on these lists).

    Like

  7. nonoxcol Jul 26, 2019 / 1:00 pm

    Nothing that’s happened in the last few days has changed my view that the quality of Test cricket is at a lifetime low, and that by a distance.

    I just don’t want to see sub-100 totals unless the likes of Marshall are responsible. I remember the low totals from Eng v WI in 2000 feeling special due to rarity value. Now they seem to turn up every couple of matches.

    Awful shit.

    Liked by 2 people

    • pktroll (@pktroll) Jul 26, 2019 / 1:08 pm

      Sadly I can only agree. The batsmanship from England, including their senior players was overwhelmingly lamentable. There has been some cooing from people of Murtagh, and an Ireland fan of my knowledge about Adair and how he was a potential class act I am not going to decry the efforts of those bowlers, but to suggest either are true international class test match bowlers is more than a little previous. Credit to their performances but what dross England’s main batsmen served up.

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 26, 2019 / 1:11 pm

      This is not going to go down well with the grow the game brigade, but here goes.

      I am on the horns of a dilemma. I would love to see more test teams, as long as they were good enough to play – and yes, that’s snobbery. I think that performances like today, where Ireland get skittled out for 38 demean the game, not enhance it. And yes, there will be “but they bowled England out for 85” and there is a point there, but there were reasons of our overwhelming arrogance that played a part there. Do you not think that if Ireland played a test against India or Australia at this time, we might be looking at record margins. Yet, I know, that the only way they improve is to play the established nations more often. But does granting Ireland a four day test, over in just over 2 days, with a record low score at Lord’s with England playing a 1 1/2 XI is good for the sport?

      I didn’t care about this match. Other than rage at England’s dreadful first innings collapse, the abject commentary and the feeling that this wasn’t a test match, more an Ashes warm-up. Just 12 days after a high, there’s the sense we are watching the sport drown again. Sub-standard cricket for a sub-standard audience. I genuinely couldn’t give two hoots about this match now it is done.

      Now a knackered England take on Australia after about five minutes to breathe. This ain’t going to be pretty. If the wickets turn out to be good for batting we will, make no mistake, be utterly battered. If they have some life in them, England might have a chance in a bowling contest. Whatever, it has all the portents for sub-standard rubbish, and this time we won’t have an Alastair Cook double hundred to get all wound up about.

      Liked by 2 people

      • dlpthomas Jul 26, 2019 / 1:33 pm

        Test cricket is Atherton vrs Donald not what ever the hell that game was. The only thing I’d disagree with is the suggestion that “England might have a chance in a bowling contest”. I think Australia has a better batting line up and their players are smart enough to have learned how to bat in England from the last tour.

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      • REDRUM106 Jul 26, 2019 / 2:01 pm

        I take on board all the points you make here and clearly being bowled out for 38 is not good enough even though they did bowl us out for 85, but just to add some context it took New Zealand 45 test matches and 26 years (1930-1956) before they registered their first Test victory. That was in a different time when teams performances weren’t scrutinised to the nth degree like they are now but it does illustrate what a massive gulf there can be between domestic first class and test cricket (not that Ireland even have a first class structure) If I was an Ireland supporter I would be more disappointed by their abject fielding display yesterday than by being rolled for 38 by two high class bowlers in helpful conditions.

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        • LordCanisLupus Jul 26, 2019 / 2:31 pm

          Of course, RedRum, your points are all really good ones. Sri Lanka took a while too to really get going, and Bangladesh only now are a force at home, and they’ve been cracking on for 20 years.

          But with all the truly great bowling attacks there have been over the years, 38 all out is sad. I would much rather we scrap “status” for test matches and have a league over a couple of years, but we all know that if there is a prospect of relegation, England, India and Australia would not sign up. Divisions of six would be ideal. I need to think more on it, but a match like this one leaves me utterly cold.

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      • Mark Jul 26, 2019 / 2:33 pm

        I agree completely with you Lord. I said before it started that it was an utterly meaningless Test. Who picks a weak team for a match that matters? Nobody. I haven’t watched a single ball live. I caught some highlights.

        As to growing the game, as I said before it was only relevant before the big three take over. They are not interested in growing the game. There is no money in International TV rights from Ireland or Afghanistan.

        Test cricket isn’t in a good place. The standard is poor, the pitches are poor, and you now see very few away win series. Alastair Cooks claim a couple of years ago that Test cricket is as good as it has ever been was nonsense. The Aussies are preparing for the Ashes by playing themselves such is the devaluation of tour matches. Home nations have gone out of their way to provide lousy quality warm up games on sub standard pitches.

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  8. Nicholas Jul 26, 2019 / 1:38 pm

    I am so angry about this right now. What has our game become?! Seriously.

    I’m not denigrating Ireland here, after all the first innings batting from England was awful too. I bet we’ll see lots of this shit in the Ashes too (low scores, batsmen unable to build any sort of score). Well, it’s hopeless, it’s not what the game should be.

    Liked by 3 people

    • dlpthomas Jul 26, 2019 / 1:51 pm

      You don’t strike me as a man who swears often so you must be really angry. I found myself repeatedly thinking that this was an insult to test cricket and then berating myself for being a pompous wanker. I don’t know whether to be more angry with the players for their pathetic batting or at the ECB for squeezing the game in between the end of the world cup and the start of the Ashes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol Jul 26, 2019 / 2:06 pm

        I’m perfectly happy to be called a pompous wanker if the alternative is defending the current state of Test cricket. Lest we forget, the last Ashes in this country was piss-poor as well. Basically: flat pitch, Smith and Rogers get massive scores; otherwise Australia collapse feebly. Only the first Test was remotely competitive, and even that was settled by 130-odd runs.

        I’m not expecting to have changed my mind by September, put it that way.

        I had forgotten England’s previous Test series until Sean mentioned Roston Chase a couple of days ago. Yeah, not much of a case for the defence there either….

        Off the top of my head, what am I upset to have missed since cancelling Sky? The WI win at Headingley in 2017, the 2-2 Pakistan series from 2016 maybe, the Edgbaston Test v India last year. A bit of overseas stuff like Perera’s match. But we’re talking specks of gold in shit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol Jul 26, 2019 / 2:14 pm

        I’d quickly add that I don’t think I’m being nostalgic. Test cricket in the 90s was beautifully balanced and only a one-eyed weren’t we shit English fan would deny its greatness. The period from 2000-05 was awesome all round and I don’t expect to see better in my lifetime. And there was plenty of interest as Australia declined and SA/Ind/Eng competed at a high level, at least until a few too many modern greats left the scene.

        That’s 15-20 years of high quality Test cricket that only underlines what a shambles we’re left with now.

        Liked by 4 people

  9. Mark Jul 26, 2019 / 2:45 pm

    What is now playing out is the inevitable consequence of a sport that has tethered itself to the shorter forms of the game. 20/20 has finally worked itself through the system. If you were just starting out as a county pro when 20/20 came in you will now be at the point of retirement.

    Players have been brought up needing to play a much more expansive game. While it’s understandable that people get frustrated it is the inevitable consequence of the huge changes that have been brought into cricket over the last 15 years.

    England’s Test team in recent years has greatly relied on a small group of players who learned their basics before the changes really kicked in. Cook (most ever runs) as a obdurate opening batsman, Anderson & Broad who in home conditions have been lethal at times, and are the leading wicket takers for England. Throw in Root, and a few good ODI players like Bairstow & Butler, and some all rounders like Stokes, Ali, Woakes and you have a unit that can compete. (At least at home.)

    Cook wasn’t really performing for the last couple of years with a string of low scores. However, he would usually throw in one very big hundred every odd series, and there was no one else. But Cook is gone and Anderson and Broad are on the final leg of their careers. Root is still there and so to Bairstow, but huge holes are opening up in the top order of England’s batting. Roy, Vince, only go to show the cupboard is bare in terms of batsman who can bat in a Test match fashion. No wonder they want to move to four day cricket

    If you add into the mix in the complete reorganisation of county cricket to the point where hardly any cricket is played at the time of the year when you could learn to bat for long periods and you have a recipe for oncoming failure. The only light on the horizon is other countries are in a similar state if not worse. Australian batsman haven’t exactly been making hay, and it’s sad to see them playing themselves in a warm up game. This is another consequence of the way home nations have messed about with warm up games for touring teams. Picking weaker sides. So now touring teams play themselves.

    With the onset of the 16.4 it will get even worse. The other thing that seems to have happened is the creation of result wickets. This seems to be not an accident but a deliberate policy. The authorities have maintained they can have their cake and eat it. They can swamp the game with shorter and shorter formats to bring in the crowds and run Test cricket as a sideline. That will get more difficult if you dont have the players with the right skills to play the longer format of the game.

    If countries like England, Australia, South Africa and WI are struggling to produce test class batsman what hope nations like Ireland?

    Like

    • Deep Purple Fred Jul 26, 2019 / 4:15 pm

      For some reason the fact that Australia is warming up against itself is the most damning and depressing thing I’ve seen for a while (and there’ve been lots of things to see).

      It essentially means that cricket nations won’t even give the other team a welcome and a fair chance to establish themselves in-country and compete effectively. And this in a sport where home advantage is hugely important. I wonder if Australia asked for competition and declined what was offfered, or if they didn’t even bother asking.

      Of course each nation wants to do everything they can to win, but this approach just seems like dirty pool. Maybe they’ll start spiking their water supplies next, or get Heathrow to misplace their baggage?

      If there is not a spirit of cooperation to at least set up a fair contest, what’s the point of even bothering?

      English teams were traditionally welcomed to Lilac Hill Park in WA, and also to Manuka at Canberra, I don’t think these were punitive locations, they were just attempts to share and showcase the sport around the country. Perhaps in these more intense times the Lilac Hill Park option was seen as too recreational. I’m not sure sending England to Alice Springs recently was quite in the same spirit, but presumably England agreed to this.

      Cricket seems to be doing everything it can to turn me off the game I have been intrigued by for years.

      I agree with LGL below too, the Ireland match may have had some interest because of some quirky/amusing passages, (there are some people in the world who never get tired of an English collapse) but overall the match was a joke, and should not be dignified with the title of Test.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jul 26, 2019 / 4:44 pm

        I think this has been building up for a while Fred. Home teams offering weak opposition, or just bowling attacks that bares no relation to what they will face in the test matches. Also, the pitches are usually nothing like what the test pitch will be.

        To be honest the state of county cricket is so poor that Australia are probably better off playing themselves.

        The whole MO in recent years of the big three is to win their home series at all costs to keep the punters happy. That way they can keep selling the TV rights and selling out the test venues.

        Somewhere in the loft I have an old score card from a day’s play from the 1948 Ashes side playing in England that my auntie went to watch Bradman batting. It’s not complete but people used to go and watch the touring teams. Not any more. I went to see the WI in the early 1980s at Worcs to watch Vic Richards play. But it was already not such a big deal because many of the players already played country cricket.

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  10. thelegglance Jul 26, 2019 / 3:35 pm

    All the comments about the state of the game are fair ones, and the issue about how you grow the game while being aware trashings will happen has always been a difficult one, even before the current state of affairs.

    What really pissed me off was Nasser Hussain’s first response at the fall of the last wicket being that it was “an excellent Test match”. That’s just taking people for fools, it was a terrible Test match, and one that essentially finished in two days. The only involvement in it came from England being appallingly inept at various times. That certainly added a frisson of intrigue, given that it might have been a shock on the cards, but it doesn’t make anything “excellent” in itself, it makes it of low quality.

    Claiming this was excellent indicates how far expectations have fallen.

    Liked by 3 people

    • dlpthomas Jul 27, 2019 / 8:15 am

      “What really pissed me off was Nasser Hussain’s first response at the fall of the last wicket being that it was “an excellent Test match”

      On the final day, the SKY commentators kept going on about England’s brilliant slip fielding but all the catches were pretty straightforward at test level. I think there is a kind of “commentating clickbait” going on.

      Like

  11. metatone Jul 26, 2019 / 3:56 pm

    Developmentally on the pitch, Ireland would have been better served by a 5 day match against (eg) England Lions.

    For raising the status of the game in Ireland, this was a great occasion. Irish people I know through work barely mentioned the WC, but came alive around this match. It’s very side the batsmen couldn’t at least make a proper game of it in the last innings though. Of course, if we really wanted Ireland to develop we’d be offering them a slot for a team in the CC, etc. So it’s clear the ECB doesn’t really…

    As for the shiteness of the match as a whole, it’s actually good evidence that these kind of pitches and this edition of the Duke ball are not good news. I’m sure Aus will cope well enough to thrash us, but I doubt any of the games are going to be much good.

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  12. Mark Jul 26, 2019 / 4:04 pm

    The small bit of highlights I saw last night was when England lost their sixth, seventh, and eighth wicket. Nasser was not talking about excellence then. He was berating England batsman for not batting like a test match. I think Michael Atherton said something along the lines of ……”Nasser is so worked up he has had to put down the microphone and walk away.”

    This was not an excellent test match but and absolute farce.

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  13. metatone Jul 26, 2019 / 6:42 pm

    England Women getting a hammering from the Australians so far, 7 overs into this T20, Aus going at 10 an over.

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    • metatone Jul 26, 2019 / 6:42 pm

      I note the Sky riches haven’t helped England stay competitive…

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      • dArthez Jul 26, 2019 / 9:03 pm

        It does not help that the domestic structure for women got completely revamped, due to the influence of the Hundred. Australia have the best domestic structure by far for women. And it shows.

        But then again, when England have these advantages (compared to the opposition), it is not like the media take the time to point that out either. The reality in cricket is often far removed from the level playing field that sport presupposes.

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  14. riverman21 Jul 26, 2019 / 9:04 pm

    Does anyone else think none of the first 3 Ashes tests will go beyond 270 overs (3 completed days)

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebogfather Jul 27, 2019 / 10:03 am

      Well, we won’t see 90 overs a day, that;s for sure whatever the game situation, and nothing will be done to address this.

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  15. thebogfather Jul 27, 2019 / 10:12 am

    Does anyone else feel ‘Meh’ about the upcoming ‘Ashes’?.
    Two worn out, under-prepared (for Tests) squads, with many a hole in each side and the games likely to be played on mostly substandard pitches ( either slow and crap or the reverse and still crap)
    No proper lead up as a build up to get in form, both in playing time and sensible spread of games.

    All due to ICC/ECB/CA greed. – screw the players, screw the context, screw the event, just screw the people in their pockets anyway.

    Like

    • thebogfather Jul 27, 2019 / 11:24 am

      LCL – I am alongside yourself and a number of others here who are not totally enthused by the upcoming Ashes series, but must ask (and insist!!!) – Please, let’s do ‘The Ashes Panel 2019’

      Like

    • nonoxcol Jul 27, 2019 / 11:50 am

      Yes. Also, the only Ashes series without at least one dead rubber match since 2005 was in 2009. And, in result terms, in 35 Ashes Tests since 2005 there have been a grand total of:

      Two

      matches settled by less than 100 runs or 6 wickets, both of them coming in 2013. By way of comparison 9 matches have been settled by an innings.

      By way of further comparison, in the dark days (1989-2002/3) there were 8 series, or 43 Ashes Tests. Even then there were fewer matches settled by an innings (8) and more matches with a margin of less than 100 runs or 6 wickets (4).

      Proportionally, 9/35 is higher than 8/43, and 2/35 is lower than 4/43.

      In my first four Ashes series as a fan (81-86/7), 3 out of 22 Tests were settled by an innings while 7 out of 22 had winning margins below 100 runs or 6 wickets.

      So basically I’m suggesting that, from a certain point of view and with one glorious exception we all know, Ashes cricket has become less competitive and interesting over time. The hype tends to obscure this, unfortunately. It comes to something when 2013, during which England were roundly criticised by plenty at the time for defensive play, stands out as the most competitive series of matches in the last ten years even though it ended 3-0! (Even the two draws retained interest until day 5, and only Lord’s was truly one-sided)

      Liked by 1 person

      • dArthez Jul 27, 2019 / 1:33 pm

        Assuming you don’t care about drawing series (2010/2011 could have been drawn), but England would have retained the Ashes anyway if they somehow had lost the last Test of that series. But technically, that Ashes also did not have a dead rubber.

        Point stands though, also in the wider context of the game. There are hardly any close games these days. No matter who plays.

        Like

        • nonoxcol Jul 27, 2019 / 2:06 pm

          I define “dead rubber” in the context of the Ashes potentially changing hands rather than purely in terms of the series result. As England were 2-1 up a drawn series was possible, but as they held the urn from 2009 its retention was already guaranteed.

          Also I would take the point if anyone wanted to challenge my criteria for close game. For example wins by runs can be just as one-sided as innings victories. I would then look at whether the losing team’s total runs was less than one of the winning team’s innings.

          Also I have excluded draws, of which there were:

          8 in the first 22 Tests, mainly rain here or flat wickets in Aus.
          8 in the next 43 Tests, 2 of which (Sydney 91 and 95) were terrific, but more commonly Aus were denied by rain.
          6 in the 35 Tests since 2005, of which the most celebrated (Cardiff 2009) was actually a hopelessly one-sided rain-ruined match that was interesting purely for its last day.

          I think it’s fair to say, though, that the draws since 2005 don’t support my thesis. Apart from Cardiff, Brisbane 2010 was a real see-saw until Day 4; Aus might have won Old Trafford in 2013 but for rain and that bloke who couldn’t play a defensive innings to save his life; either team might have won The Oval 2013 but the light probably saved Aus in the end.

          There has only been one Ashes draw in 15 Tests since, and that was a dead rubber.

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          • dArthez Jul 28, 2019 / 7:00 am

            The only point I would make is that innings victories can be close to drawing games too. Can’t clearly think of an instance involving England recently. Might be some bias creeping in on my part.
            But I suspect there have not really been close ones (India – England, 5th Test 2016 is probably the closest in that respect; England managed to lose 6 wickets in the final session of that Test, India still had at least 9 overs left). That was the Test in which Nair made 303*, and of course it was a dead rubber.

            But in general, the last few years, you can tell how a game is going to develop after Day 2, with one team being a clear winner in most cases. It has not been uncommon to be able to tell how a game is going to develop by stumps on Day 1, usually due to a side being bowled out in the opening session, or at least before tea.

            The quality of Test cricket is at an absolute low.

            Ireland folding for 38 in helpful conditions is but a symptom. It is not like England have been doing that much better when batting in helpful conditions (58 all out in New Zealand, which was a recovery from 27/9). Technique and temperament are found wanting across all teams. Australia and India too have had their moments (recent tour of South Africa, India reached 100 for the loss of 7 wickets no less than 3 times that series).

            And the statistics of these days are probably more comparable to pre-WW1 figures than any other era (for both bowlers and batsmen). It is somewhat masked by people having batted quite some time (Cook did that until recently, Amla is still averaging 46, despite struggling to average 35 in the last few years, Root’s average is massively padded by his career start, struggling to average 30 these days), and some exceptional talents (Williamson, Kohli).

            With the pitches that are sometimes served up, winning the toss is practically winning the game. Of course that has happened before (and in the case of weather conditions there is not much one can do about that), but it seems to be increasingly the case that it is the norm, rather than the exception.

            Liked by 2 people

          • dannycricket Jul 28, 2019 / 12:01 pm

            It bears pointing out how important Leach’s 92 was to England in this game. Ireland lost by 143 runs, having been set a total of 182 to chase. Take 92 from that target and Ireland would only have needed 90 runs to win, and crucially wouldn’t have had to do it in the cloudy rain-affected third day. There’s every chance that, without Leach’s epic batting display, England would have suffered an embarassing loss. They arguably deserved to, given the collective performance of the batsmen.

            Like

    • metatone Jul 27, 2019 / 3:59 pm

      Yes. Me too, finding it really hard to care.

      Also, lest we forget, we had Ashes overdose for a while and I think it’ll be a while before it starts feeling special again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas Jul 28, 2019 / 3:45 am

      I’m looking forward to it (I have to, I took 6 weeks leave from work so that I could sit up all night and watch it) though I am afraid it could be very one-sided. I have a number of questions that I am looking forward to seeing answered. How will Archer and Pattinson bowl? Has Warner worked out how to bat in England? Is Smith still Smith? Can Siddle force his way into the side? Definitely lots to look forward to.

      Like

      • dannycricket Jul 28, 2019 / 5:46 am

        What do you plan to do on days (or nights) 3,4 and 5 then?

        Like

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 27, 2019 / 5:24 pm

      Life. Bogfather. Life gets in the way.

      Anyone who wants to volunteer for the ashes panel, let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

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