So after two days of closely fought cricket, yesterday’s play was something of anti-climax as England rolled over the Irish batting unit for 38, the lowest ever score recorded as Lord’s, in under a session.
For those foolhardy enough to attend the game yesterday (not mentioning any names who decided to give it a miss, TLG), it looked like the sort of day that bowlers dream of. Dark, dank conditions with plenty of rain in the air is always a bowler’s paradise at Lords and having attended Lord’s plenty of times as a Middlesex fan, I’ve seen how these conditions can change a fairly flat pitch into something of a minefield. After Ireland removed Ollie Stone with the first ball of the day, just as I was queuing to get to my seat of course, it was clear that the Irish batting line up had to either knuckle down for a couple of hours until the sun was due to come out or pray that Woakes and Broad bowled too short in the way that they did in the first innings. Unfortunately neither was the case, as both Broad and Woakes much to the surprise of most England fans, bowled with good nip and great lengths ensuring that batting against the new ball in these conditions would have been a challenge for any Test side. It was clear early on that one could easily become two and that two could quite easily end up as a horrible batting collapse for a team playing only its second Test Match with a batting line up made up of mainly ex-county pros. That being said, I have often been hyper critical of England’s ability to read the pitch when bowling with the new ball and especially of Woakes and Broad after the first innings, but they bowled quite superbly, giving very little away and could quite easily have done the same to the Australian top order.
A 143-run victory looks good in the history books, even though it was barely deserved as England without doubt had the luck of the green in terms of the conditions (put it this way, I don’t think Leach would have made 90 odd yesterday!), but considering the position England had allowed themselves to be put in at lunch on Day 1, a victory no matter how underserved, saved some serious blushes from the England camp. The one sour note that came from this victory, aside from the batting, was Roots decision to criticize the pitch at the presentation. Now whether this was just an attempt to take away some of the criticism from his own batsmen or just a snide remark, it is hardly fair to criticize the groundsman after having less than week to prepare a Test wicket after the World Cup final. This is especially true of a groundsman who is in his first year of the job. Was it a great pitch, no it wasn’t, but I’d rather have a pitch that offered some assistance to the bowlers than the type of roads that Mick Hunt used to routinely prepare for both England and Middlesex and in my opinion it was a pretty classless thing to say on television. It may also not help relations in the future when England need a specific pitch prepared at Lords. As for Ireland, this may well be the first and last time that some of their veterans get to play at Lords, which is a crying shame. Ireland might not have the most talented group of players that they have ever had, but as always they played with plenty of heart and no less skill and gave England a huge fright in a game that they were treating as an Ashes warm up. I also want to give special praise to Tim Murtagh, who actually is a remarkable county bowler with a great bowling average and someone who has been a fantastic servant to Middlesex. Murtagh was never ever going to be called up by England as he doesn’t bowl the ball at 85-90 mph and is very much an old fashioned swing bowler, but he once again showed that he is a master of his art and in my own humble opinion, no-one else deserves to be on the honours board at Lords more than Mr ‘Dial M’ for Murtagh.
So with the Ireland Test match ticked off, likely for at least another 4 years, England now get to focus on the Australians and the first Test of the Ashes. We have had the announcement of the squad this morning and I must say, it doesn’t fill me with hope. Roy for me is not an opener in the longer format and never will be, though I could get on board with him as an attacking number 3, Burns looks horribly out of form and Denley is no more than a decent county pro who has been thrown into the England Test set up due to a mix of desperation and insipid selection choices. Put it this way, if I was Dominic Sibley, I would be very disappointed not to have been called up, because Ed Smith wants to try something funky at the top of the order by playing a specialist white ball opener (Roy bats in the middle order for Surrey). It was also interesting that during the presentation yesterday, Root was asked whether the batting unit was a cause for a concern, something he categorically denied. Now Root isn’t going to go on TV and admit it’s a bit of a shambles, but that’s what it is at the moment, hence don’t be surprised if we have a fair bit of chopping and changing at the top of the order as the Ashes progresses. It is also slightly unfair that Jack Leach, who won the ball with the bat was omitted. Put it this way, Moeen needs a very good match with the ball at Edgbaston as his batting has regressed at alarming alacrity.
Oh and on one last note, this Twitter post from George Dobell was very revealing last night:
I have a lot of respect for George and do think he’s one of the good guys, who is prepared to stick his head above the parapet and comment on what his views are of the game, rather than what is parroted to him by the ECB comms team. It will be interesting to see if we get more and more coming out publicly against the White Elephant that is the Hundred (even Mike Gatting has written to the ECB to pledge against downgrading the 50 over game). That being said, don’t expect anyone from Sky to provide any sort of analysis of the upcoming format, rather than puff piece interviews with Strauss, Clarke, Harrison and anyone else who can blindly bluff their way through why the hundred will be so great. David Lloyd and the rest know who pay their wages and are more than willing to place their morals at the door and keep their mouths shut in exchange for piles of cash. Ca plus change.
As ever, feel free to comment below on the above piece or on any other thoughts you might have. We’ll have a full Ashes preview coming up next week and if you’re tempted, we may start a new Ashes panel if we get enough interest, just comment below if you’d like to be included….
Posting this so that Sean doesn’t get an unwarranted duck (and to offer myself for the Ashes panel) 🙂
Haha, thanks Trev. Looks like everyone’s mind is now on the Ashes 😂
The whole thing is sort of… cynical, tragic, and disrespectful to history, I guess.
Inasmuch as the formal authority for all this – I guess – derives from county members, how can one look at any of this and ask whether collectively this group of people have tacitly given up on leaving anything at all for the next generation?
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Weirdly, as much as I’m sure Root was covering for his own batting unit (and they needed some arse cover, top scorer Leach, after all) I think he also genuinely felt that the way the pitch had been prepared really put Ireland’s head on the block in an unfortunate way.
(And I might add, with an eye on the Ashes, gives us a wholly inaccurate view of the quality of our bowling.)
I’m probably up for writing some Ashes panel stuff, although you know what you get with me, so you may want to pick someone else. 😉
Side note, again with an eye on the Ashes, some of the issue appears not to be the pitch, but this batch of Duke balls. A number of CC batsmen have remarked on it…
Exactly. They are using the same Dukes ball as they did for the Ashes the last time Australia were over here. The reason being is that they swing more. Not sure the England camp don’t know that you can’t have your cake and eat it..
Cummins loves this Dukes ball… I’m not at all convinced that will turn out to be a good choice for England.
We’re just finding a sort of balance between 20 over, 50 over and 4/5 day cricket (imperfectly, but it was in reach) and then along comes the ECB with the Hundred.
To me it’s very simple, it’s a nonsense and it exists as a wheeze to get around their idiot promise of all existing cricket to Sky. So they had to invent yet another competition to get around their stupid, shortsighted idiocy of putting all cricket behind a paywall.
Of course, along the way various other agendas, like prioritising big counties over small ones has gotten added on, but the original sin was all about the way they sold out the future of the sport to pay TV.
It’s going to be a long, extended, painful situation. Promoted and scheduled properly, it will do ok – as the lack of that has always been one of the big problems for domestic cricket. But it won’t, I predict, make enough money and over time something will have to give – and the lack of international “Hundred” will mean that in the end, it will be that.
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One thing that did come out of the Ireland Test match was the folly that four day test matches will bowl the required extra overs to help make up some of the overs lost by not having a fifth day. They were twelve overs short on the first day.
Obviously it didn’t matter in this test match seeing as the batting on both sides was so poor. However, with a bit of bad weather you will lose even more overs that will never be made up. This will encourage ever more so called result wickets because otherwise many tests will be draws. Or face contrived declarations.
The 4 day Test Match idea drives me bonkers. How many times do we actually get to see 90 overs bowled in a day? Not very many, so how are they going to consistently bowl 96 overs?
In my opinion, it’s a totally short sighted ICC edict from members who want to save on the cost of hosting a 5th day. Of course, nothing exciting has ever happened on the 5th day of a Test 😡🤯
Exactly, they never bowl the 90 overs in six hours of play so forget bolwing 96. I have heard people say they can bowl 100 overs in the day. People will still be sitting there at 9pm.
I see the ICC is selling its Test Chanpinship saying they want every test match to matter. Sorry, I’m left cold on the Test championship thing.
I would prefer better pitches, more prepared teams for existing test series, The game is going to be unrecognisable in ten years time. I’m glad I got to see it when I did.
Imagine that in Durham in May, they’d have to about 1000 outside heat warmers. I joke, but it will never happen. Most sides can’t bowl their allotted overs even with the extra half hour.
I suspect the ICC’s Test Championship will fall on its arse. The Big 3 don’t want to have multiple series against the others nations that will net them less cash. They’d much prefer to play each other regularly in long series to rinse the pundits with a token 2 or 3 match tour somewhere to create the pretence that they actually care about growing the game..
The inability to bowl 90 overs a day seems mostly contained to games in England by the way. Not sure why that is, since English weather hardly qualifies as extreme.
Be keen to be on The Ashes panel also, despite my current doom-and-gloom around the series. I can be surprisingly pro-James Vince (well, compared to some, I still dont want him in the team) at times!
Wow. Even by Guardian BTL standards, this is something else. The number of absolute whoppers coming out with all sorts of revisionist garbage about FTA cricket. I would single out ‘SASuzy’, who claims to have been posting for ten years but who I had never seen on the cricket pages until this summer. Every single post s/he makes is an attempt to argue that 2005 is a myth/outlier and no-one really watched live Test cricket on FTA before that summer. S/he also refers to the wonderful Sky every time, usually writing it in capitals.
There’s another paywall-lover trying to call out SonoftheDesert (who has definitely been posting for > 10 years, and very intelligently) as a basement-dwelling pizza-scoffer in grey Y-fronts just because he points out that England’s international football is all FTA while its cricket is all behind a paywall. Later the same poster calls him a fuck-up because he won’t pay for Sky.
Another one says that “maybe” people watched the climaxes of The Oval and Edgbaston in 2005 but not a lot else, and comes out with the classic argument that he didn’t watch cricket for hours on end as a child therefore no-one did.
(I did – what I don’t recall about the 1985 Ashes series isn’t worth recalling)
Plus all the usual faves: terrestrial channels never wanted it, horse racing, eat your C5 highlights prog and shut up, it’s only the cost of a pub lunch/beer etc.
They’ve really stepped up their game since the World Cup.
OMG. That is different gravy. I totally admire you for persevering with the Guardian BTL, I left in around 2013 because of these nut jobs.
They’re probably still in mourning now that their spiritual leader, Lord Selvey has since departed and their is no one else left to figuratively fellate.
I’ve added a couple of rhymes to today’s Engel article…
In case they get modded.. here they be — first an addendum to FlightGuileAndPies
We’re all true cricket tragics
Enticed by Tests in white, so magic
Yet our governing body fails us all
‘Obsessives’ being Empty Suits call
For how dare you enthuse about multi day games
Take this beer and pyjama fare, fill our coffers with no shame…
and later, in reply to nonoxcol via an idiot MickyRcok
Ah, but as Lord Selve, once of this parish
Would cut curtly (not Ambrose) in, to disparage
The thoughts of anyone who has never first-class played
He only sought opinion of those clever, his thirst, arse splayed
So, any view of a columnist or fan who aren’t ‘in the know’
Would then become the gist of wan inadequates, biliously shown
So, in this post-apocaselfry’ed age, I’m glad Mr Engel still holds a page.
Just getting warmed up for the Ashes Panel! 😉
I used to visit the Guardian BTL regularly but after being accused of being an old gin soaked bag by a regular I gave up.
I hasten to say he was wrong….I am a vodka woman