Lucky you. You have me again. Danny has tomorrow’s play and given the position of the game as I start writing up the day’s report, he has the prospect of a reasonably rare dull last day. Let’s see how the next two hours play out.
First up, I will never, ever tire of reminding the 4 day test proponents that yet again, you see the impact on a game of a whole day being washed up. If England had only just crawled over 200, the game was dead. As it is, there is some form of life remaining, but you might as well argue with yourself than hope to hear the likes of Vaughan when a rain washout puts his little ideas to the sword.
I put on Thursday that mental health issues remain for me, and now there are physical ones too! Last night my left kneecap made a rather scary cracking noise and I spent the night in a fair deal of pain. So what that meant was not being able to walk Teddy for as far as I would like (I am trying to do 5 million steps in a year), and probably more time in front of the TV, and a real possibility of my sleep deprivation to result in an afternoon snooze. All this is a lead up to the fact that:
- I did catch the first wicket off the first ball of the day
- I did miss the rest of the English collapse as I hobbled around my local park looking for sympathy!
- I did drop off while Stuart Broad was batting
- I did wake up in time to see Rory Burns make his century
- I did see a Tweet from one of the original Cookie Crew, calling Burns century “glacial”.
First up, very fair play to Tim Southee for getting on the Honours Board (again – he got there in 2013) for his bowling in this match, A wonderful servant, a skillful exponent now of the bowling arts, he has led the line superbly in the absence of Trent Boult. While Jamieson opened the door by removing Root first ball of the day, with a nick to second slip, Southee crashed in while I limped around the park, getting Pope LBW, Lawrence caught at third slip, and Bracey (I almost typed Blakey) bowled neck and crop. The latter two for ducks. England falling to 140 for 6. At this point England could, if the mood had taken them, subsided to a score where the follow-on could have been enforced. Enter Ollie Robinson. Still not going there.
Robinson looked really good with the bat in dominating a 63 run partnership with the three-toed sloth, Burns, making 42. In doing so he effectively made the game safe, with the follow-on the most likely route to a decisive result. He looked particularly neat through the offside. It may be he might be the best bowler out of the potential number 8 batsmen – I’ve stolen that line from a friend of mine – and that might be his future.
A last wicket stand of 52 took England to even more secure waters. Anderson still got to play his reverse sweeps, but stayed firm while Burns made his third test century. While Broad and Wood, who have said before they prefer batting with each other rather than with “proper batsmen” didn’t hang around, at least Anderson did. When Burns nicked off to Southee after captaincy from Williamson that would probably most politely be called “eccentric”, for a vital 132, England had dragged themselves up to 275. A lead of 103 for the visitors was useful, but is probably going to be filed under “academic”.
As I write, James Anderson and Joe Root have reviewed an LBW decision that pitched a mile outside leg, and got an inside edge. They seem determined to waste these reviews as quickly as possible.
So to Rory Burns. I am a Surrey man, but also I try to be honest. In baseball there is a term for a player too good for the top level of minor league baseball, but just below the top standard of the Major League. It is AAAA (AAA being the highest minor league level). Burns is AAAA for me. Good enough to shine at county level, but just short at the top. How can I say that after this knock? Even with this century he averages 33 in test cricket. That’s how. But that is not to take anything away from this hundred. Sure, he had a wide open missed stumping, was dropped, plonked one in the air between two fielders, and got sconed twice, and that was while I was watching! He stayed there. While the rest drifted off, he took us away from 18 for 2, 140 for 6 and probably made the game safe. No-one is denying he had a horror in India, the pushback from the furore with Hartley (wonder if she sent him a congratulatory message!) which didn’t shine well on either (in my humble opinion) was a sobering lesson in modern comms, and he wasn’t a certainty to play this time around, but getting a century for Surrey a week or so ago was certainly a good thing for his form. He may have been slow, but 267 balls isn’t that slow, and it was vital. When he passed his hundred he played some expansive shots and fell one short of his test best. His three centuries have been made against New Zealand here, and away, and Australia in the first test of an Ashes series. It’s not bad.
While Sky were waxing lyrical about how well England bowled, while wasting the reviews they have, I caught up with other matters. If ever a quote sums up how I feel about the ECB, this is it:
“I knew I couldn’t work with these people any more. There is no trust. They aren’t looking to learn from my experiences; they are looking to silence me and give the impression that things have been resolved. That is misleading and disingenuous.”
I remember a certain chief operating officer of the football club I support do exactly the same thing, albeit on a much less significant matter than institutional racism. It’s almost the ultimate in disrespect.
Oh, there’s more you say?
“Tom Harrison talks about a zero tolerance attitude towards racism while he courts the press and yet the ECB have acknowledged they have fallen below their own standards in this regard. Where is the accountability? It’s a non-existent word at the ECB.”
Tom Harrison courts the press? Great question Wardy.
I know my colleagues have their pens poised on this and I don’t want to steal the thunder. But we really appear to have a bunch of malevolents running a large part of OUR game, don’t we? This isn’t smart, or clever. With people like George around, they aren’t going to fool many people, or hope to get away with this sort of chicanery, are they? They think so. Sky are like a captive broadcaster, and in one individual in particular on the network, a puppet. Gaslighting is a popular pastime these days (and I’m not going into political stuff, honest – I’M NOT GOING THERE), but we have said this stuff for years. Don’t go to these people with mouths wide open, believing what they say. Do some effing journalism. I wonder if some of the Sky team have the freedom to look into this more?
Ollie Robinson ended Conway’s magic test with a nice delivery, but the test is drifting. Also Mark Wood should not be just a “bang it in Billy”, which is a new one on me, Nass. Then Williamson survived an LBW that got a scratch, and then the next ball copped what looked like an odd DRS decison (was that really hitting?) that if it were football would result in a 10 hour VAR debate about common sense. Robinson again the bowler.
So, with the extra half an hour provided to “catch up” for the lost day’s play yesterday, the two teams combined for a very meritorious 88.1 overs in the 7 hours play. Well done everyone. Nasser Hussain just says they never bowl the overs as if this is just peachy, a mere indiscretion that should, well, just be expected. We go on and on and on about it, but this is sickening. It gets one mention and they move on to the selection for the Ashes. If the TV companies, presumably paying for a full day’s play can’t be bothered, what hope is there? You don’t even get 90 overs bowled in an extra hour and there are still utter clowns thinking four day tests could work. I utterly despair.
New Zealand finish the day at 62 for 2. They lead by 165. I hope my friend and work colleague, Simon, has a good day at Lord’s tomorrow (he’s a New Zealander) and to any of the readers who might be going. As always, comments below.
- Song lyric from You Spin Me Right Round, by Dead or Alive, sung by the late Pete Burns.
Re Burns’ AAAA status: and that, messieursdames, is precisely the problem. There are only five England-qualified players that I can think of with f-c averages more than fractionally higher than Burns–of whom one is retired, one has already been tried and averages 20 in his last eight tests, and two others are already in the team.
Sibley now averages less than 30 in tests, Lawrence less than 25, Pope 31 (for all the plaudits, his average is now identical to Foakes’s), and Crawley 32 (but if you take away his one huge outlier innings he struggles to average 20).
So in terms of batting England have become the new Bangladesh–reliant on a load of players who are looking not-quite-good enough, and three senior players one of whom is inconsistent and only one of whom averages more than 40
And there’s no-one putting pressure on them either. Bracey has been praised to the heavens by the England hierarchy, but he still averages 36 in the Championship (and yes, he might have bags of potential beyond the figures but that’s what the management were saying about Crawley when they picked him as a hunch…) In some ways the most damning thing is that the two reserve batters they’ve just picked are a keeper-batsman who’s never looked remotely test class in a decade in f-c cricket, and an opener who averages 32 and who didn’t score a century last season on the basis of being in form for six weeks. Michael Hussey forcing his way into a test team by sheer weight of runs over years it isn’t. Vasconcelos really can’t qualify quickly enough…:!
Interestingly though, there is a player who has flown under the radar and is quietly averaging 44 in county cricket–he’s the fifth player averaging more than Burns–without even being mentioned as a possibility for the Lions as far as I can remember: Josh Bohannon. Anyone seen much of him/have any theories why he’s not mentioned more?
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Not sure that this declaration isn’t a pretty smart piece of psychology by Williamson, given England’s somewhat flaky but attacking young batters…and of course no WTC points to lose if it doesn’t work!
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Attended school in Bolton? Obviously that should not count against anyone, but I am sure that it actually does to some people (the right kind of family, right kinds of schools, right kinds of friends, etc.)
Looks like England are batting for the draw. And I think that was actually the sensible thing to do, also given the weather situation.
Well batted England.
Not sure I understand this–surely the fact that he was picked, and that he was one of England’s youngest ever players, suggests precisely the opposite?
I would have thought that three seasons plus two Lions tours averaging under 30 would be a more likely reason for caution. I’m not sure there’s a player in England that more people want to see succeed…
Does it look as if Dom Sibley is batting himself into form?
…and in contrast, not taking into account his 267 last summer (one innings out of 22 in tests and 100 in f-c cricket), Crawley now averages less than 30 in f-c cricket and exactly 20 in tests.
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Santner bowls a lot of full tosses. It makes me wonder if he has been practising on correctly measured pitches. Given the standard of practice, as shown on the media, that would not surprise me. Anyway, why bowl him and further damage his finger injury? Questions to which no answer makes sense
Mind you, he does have a f-c bowling average of 46! (Actually, both his test and f-c average are almost identical to Root’s). I was wondering what NZ think he offers them in tests that Ravindra, who’s a much better batter and almost a decade younger, doesn’t.
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I wonder how Fred Trueman would react to the sight of an umpire standing about a pitch length behind the stumps at the bowling end?