On This Day – 27th November

Image result for phillip hughes

Before I do the usual on this day piece, we must also recall something that was so sad, so utterly terrible, on this day. Two years go we all woke (in the UK) to the terrible news that Phillip Hughes had passed away after that awful incident a couple of days before. It still seems scarcely believable that it happened, it still remains out of the ordinary when watching him play on DVDs that I have, knowing he was taken so young. I can’t really say any more.

So a brief On This Day today.

Six years ago today, at the end of a long hard day, that had seen Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin complete a 307 run partnership for the sixth wicket that had appeared to have wrested the initiative for good in the opening Ashes test, Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss went out to open England’s second innings. Ten hours and twenty five minutes play later, and England had posted a mere 517 for 1, with Cook batting the whole innings for 235. Strauss made a century, Trott made one too, and England left Brisbane with a commanding performance in securing a draw. But six years ago today was the start of the journey…. and we all know how it ended.

 

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On This Day – 25th November

Image result for Terry Alderman Brisbane

Sometimes I imagine what BOC would have been like had we all been here, and the internet in place, back in the good old days of the 1990s. Today’s On This Day takes us back to 25th November 1990. I recall it because I had had a great night out in the locality with a good mate, and we decided to go back to my house to watch the Test Match. It was the first test of the Ashes, at Brisbane, and the game was very evenly poised.

England had been bowled out on the first day, for 194. There was misery and woe, until England fought back brilliantly to bowl the Aussies out for 152, with Small, Fraser and Lewis all taking three wickets. A small, but handy 42 run lead had been augmented by 56 runs by England but with the loss of three wickets, including David Gower who had made 61 in the first innings. The match report, of course, picked on him:

“It was the second time in the match that Gower had been out in the over after the loss of an important wicket, and both times to strokes of poor conception.”

What followed was symptomatic of the next decade and a half. England collapsed in a total heap for 114, and Australia knocked off the 157 runs needed for no loss. The destroyer was a familiar foe. Terry Bloody Alderman. 6 for 47. Me and my mate crashed out, and as I drove him back home the following day, we could do nothing but shake our heads at this woeful capitulation. Maybe we should have gone out clubbing instead.

Scorecard

Sure this was the test when the press got on a couple of our players for going to the casino on the second night, including Allan Lamb, who was captaining in the absence of Graham Gooch. Again, a nice way to compare that era’s cricket journos and today’s. Or maybe it’s the players now.

 

On This Day – 24th November

Barbados test - 2

I am going to use two 24th Novembers for this one, but with a common link. Two days ago I used the “On This Day” to highlight the debuts of two all-time greats. Today I use it to highlight the debut of one of my all-time favourite batsmen, Sir Richard Benjamin Richardson.

In the early days of overseas test coverage, watching some of Richie’s innings took my breath away, especially an amazing 182 against Australia at Guyana. I always loved the big floppy sun hat, the backlift, the drive, the cut, the hook. Richie was flamboyant. He had the look. While not quite the highest of the high in terms of a career, in his pomp he was unstoppable. Except in England where he never really hit the heights.

On this day in 1983, Richie took the field at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai for the first time as a West Indies test player. He didn’t get to bat until the 27th (rest day and a long Indian first innings), whereupon he made 0 (2 balls), LBW to Shvilal Yadav (who I instinctively remember when hearing either Umesh or Jayant’s name – no there is no relation). He made 26 in the second innings, falling to Ravi Shastri, but hadn’t done enough to cement his name into the West Indies team. He was dropped from the next test for Roger Harper.

Unbowed, and a couple of centuries at home later, we fast forward to 24 November 1984. Having missed out on selection for all the England matches in the fateful summer of 1984 (again Harper getting the nod most of the time), Richie returned to the West Indies team to face Australia, and promptly made a duck in his only innings at Perth (match starting on the 9th). However, at Brisbane two weeks later, on the second day of the match (the 24th), Richardson announced himself to the Aussie domestic public with a century. The Aussie players knew him well enough – he’d made a 131 in Bridgetown and a 154 in his home test in Antigua – but now the fans got to see what he was all about.

Clearly the Wisden scribe didn’t think too much of the innings. Other than being tied down by Holland, and dominated in a partnership by Clive Lloyd, it had this to say…

“Richardson, badly dropped off Hogg by Hughes at mid-off when 40, had 24 4s from the 232 balls he faced. ”

Well, that paints a picture.

24 November a debut for Richie, a first overseas ton for Richie. Much pleasure derived after that. As I said, one of Dmitri’s favourites!

On This Day – 22 November

Today’s On This Day takes us back 42 years and again we are in India, at Bangalore.

The great stars of the game always have to debut, you always have to have a first test, but it must be exceedingly rare that two of the all-time greats debuted on the same day. In the 1st Test of their tour of India, the West Indies awarded debuts to Cuthbert Gordon Greenidge and Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards. Their careers would span over 15 years, they would be integral to taking West Indies to the top of the world and keeping them there, and they would provide us with many memories. If a cricketer is ever as iconic as Viv in my watching days (keep your Sachins, Viv defined “aura”) then I can’t wait to see him. Gordon Greenidge seemed to miss out on the plaudits, but anyone who saw his 214 not out at Lord’s on the final day of the match to win a famous victory in 1984 should have no doubt. He was the opener of his generation (along with Gavaskar, I suppose).

Greenidge had the more auspicious Day 1. He made 93 before being run out. His dismissal brought Viv to the crease, who hit a boundary and then got out to Chandrasekhar (who would also get him in the second innings).  Greenidge would make a century in his second innings to help set up a massive win for the West Indies by 267 runs.

Opening the attack, Abid Ali and Solkar were quite unable to harness the pitch’s favours. Moreover, Greenidge who made 93 in his maiden Test innings, was twice let off before he had made 15.

He and Kallicharran, who came together at 38, when Fredericks retired with a sprained ankle, put on 139 in just over even time. Even this partnership was ended with a run out and so it was not until the last hour of the day, when Richards holed out at mid-off, that India’s bowlers at last struck a blow.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63131.html

22 November saw the introduction of two cricketing legends, two childhood behemoths, two massive influences on my cricket watching. I never got to see either in the flesh (though I did see Gordon at Dublin Airport when he was the coach of Bangladesh). I got to see plenty on TV, either county or international cricket. That day in Bangalore is one of the most significant in cricket lore. Two stars on the ascendant.

As a postscript, also making his debut that day was Hemant Kanitkar for the home team. He would last just two matches, batting at three in his first innings and making 65, he followed it up with three low scores and was never seen at international level again. Poor Hemant died last year. Being an international cricketer should never mean you are a footnote, but I’m not sure I’d mind being a footnote to those two.

On This Day – 20 November

polly-umrigar
Polly Umrigar (from cricinfo.com)

We wander back a long way for today’s “On This Day”, all the way to 1955. It was a day of records at the Fateh Maidan, Hyderabad as India resumed the day on 252, with centurions Polly Umrigar and Vijay Manjrekar taking up where they left off. Having come together at 48 for 2 against New Zealand they extended their stand to 238 before Manjrekar was dismised by Johnny Hayes. It was the then best 3rd wicket partnership for India in test matches.

Umrigar was not done and by the end of his stay, caught behind off Hayes, he had made 223, a record for India that stood until….seven weeks later. This innings passed that of Vinoo Mankad, who made 184 at Lord’s in 1952, and who would make 223 a fortnight later, and 231 in January 1956. I guess he took the loss of the record personally.

Polly Umrigar is described by the cricinfo blurb as..

” A burly six footer, Umrigar was a commanding figure at the crease – whether batting, bowling, directing operations as captain or standing in his usual position at first slip. Umrigar excelled in full blooded drives but he could also hook and pull powerfully.”

His 223 was part of India’s then record total of 498 for 4 declared (there was a hundred for Kripal Singh, on debut, which would be his only hundred in a short test career), beaten a few weeks later, but today was Polly’s day.

On This Day – 19 November

For today’s look back in time, we travel back to 1984 and a successful England tour of India. In those days tours were of a much greater duration and England had undergone some pretty traumatic times already with the murder of the British Consul early on in the visit. On the field things did not start to well, and if couched in a modern day context (and do you know how hard it is for me to have 1984 not referred to as “modern day”) this result would have social media running wild.

England were playing the India U-25 team in a warm-up game. The Indian team was captained by Ravi Shastri, had Kris Srikkanth opening, Manoj Prabhakar in the bowling ranks, and two players who would go on to impact the test scene but yet to have made their debuts. On the 18th Mohammad Azharuddin made 151 as the U-25s made a score of 392/6 declared in response to England’s first innings effort of 216. However the final day saw England collapse to 117 all out, with Laxman Sivaramakrishnan taking four middle order wickets and sending preparations into disarray in Ahmedabad.

http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1980S/1984-85/ENG_IN_IND/ENG_IND-U25_17-19NOV1984.html

Sivarama would go on to dominate the 1st Test in Mumbai, but England would fight back strongly. Azharuddin would come into the team in the 3rd test and reel off centuries in all the tests he played in but England would win the series. You’d have got long odds on that on 19 November 1984. (Shout out to the blog’s hero who made 11 and 6 in this match).

 

India v England – The Second Test Intro…

Plus, at the end of this piece, another “On This Day”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Jimmy Anderson gets Sachin in 2007 – bowled as the evidence shows!

Dmitri, and I’m starting to talk about myself in the third person so beware, is a curmudgeonly old soul. He’s also been round the cricketing block when supporting England. As have many of you. We’ve seen many a bright starlet hit the ground running, only to struggle to maintain that as world bowlers look at you, think about how you bat, and target accordingly. We’ve seen many a resilient England performance, battling against the odds, only to be followed by a dreadful subsidence in a following fixture, or a comprehensive defeat. We live in post-Strauss captained England, one where it doesn’t really matter if we lose certain test matches, as long as we win the ones that are appointed to matter. We live in an instant gratification world, where a half decent debut is extrapolated out to those with all time great careers, and where one of the blogging cognoscenti can call me out for being unreasonable in pointing out how silly this looks. So just as Dhaka is now in the books, where a result can be ignored because there was a better one after it, and an opener who was praised can be ignored because there was a better show after it, we can consign Rajkot Boulevard to the memory banks and wander down the Vizag Vista for match number two. For those of you not aware of the fact, in amidst the fan boy accolades and the hyperventilating hyperbole from the first test, we didn’t win it. The score is 0-0.

It might be worth a walk down memory lane to see how England have fared in first and second test matches against India in the sub-continent. Back in 2012 we lost in Ahmedabad (and you’ll get nonoxcol going with that one) but did so fighting back in the second innings with a great innings by Cook and a good one by Prior too. We took that momentum into the second test and won. Some bloke played a reasonably good innings, backed up superbly by another Cook ton and some top spin bowling.

Our previous tour was that blight on world cricket, a two test series. We lost the first, in 2008, at Chennai as we walked into a Sehwag whirlwind and a Tendulkar masterclass, but we were, again, extremely competitive. We drew the second in a weather affected bore in Mohali, enlightened by some bloke making a reasonably decent hundred to ward off any threat. Wonder what happened to him?

In 2006 we drew the first test in Nagpur. You might recall a certain Alastair Cook making a half century in his first innings and a century in his second, and still Matthew Hoggard got to ride the post-match motorbike as man of the match. That was arguably a winning draw for England, much like Rajkot was, but we followed it up by losing on a spin-friendly track in Mohali before clawing back the series in the Ring of Fire test in Mumbai.

Back to 2001 and again in Mohali, we lost the 1st test of the series, with Dees Dasgupta, the legend, making a key century. That may have been peak India in terms of bowling spin, as Harby and Kumble put us to the sword, covering for two very inexperienced opening bowlers. England acquitted themselves well in the next two tests, although Bangalore was very badly rain affected.

There’s been a total randomness to how we’ve hit the ground in India, but it’s not unknown for us to over-rate the opposition and then, after we play them in the first test, re-adjust expectations. We usually are 1-0 down – 2006 being an exception (we lost the first tests in 1992 and 1984) and trying to claw back series. So yes, we are better placed. It also better places the doomsayers who had this as a 5-0 whitewash!

I’ve been doing this blogging lark for too long now. I keep feeling that things I’ve said before I have to say again. This England team has far too many unreliable parts. By putting together ONE batting performance in the first innings that wasn’t exclusively relying on Cook or Root, or a Bairstow / AN Other recovery job, England’s top order strung scores together and made a formidable total. A forward step, but with pretty much the same personnel, do you think this is a solid base or an outlier? Let’s put it this way, the evidence points to the latter.

We’ve seen many decent performances followed by annoying lapses. Grenada by Barbados, Cardiff by Lord’s, Edgbaston by The Oval, Abu Dhabi by Dubai. The way the performance at Rajkot has been reported, you’d think all our problems are over, and England now stand a decent chance of doing well. The realist believes that the only time you might see a road like Rajkot is if India hold a one test lead going into the last match…. (at this point I must point out that India produced a truly dreadful dirge of a pitch when we were 2-1 up last time out). England can be good, they can be bad. One swallow does not make a summer.

hirwani
Imagine how our media corps would react after a debut like this man’s.

The main source of debate going into the match, other than where to place Haseeb on the genius steps (above Cook, about level with Sanga, maybe a notch down from Sachin, but compare HH and SRT’s debuts), is will Anderson play or not? I’m past caring. If Jimmy breaks down, leaving us a bowler short, then on his head be it. Newman’s almost messianic pushing of Saint Jimmy of Burnley has been bizarre, but he’s been given pause for thought by a solid bowling display by England in the first match. Now we’d have to leave out someone from the “best all round team performance” that Bayliss had seen from an England team in his time. Such great performances, if precedent is to be believed, have the “no vacancies” sign put up like a B&B in peak summer. But now there’s talk of letting Woakes have a rest, and while I might not quite believe it, I don’t know who is briefing who here.

The other matter is the wicket. Now here we are being given all sorts of doom and gloom, based, it seems on the recent ODI between India and New Zealand, which saw the visitors crushed, and Mishra take five wickets. Here are your Ranji Trophy games this season at Vizag:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ranji-trophy-2016-17/engine/match/1053467.html

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ranji-trophy-2016-17/engine/match/1053497.html

Both quite low scoring.

It doesn’t appear as though the ground hosted any first class cricket last year. Certainly it would appear there were no Ranji Trophy games.

2014/15 there appeared to be one much higher scoring match…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/indian-domestic-2014-15/engine/match/775677.html

Who knows what we will get? We are set for an interesting test match. Was Rajkot a blip? Will KL Rahul make a difference? Will England revert to a mean, or was that the benchmark for the series, and perhaps something we might improve upon? And whatever happens, will the print and TV media be able to keep their heads, or will they respond to the match as if they are Taylor Swift fans and she’s about to release another voice amended, pile of old dirge masquerading as music? There used to be Bad Blood indeed.

Enjoy the game.

ON THIS DAY….

croft-and-mullally

Let us wander back 18 years and the Far North Queensland town of Cairns. England were preparing for the upcoming Ashes with a match against Queensland, which started on the 13th. Within a few minutes of the start, Matty Hayden had been put out of action with a broken hand. It was a sporty wicket, a low scoring one, and these were the days when the Aussies put out full strength teams to mentally disintegrate the tourists.

So to Day 4, the 16th of November. England had been set 142 to win, and were doing their usual hard job of it. Starting at 74 for 5,  Ramprakash fell with the score on 89, and the writing appeared on the wall. Mike Atherton was batting at 8, for some reason, and his presence with Dean Headley took the score over 100. With the score on 101 Headley was bowled by Mike Kasprowicz, and shortly after Atherton was stumped off the bowling of Paul Jackson, who, if I haven’t told you before, I’ve played against! When Darren Gough was bowled by Kasper, England were 36 runs short, and Robert Croft was joined by Alan Mullally. The Leicestershire man’s batting would be a standing joke on this tour, but on this day he found his mojo. Run by run they eked England closer and closer. Derek Pringle, then of the Independent, has his report relatively easy to find online:

But if Croft was steadfast, Mullally was a revelation. Like all fast bowlers Mullally fancies himself with the bat. Until Monday morning there had been little evidence that he even knew what a bat was let alone familiar with shots like the hook and the sweep, both of which he played with great verve in his unbeaten 23. Dean Headley, another of the bowling fraternity, also weighed in with a useful 20, which included two of the nine fours struck in England’s second innings.

“I’m determined to have a good tour and do well,” said Mullally, once of Western Australia but now of Leicestershire. “If me and the rest of the tail-enders can make 20 or 30 runs each with the bat, it will help us enormously.”

As pure cricket goes, this match has been generally dull and attritional, though the drama as the last pair inched their way towards the 142 required was undeniable.

The unbelievable scoreline is here…. that Queensland team wasn’t bad.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/442641.html


Back to the second test. Please put any comments you have below.

On This Day – 1986

15th November…

We like (well I like) a good anniversary and I thought I’d share this one with you tonight. 30 years ago we saw a brilliant individual performance by Ian Botham. It would be his last test hundred…

England resumed the first test at Brisbane on 198 for 2 against Australia. On the infamous “can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field…” tour England were decided second favourites but a very good Day 1 had them believing. However, Day 2 did not get off to an auspicious start. Allan Lamb and Bill Athey, the two overnight batsmen fell, and this brought David Gower and Ian Botham to the crease….

The entire England innings highlights are here…

I may have lost a lot of my regard for Sir Ian in his life as a commentator, but this was pure gold and showed why we were big fans of his playing days.  Merv Hughes was vaunted as a new leader of the attack. Botham put him to the sword. Add to that the mental impact this had on the series. Hell, who knows if the 30th anniversary had a subliminal impact on Australia in Hobart this morning! We also got DeFreitas making 40 on debut, a half century for Gower and England went on to win the match.

Here’s a report by Tony Lewis on the day’s play:

day-2-brisbane

Happy memories of the Gabba, prior to it being turned into a soulless concrete bowl!

14 years ago today Dmitri was in Port Douglas, and England were in Hobart playing Australia A. It was a lovely Friday morning, and we were fresh off our journey to the Barrier Reef the day before (one of my great lifetime experiences) and Sir Peter and I were readying ourselves for a drive up to Cape Tribulation. Before we left we say Martin Love blatantly smack the cover off the ball when on about 7, the bent Aussie umpire had his deaf aid switched off, and Love went on to make 201 not out.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/121124.html

The match reporter showed the usual Aussie disregard for matters trivial..

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/121123.html

 

I’ll be returning to these tours post Christmas, when we have a large void to fill in the run up to the English summer, but any memories you have of 1986, let me have them….