New Zealand was soundly thrashed by South Africa earlier this year. It was real ‘men’ against ‘boys’ stuff and I think most people expected more of the same against England in the first test match. We didn’t see any of that. New Zealand dominated the first two innings. A very batsmen friendly pitch meant that England could get out of their hole and save the test match. England made 421-6 but New Zealand tried really hard to force a result. Trent Boult was still running in and bowling at 140km/h after 30 overs! Neil Wagner bowled one spell of ten overs without reducing his pace. They bowled a good line too. Very encouraging. Let us hope they can produce more of the same …
Sri Lanka have not been invited to play a Boxing Day Test Match against Australia for quite a long time – and given their performance in the past few days I can see why. What a dismal performance. Their batsmen completely lacked application and discipline. Several of them played Mitchell Johnson as if he was hurling thunderbolts – which he definitely was not! Poor.
The West Indies were beaten by England in the first Test at Lords. The margin of defeat was not a large one but the better side won in the end. That is the point – the better side won. So often when playing the West Indies the opposition hasn’t really had to try very hard. Over the past decade the West Indies have shown a general lack of commitment bordering on the amateur at times. They have been, no doubt, an embarrassment to their supporters. A push over. Not so at Lords, or from what I understand in the recent home series against Australia. The West Indies have fought. They have tried and it shows. They might not be winning games but they are starting to win hearts and that is the first step. Whatever Darren Sammy is saying to them is working. Long may it continue.
Ian Bell has had his fair share of criticism on this blog. Some people didn’t like it, I am not sure why his form was terrible as can be clearly seen on his career graph above which resulted in his average dipping below forty in December 2009. Whatever it is that has happened since then has had a remarkable change in his form and statistics. His career average has gone from 38.9 at the end of 2009 to 47.58 today. In that time he has averaged a very impressive 84.6. His record this English summer is remarkable having made 566 runs at an average of 113. So may it continue.
Ever since I started watching cricket on TV on issue has raised its head time and time again: over rates. Hardly a match or two goes by without someone remarking that the over-rate is poor. So it was at Lords earlier in the week with India getting the criticism. Here are a few measures which would help:
1.Stop people moving behind the bowlers arm. It’s amazing this not only happens but it happens a lot. The administrators spend months planning some test matches. They fiddle with all sort until every little thing is perfect. We get four balls into a match and DOH, people can move behind the bowlers arm. It is ridiculous. Stop them; prevent them from being there; threaten them with expulsion. something. Sachin Tendulkar had lots of problems on Monday with people moving behind the bowlers arm and it wasted quite a bit of time. He shouldn’t have had the problem in the first place.
2.Drinks for batsmen. There is a drinks break every hour so why do batsmen have to have a drink or new gloves every ten minutes (yes Graeme Smith I am looking at you)? Make them wait until the hour is up.
3.Injuries to batsmen. This one David Lloyd gets in a lather about. If a batsmen is hurt either through injury or the ball hitting him he should have two minutes to get ready for the next ball. If he isn’t ready he should retire hurt and continue later. Bowlers don’t get a ten minute break if they stub a toe so why should a batsmen. They have plenty of protection- if they get hit it should be “get ready or retire hurt”. If they need a runner then they should either come out with one at the start of their innings or session.
4.Stop wicket keepers bowling. This doesn’t happen much but it did happen at Lords and wasted lots of time. If the wicket keeper wants to bowl then someone else should keep wicket for that session. We don’t need a protracted swapping of pads in the middle of a session.
5.Don’t go off for light unless it is at the end of the day. It is never that dark in the middle of the day. Sometimes it goes very dark but that is accompanied by lots of rain. The batsmen and fielders should just put up with it. They don’t go off because the ball is swinging a lot, so why for a bit of bad light?
6.Stop fielding substitutes. Players seem to be always leaving and re-entering the field. The substitutes have to swap and be moved into the correct position. Stop it. Don’t allow substitutes and fielders will not leave the field! On Monday I saw Anderson and Broad leaving the field together. That is fine but they shouldn’t get two substitutes there is no way they are injured.
I think that is enough of a rant for now. Does anyone have any more suggestions?
So the Indians don’t like the DRS being used for LBWs. I had assumed this was for completely selfish reasons: they believed their batsmen would suffer compared to other countries. Today was a perfect example of this. Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina were both given not-out to balls which were not only clearly out but would have been overturned using the DRS system used against Sri Lanka. Billy Bowden seemed to claim that Raina’s decision was because he had hit it. He didn’t get near hitting it. It was simply a poor decision. We have had 2000 Test matches now and we have a system that can stop these poor decisions and we should be using it.
England will host India at Lords on Thursday. This will be the 2000th Test match! The first match now designated as a Test was in March 1877 at the MCG. The 1000th was played between Pakistan and New Zealand in November 1984. Test matches come thick and fast in 2011 and so I wonder how long it will be before the 3000th Test match. Of course that always assumes there is a 3000th Test match and that we are not just playing Twenty20 cricket. I am pretty confident that Test cricket will outlast the Twenty20 fascination mainly because Test matches, by far, produce the best cricket.
A few comments on the last 1999 matches:
A tied Test match is a one in a thousand happening: there have been two (both concerning Australia)
There have only been seven matches abandoned without a ball being bowled. Old Trafford and Dunedin hosted two each. Old Trafford ‘s were prior to World War II.
Only three tests have been won by a side that was made to follow-on. Not unexpectedly the recent two at Headingley and Kolkata are infamous . Australia was on the receiving end of all three turnarounds.
Sachin Tendulkar, who will play in the 2000th Test match, has scored 51 Test centuries. His nearest competitor is Jaques Kallis who has 40.
Muttiah Muralitharan has taken ten wickets in a match 22 times. His nearest competitor is Shane Warne who did it ten times (yes Murali more than doubled Warne’s ten wicket haul count)
Don Bradman has the highest batting average in Tests at an astonishing 99.94. His nearest competitor is currently Jonathan Trott at 62.23. Jonathan will also play in the 2000th Test.
The first ever Test match at The Rose Bowl has ended in a draw. There was some trepidation about the wicket but that was unfounded. Indeed it was a really good Test wicket. Maybe it could have worn a bit more but the weather played its part there. However, there is a big problem: the crowd. Specifically, there wasn’t one. Given that this was the first, and much anticipated, Test in that part of world I expected a full house every day. Ticket prices for Test matches in England are very high – ridiculously so really. However, admission for the last day was £10 and the ground was pretty empty. I don’t know what the official attendance was for the last day but there were stands with much less than fifty percent occupancy. If Hampshire cannot fill their ground there are plenty of other grounds that can.
Pakistan has never won a test match in the West Indies and now they have to win in St Kitts to level the series. West Indies were just about in front for most of the first test, their disciplined bowling and obdurate tail end batting winning them the game. This was the West Indies first win since their remarkable win against England two years ago .
The wicket in Guyana was pretty poor for a test match – variable bounce and plenty of spin on day one – but I don’t think that is a bad thing. There are lots of test matches played on flat wickets where the bat always dominates the ball. It is a refreshing change to see the converse. I am not advocating a policy of producing poor test wickets but I think a bit of variability is a good thing.