If, dear reader, you are wondering what my thoughts and ramblings are on yesterday’s ‘half-day’ International at the Oval, well, plenty has been written elsewhere. Suffice to say that I’ve been to the Oval ODIs for the last three years/occasions these ODIs have been held and none of them went the distance. But yesterday I found myself leaving the ground at the time when the second innings should have been starting. Questions asked today…is this the worst live game you’ve ever seen? I’ve been watching live cricket for decades and, yes, it was abysmal but I’ve seen worse!
Today sees a return to the ‘Fortress’ having missed a century by Sir A yesterday and a general cascade of wickets – nine for Essex and six for Gloucestershire. The opening position is a shortfall of 34 for Gloucestershire and four wickets for Essex to take. This match was going to finish today and the crowd numbers showed it – probably less than 500!
But what a display they witnessed!
Gloucestershire continued their batting Bazball from Monday in scoring 112 runs in just over 75 minutes (yes…112 runs at lightning speed) to set Essex 79 to win.
Losing Sir A in the 30 minutes or so before lunch gave Browne the chance of a longer innings and looked in dire need of time in the middle as he started. With 29 needed at 1.00 pm common sense went out of the window as they all trooped off for lunch. It was all over within 20 minutes of the resumption and a win for Essex by nine wickets and further problems for Gloucestershire who seem doomed at this point.
But back to the Bazball break out – in essence the West Country team had nothing to lose so set about the bowling with gusto. Harmer went for boundary after boundary so much so that he seemed to be buying his wickets – he ended taking 8 for 112 (out of 252) and one begins to wonder whether that tactic or his bowling at the moment would survive an England Test challenge (assuming he is selected to play by SA). Critchley looked out of bowling practice, the quicks of Porter and Beard struggling on the flatest of flat pitches and Snater nowhere to be seen other than dropping a catch on the boundary but then making amends.
For Essex this was not a performance by a Championship winning side or anything looking like a Championship winning side. The first innings bowling was flattered by the brain fade by Gloucester and their inability to cope with Harmer. The batting was flattered by two bats scoring ‘big’ but the rest were nowhere and they only just scraped the third batting point when they should have been looking for five! And today, they just looked as if they were going through the motions – which to a degree they were – and victory would come but they had no real answer to the brighter batting onslaught.
And bear in mind Harmer has been called into the SA test squad so he may only play one or two more games for Essex and – yes, it’s only just early July but there are only two more home Championship matches this season at the Fortress!
In terms of entertainment, chapeau to Gloucestershire for their brighter batting; in terms of building an innings both sides have plenty to learn and as for learning how to bowl sides out, well, yes both sides did but some lessons can be more painful than others!