Bazb*****ks – England v SA Lord’s

Foresight and hindsight are two of the sights you don’t use your eyes for but we all possess them in some form of other. I suppose all the ‘more experienced’ cricket watchers have seen things come and go with varying changes of pace over time and their verdict on ‘Bazball’…well:

‘It’s inevitable…can’t last’, ‘the wheels will come off spectacularly’, or come up with other doom merchanting.

In fact, this new approach is not new! It’s been around for ages, been tried by other teams over the years with varying degrees of success. Sri Lanka in the 1980s and 1990s, Australia with Gilchrist in full flow, WI from time to time are immediate examples which spring to mind.

Nortje not quite sure what to do with this Stokes delivery?

What sets them apart is that they had a team of star quality players…and England don’t have them yet! But today at Lord’s was more ‘Bazb*****ks, but don’t lose heart!

But back to the here and now; today (and this Test) was back to the England of recent times and years. Experimental fields, over use of the short stuff, no Plan B, lose control of the game when the foot should be choking the life out of the opposition and so forth; well documented in these ramblings!

However, the key for me today was the issues with the batting – footwork non-existent, one day style of thrash and bash when things got too tough. Crawley – trigger movements all over the place, shows his brain is scrambled; Lees flatters to deceive, Root and Jonny have the inevitable poor games; Stokes in two minds – go like a bat out of hell or drop anchor; Foakes no footwork; Broad – as ever thinks he’s better than he really is; and you can’t ask the rest to rescue you!

Let’s not take anything away from South Africa – bowled supremely well, Nortje at 94mph one of the fastest I’ve seen at Lord’s (and elsewhere) and England got giving him the respect he deserves. Rabada – on one measure (strike rates) one of the best of all time. And solid bats who are difficult to get out but also quite stylish!

Will England change their side? Probably not. But you start to ask how many chances do you give? Is it time to blood new blood? Who’s knocking on the door on the four day game? Oh…silly me – it’s thrash and bash at the moment since that’s all that counts!

And finally, etiquette – each England bat walked off to silence but every wicket and boundary by England and miss by the opposition cheered to the rafters. Where’s the spirit of cricket gone?

So, here’s a few photos from todays play – short though it was…

Tube strike meant a different route to Lord’s – and how different!
Nortje – squat this time…
This time I’ll try…
Jansen at 6’ 8” still had the occasional short ball challenge!
Nortje – another short ball, another tangle
How many of us have batted like this?
A slow way to capture a view, and a quick way!
Lees – nearly wears this short one!
Where can I get a green shirt like this?
Crawley – lbw
Lees’ turn to be in a tangle
Jonny – look where your feet are? And bye bye
Nortje – really bending his back.

Foresight tells me that next week at Old Trafford and later at the Oval things will be better but I can’t see that far!


Rain wins!

The forecasters’ seaweed yesterday foretold of almost non stop rain today – not enough the reconstruct a biblical flood, but perhaps enough for a few flash floods so my plans were unsettled until drawing the curtains this morning revealed an overcast but dry start.

Nijjar b Shutt

Incidentally I did show this photo to one of the professional photographers at the ground today – he seemed underwhelmed or miffed that he didn’t get the snap? Who knows?

Further consultations with those reading the weather runes foretell the deluge starting at various times during the day but some play could be possible. So I replenish the lunch stocks courtesy of ‘St Michael’ and head to the Fortress. I’m lucky as both Essex and Surrey are at home and I’m taking the easier (and cheaper) travel option!

The RLODC match is Essex v Yorkshire – the latter offering a similar level of development players as Essex so it could be quite even.

The same pitch as Sunday’s game against Glamorgan is being used (300+ played 200) and hence the same short boundary. Humid but not overcast skies greet the Essex bats who seem to struggle to 43/2 off the first 10 overs; Yorkshire are being treated with a level of caution which may mean the end score is on the low side.

But Roelofson and Westley steady the ship with a 150+ partnership and reach 184/2 before the wheels really come off – one wicket brings another so much that the remaining eight fall for 56 and Essex are 240ao with 3 plus overs unused!

Shutt – disguising the ball?
Bess tries too!
This is coming my way!!
Revis – straining every sinew

Errors in batting and the order expose the level of failure on a pitch which from on ‘high’ in the Pearce Stand looks sand coloured and dry but from ground level has more than a tinge of green…perhaps that explains the batting style?

Yorkshire set off at pace – faster than Essex but are then pulled back by Snater (almost a hat trick) and Nijjar so that they are soon well behind the required par score – but did score more in the first 10 than Essex but lost more wickets!

Tattersall – first ball!

Stories of floods at Lord’s and elsewhere in London start to trickle through and hint that the clouds approaching may not be that friendly and the forecast reconstruction is on its way.

By 3.30pm or so, after 19 overs, Yorkshire are 76/6 and it’s been spitting since the start of the innings. But then the thunder around the ground brings clouds ready to open – and, boy! Do they open. An attempt to look at conditions sent the umpires scurrying to their Pavilion and within minutes, not only were the covers flooded but large puddles appear on the outfield and the drains unable to cope.

So Essex do take the win under the DLS system but really, the standard from each side was Second XI but charged First XI rates. If – and a big IF – this ‘development’ tourney is to continue it needs to have the same level of experience on each side, and lower entry fees!

That seems to make sense but when was the last time anything ‘sensible’ was decided by the ECB?

Wow! A tie! (And I don’t mean neckwear!)

That’s not something you see in cricket very often but I witnessed one today…possibly the first I’ve ever seen but then when you’ve watched live cricket for (cough, cough) years who can recall such specifics?

This did for Dunn! Last ball of the match!

The occasion was the RLODC Surrey v Warwickshire at the Oval. On the evidence of the first innings, it could be seen as a nondescript typical one day match. Warwickshire score 293/5, lost a couple of wickets reasonably early but a stand of 160 between Burgess and Pandya helped them along.

The RLODC is a ‘development’ tournament given the loss of ‘elite’ players to the other competition. Surrey fielded an eleven with no capped players whilst Warwickshire fielded almost the same side as last appeared here a few days ago in the championship. Fair?

As the Chinese say ‘let’s see how the French Revolution pans out before we make any judgment!’ If, dear reader, you’re not a history fan, the French Revolution was at the end of the 18th century!

Surrey struggle at the start and middle of the innings; nothing of substance but a run rate of over 10 needed, bowling on top and, to all intents and purposes, the match ambling to a solid Warwickshire win.

But wait…something changed! Someone somewhere said ‘at least if we’re going to lose, let’s go down fighting’. But with a team of five players regarded as sound ‘number elevens’ in the first class game, what was there to lose?

Lazy Sunday afternoon?

Slowly, so slowly, the runs started to flow and one began to think ‘with a bit of good fortune, Surrey could do well here’! (Note: I know I’m writing this after the result on the top deck of a London bus as I journey home, but honestly I said that to myself – shame that no one else could hear my thoughts!).

And so it came to pass, the bowling tired, got increasingly ragged, fortune favoured the brave, strokes missed the fielders, boundaries rained and we arrive at the last over with the scores level and one wicket to take.

Kimber, Reifer and Dunn had all played their part in direct proportion to the screams of delight from the spectator behind me! Time to move seats I think! Dunn faces the last over to be bowled by Norwell…tension increases palpably!

Forward or back?
Kimber strikes!
Lots of welly needed to reach the boundary at speed!
But sometimes you need to sway

First ball…and stumps fly! Match tied.

The immediate thoughts are that this shows the strength, depth and attitude of the Surrey squad – no caps, five ‘elevens’ and facing an almost full strength county opposition.

And the whole atmosphere from ball one, so different to that experienced at Essex. No annoying musak, no cheerleading announcer and no humiliation inflicted on any member of the opposition. But that’s I suppose the approach of a ‘big’ club – let the cricket do the talking!

But…That was some result!


Blue on blue savagery

I’m not a devoted fan of the shorter game but since that’s the only option from the ECB for now (Tests can’t come soon enough!), I’m found at the County Ground Chelmsford for a 50 over one day (afternoon/evening to be precise) Royal London One Day Cup match of Essex v Derbyshire.

Jamal Richards – on debut and in full flow!

And we’re now into coloured clothing with Essex showing off their new ‘one day kit’ and sponsor – a blue which seems to glow – whilst Derbyshire appear in their pale duck egg blue colours. The match could offer more ‘blue on blue’ savagery when we’ve seen in political circles in the past few weeks – and probably still to come!

Blue on blue!

After Derbyshire’s dire efforts earlier this week the expectations are that they’ll collapse again and we’ll all be home by tea time.

Essex win the toss and decide to bowl – following that theory – and probably not what the club caterers nor the bars wanted. But Derbyshire prove the theory wrong.

But the other theory is that the one day game is very formulaic. In essence ‘bash and trash’ or ‘tip and run’ – bowlers are basically cannon fodder or providing an extended net! And so it proved.

Seemingly audiences demand to be ‘entertained’ and scoring runs is more important than any skill the bowler has! This means there are no nuances in this format but if that’s what people want, then provide it or rather is that what the broadcasters think that the viewers want since, after all, their megabucks keeps the whole game going!

On the field, Derbyshire have no qualms about setting off at a fast pace during the first ‘power play’ when bowlers just offer themselves up for sacrifice. Godleman soon goes trying to be too clever (35) but runs flow. From 64/1 Essex seem to have struck early and Derbyshire lose three wickets in no time at 117 and a fifth at 169, it seems that it’s more self-destruct than quality bowling.

One millisecond later and the stumps go!
And the same here – Wood will be gone!

Overall the Essex attack looks good on paper – after all these three (Porter, Snater and Beard) were on display during last weeks run fest on a poor cricket wicket. Twenty overs need to be found but Nijjar is learning and Westley and debutant Richards need to cover the rest. All fine in theory but when one of your front line attack has a bad day and goes for 10.5 an over, then you have even more problems.

Game – tip and run

And so it was. Derbyshire plunder their way to 318 with Guest and McKiernan each scoring 70+ at speed. It really looked like men against boys but I suppose in terms of runs scored, it entertained the crowd.

Trash and bash
And an even better bash

Interestingly, there were no extra breaks for drinks, helmets or other ‘needs’ and an over rate just under 16 per hour! It can be done!

But Essex win the ‘long haired fast bowler’ photo contest – Snater
And Richards
And now Beard!

Essex never really got going – either the thrash and bash or tip and run. You need a solid start when chasing these numbers so perhaps you hold back the bashing but when early wickets fall and you’re behind the rate, you’re chasing dreams.

And so it proved – the regular procession between the pavilion and square just underlined the inexperience and anyone really standing up to be counted.

The crowd starts to drift – perhaps seeking the flesh pots the city centre has to offer rather than drinking themselves into oblivion at the cricket – or it turns its back on the cricket to continue entertaining themselves rather than enjoy the skills on offer!

But the blue on blue savagery was relentless as Derbyshire completely transformed from their earlier match sealed victory by 92 runs with 35 balls left.