You may be wondering, dear reader, as to why I haven’t rambled on about the current Lord’s Test. I did attend yesterday (Day 2) and whilst I usually write this as the day progresses, on this occasion a more reflective piece is needed.
Events have gone very much to form – a professional first class cricket nation dominating one without a first class structure and only playing the one day stuff.
So the dominance continued – you don’t need me to reel off all the records, statistics and scores, they’re all over the media and networks.
But the question I pose is – is this really a Test? If England don’t have an emphatic win, is it a true test? The gulf between the two sides is enormous. Is this just a money spinner for the ECB going ‘through the motions’ of supporting the newer test nations (so…why no tests against Afghanistan?).
Is it just an opportunity for the England squad to play some ‘proper’ cricket before the Ashes? Well only for some! Assuming Bairstow plays in the Ashes (don’t get me started!), his preparation has been a couple of Yorkshire games; Brook – his last first class innings? Ok, he walked out and walked back in yesterday at the declaration but his last significant time at the crease was in Wellington in early March! And so forth…
Is the idea to psych up the Aussies? Get them worried? If so…think on; they know what this mismatch really is. Their preparation is five days against India!
As for Ireland – I fear for them. They’ve been poorly treated by the international cricket community since gaining Test status. They have no first class structure and didn’t really have one before – hence Eoin Morgan, Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbernie et al turning out for Middlesex but can’t do so now as they’d be regarded as overseas players!
So where do they go from here? Back on the one day circuit I fear – ok, they can earn a decent income – but as for Tests? Probably against the weaker sides I think.
But give everyone credit – every player is playing this for real and doing their best but the gulf between the two teams is so vast to render things meaningless.
There’s no tension in the play – overhead one spectator saying to his chums ‘let’s do a lot of drinking since there’s no edge in this match, it’s just an exhibition’ and off they trundle to the nearest bar, not to be seen for a few hours!
In terms of the cricket itself, what did we learn? Tongue enjoyed himself – but there are several county quicks who would have done the same; but above all the confirmation (if we ever needed it) that Pope is a stylish, classic bat of the highest quality. Forget the hype around Root being the ‘best of all time’, Brook being the best thing since sliced bread, for pure class, skill and style alone it has to be Pope.
And let’s not get too carried away with the ‘new regime’, Bazball or whatever, it’s worked to date but who have England played? Sides in transition (downwards) or with injuries as long as an NHS waiting list – the true test comes over a series or two against world class sides and that’s the true test for Tests we have on the horizon!