What were you doing when you were 21 or 22? We were mostly not leaving our room for weeks on end and feeling kind of numb inside. Not Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara. They were exhibiting extraordinary amounts of steel in rescuing a disastrous one-day international run chase in front of thousands and thousands of people.
We’re not sure the scale of their achievement was properly expressed in the highlights. India had been dispatched for just 212. England had just lost the only batsman who’d seemed remotely competent – Paul Collingwood – and had fallen to 114-7. It was only the 24th over. Wickets had been tumbling.
Again and again we’d hoped someone would stick around and again and again batsmen hadn’t. Paul Collingwood had looked likely and now he’d gone. The English supporters in the crowd had given up and were occupying themselves by starting Mexican waves and shouting at the stewards. This was the context of the match.
The crowd were to entertain themselves for quite a bit longer, but we were watching. Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara went about their business and about an hour later they’d started to win the crowd back over. They faced and conquered every Indian bowler with excellent shots, sensible thinking and some great cheeky-bastard singles.
Slowly, one by one, people said to each other: ‘Listen. Put down the beer snake. Something’s happening here.’
THAT’S the scale of the achievement. Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara batted so well and rescued what had seemed such a lost cause that drunk England fans, at the end of the day, when they’d been drinking for the longest, actually put down their beer snakes and watched the cricket in near-silence.
That’s some performance.
England v India, fourth one-day international at Old Trafford
India 212 (Yuvraj Singh 71, Sachin Tendulkar 55, Stuart Broad 4-51, James Anderson 3-38)
England 213-7 (Stuart Broad 45 not out, Ravi Bopara 43 not out, Ajit Agarkar 4-60)
We made Stuart Broad one of our ones to watch this season. Despite that endorsement, we’ve not been fully-convinced of his worth yet. A lot of hyperbole’s been spat in his direction and we weren’t really sure where it was coming from.
We think we get it now.
It wasn’t so much the way he bowled. We knew he could bowl. It wasn’t so much the way he batted. We knew he could bat. It was the simple fact that he batted so well, for so long, from that position and that he saw it through to the end.
We just thought: Here is a cricketer you want in your team. Batsman, bowler, whatever. Just get him in the team.
[There used to be an image of Shahid Afridi staring at some gloves here]
Just try and cram one on. If you haven’t succeeded within two minutes try the same glove ON THE OTHER HAND.
Allan Donald became England’s bowling coach at the start of summer. Today marks the fiftieth occasion when an England bowler has said something along the lines of: “AD’s just been telling us to go out there and be really aggressive.”
It was James Anderson on this occasion, but Ryan Sidebottom and Chris Tremlett have said pretty much the same thing at one time or another and we’re pretty sure someone else has as well, but we can’t be bothered looking for the quote. Is this the only thing that Allan Donald’s been telling these guys?
Who cares? It seems to be working. Allan Donald’s PHILOSOPHY OF RAGE is clearly the way forward.
A match report, again from Lemon Bella who’s swiftly earning the title of ‘roving reporter (who tends to rove to the same destination)’:
I was sat in front of two old ladies who couldn’t read the scoreboard or tell the players apart, so I had to help them fill in their scorecard. This meant I had to watch a distressing amount of the actual cricket.
At one point they told me they thought Marcus Trescothick was a ‘lovely looking young man’. Given that they couldn’t see, I’m not sure that’s the ringing endorsement Marcus would hope. However, I hope that when I’m 76 I can still go to cricket matches and pass comment on the attractiveness of opening batsmen.
A man in front of me ate two tiramisu. I didn’t have any tiramisu. This was very sad for me and I aim to remedy this at the next match.
I rescued a man at the coffee machine who had forgotten to put the cup under the spout. He tried to persuade me that he wasn’t as stupid as he looked. To be honest, I think he probably was. I then spilled coffee on my hat. It wasn’t on my head at the time, which was a blessing I suppose, but it probably means I shouldn’t judge other people’s stupidity.
We’d planned to write something about how Ian Bell supplied the padding in the ‘meal’ of an England innings – the bulk that everyone takes for granted, without really paying any attention to it. Slightly dull, but integral to the construction of the meal.
There were going to be lots of foodstuffs likened to various cricketers, but then we imagined seeing it all on screen and imagined our readers’ disappointed reactions, so we didn’t bother. All you need to know is that Ian Bell was either potatoes, rice, pasta or bread.
We’ve pretty much written the thing anyway, haven’t we? We’ve probably written more about not writing it than we would have written in the first place.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad were really good too. What culinary ingredients would they be?
England v India, third one-day international at Edgbaston
England 281-8 (Ian Bell 79, RP Singh 3-55)
India 239 all out (Sourav Ganguly 72, Rahul Dravid 56, James Anderson 3-32)
It’s often said that Philip Mustard is a headline writer’s dream. He’s a nicknamer’s dream as well. The Durham players call him ‘The Colonel’ for obvious reasons.
With so many options at our disposal however, it would be lazy of us to use someone else’s creation. That’s why, after an hour of thinking, we’ve come up with a masterpiece. A nickname of such sophistication that you’ll all wish you’d thought of it first.
Mustardo has been catching the eye a bit this season. England are always on the lookout for a wicketkeeper who can bat and particularly one who can open the batting in one-day internationals.
So far this season, Mustardo’s hit a hundred and three fifties in the Friends Provident Trophy, averaging 43.5 and a further three fifties in the Pro40 league where he’s averaging 55.6. He’s scored these runs at a ferocious rate, which has what’s caught the eye the most.
Mustardo made his biggest mark in the final of the Friends Provident Trophy a week ago, hitting 49 off 38 balls and he’s keeping himself in the public eye (ooh, mustard in the eye) following a rambunctious 78 off only 40 balls against Leicestershire yesterday.
England are always on the lookout for a wicketkeeper who can bat and particularly one who can open the batting in one-day internationals. This is because Adam Gilchrist opens the batting for Australia in one-day internationals and Australia are better than England and therefore must be copied in EVERY CONCEIVABLE WAY.
No matter that Australia wanted an aggressive opener and their best wicketkeeper batsman just happened to be one. That’s not important. The important thing is that you win one-day internationals by having a wicketkeeper at the top of the order. That’s just the way it is. Knowing England’s luck, they’ll find a decent wicketkeeper-opener and Australia will change to a first-change bowler/opening batsman. Always behind the times, England.
What a player does while his side are fielding is of CRUCIAL importance when selecting your opening batsmen.
England are currently flirting with Philip Mustard.
After one-day hundreds versus Surrey and Derbyshire and County Championship hundreds against Durham, Hampshire and Warwickshire, you’d think we’d be running out of things to say about how great Rob Key is.
Good job we hit upon that idea of asking prominent experts for their opinions after each of his innings, eh?
“This young chap ought to be handed the keys to the throne of Englandshire, he batted with such assured forthrightnessdom.
“At one stage, I felt a splash on my shoe and noticed that my ice-cream had melted in my hand. I’d been so absorbed by this rappscallion’s ornate stroke-making I’d completely forgotten to lick it.
“If there’s a man alive who could resist the beautifical charmingism of his back foot play, I’d like to punch them square on the nose. For they are a luddite of the highest order and ought to be shot for their disappreciationalism.
“Any form of disappreciationalism makes me sick with rage.”
He’s a very old prominent expert. And a mental one.
Some observers seemed surprised by Rahul Dravid‘s innings of 92 off 63 balls as India won the second one-day international yesterday. Why? Dravid’s more than capable of doing this.
People get blinded by his careful approach to Test cricket, but he only plays like that because he thinks that’s the best way to score as many runs as possible. In Test cricket, scoring as many runs as possible is the best way for a batsman to influence the game.
In one-day cricket scoring as many runs as possible is also a good approach, but time is of the essence, so you have to try and cram as many as you can into a short span of time.
If we were Rahul Dravid, we’d rail at our being pigeon-holed as a ‘careful’ batsman. ‘It’s rubbish in this pigeon hole’ we’d say and everyone would listen; help us out of the pigeon-hole; and high-five us for no real reason.
Rahul Dravid should do that.
England should have played a spinner, by the way.
England v India, second one-day international at Bristol
India 329-7 (Sachin Tendulkar 99, Rahul Dravid 92, Andrew Flintoff 5-56)
England 320-8 (Ian Bell 64, Dimitri Mascarenhas 52, Piyush Chawla 3-60, Munaf Patel 3-70)