A cold Sciver, a handy Kapp and Alice Davidson-Richards

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Remember when being five down for not many runs was a bad thing? Whatever happened to that?

Two weeks ago, England’s men’s team were 93-4 in pursuit of 299 to win. Somewhere around a minute later, they’d won the match – in large part thanks to Jonny Bairstow, who was the only other batter dismissed.

Four down for not enough runs is so passé though. A week later they were 55-6 in response to New Zealand’s 329. At this point Bairstow and Jamie Overton put on 241 in 274 balls.

This is apparently just the way innings pan out nowadays. South Africa were 45-4 and then 89-5 in this summer’s only women’s Test match, only for Marizanne Kapp to decide this was a fine time to make 150.

The tourists’ final total of 284 looked pretty handy when England then fell to 121-5. Cue a 207-run partnership between habitual player-of-cool-innings Nat Sciver and Test debutant Alice Davidson-Richards (who has gone a long way towards drilling into us that she isn’t an Alison or a Richardson – although good luck preventing either of those names from ever falling out of our mouth accidentally).

At the time of writing, South Africa haven’t yet lost five wickets, so it’s hard to say how their second innings is going.

Unrelated housekeeping

Yes, we know Eoin Morgan has retired from international cricket. Yes, we do want to write something about it. Yes, we are doing. No, we haven’t finished it yet.

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  1. Just to get my comment in the mix…..

    Eoin Morgan was a very good player, his achievements for England and for English Cricket were superb and above par. The amount of games he played and the rims he scored ver immensely valuable on numerous occasions. He captaining brain and his skill as a captain was very good. BUT……
    He should have retired about a year ago, his cricketing ability has been useless for a while and he should have left more time for the next captian, probably Buttler, to get a grasp of the team, create the team he desires and form the way he would like to play sooner before the upcoming world cups. And although they seem a long time away, it isn’t that many games away.
    RIP Morgan
    YIPEEE for English Cricket

    1. Suppose you could argue that last year was the run up to a World Cup and also not a great time to go.

      1. True. A good time would have been at the during the initial lockdown, when the world cup was delayed, his form was on the way to being low and crap, and ther was still enough time to prep for a myriad of World Cups that were soon to inundate cricket, and still are.

  2. It is a bit weird, all this winning-from-unwinnable-situations stuff. My view is that this is a consequence of T20, but not in the way people usually mean.

    When Bairstow did his ridiculous thing in the second test, people said that it was T20 cricket that had taught him how to score quickly. That’s true, but T20 taught him something equally important as well, which is that in some circumstances the best approach is “Fuck it, let’s see what happens.”

    In a T20 match, the circumstance in which the FILSWH approach is correct is any circumstance in which you are holding a bat. Risk analysis is NOT required. In tests, there are also times when this is the proper approach, but also times when it isn’t (*). In the 2005 Oval test, England were on the verge of being overwhelmed in the 2nd innings, Brett Lee tearing in at nine hundred miles an hour. Kevin Pietersen scored 158 with seven sixes. Interviewed afterwards, he said that the bowling offered no safe approach, so why not get out scoring? In other words, FILSWH. But equally, Ben Stokes famously took nine hundred balls to get off the mark at Headingly in 2019. Had he decided to FILSWH, nobody would remember what happened, because he’d have got out.

    (*) The asterisk in this comment isn’t an aside – it is the main point. I have a feeling that test cricket is potentially heading down this route more and more often, that the circumstances in which FILSWH isn’t appropriate is becoming a narrower and narrower field. This is the effect of T20, not the increased scoring rate per se. The beauty of test cricket, the reason why it is a vastly better game to watch than T20, is because every choice has risk and reward in equal measure. Bowlers can take wickets OR avoid scoring, not both. Captains can set catching fields OR run-stopping fields, not both. And this used to be true for batters as well, except in thrillingly limited circumstances.

    So while JB should be cheered for his efforts, a big part of me hopes that this is a flash-in-the-pan. Because test cricket in which England, or anyone, go from 150-5 to 350-5 at rapid rate every time is less of a thing. The jeopardy of being 150-5 disappears, and hence so does that intoxicating mix of happiness, relief and astonishment that comes afterwards.

    There are no superlatives available for use in T20, because they were all used up in the first three IPL matches by Ravi Shastri. All that’s left is super-mega-splendido-latives. I would like to keep some superlatives in decent working order for test cricket, if that’s OK with everyone.

      1. I was just going to do a sentence, nice and conventional like, but then I thought, fuck it, let’s see what happens (*). And I think you’ll agree, in footnote terms that was a hundred in sixty balls to win the match.

        (*) You know what, I think I might adopt this FILSWH as a general policy, putting the main point in the footnote. Like Bairstow, it will continue to bring unrelenting succeeeeeeeeeeeee ngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngng ibble ibble kwak.

      2. Kwak is delicious. One of the great beers.

        The Kwak glass has got its own thing going on too.

        Kwak glass

      3. Oh you should try a glass of ngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngngng. It tastes like green tea being taught to play the violin through a kaleidoscope.

  3. Kwak is the noise a duck makes, making it the only Belgian beer named after something to do with cricket.

      1. Triple refers to the brewing method and the 6 is the number of bottles you can drink before being hospitalised. So, Kwak is the only one really named after cricket.

  4. “Four down for not enough runs is so passé though. A week later they were 55-6 in response to New Zealand’s 329. At this point Bairstow and Jamie Overton put on 241 in 274 balls.”

    …but if Wagner had bothered to call for a review on a clear lbw on Overton, then it may have been very different. Suffice to say it can go one or the other way very easily. England have been lucky so far, but at some point very soon, there will be a 30-summat all out, which is also fine of course, cos’ cricket and wickets are far more entertaining than a myriad of sixes.

    Oh, and tell Bert to refrain from using bad words. I got told off for using, what to me, was a new word, little knowing it was a very bad sweary.

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