You’re probably wondering why there’s a photo of a load of fried fish awaiting a greedy human receptacle up there. We’ll get to that. It won’t take too long, but you’ll have to be a little bit patient. Before we get to it, we want to talk about the nature of knowledge and also 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw’s hundred on debut for India.
The way we manage knowledge over the course of our lives is that we start out with none and we build a foundation. First of all we prod things and push things and shout at things and see what they do and through this process we start to work out some of the rules of our environment. We then begin to stack up little information Lego blocks on top of these foundations, building our own personal tower of knowledge.
Some people find themselves focusing a lot on one particular area – say music or physics – and they build a big high tower that everyone else finds really impressive. Most of us take a broader approach, slapping blocks on here there and everywhere and never hitting the same heights.
At a certain point in life, we reach a critical mass where we can’t really add more blocks without compromising the integrity of the structure. At this point our compulsion to add further blocks leads to other bits falling off and there’s nothing you can do about that. The orderly acquisition of information is over. You’ve reached peak knowledge and all that changes is what that body of knowledge comprises.
Sometimes a new Lego block of information means you lose a block from somewhere else. Sometimes it’s load-bearing and you lose a wall or a whole wing of the building. By the time you’re properly old, nothing really links together any more – you’re just mounds and mounds of random facts with nothing much linking it all together. This is when people generally become most interesting to talk to.
We found out a certain amount about Prithvi Shaw yesterday and we found out a bit more today. Lord knows what we’ve sacrificed for this, but it feels like there’ll be a whole Prithvi Shaw section of Lego architecture in coming years, so we might as well go with it.
Let’s start with today because what happened today is most relevant to his cricket career. Today Prithvi Shaw scored a debut Test hundred at a run a ball.
Today’s stories are mostly about how he’s only 18 and he’s already scoring Test hundreds and isn’t he the best thing ever. Either that or they’re getting stuck into the backlash nice and early and saying it was a flat pitch and a relatively toothless attack and this doesn’t prove anything.
Our take is that Shaw’s been talked up ever since he made 546 off 330 balls in a schools match, so this innings hints that he can handle ludicrous expectations fairly well and this is very important. For obvious reasons most people don’t get a chance to prove (or fail to prove) such a thing until they’ve played a great many Test matches.
Shaw also did some good batting and very little bad batting. We’d say today’s information leaves us with a broadly positive view of his prospects as a Test cricketer. The story is very much ‘to be continued’ though. (And honestly, that is the best part of any story. That’s when you’re still intrigued and your mind’s still trying to work things out.)
The knowledge we gained yesterday was different. Yesterday Prithvi Shaw hadn’t played Test cricket so the main things we learned related to his dietary preferences.
Back when he was 12 or 13, Shaw spent a term at Cheadle Hulme School, which is two or three miles away from where we used to live. According to the Mail on Sunday, he had a decent time but didn’t much like the food. The exception was fish and chips. (This is interesting to us because when we first went to India, we thought how mushy peas with salt and vinegar could pass as an Indian dish. Criminally, the Mail on Sunday neglects to report whether ‘fish and chips’ was in fact ‘fish, chips and mushy peas’ or even ‘fish chips, mushy peas and gravy’. )
After we finished reading that article, we were very much left with the impression that fish and chips is 100 per cent Prithvi Shaw’s favourite UK meal. We were therefore utterly taken aback when cricket writer Vithushan Ehantharajah retweeted a comment from a Ben Milligan earlier today, saying: “Lived with my family for two summers about 5 years ago. Big, big fan of salt and pepper chicken wings. Decent bat too.”
So suddenly we have two Lego blocks of Prithvi Shaw dietary information to apply to our knowledge tower. This is gravely concerning because as established above, knowledge is power – and that power is the power to destroy great swathes of wholly unrelated knowledge.
The addition of two basically worthless nuggets of information (and let’s be honest here, this is the exact kind of knowledge we do actually retain) therefore presents a significant threat to our person.
Our solution is that we are going to try and consolidate the two seemingly contradictory facts “Prithvi Shaw’s favourite thing to eat in the UK is fish and chips” and “Prithvi Shaw’s favourite thing to eat in the UK is salt and pepper chicken” into “Prithvi Shaw really likes deep fried beige food.”
This is a somewhat ironic headline because as a rule we don’t remember things. Our brain long ago adopted the after-midnight-at-a-popular-nightclub policy towards nuggets of information – one in, one out.
So consider this a note to our future self that you’re all invited to read in the present. It’s not exactly the highlights of the 2018 international summer. It’s more a bunch of striking moments that may or may not create a sort of join-the-dots effect where linking them together maybe allows you to draw a vague outline of the season as a whole.
Pakistan arrived, Pakistan bowled England out easily – and lo, the theme of the summer was set.
England turned up fairly late for a one-day international against Scotland, lost it and then basically said that they didn’t care because they were only treating it as glorified practice anyway. Trevor Bayliss was so moved by what he saw that he flattened out the pocket of his hoodie.
If you’re tired of Australians being on the receiving end of world record totals, you’re tired of life. England made a still barely-believable 481-6 in a 50-over match and it was bloody hilarious.
“Oh my God, they have got to get this guy into the Test team,” said everybody (before later concluding the exact opposite once India had done precisely that).
MS Dhoni seemed poised to explode at any minute… but he never did. It was marvellous. He basically trolled the entire cricket world via some batting.
It was actually nowhere near as good a ball as everyone made out, but Kohli’s reaction to it was unparalleled.
Kohli seemed hell-bent on being dead centre of every single thing that happened when England and India finally got round to playing a Test match. After running out his opposite number, he mimed a mic drop to take the piss out of Root’s ‘bat drop’ at the end of the one-day series and then told him to fuck off.
It was bloody brilliant.
And Jennings quite miraculously failed to make any sort of contact with the ball whatsoever. This moment summed up the wonderful series-long Anderson v Kohli duel and also Keaton Jennings’ summer.
This also summed up Keaton Jennings’ summer. Poor Keaton Jennings.
Has anyone ever been more serious about anything ever than Sam Curran about everything always? He had a very successful summer and looked determined to ensure that would be the case throughout.
Rashid hitch-hiked his way through the Test series without anyone particularly noticing he was there, but then trotted in and dismissed two centurions just as everyone started to think they were maybe going to deliver a record run-chase in the final Test innings of the summer. The delivery that dismissed Rahul was everything the Kohli one pretended to be and wasn’t.
One of the great things about cricket is that a match can be unimaginably massive and yet one of the key contributions will come from someone who doesn’t even practise.
Kedar Jadhav doesn’t really bowl in the nets. He’s probably worried that any attempt to hone his craft will wash off the thick crust of filth that is his greatest weapon.
If you haven’t seen Jadhav bowl, try and imagine that your dad’s been drinking heavily and now he’s trying to do a Lasith Malinga impression for the very first time.
He pretty much just dobs it in. We believe it’s supposed to be spin.
According to Hassan Cheema, the previous time a spinner took three or more wickets for fewer than 30 runs against Pakistan was in 2013.
England got to have a go at partnership-breaking when the ball wasn’t doing a right lot today. Everyone had a go and everyone failed and then Joe Root finally gave Adil Rashid a bowl and he got both lads out.
That’s a very simplistic way to describe how things went, but it’s also good to keep in mind. Partnership-breaking when the ball isn’t doing a right lot is a very important aspect of cricket outside England. From time to time it’s actually more important than the ability to concede only 2.1 runs an over.
It’s also worth bearing in mind when you look at Adil Rashid’s Test record. For most of this series, he’s been given just five, six or seven overs an innings. Today he didn’t really get a proper spell until KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant had put on 200. Imagine being a seam bowler treated like that. Imagine what you’d average. The answer is ‘even more than Adil Rashid’.
Rashid generally gets to bowl when things are going badly for England; on flat pitches when batsmen are scoring fairly easily.
There are two ways this can pan out.
Even if Rashid were the best bowler in history, the first of those would be way more likely – yet when it understandably happens he is regarded as a failure because there are almost no other circumstances on which to judge him. Perceptions of his bowling seem… unfairly weighted.
Today, KL Rahul batted brilliantly, but he fell to a delivery that appeared to bounce off an invisible side wall. Rishabh Pant batted brilliantly, but he didn’t seem to pick the wrong ‘un and played the ball more up than along.
Adil Rashid turned his arm over and dismissed two centurions. A few overs later England took the new ball and he drifted off back into the outfield.
There are two main reasons why cricketers are annoying. (1) They play for your team and they aren’t very good. (2) They play for the opposition and they are very good.
The first is self-evident. The second is rather more nuanced and deserves a little bit of elaboration. So let’s very quickly do that.
To be fully annoying, an opposition cricketer must be not just effective, but more effective than you think they deserve to be. To really put the top hat on it, they should then act like they’re even better than that.
Ravindra Jadeja meets these requirements. He is pretty annoying and we are very much relieved whenever India decide to not pick him. That is a compliment, which is very unfortunate because of course we don’t really want to pay him compliments.
First of all, Jadeja bowls like he has only just started bowling and isn’t really a bowler and doesn’t much care how things go because he’s not a bowler so do what you like, it doesn’t matter to him, he’s not a bowler. Employing this method, he is easing his way towards 200 Test wickets at an average in the low 20s.
That’s an annoyingly good record, but after learning to appreciate the subtleties of his bowling approach and slowly coming to recognise his qualities, you’ll look at it and probably still think it’s annoying and undeserved.
But Ravindra Jadeja doesn’t think that. Ravindra Jadeja generally maintains an air of having completely mastered cricket. Ravindra Jadeja celebrates a fifty – a fifty – with a twirly sword celebration.
That is disproportionate. (It is also entertaining and he should absolutely carry on doing it.)
Ravindra Jadeja swans through Test cricket like he belongs there. And he does. Which is annoying.
Depends on your perspective really. They’re a competitive and exciting side who could quite easily be 3-1 up. Their batsmen are better than England’s, their four main bowlers have been brilliant – but they’ve lost the series. From our perspective this is pretty much tourist perfection.
We absolutely do not want to see close, exciting cricket where England lose. We want to see close, exciting cricket where England win and where we still get to moan about their batting and team selection and all that.
What an excellent series. India absolutely deserve to win the final Test.
If you’re going to get out LBW, get out LBW in style.
Here’s Keaton Jennings’ four-step guide to doing so.
Social media has been alive with pleasure this week at the news that James Vince has returned to the England squad. It’s gratifying to see that fans’ views of him have in no way cemented and that there is universal near-desperation to see him given a third chance at Test level.
But let’s imagine for a minute that the response was the exact opposite of that. Let’s imagine that rather than fist pumps and hastily-scheduled James Vince parties, his recall was instead greeted with eye rolls and bad-tempered chuntering about Ed Smith and his selection cronies. What can you say to these people?
What we’d say is this: at least James Vince gives you a focus.
By this point we have to accept that England’s batting collapses don’t come about because of one bloke who sometimes bats in the middle order or sometimes at number three. It is a far more deep-rooted thing that will prove much, much trickier to overcome.
That is a horrifying thought and the best thing to do with horrifying thoughts is suppress them. You do this by getting angry about something very obvious and human and what could be more perfect than the prospect of a guy with a long track record of edging to slip for 27 being given yet another opportunity to edge to slip for 27?
Imagine if that actually happens! Imagine if, with everyone primed to lose their minds should he edge to slip for 27, James Vince actually edges to slip for 27.
The prospect of this is so wonderful we can barely even describe it. It is like actively alerting someone to the existence of a ‘wings stay on/wings fall off’ switch on an aeroplane only for them to deliberately flick it. After miraculously surviving the crash, they flick it again on their next flight. Again they survive and at this point you feel you have to intervene again. As you’re standing there, pointing to the switch, patiently advising them not to flick it, the person holds your gaze and even as they’re nodding their head to express comprehension, their hand is slowly moving towards it.
Yes, you will most likely lose your life in an air disaster, but that compulsion to flick the switch is also very funny.
There’s basically nothing left as an England fan other than to become a connoisseur of missed catches. Keaton Jennings failing to make meaningful use of his own hands when Virat Kohli edged the ball to him on 93 was one of the greatest misses we’ve ever seen.
There are three main reasons why. We’ll expand on these in a second.
The context is key. Jimmy Anderson has been bowling brilliantly this summer and while he’s been rewarded with plenty of wickets, he’s also been repeatedly slapped in the metaphorical face by countless drops. (He’s been hit in the literal face by his own golf ball too, but that’s wholly unrelated.)
Jimmy has been particularly keen to dismiss Virat Kohli and has beaten or found the edge of the India captain’s bat – ooh, it’s hard to say exactly, but it must be somewhere around 6,000 times.
Precisely none of these deliveries have resulted in a dismissal.
This is why when he again found the edge and the ball again went straight at a fielder and it again didn’t result in a dismissal, Jimmy did this.
While he was still doing this – still bent over, head in hands – he suddenly went all tense and his whole body shook as he unleashed a bestial roar.
This is a 100 per cent correct reaction and Jimmy has our every sympathy.
On first viewing we reckoned that Keaton Jennings would have needed to move his hands by about three inches to have successfully taken the catch. We were wrong.
Look at this.
And then look at this.
There are no deflections there. Virat Kohli edged the ball directly at Keaton Jennings’ cupped hands. Had Joe Root been armed with a blowpipe and shot a paralysis dart into his opener’s neck to instantly freeze him, there is a reasonable chance the catch would have been taken.
However, this is not what happened. What happened in reality is far more entertaining. What happened was that Keaton Jennings ducked his hands down a few inches to actively evade the ball.
(Look, this all happened in a billionth of a second and we know that the poor guy’s got to instantly pick up trajectory, speed and angle and honestly, in many ways it’s a miracle any catch is taken, but there is still something fundamentally hilarious about a bad-catching side failing to take a catch because one of the fielders moved his hands out of the way of the ball.)
The ball made contact with absolutely nothing. Look at those images above and try and envisage a scenario where ball doesn’t strike hand, arm, knee or testicle.
It’s almost impossible, isn’t it? But this is what happened next.
It was as if Jennings were some kind of formless sprite, unable to interact with solid objects within this earthly realm.
The ball approached and then it just continued on its way at exactly the same speed having passed directly through him.
We saw a thing the other day where they said that in terms of accuracy, bowling a couple of feet fuller or shorter is like the difference between a darts player hitting the top or bottom of the bullseye.
Darts players release their projectile from in front of their eyes having adopted a firm, stationary position. Jimmy Anderson releases the ball from some way above his head, having sprinted in and done a weird twisting jump; he does it with fingertip precision so that the ball swings; and he does it time and time and time again, even when he’s absolutely knackered.
Most of the time nothing whatsoever comes of this effort – but sometimes it does. Sometimes the ball catches the edge of the bat, travels in the air and in the direction of a fielder.
At this point, Jimmy Anderson has done all he can. The outcome of this delivery is now wholly down to someone else’s involvement and he just has to hope that they catch it.
Imagine that the above happens. Imagine that the umpire signals four runs.
Take another look at Jimmy Anderson screaming into his palms.