Did you see… Joe Root blaming the ball for his drops?

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When Joe Root drops catches, Joe Root blames the ball.

Remember when English commentators were talking up Josh Tongue’s “extra pace” because he was bowling 85mph? That seems even more nonsensical now after Mark Wood made the Headingley crowd gasp at not just the obvious threat of his bowling but even the speed gun read-outs as he walked back to his mark.

Wood’s first spell was, in at least one respect, perfect. It was certainly dramatic when Stuart Broad dismissed David Warner in his first over, but Wood improved on that by first getting everyone on the edges of their seats and only then knocking Usman Khawaja’s stumps out of the ground with a 95mph snorter.

That’s how you do fast bowling. Get everyone watching, ratchet up the tension, and then deliver the most satisfying and unequivocal dismissal of all. Watching live, we made an involuntary noise of a pitch and timbre we have never achieved before.

Wood pretty much stuck to that method for the rest of the innings. Three of his wickets were bowled and one was LBW, while Alex Carey was essentially caught hit-on-the-head-a-minute-ago, playing a shot he almost certainly wouldn’t have attempted otherwise.

In short, Wood reminded England that the stumps existed after all of the bowlers and one of the batters had forgotten in the previous Test.

Targeting the stumps was a particularly wise approach given the most obvious alternative was relying on team-mates to catch the ball, which is just a mad, mad thing that England bowlers probably should not do.

Several players were at fault. Joe Root put down a couple of chances and then when he finally caught one, he flung the ball into the ground with all his might, as if the ball were the one at fault here.

This reminded us of two things.

  1. Ben Stokes trying to throw the ball to New South Wales directly through the centre of the planet in the 2019 Ashes
  2. Root’s “Ahhhhhh! In your FACE, ball!” celebration after finally catching one against New Zealand last year

It is not the ball’s fault, Joe.


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  1. Root drops so many catches. Are there any stats on this? Is he even worse than AN Cook was at slip? Who made the rule that it must predominantly be top-order batters who field in the slips?

    AN Cook also pointed out that the ball from Wood which bowled Starc hit the bail and went for six, which I couldn’t independently verify as the BBC coverage didn’t show it, but it reminds me of Jofra achieving the same feat at this ground four years ago. Is it a Headingley phenomenon? I presume there are no stats on this particular facet of the game.

    1. Joffra did it against Bangladesh in Cardiff in the World Cup too I think? I think this could be a “can bowl extremely quickly” thing rather than a specific ground thing. Although, come to think of it, Sophia Gardens does have short straight boundaries. Not sure what Headingley’s are like. Maybe you need both of those factors present for it to happen?

  2. It does seem to me that the definition of Bazball must be the process of dropping catches such that one’s team is behind, then (hopefully) snatching victory from the jaws of ignominious defeat through acts of derring-do.

      1. Dear KC’s Mum – that expression , “my nerves are in shreds” is exactly the phrase that my mum used to say in such circumstances. Totally understandable today.

        Thank goodness we all have over a week off to recuperate and process it all mentally.

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