Ball One – Once an Irishman, always an Irishman.
It’s an old saw, but it’s worth raising it again. I have no problem with anyone qualified to play for England playing for England. Them’s the rules. But I don’t care for players switching national teams – once an Irishman, always an Irishman. And the same should apply for all nations. Good luck to Boyd Rankin, but what a shame not to see him in the green of Ireland’s band of brothers.
Ball Two – Jos Buttler is more than a stopper
Being second choice to Craig Kieswetter at Somerset is hardly a ringing endorsement of wicketkeeping skills and such was Jos Buttler’s fate at the start of the season. With Kieswetter injured and England’s selectors already favouring the younger man, Buttler has worn the gloves in more matches this season that he expected. He’s rather more than a stopper, as his impressive catch to give Boyd Rankin his first
international England wicket showed. If he improves as much as Matt Prior did after his 22nd birthday, England will have a very decent player.
Ball Three – Chris Woakes may not be playing in his best format
God knows I love a Number 8, and Chris Woakes is a classic 8 – in the side as a bowler, but good enough to make fifties in all formats of the game. The problem for Woakes – as his first over showed, disappearing for 19 – is that he’s so often “in the slot” for top order bats. Ironically, that’s exactly the line and length that might trouble batsmen in the red ball game – but he’s a long way away from a Test slot, so he’ll need to develop some variations if he wants to play regularly for England.
Ball Four – Bats may need to be reined in
Advances in sports equipment technology has led to extended golf courses and the heavy, fluffy balls at Wimbledon that have turned grass court into hard court tennis because the old balls just traveled too fast. Trampoline bats have caused plenty of murmurs about whether things have gone too far in cricket, but there’s no real thirst for restrictions on batmaking processes. Brendon McCullum may have hastened such discussions becoming more prominent by top-edging a six over the keeper’s head and up on to the second tier of The Oval Pavilion. Now that’s a very big hit indeed. Of course, who doesn’t like a six? But baseball – which likes a home run just as much – outlawed cork bats and an unpressed cricket bat appears to be much the same thing
Ball Five – Hamish Rutherford nails a monster
At the halfway mark, New Zealand have 104 up with barely a Dilscoop, reverse sweep or lap from either McCullum or Rutherford. Hamish, son of Ken, has been particularly impressive, lifting James Tredwell over long on with clean hits played from directly below the eyes. – more classical strokes, or strokes more pleasing on the eye, one could not wish to see.
Ball Six – No boring middle overs
Nobody told New Zealand that the middle overs of T20 matches in England are reserved for the poke and the prod as both sides settle for six singles and the occasional boundary. McCullum and Rutherford have ignored the fielders and simply smashed pretty much every ball, trusting a bit to luck and a bit to the difficulty of catching a ball moving at that kind of speed. It’s built a great platform for the Kiwis and, perhaps more importantly in front of a capacity crowd, been tremendously entertaining.
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