Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 26, 2019

England vs Ireland Day Two

Is that Mark Adair calling for me again?

Ball One – England smarting as batsmen need to be smarter

Ireland do not have bowlers whom one would describe as world class – but, for some time now, England’s batsmen have not required world class bowling to induce dismissals. So keen are England’s leadership to preach the mantra of “play your natural game” that wide balls are chased, straight balls whipped across the line and short balls attacked with horizontal bats regardless of the pitch’s trustworthiness. That means – as Rory Burns found out early on – that the percentages are against you and bowlers who nag away with questions will eventually (and sometimes much sooner than that) get the answer they’re looking for.

Ball Two – Pluck, luck and no ducks

Luck, though, plays as big a part in cricket as it does in life. Jack Leach seized what chance had offered him (the nightwatchman’s role) and progressed to 60 at lunch with a hitherto unsuspectedly solid technique, hitting the ball along the ground through the covers for runs. It was a conventional knock that would not have looked out of place were it delivered by a real opener rather than the ersatz one he is. Jason Roy had a different kind of luck, missing a few balls for which he reached and might have inside-edged, and avoiding fielders with others smacked in the air. But if he stays in, he scores, and he raised a maiden Test fifty at more than a run a ball with seven fours and one six. Ireland were left pondering the caprice of this most capricious of games, as they tucked into a lunch that no doubt tasted rather less sweet than yesterday’s.

Ball Three – Leach reprieved to suck more blood from the Irish

Karma’s a bitch isn’t it? Yesterday, almost everything went Ireland’s way, a torrent of wickets that included three catches for ex-Surrey wicketkeeper, Gary Wilson. Just when Ireland needed a wicket to reinstate belief that was melting as fast as a 99 at 99F, Wilson dropped a straightforward chance offered by their chief tormentor, Jack Leach, on 72 (with power to add to his highest first class score). It’s a funny old game, but not many Irish eyes were smiling.

Ball Four – Adair redeemed

Mark Adair must have said his “Hail Marys” as a child, because he received a second serving of redemption in two days. After he took a wicket shortly after pinning Jason Roy LBW with a no ball on Day One, he repeated the trick, catching Jack Leach at second slip two balls after dropping him there on 92. It was a fine effort from the England spinner, who might not have batted for 220 minutes across a whole season in the past, never mind an innings. When he departed to a standing ovation, England’s lead was a flimsy 60 – which just goes to show how important the bowler’s batting had been.

Ball Five – Jonny B not very Goode

As was always, if not quite likely, then definitely possible, the end of England’s second wicket partnership of 145 brought a clatter of wickets for a Test batting line-up as flimsy as the ODI batting line-up is formidable. Joe Root selling out Joe Denly with some (primary) schoolboy running didn’t help matters and Jonny Bairstow’s “Holding to Boycott” working over by Mark Adair was as gruesomely watchable as the original. England took tea with five wickets in hand, just 87 runs on, with 150 more required to feel like they are ahead in the game.

Ball Six – England pay a steep price for failure to attend to the basics of batting

England, on the attack as ever, regardless of the match situation or the form of the batsmen, squandered wickets to bowling that was skilled and disciplined rather than inspired and unplayable. Too many batsmen appear contemptuous of the basics of their trade – lining the ball up, playing it late below the eyes, meeting it with the full face of a straight bat. The issue is psychological – against all but mystery spin and 90 mph bowling, they mastered those foundations of batting in their early teens. So why won’t they work the hard yards? Perhaps there’s rather too much carrot and not enough stick from the leadership for the Test arena, which, unlike ODIs and T20Is, punishes such laxity ruthlessly.


  1. Heady days.

    • Good luck to your boys. I feel you’ll need a couple of 70s from the top six.

      • More than anything I think we need Porterfield to stand up.

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