Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 18, 2022

The Final Over of the Day – England vs South Africa, First Test, Day One

Ball One – Lees ends 10 days exile from the crease with 11 ball innings

Alex Lees was fortunate to make five in a horrible innings in which he was first bounced by Kagisa Rabada and then poked at a wide short ball that would have missed a set of stumps twice as wide and twice as high. It looked like the kind of shot – if that is the right word – one might play on the first evening back for winter nets. Not surprising really as Lees had last had a go in the middle ten days earlier.

We seem to be stuck in a paradox wherein England’s Test players are simultaneously overworked and undercooked. One feels a degree of sympathy for Lees, but little for a set-up that allows such nonsense to develop.

The same reasoning applies to Jonny Bairstow, 17 days without a hit in the middle and a shocking shot to lose his middle stump and Ben Foakes, beaten for pace 20 days since he last had a knock.

Ball Two – Root’s 21st century dismissal

Joe Root was given out LBW to a ball that came back down the Lord’s slope and, on review, would have hit the topmost corner of his leg stump. A brave (as Sir Humphrey might say) decision by Nitin Menon who will, with justification, point to DRS’s confirmation of his judgement – but it looked wrong to the naked eye.

Marco Jansen is a left-arm seamer and, bowling over the wicket, his stock delivery (the stock delivery of bowlers of his type since MCC allowed overarm bowling) comes in to the right-hander. Root, with that preternatural sense that all top batters possess, will have seen a straightish delivery swing a little and, knowing the new ball will seam too and that the slope will take it further, felt he had a free hit. For decades, it would have been, but more LBWs are given these days – consciously or subconsciously, umpires know that the batters can review – and Root was on his way with nine runs to his name and my sympathies.

Ball Three – See ball, hit ball… and always as hard as you can

Is it a function of the social media age, a time in which extremes must be embraced, ideas taken as far as they can go, heretics excommunicated?

The early iterations of Bazball (no excuses from me – it is a thing) worked, the route out of trouble mapped out on ever-reddening willow. But does that make it the best tactic all the time? Is it unacceptable to sit in the game for a bit, let the ball soften and the bowlers tire? After 32 overs, as rain stopped play, England had progressed at a bazballish 3.62 runs per over – but Stuart Broad was at the crease.

If the answer to all Test cricket’s tactical posers were to hit the ball harder more often, an awful lot of very good players and wise captains would have worked it out at some point in the previous 145 years.

Ball Four – Here’s Nortje

Anrich Nortje is nearly 29 and is playing in only his 13th Test match, but has looked very much the part on a pitch that has as much pace as we’ve seen at Lord’s in many a year (no doubt Patrick Cummins has made the same observation).

A genuine 90mph+ man, Nortje will go for runs (Isaac Newton can explain) but he’ll get wickets too (as three of England’s top seven can explain).

I wondered about his emphatic celebrations, head down, fists punching an imaginary beanbag because I’d seen it somewhere before. Brett Lee maybe? Not quite. And then I got it – Dale Steyn.

Ball Five – Rain 1 Cricket 0

Play was abandoned at 4.30pm, which, under usual circumstances, one may consider a little early, but the rain was probably too much even for this ground’s drainage. Sometimes you have to throw in the towel against the elements, even if the towel is soaking wet!

Ball Six – Not bowled


Responses

  1. “If the answer to all Test cricket’s tactical posers were to hit the ball harder more often, an awful lot of very good players and wise captains would have worked it out at some point in the previous 145 years.”

    This, this and a thousand times this.

    • It probably should have been tried more often in the past, but it can’t be the answer all the time!

      • The WI team of Greenidge, Haynes, Viv and Clive were fairly adept at it.

        • They often had Larry Gomes up the other end nurdling a single backward of point to get off strike. But yes, true!

          • Early days yet, of course, but the SA batters seem to have taken the ‘let’s play ourselves in and then play some shots’ approach. Terribly old-fashioned of them.


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