“Hi Rob, hi all,” writes Em Jackson. “Re: Classic cars for current cricketers – Sir Alistair Cook would surely have a Range Rover Mk 1. I mean, he’s a Sir, has a farm, plays cricket & I guess owns a wax jacket plus farm dogs. Whilst I know he plays for Essex and not Middlesex, I simply can’t see Sir Alistair in a lime green Ford Escort XR3i cabriolet.”
As somebody who has never driven this is a foreign language to me, but it sounds persuasive. And I can confidently concur with the ‘lime green’ bit.
“You used the word ‘moist’,” cringes John Starbuck. “There was a whole thread about this in a long-ago OBO and I thought this was one of your bugbears. Did the psychiatrist tell you to confront your fears?”
Why else do you think I watch highlights of Adelaide 2006 over breakfast every morning?
From the archive
Here’s Kapil Dev playing a bit of Bazball – 40 years ago.
Inspection at 5.25pm It has stopped raining, but the outfield is a bit too moist for the umpires’ liking. They’ll be back for another inspection in just under 20 minutes.
“Talking of circles in the nets, I used to go to Peter Wight’s cricket school in Bath when I was a tyro schoolboy cricketer,” says Ben Mimmack. “He once drew a circle in chalk on the ground where I should pitch the ball. I didn’t hit it once and he was kind enough to just brush it away and never mention it again. Lovely man.”
Inspection at 5pm Good news from Edgbaston. If they can get back on soon after the inspection, we could still have around two hours’ play this evening.
“Ollie Pope seems to have enrolled in the Zak Crawley school of driving,” says Colum Fordham. “I would take away their licences until they have studied Joe Root’s flowing drives, based on a more astute judgement of length, with more care.”
Michael Vaughan, who was a glorious driver, made a good suggestion re: Crawley during the BT Sport coverage of the West Indies tour. Essentially, he said Crawley should draw a big circle on a length outside off stump every time he practises in the nets. If the ball pitches in the circle, he doesn’t drive. I know cricket and especially batting have evolved but it sounds like a decent idea to me.
Tea It’s officially tea, which means the earliest that play can resume is 4.50pm. But it’s likely to be nearer 5.30pm.
Rain stops Bumrah
No change at Edgbaston, where a) it’s still raining and b) England are still in a soupçon of bother.
“Okay, the pitch has been prepared,” writes Vince in Slovakia (see 9th over). “I used the highest setting on the lawn mower. The trees count as fours. The Martians are ready to send a team but they want a rest day so they can take over the world. Also a bear was spotted in the hills above me the other day so I will see if it wants to be the third umpire…”
I’m impressed that you’ve already asked the bear about its preferred pronouns.
15.1 overs: England 60-3 (Root 19, Bairstow 6) Root chases a short, wide delivery from Shami and is beaten. And that’s it for now, because the heavens have parted. It was India’s mini-session, with Jasprit Bumrah taking the wicket of Ollie Pope to leave England in a peedie bit of bother. They trail by 356 runs.
15th over: England 60-3 (Root 19, Bairstow 6) These are pretty tough batting conditions, with the ball zipping off the seam and occasionally spitting from a length. Ravi Shastri, commentating on Sky Sports, thinks the extra pace of the Indian bowlers is the reason they are getting more from the pitch.
Another livewire, Mohammad Siraj, comes on to replace Bumrah (7-0-30-3). Bairstow greets him with a mildly imperious pull through backward square leg for four. He’s in death-or-glory mode again, no surprise given his astonishing recent form.
Meanwhile, here’s the wicket of Ollie Pope.
14th over: England 55-3 (Root 18, Bairstow 2) Bairstow pings a pull for two to get off the mark, edges a cut short of the slips and then administers a brollocking to someone behind the bowler’s arm. No Bairstow innings would be complete without it.
“Young Bumrah once bowled four wides consecutively playing for Mumbai Indians,” says Yash Gupta. “At that time I headscratched how can someone even dare to become a fast bowler with that run-up? He won’t last two years in T20 format. That was about seven years ago.”
And then India called up the T20 specialist to the Test side! And look how that worked oh.
13th over: England 53-3 (Root 18, Bairstow 0) Root opens the face to steer Bumrah to third man for a couple. This contest, between two bankers for a World XI to face Mars in Vince’s back garden in Slovakia, has the potential to decide the game and therefore the series.
Root gets a bit lucky later in the over when he tries to flick to leg and gets a leading edge through gully for four.
12th over: England 45-3 (Root 10, Bairstow 0) Root remains the prize wicket despite Jonny Bairstow’s extraordinary bish-boshery in recent weeks. One of Root’s great strengths – he has a few – is to stockpile singles, and he flicks Shami into the leg side to move into double figures.
This is a fascinating test of England’s nerve and ability. There are no Michael Bracewells in this attack.
11th over: England 44-3 (Root 8, Bairstow 0) That wasn’t, alas, a good stroke from Ollie Pope. It’s the third time in the match that a batter has fallen to the seventh or eighth ball of an over: Thakur last night, Lees this morning and now Stokes.
The no-ball strikes again! Jasprit Bumrah has taken a wicket with the seventh and final delivery of his sixth over, which was extended because the previous delivery was a no-ball. It was full, wide and too much for Pope to resist. He threw his hands into a loose drive and was snaffled in the slips by Shreyas Iyer.
10th over: England 42-2 (Pope 10, Root 8) Root survives an optimistic LBW shout from Shami. It was a good ball, which nipped back sharply, but it was too high high, hush hush, eye to eye.
“Look,” says Phil Keegan, “I am very out of touch with the UK, what with living in Vietnam and not even visiting for around 10 years, but what the hell is a ‘a peedie coffee’. Frankly it sounds quite disturbing.”
You live in the home of weasel coffee and you think my coffee sounds disturbing! (Peedie just means small, btw, and has nothing to do with the consumption of mammal droppings.)
9th over: England 41-2 (Pope 10, Root 7) Bumrah didn’t get in many Test XIs for 2021, though I’d have included him for his matchwinning spells at Lord’s and the Oval. They were sensational. This might be sacrilege, but from afar he feels like the best fast bowler India have ever produced. Maybe he needs greater longevity, I don’t know.
“Hello from Slovakia,” writes Vince. “Maybe England should play here. Sunny and warm, though 39, yesterday but a pleasant 29 today. No cricket grounds but they can play in my garden. I live on a hill so they can pretend they’re on an extreme Lord’s pitch. Bumrah must be cock a hoop but I’ll wait till England are eight down to form any opinions on this game.. Seems like Nos 5,6 and 7 are the key batsmen these days.”
They certainly have been this summer, as this list of average partnerships for each wicket demonstrates.
8th over: England 39-2 (Pope 10, Root 6) A poor ball from Shami, short and wide, is deliberately slapped over the cordon for four by Pope. He had a hard time against India last year, mainly in the away series, though that was largely against Ravichandran Ashwin.
7th over: England 35-2 (Pope 6, Root 6) The floodlights are on, and all logic suggests this is a terrific time to bowl. If you bowl the right length, that is: Bumrah starts with an overpitched delivery that is driven crisply through mid-off for four by Root.
The players are back on the field, with three balls of the seventh over remaining. It’s time for business.
Revised hours of play
Afternoon session 3.15-5pm
Evening session 5.20-6.37pm (with the extra half hour available)
YOU HEARD THE MAN
I had no idea this was a thing either.
Here’s Niall Mullen “Me in October this year: ‘Some people never got over Vietnam or the night their band opened for Nirvana. I guess I never got over Bazball.’”
Play will resume at 3.15pm. Time for me to grab a peedie coffee.
“Cricketer of today in a posh car?” muses Gary Naylor. “Zak Crawley, of course. Though he’d have to improve his driving. HONK!”
That must be the first all-capitals HONK! on here in years. I’m shedding nostalgia tears.
Inspection at 3pm I’m not sure what happened to the 2.45pm inspection. Even so, things are looking more optimistic.
“I saw an eighteen-year-old David Lloyd (the one called Bumble these days) in a Lanky side captained by Brian Statham, against Warwickshire,” writes Romeo on the subject of watching cricketers before they were famous. “His ten runs in the match (4 and 6*) and one wicket for 58 runs in 19 overs didn’t make much of an impression at the time and have yet to do so. His six runs in the following year’s match against a Cowdrey-captained Kent (6 and 0) and no wickets for 26 in 5 overs also failed to convince me of his genius.”
That aside, you were smitten?
“Good afternoon Rob,” says Kim Thonger. “I’ve been dodging raindrops at Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire, admiring the vintage vehicles at the Annual Rally & Concours d’Elegance widely considered as the largest gathering of Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars in the world.
“My question is this. I can imagine many older Test cricketers behind the wheel of these beauties. Colin Cowdrey, Ted Dexter, David Gower, to name but a few. But which of the current crop would not look out of place? Tricky isn’t it?”
My default OBO answer is ‘Darren Stevens’ but I don’t suppose I can get away with that here. James Vince? Colin de Grandhomme? Kumar Sangakkara? (Yes, yes, I know Sangakkara has technically retired but did you see him bat on Sky Sports last week?)
Inspection at 2.45pm Woot and, indeed, woot.
Thanks Tanya, hello everyone. I’m not sure I have many thoughts on Crawley, except that to give him a break after this game would be an act of kindness. I still think, in the parlance of our time, that he has the highest ceiling of all England’s current openers. But he probably has the antonym (the lowest basement? The deepest catacomb?) as well.
He needs some time out, and maybe a visit to see Duncan Fletcher. Another thought on Crawley – his form is doing Alex Lees a favour.
With the rain still falling, I hand over to Rob Smyth (welcome back, maestro) who will tickle your through the rain break. Thanks for all the messages, bye!
Thanks to Em Jackson for this nudge: “Not often one would mention a retired Scottish cricketer during an England game but RIP Andy Goram (probably more well known for Rangers, Hibs and Man Utd admittedly). 58 is no age.”
According to cricinfo, who I paraphrase: goalkeeper Andy Goram was one of the last to play both cricket and football to a high level, but even by the 1980s professional football was becoming all encompassing. This limited his appearances for Scotland as a right-arm medium-pacer to two first-class and two list-A matches. RIP.
Bored of Baz-ball already? I hate to tell you but England have signed up for a four year term.
The cameras pan to the outfield, where the umpires have umbrellas up and are inspecting some wet grass.
Writes Oliver B:
“Haseeb Hameed is having a decent season – averaging 50, 2 centuries, healthy SR of 65, showing the mental qualities required to bounce back after his time in Australia,” writes Matt Cast.
“Whether he fits the blueprint is another story, but I still really want to see him doing well in the Test side.”
I’d love to see him in the Test side. But it feels a bit early again, just like it felt a bit early when England brought him back last year. I’d give him another season with Notts and see where he is then.
Thank you Gary Naylor for fab rain break reading.
Great stories! I saw Ollie Pope score a hundred at Guildford for Surrey a few years ago, but I think he’d already been earmarked by then. Who were your before-they-were-famous spots?
A tracksuited Rahul Dravid has his legs up on the Indian balcony, Pant, knees up, hand on chin, is listening raptly. Wouldn’t we all.
On TMS, Ramps is chatting Crawley. Sometimes, he says, ( or something along those lines) it is better to take the player out of the spotlight.
Jos Buttler yesterday pooh-poohed the idea of him opening the batting in the Test team. But he does fit the blue-print.
Robert Ellson follows up on Vic’s wise words about Pant. “When David Gower hit his first ball in Test cricket for four, John Arlott’s commentary was something along the lines of ‘he is a good player this boy, probably the only class batsman in the side.’ Now that’s spotting talent early.”
6.3 overs: England 31-2 (Pope 6, Root 2) Brollies up! Like Lees earlier, Crawley will be cursing himself. If he could have just lasted another couple of overs, he’d be having a satisfying, rather than miserable, breather in the dressing room.
“HI Tanya, Can you please sit down with Zak Crawley and explain to him that, if what England needed was someone to hit a couple of attractive drives before wafting a loose drive into the slips, then James Vince would still have a test career.”
A motherly chat? Not sure how well that would go down. For his own sake though, I’d let him return to county pastures after this Test. Who replaces him though, I’m not sure. You don’t want to ruin Harry Brook by pushing him up the order.
6th over: England 30-2 (Pope 5, Root 2) Not much relief at the other end from Shami, who has a touch of the Ali Martins about the beard. Root is watchful, wary.
Going back to when Bumrah had the bat in his hand:
5th over: England 29-2 (Pope 4, Root 2) Root nearly done by the hat-trick ball, fizzing popping candy that squeals past the bat. And another. Bumrah is bowling like a dream here.
I don’t want to type these words but… he drives… and the ball is duly collected by third slip. Bumrah on a hat-trick.
4th over: England 27-1 (Pope 4, Crawley 9) Shami resumes from the pavilion end. And the first ball zips through beating both Crawley and Pant – who is wrong footed. There’s nearly another running mix-up as Crawley sends Pope back mid-pitch, after driving the ball to backward point. And again Crawley on the drive. Nasser doesn’t think it is such a good idea with Shami wobbling the ball about. Pope off the mark with a neat four pulled down to fine leg.
We’re back on:
That over encapsulated:
An email arrives from Jonathan McKinley, titled: The Amazing Anderson
“Without Anderson’s contribution India are an ODI-esque 356-5 from 63 overs. Can we find some way of keeping him going for another twenty years? Or cloning him?”
Who knows what else Baz has in his bag of tricks. Such a shame the heir apparent Saqib Mahmood is injured, missing precious time bowling with the master.
If there is no more rain.
The umpires have been inspecting – we await news.
Tom Vd Gucht hits a melancholy air:
“Sadly, Broad seems to gave become increasingly toothless this summer. I worry that his crazy over was a case of an ageing pro raging against the fading light and finding the magic isn’t quite there as it once was. I’d be surprised if he’s still part of the test team by the end of this test season.”
I dont know, he’s proved the critics wrong so many times. I don’t think he’s ready to give up yet.
I’m going to grab a sandwich, but not before we admire Vic Marks’ crystal ball, courtesy of Ewan Glenton:
“Apologies if I’ve mentioned this before (I might have when Pant went ballistic in Australia), or if anyone else has drawn attention to it… I was struck 4 years ago when Vic Marks, in his Guardian report when Pant made his Test debut (Trent Bridge, August 2018), wrote ‘…a cameo at the end from India’s debutant, Rishabh Pant. He was only 22 not out at the close but I have a hunch this might have been an ‘I was there’ moment.’
“That was a very big statement based on very little evidence; Marks obviously saw something huge there and felt an urge to stick his neck out, and I remember thinking I’d note the name in case Marks was onto something. He certainly was. I’ve been watching/listening to/reading about cricket since the late 70s and that’s one of the most impressively bold (and accurate) one-to-watch calls I can remember.”
The teams take an early lunch in an attempt to manage the rain. Stuart Broad can bounce Ben Stokes with roast potatoes just for the lols.
Will, apologies, I may have got that wrong: