Well, it looks like I picked the wrong day to miss the cricket. My experience of yesterday’s action was as follows: hmmm, I wonder how England are getting on? Let’s quickly check the cricinfo app. 444-3! Blimey.
Although ‘blimey’ wasn’t the exact word I used (this is a family site), you can imagine my shock and delight. Other than games at Jo’burg (or games against minnows) nobody has come close to scoring so many.
At first I was somewhat euphoric, then slightly disappointed I’d missed it all, and then a tad sombre when I realised something we shouldn’t forget: because England’s breathtaking experience was hidden away behind a paywall, and scheduled for an irrelevant Tuesday, the vast majority of the population missed it.
Can you imagine if yesterday’s game had been on free-to-air television, on a bank holiday, with the general population captivated by Hales, Buttler, Root and Co? It really could have inspired a generation. At a time when the name of obscure Olympians are on the nation’s lips, our record breaking ODI cricketers remain relative unknowns. What an absolute tragedy.
Even if one accepts that cricket will be forevermore consigned to pay TV channels, why oh why was the game scheduled for Tuesday rather than Monday? I can’t think of a single reason why the game couldn’t have been played on the bank holiday. It’s perfectly feasible to play two ODIs in three days. Instead the majority experienced the game the same way as myself i.e. they didn’t.
Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on the negatives too long after such an amazing performance. First of all, we should all congratulate Alex Hales, who seems to have rediscovered where the middle of his bat is. I’ve read that he looked shaky at the start, was caught off a noball and was also dropped too, but it’s unfair to expect perfection – especially from someone who has batted so poorly for weeks.
After a dodgy start to his ODI career, Hales has now played very well in 2016. He’s cemented his place in the side, has a very good partnership with Roy, and we’ve seen many times that he muscles the ball to the boundary very nicely indeed. I just hope that the selectors aren’t stupid enough to think this innings should have a bearing on his test career. Some of the best ODI players of all time (Michael Bevan immediately springs to mind) never mastered test cricket.
Personally I think it would be best for Hales to focus on the forms of the game he’s best at and forget test cricket. One could even argue that his poor test form temporarily affected his ODI performances until he finally rediscovered his mojo yesterday. In the first two matches of this series his confidence looked shot.
The same, by the way, goes for Jos Buttler. I’ve heard many people argue that Jos should be given the chance to ‘play his natural game’ in test cricket. My answer to that is simple: if it was as easy as that, Jos would’ve nailed test cricket already. I can’t imagine for a minute that Bayliss hasn’t already encouraged him to play with freedom in test cricket.
I guess my message is therefore this: don’t mess with our ODI team. It’s really, really good. With England playing an insane amount of cricket these days, I have no problem picking two separate sides for limited overs and test cricket.
Although there will inevitably be some overlap – Joe Root is simply too good to leave out of either team – I don’t see a problem with saving guys like Buttler, Hales and Roy for ODIs and preserving Anderson, Cook, Bairstow etc for the longer form. It keeps everyone fresh and allows them to fine tune specific skills.
Anyway, unfortunately duty calls and I must sign off there. I’ll leave you with one highly amusing thought: Wahab Riaz 10-0-110-0. Are you Dernbach in disguise?!