Welcome to the A&E. Otherwise known as the England dressing room. Players should form an orderly queue and use the Savlon sparingly. It’s got to stretch a long way.
Here’s the current injury report:
Mark Wood – Chronic foot / ankle condition
Adil Rashid – Long-term shoulder niggle
Chris Woakes – Long-term knee niggle
Eoin Morgan – Bruised finger
Liam Dawson – Cut Finger
Jofra Archer – Unspecified something
Team culture – Bruised by Hales debacle but showing great courage and unity.
Thankfully only the Mark Wood injury looks serious at this point. Fortunately it was also the most predictable. Poor Mark just can’t catch a break at the moment. Although I should probably use the word ‘break’ cautiously.
Worst of all though, we managed to lose to the Canary Yellows yesterday. Yes it was only a practice match, and some of our big guns weren’t playing, but my weekend really didn’t need a reminder that Steve Bloody Smith exists. The ginger curse looks in fine fettle after his year long sabbatical. Even the chorus of boos didn’t seem to affect him. The bastard.
So what did we learn from yesterday’s game? Nothing new really. The pitch wasn’t a belter and so we found it harder to win. One can’t help thinking that it might have been better to play on different kinds of wickets during the Pakistan series. We already know our batting line up can blast 360 with regularity on roads. What we don’t know is how we’ll respond on more challenging decks.
Yesterday’s surface wasn’t exactly a mine-field, but with the admirable exception of Jos Buttler, the Aussie batsmen adapted to conditions better than ours. It took David Beelzebub Warner 55 balls to score 43. Many people probably thought that was slow-going at the time. But when a player as good as Bull takes his time there’s probably a good reason for it.
Having said all that England can ‘take some positives’ from of the game. And I mean genuine positives rather than ‘let’s clutch at some straws’ ones. James Vince managed to pass 30, and Chris Woakes (playing as a specialist batsman) proved once again that he’s possibly better than some of the so called specialist batsmen we’ve picked over the years.
As for the bowlers, Ben Stokes seemed to find an extra gear, Tom Curran acquitted himself well, and Liam Plunkett picked up a few wickets too. And Moeen did the steady but unspectacular job we’ve become accustomed to in ODIs.
The big game of the weekend, however, was at Lord’s rather than just outside Southampton in the middle of nowhere. And it witnessed Hampshire, weakened by the enforced absences of Vince and Dawson, lose heavily to a jubilant Somerset.
I’m actually pretty pleased that Somerset won. They’ve been runners up multiple times in big competitions so it was good to see them get over the line for once. Their players deserve a lot of credit. It was also amusing to hear stories of Peter Trego partying in the Lord’s Tavern pub (dressed in full whites) well after the game had finished.
Hampshire failed on this occasion because they just didn’t put enough runs on the board. Although I sympathise with them, because Vince may have made all the difference in this regard, Somerset’s bowlers were excellent. It was great to see Jamie Overton bowling with gusto and hostility. I’ve seen him bowl more quickly, but rarely with as much control.
Hants probably needed early wickets if they were going to defend 244 but the breakthroughs never arrived. Who else was impressed with Tom Banton? He looks a good player for a mere 20-year old. His partnership with Azhar Ali – the precocious youngster and the wily old fox – basically sealed the game.
The icing on the cake was provided by James Hildreth’s run-a-ball 69 not out. I still have absolutely no idea why he’s never played a single match for England in any form of the game. The fact that players like Tom Westley, Sam Robson, Ian Blackwell, Ed Smith, Ian Ward, Darren Maddy, Steve James, Aftab Habib, and Mark Lathwell have an England cap (or caps) and Hildreth doesn’t, is surely one of the great absurdities of our time.