Please excuse the brevity of this post. I’ve been bed ridden with flu for the last 48 hours and it’s safe to say that my brain hurts. Not to mention my throat, head, back, and just about every muscle in my body. I feel like I’ve gone 12 hard rounds against Joel Garner.
Fortunately I was still able to watch most of yesterday’s ODI from under the duvet. I’m probably contagious – which was enough to keep the kids away. Silver linings etc.
What did you make of the game? My feelings are best summarised by something I tweeted at the end of the match. No matter how many runs our opponents get, I now expect England to chase them down successfully. That’s the complete opposite of a year ago. During the World Cup I expected England to make a pig’s ear of chasing less than a hundred. How times have changed.
From the moment Chris Jordan caught AB de Villiers – an stunning effort as he caught it over his shoulder running backwards – I was confident we’d win. We seem to have a bit of swagger these days. Self-confidence is so important.
The big story from the game was the performance of Alex Hales. Depending on who you read or listen to, Hales has now silenced all the doubters. His innings was apparently a masterpiece – showing good technique early on and then picking off the singles maturely mid-innings. I’ve even heard some people argue that his knock proves beyond doubt that he’s the best man to open in tests for the foreseeable future.
It’s hard not to raise an eyebrow at such assessments. I was cheering Hales all the way – there’s nothing better than seeing a young man stick it to his critics – but his innings wasn’t the most fluent. He played a number of loose shots that would’ve proved his undoing on another day (I can think of a least three unsightly hacks when the ball looped up in the air only to drop fortuitously between two fielders). My heart was in my mouth for much of his innings – although he did settle down a bit once he’d reached fifty.
What impressed me though was his determination to make a score. He hung in there on a slightly difficult pitch – although Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali proved towards the end that the surface wasn’t actually too bad – and he assessed the match situation well. He’s finally doing enough to justify his place in the ODI side (he averaged a paltry 26 in 25 games before yesterday) and I believe that’s enough for now. Talk of one gutsy but somewhat streaky innings cementing his place in the test side seems way over the top.
What cannot be underestimated though is the effect Hales’ innings will have on his confidence. Maybe he’ll find a new lease of life now? We’re all looking forward to seeing the buccaneering stroke-maker that plays for Notts strut his stuff on the international stage. Maybe this innings will be the catalyst? As I said earlier, confidence counts for so much.