Well that was highly entertaining. Bank holidays were made for invigorating post lunch T20 action, and yesterday’s game in Cardiff didn’t disappoint.
It was a really enjoyable game: lots of runs and a close enough finish. I thought England just about deserved their win, although I felt a little sorry for Steve Smith, who played an absolute gem of an innings. That boy can bat.
Nobody thought England would post such a competitive total when we stumbled to 18-2 off four overs. Once again, I wasn’t particularly convinced by either Hales or Roy. It took two superb innings by Mo and Captain Morgan to steady the ship and then launch the mother of all counter-attacks.
I found Hales’ innings a little disturbing really. Cummins comprehensively beat him three balls running – the first two resulted in vociferous lbw appeals (both were heading down leg) and the second bowled him off the inside edge.
A lot of people want to see Hales opening the batting in test cricket. I’m not totally averse to the idea – indeed I suggested it as long ago as the 2013 Ashes – but I’m not convinced it would work now. Hales was late on all three deliveries, and played slightly across the line when he was dismissed. I know it’s only a T20 game, but he’s got a lot to prove.
Although Cummins was bowling very quickly – what a superb prospect he is – Mo seemed to cope easily enough with the extra pace: he thumped two of his first three deliveries from Cummins to mid-off with a straight bat. He looked so much more assured. Food for thought I’m sure you’ll agree.
I enjoy watching Mo bat because he’s the antithesis of a modern T20 hitter. He uses pure timing rather than brute force, and most of his boundaries come from orthodox shots – they might be extravagant shots, but they’re still classical cricket strokes. It was a joy to watch.
Eoin Morgan also played really, really well. It’s great to see him in such good form. He always seems to produce his best performances against Australia, and I’m expecting big things in the upcoming ODIs.
Australia actually managed to peg England back pretty well at the death, but 182 was still a good total. Sam Billings struggled a bit, but he’s still learning the ropes. I don’t necessarily agree that Stokes should have batted ahead of him. Billings has been picked to bat – so let him have a go. It’s just unfortunate it didn’t come off this time. He’s still a very exciting talent.
The Aussie chase started poorly when David Warner invented yet another way to get out pulling. Why doesn’t he just smack the thing? Shane ‘I bat like I’m facing a bowling machine’ Watson also screwed the pooch.
However, Smith and Maxwell both batted superbly. The former was highly impressive. He might have frailties against the moving ball in test cricket, but he really showed his natural talent yesterday.
The ‘big show’ also demonstrated what he’s all about. Maxwell was more like the ‘big shower’ in the T20 Blast for Yorkshire, but he’s certainly one of the best limited-overs hitters in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed his effort yesterday.
Although England’s medium pacers took a bit of a battering in the middle of the innings – if only we had bowlers with a bit more pace – Ben Stokes bowled well enough to secure the victory.
I have to say I was disappointed by Steve Finn though. We all know his action is flawed, and he’ll never quite have the pace and consistency we once hoped he’d develop, but I wish he’d show a little more devil. Pat Cummins bowled ten miles an hour faster at times, and looked like a far better prospect in my humble opinion. If Finn doesn’t bowl quickly, then England’s attack looks rather samey.
I was also disappointed by Adil Rashid yesterday. Sometimes he really impresses me; other days he looks wild and innocuous. Perhaps this is why the selectors don’t seem to trust him in test cricket?
On a positive note, I thought Reece Topley looked quite promising for a debutant. Although he’s been playing county cricket for a while he’s still only 21. His record in all forms of the game is impressive, and his action looks natural and repeatable to me.
If Topley can find that elusive extra yard of pace – something he’s apparently working on – we might finally have a quality left-arm seamer on our hands. We’ll watch his development with interest.