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.
Great to see Morgan in such good form. Such a shame that he can’t transfer this to the Test arena although it appears he’s now made a conscious decision to concentrate on limited overs games.
Yes it is a funny thing how you can be a good ODI player but not a Test match player. Bevin will always be the best example of that.
I too like Hales and would like to see him involved in the set up somehow. Him and Buttler are the ones England really need to develop for the future. They really have the talent. This is where the coaches earn their money I guess.
Nice to see the Aussies capitulate in the last over as well. I think they feel they should have won that game as they were so well set with wickets in hand. In my eyes they blew it.
Not much hope here for Hales as a Test opener. Classis from Nick Knight: “he might not e able play that kind of pace now straight from county cricket but he will in two weeks”. Well, that’s okay then. Lets get the Saffers to put the Tests back until poor Alex is ready. Are we going soft on what we now expect from our Test cricketers, what with all the love shown to Lyth regardless of form?
Topley showed me nothing to indicate he’s going to “find a yard of pace”. From where? When? Oh, when he bulks up. So why’s he not bulked up now? Too often injured to get to the gym? Best we’ll get from him is the new Bruce Reid, I’m afraid.
Back to county cricket for these two
He’s only 21. Most bowlers naturally bulk up a bit and add a little extra pace in their early 20s. Stokes has added half a yard already, and Flintoff was never particularly quick in his early days. I think you’re right to be concerned about Topley’s physique though. He does look a little wiry.
Regarding Hales, I thought that was a bit of a duff call from the commentators (Knight, duff call, shurely shome mishtake?)
Hales has played Starc, Cummins, Pattinson etc on quick Australian wickets and looked fine. I think rather than pace it was just coming from above the sight screen at knee height and hard to pick up.
The difference in class between our slogger openers Hales and the classy pairing of Morgan and Ali was immense. The latter two were simply excellent. Still not convinced about about Billings.
Topley looked good as did Willey.
Stokes’ final over was brilliant.
Hales may or may not be good enough – but he certainly isn’t a “slogger”.
It was great game. I really enjoyed it. The quality was not all that it could have been but it was good fun on a dreary bank holiday afternoon.
Hales and Roy? Oh dear. They both looked like an accident waiting to happen from the first few balls. I have always been a supporter of Hales but I cannot see him as an opening bat in test cricket. He might have a role at four but that is also debatable. He has talent in abundance but after all this time it seems like its always going to be of the wayward variety. I can’t see it ever being distilled into something vaguely manageable without clipping his wings to ill effect and we don’t want that. England are looking at a very serious problem at the top.
Absolutely wonderful from Moeen Ali and Eoin Morgan. Morgan has never been my favourite pick but he did his job very well. What a great contributor Moeen is. If he is not doing it with the ball he is digging us out of a hole with the bat and so beautifully too. Makes me want to bottle him and take him home. :-)
I would have liked to have seen Stokes in ahead of Billings. I take your point James, that if he has been selected to bat, he should bat, but we had a game to win. We were up against the old enemy and at that point we were looking a bit green about the gills. I would have preferred to see an old hand at the tiller right then. Thank goodness it all came right in the end.
Jos Buttler! There’s another one. Oodles of talent fluttering away on a breeze without direction. We will just have to wait on him to come right. I’m sure it will happen. Poor Jonny Bairstow will be waiting in the background as ever, if push comes to shove. I think Bairstow must be one of the unluckiest players in modern day cricket. So often the bridesmaid but not without talent.
Thanks for your post James. An enjoyable review of an enjoyable game. Roll on Thursday!