Six In The City – The 1st ODI

Wow. That was insane. Like many people I turned off yesterday’s match when England capitulated to a pathetic 82-6. I decided to watch a bit of the BBC’s Great Debate instead – which I assumed would be heated discussion about the merits of promoting Joe Root to No.3 in the test team. Obviously I was disappointed.

However, I did keep an eye on the score as I watched six politicians talk exaggerated bollocks. I’m a fan of both Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes’ batting so I didn’t think our cause was necessary lost. I’m not saying I expected England would win (or even tie), but I did think there was an outside chance we’d get close.

As their remarkable partnership of 138 grew and grew, I sensed something historic might happen. I kept flicking over to monitor the Sri Lankans’ body language. They looked nervous to me. Jos can turn water into wine in shorter formats of the game.

When Jos lobbed a catch to long-off, the game looked up. But still I held out some hope. The recent World T20 showed us that anything is possible at the end of an innings, and I’ve seen the likes of Woakes, Willey and Plunkett smash the ball miles in county cricket.

When we scampered a three off the penultimate ball, leaving a solitary six to tie, I was surprisingly confident. Somehow I knew that Plunkett would smash the leather off the ball if Pradeep allowed him to get under it. And so it transpired.

Poor Pradeep. He’d bowled an absolutely beautiful final over until that moment. But his sixth delivery wasn’t quite as full as the previous five, and Plunkett was able to free his arms. His lusty blow over long-off was typically masculine. What a sensational finish.

I think it’s fair to say that our bowlers spared the batsmen’s blushes yesterday. We did well to restrict Sri Lanka to 286, and Rashid in particular bowled exceptionally well. They reckon Adil is a changed man since he returned from this year’s Big Bash. He’s certainly a maturing cricketer in 50 over cricket. Not to mention the best number 11 in living memory.

England’s batsmen, however, did their level best to spoil all the good work. Their performance was exceptionally limp. There were far too many soft dismissals, and only Eoin Morgan managed to survive more than ten balls.

Jason Roy in particular needs to pull his finger out. He averages just 28 in his twenty ODI innings to date with a solitary hundred – despite always having a full 50 overs to bat. Ian Bell averaged 42 as an opener (and 38 overall) and is England’s leading run scorer of all time in ODIs. Roy’s strike rate is obviously better (although it’s still less than 100) but he needs more than flashy 20s and 30s to justify his place in the team.

Not for the first time (and this is true in test cricket as much as the 50 over format), England’s lower order rescued the day. In case you haven’t noticed England’s ‘tail’ is rather handy. We could reverse the batting order on current form. Because we bat so deep, we’re rarely out of the game. Sri Lanka must be despondent.

The star performers were obviously Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes. We’ve talked about Jos a million times before, and we all know he’s a class act, so today I’d like to focus on Woakes. Didn’t he play well! His unbeaten 95 was the highest ever score by a number eight* in ODIs.

Although Chris is a pretty orthodox player, he does have some big shots. What impresses me most, however, is his temperament. He played very responsibly and was the perfect foil for Buttler. He seems to absorb pressure well, keeps a clear head, and plays intelligently. I’m obviously a big fan of Ben Stokes, but would Stokes have played such a mature innings? I’m not so sure.

Now there’s something to chew over.

James Morgan

*corrected from number nine.


  • Great game. Shame nobody noticed.

    “Exaggerated bollocks”…nice description. Fortunately one of the few decent games of the dreadful Euro footy tournament was on povvy telly, so at least I avoided the Great Slanging Match.

    Still think Buttler should be in the Test side. His keeping is better than Jonny’s and he’s a game changer. Drop Compton, shove everyone up a notch and bat him at 8.

  • I’d keep Woakes and stick Stokes in to open, at the moment instead of Roy. In 50 overs your top 3 still need to score 100s and I just don’t see Roy doing that on a consistent basis.

    Despite his contribution with the bat, still not convinced by Plucknett the bowler. Would have Finn, Broad and Jordan ahead of him in the pecking order.

    • “still not convinced by Plucknett the bowler. ”

      Hope the selectors agree. Yorkshire are at least a bowler short at the moment, with half their first team playing for England, and a few more injured.

  • You seriously watched that debate!

    If only there was a way to vote that would upset all the politicians! Now that would be good.

    However I have to admit switching off at 4 down. Can’t even remember what I did, and back on just before Jos Buttler was out. My son walked into the room with just the last ball to go. Amazing timing. He referred to it as a “Stephen Parry moment”. In the 2014 T20 final, Andrew Flintoff had lost the strike to Parry and he needed a 6 off the last ball to win it for Lancs. As it turned out it took another year.

    What a shot! There is nothing in sport more exciting or interesting than cricket at its best.

  • Yup, I gave that up too! Wasn’t Chris Woakes batting at 8 (rather than 9)? Other than that, I agree with your summary. Woakes, for me, has been the revelation of the summer so far*. Going forward (and particularly if and when Jimmy decides to hang up his boots), I see no reason why he and Stokes can’t play in the same team. They should already both be in the ODI team. I like that team set up: every player has scored a first class ton.

    *Rashid, as you say, was one of the stars of the Big Bash, and it’s done his confidence a world of good.

  • Totally agree with your assessment of Roy, he’s an exciting player for sure but I’d rather see stokes have a go up top. I am still amazed Bairstow is playing, would be better off keeping in cc. This should free up a space for billings at 6.

  • I gave it up as well. Agree with all the comments. I like Morgan as a captain but wish I’d bet a few grand on him getting out knicking it behind – he tried enough times.

  • It was a debate? I thought it was a Benny Hill tribute act competition and I was all set to vote Boris. Thank goodness I didn’t make that error.

    I was delighted for Woakes, even though I did say I would prefer him to focus on red ball cricket. He is so much better than any other all rounder we have (including Stokes) in the long form of the game. The most amusing thing this morning is to read all the journalists and ex-cricketers in the nationals focusing on one ball and praising Plunkett (I agree he did well). It is obvious they are embarrassed by their previous Woakes pronouncements and want to avoid the subject. I suggest we all club together to offer Boycott a bounty if he will nominate an old lady to face Woakes in the nets. After all, he did say his mum could play him. And a similar sum could be offered to Agnew if he can pronounce ‘Woakes’ without immediately retching.

    The one thing the last few years and the media’s hounding of Woakes has proven is that most of them would be hard pushed to find certain parts of their body in the dark.

  • As well as Roy and Bairstow not impressing, Root looked as though he needs a rest with dropped catches, miss-fields and poor batting. Moen wasn’t up to much either with bat or ball.

    We need six bowlers to give the skipper some options. If Stokes comes back I would drop one of the batsmen to give more bowling options. I also agree Billings should be tried to hopefully improve the batting.

  • How much time do we think Morgan has?
    Has Strauss invested so much faith in him that he’s there to the champions trophy come what may?

    • As long as he wants…for me. Best One day and T20 skipper and did very well yesterday. I fail to understand why nobody’s questioning Root’s position.
      He was very poor in the tests, and shocking yesterday, or are we going down the hackneyed class is permanent route? A luxury apparently not afforded to Morgan?

      • Root in the test series ; 0, 80, 3, 4
        Funnily enough the only innings I saw was the 80 where everything looked too easy. Very annoying how he got out.
        Personally 2 weeks on a beach would do him the world of good.

        Why do you think Morgan isn’t afforded that luxury?

  • Thoughts with Nick Compton as he takes a break from cricket.
    He’s been under intense scrutiny and pressure in recent weeks but it takes a brave man to remove yourself from the firing line.
    Hope he rests up and comes back stronger.


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