Yesterday’s decisive ODI might have ended in defeat, but at least it was an entertaining contest. A 2-3 defeat in India isn’t a bad result considering that Root, Morgan and Archer were missing. However, it’s a bit alarming that we squandered so many excellent starts. What’s going on? Here’s Abhijato with a tongue in cheek perspective …
The England white-ball team might have come away empty-handed from both the series they played in India, but their approach to batting was a reminder of why they’re still the most exciting team in the world.
They’ve laid down a template for themselves where they go hard at it during the Powerplay, then they go harder at it during the middle overs, and finally, they go the hardest at it during the death overs. This is the ethos of the entire line-up, imbibed within the team by the approach of their skipper – and arguably their most innovative batsman – Eoin Morgan.
But how does it feel being a fan of such an exciting team? We must make a template of our own to match theirs. And thus, for everyone who’s ever watched this team pick up their whimsical pieces of willow post-2015 World Cup, here’s the Template for Watching England’s ODI Team.
1.Going to the bathroom and making tea
The innings has just started off. Bairstow and Roy walk up to the middle with a determined stolidity. Surely they’re going to take some time to see off the swing, the spin, or whatever else a fresh pitch and the opposition’s best bowlers have in store for them?
So you get up from your seat and go to the bathroom before the carnage actually begins. If you’re in a good mood, you’ll also enter the kitchen and make some tea for yourself. When you come back into the room five minutes later, the match must have just star—OH MY GOD WHAT HAS HAPPENED DID I REALLY TAKE THIRTY MINUTES OHGOWD CRICINFO YOU’RE GLITCHING THIS IS—
2. Reminding yourself not to take any more bathroom breaks
You sip on your tea and contemplate on another thunderous start to an English ODI innings. This can either mean they’ve raced to fifty-odd off the first five overs, or that half their batsmen are in the dugout already on a pitch which seems to be as flat as pancakes. No worries, there’s a set of reliable batsmen in the middle who’ll use their brains for onc—
3. THUNDERING TYPHOONS WHY DID HE DO THAT
This can, of course, refer to Eoin Morgan reverse-sweeping the opposition’s fastest bowler over the keeper’s head and into the stands for the most magnificent six you’ve ever seen, or him getting caught at mid-wicket off a part-timer after taking 20 runs off the over already.
4. Thundering typhoons, they’re going to keep doing this to me…
Fifty overs are a lot of overs. One-day cricket’s a long game, and the batsmen have the time to play themselves in. This allows them to gauge the extent to which this pitch swings and seams. Understand the nuances of the bounce on this track. And assess a scoreboard which either favours them or doesn’t—and then spend at least a couple of overs getting their mind in the middle.
This, of course, is a sinful approach. England’s batsmen wouldn’t be caught playing this rationally even in their worst nightmares. They’re going to slog at everything with a finesse never seen before instead. You’ll marvel at their genius and how revolutionary they are. Or, you’re going to marvel at their stupidity while still appreciating how revolutionary they are.
5. I really need to go to the washroom again
You know you’re going to sacrifice precious minutes of the day’s play, where anything can happen—England could lose a wicket, hit six sixes off an over, or be abducted by a strange UFO to play against a Martian eleven on Jupiter where the Greek Gods would be audience members wearing Coldplay shirts.
6. I’m back
OH LORD WHAT DID I MISS THIS TI—
7. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale
Your spouse isn’t impressed by your profuse sweating and inexplicable need to look at your phone, your laptop and the telly screen simultaneously. Thing is, you can never be sure in this day and age. So, you’re fact-checking the madness which unfolds in front of you.
8. The death overs are here
England need to score below a run-a-ball in these final ten overs, which means they can easily lose. Or, they need to score around a gazillion runs off the last five, which means they can easily win this with four overs to spare. They might have all their wickets in hand, or they might have none with Moeen Ali batting at both ends. Point is, all bets are off, and don’t you dare go to the washro—
9. OH COME ON WHY ON EARTH DID YOU DO THAT
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. This is just a game. There is no reason to get so emotional about it. Ben Stokes had every right to do that. No, you must trust Sam Curran. And Moeen. And Rashid. Or whoever the hell’s in the middle right now. I can’t even tell them apart anymore under their helmets because of my teary eyes from all the inexplicable joy/sorrow I feel right now.
10. Final reactions (as you finally catch your breath)
You finally afford yourself a peek at social media, and every other fan, critic and coach in the country has equally out-of-proportion opinions about the game as you do. Every part of the madness you just witnessed is going to be dissected and talked about in the media for days on end.
But nothing’s going to replace the visceral catharsis you feel when you watch this team bat. They might have won, they might have lost. They might have played the most brilliant or the most absurd innings you’ve ever seen. And they might have won your heart or broken it.
But whatever they did was a result of their philosophy which we’ve all become unwitting subscribers to. You want to look away when things go wrong, but you never can—because there’s always a chance they’ll fix things in the time you go to take a leak again.
The England cricket team might not be the world’s most reliable sporting team to pledge your alliance to. But they’re surely the most exhilarating one to follow—and you’re on this ride, whether you like it or not, till they reach seventh heaven or go down in magnificent flames instead.