Cricket during CoronaVirus

There has not been much. A few months ago it was announced the England team would not be touring Sri Lanka. Three West Indies players pulled out of the tour to England, which is to be played to empty arenas.

The IPL simply has not happened.

When you see the likes of Ben Stokes placing Energy Drinks at the forefront of the image for social media clips, you know times are tight.

The flip side of all this is my MCC Associate Membership has come through, twelve years after filling out the application form.

Cape Town Thriller

When the Cape Town Test was moved from Boxing Day to the New Year I was pretty gutted as I was hoping to go, and the teacher holiday would have allowed for the Boxing Day Test but not one starting on the 3rd. As things turned out I was to return to England for another hernia operation anyway, so it was all academic.

When Test Matches go to the full five five days, and especially deep in to the last session, it is a treat. I left school after a pretty good workshop (to be fair) on Dyslexia, and drove the Toyota Colorado up to the local bar Smileys. I need to reboot my DSTV (Sky) subscription but that requires jumping on the back of a ‘boda’ (motorcycle taxi), scooting into town, queuing, and paying money to kick start another month or so. The lazy and time saving option was to just drive to the bar.

It was 4 months ago, and in the same place that I watched Ben Stokes keep the Ashes alive at Headingley. This time it was his bowling at the death that won through. For a few minutes I believed he might just do it with a hat-trick. It was a superb team effort, and I’m sad I missed watching us beat the Saffers at Cape Town for the first time since 1957, but at least the hernia operation is over with.

Stokes keeps Ashes Alive!

Where were you?

Everyone thought the wheels had fallen off. Let’s be honest. Dead and buried.

The Ashes had been tossed away in a session. 67 all out. Disappointment.

But between 3.19pm and 4.19pm last Sunday something very magical happened.

Ben Stokes pulled off the most remarkable come back in Cricket I have ever seen.

Was that a dream? A fairytale?

Thank you Ben Stokes.
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THE ASHES : Lord’s Test 2019

Two years running now – the first day of the Lord’s Test – an entire washout. What a shame. Of the first three days, there were only four sessions played. So we listened to the Jazz band and people-watched.

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Day two was a cracker with England sneaking 258 thanks largely to Burns and Bairstow posting 50s. At 8-1 odds with the in-ground bookies for highest scorer I fancied Bairstow, but he fell 1 short of Burns, caught in the deep. Ex paceman Mitchell Johnson was happy to report on the radio that he reckoned  the Aussies would be at 30-1 at the start of Day 3. Bang on.

Ruth Strauss Foundation Day was a great success with the ground a sea of red. Somewhere in the region of a quarter of a million pounds was donated on the day.

By the time we’d got to Day 4 (Saturday), the Aussies were sitting nervously on 80-4. But you guessed it, they dug their way out of trouble to land within eight runs of our total. A lot has been written about Steve Smith and Jofra Archer, suffice to say that there was an eerie silence as Smith fell to the ground. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

Joe Root’s Golden duck was not a Champagne moment, and Jason Roy’s continued failure is a huge concern. The only good thing about England’s start to Day 5 was Stokes and Buttler were at the crease. After another miserable downpour, the sun shone.

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And our man Ben Stokes scored a ton. What a hero!

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Under the watchful eye of Father Time, Time was always going to have the last word. The Press published photos of fielders all crowded round the Aussie Batsmen who clung on to a draw. It was a superb test match, and it’s why we keep coming back. On the walk back to Maida Vale tube the Heavens opened once again to unleash an almighty downpour. And so to Headingley.

World Cup Winners.

We did it.

We won.

44 years after the first World Cup, 11 tournaments later, we hold the trophy.

It was mesmerizing.

There has been a lot written about it, not least that MCC rule 19.8 could have changed the result, but that was one helluva match, cross-over or no cross-over.

Such a fantastic tournament from start to finish.

Finally. Finally we have put right 1987 (I woke up at 3am as a 12 year old for that one) and 1992. Roll on India in 4 years.

Stunning England. Thank you!

Cracker at Trent Bridge

The two main reasons we lost?

1. Went to the toss with a ‘We can’t’ rather than a ‘We can’ attitude. Thinking that Trent Bridge is a run fest is one thing, but you need to think – we can protect a target, rather than we can’t protect a target.

2. Fielding.

But when all is said and done, that was a seriously great game to get the punters interested in the World Cup, if they weren’t already.

I was glued.

Joss (103) and Joe (107) batted so well, but chasing 348 was never going to be a walk in Central Park.

Pakistan are certainly mercurial, yet that was a very good time to lay to rest their run of 11 games without a win. As we near the end of Ramadhan, Safarawaz commented to Atherton at the end of the game that Allah had played his part today.

Eoin Morgan will pick his excellent team up. Losing by 14 runs is frustrating, but it was a brave effort. Interestingly it is the first time in ODI history two players have both scored centuries on the same team and lost.

Afghanistan v Sri Lanka tomorrow. Loving this world cup.

Opening match of Cricket World Cup 2019

What a ‘feel good’ match to start off the tournament. Google is obviously far too clever for me and understands where I am living so I needn’t have converted the time difference. Mattered not. I only missed Bairstow’s Golden, and Root and Roy rebuilding to each post 50s.

That seemed to be the common thread among the top order, 50 and out.

Stokes’ 89 was an excellent innings. He deserved the MOTM with a couple of wickets to finish off the South African team and a catch which was utterly phenomenal.

Jofra Archer has a beautiful action and looks so natural. It is going to be a great World Cup.

Mumbai Mumbai

The IPL is such a fantastic tournament. I recommend every cricket fan travel out to India and experience it. I pored over the schedule for a few weeks in February and when it was confirmed that elections would not mean certain Mumbai matches would be played in U.A.E, I booked my flights.

Of the two matches we saw, Mumbai won one, and lost one. We saw a great 89 from Joss Buttler in fetching Pink playing for the Rajasthan Royals, and a few days later AB de Villiers for Royal Challengers Bangalore scoring 75.

The atmosphere in the ground is electric. ‘Mumbai Mumbai’. ‘Boom Boom Bumrah’. The tournament is heading towards its climax now, and the nation is gripped.

But more than just watching cricket, I got to play a match for the Malabar Pirates on the famous Maidan, nine slightly overlapping pitches long down in the southern part of the city near the Gateway. Harry, our Skipper, let me turn my arm for a few overs, and I really enjoyed hitting a few boundaries at the end of our innings. We were more than a few dozen short of their total, but it was fantastic to meet the players and share a beer afterwards.

The cricket buzz in the city during the IPL is wonderful. Every bar is showing a match, everyone is talking about it, everyone is playing in the streets.

Just when you might have thought I’d had enough cricket, along comes a half hour conversation by a poolside with none other than England Coach, Paul Collingwood. It was his day off, and I didn’t really want to be a pest but I just had to fire a few questions his way.

His favourite place to tour? Australia. But only when you’re winning, otherwise it is the worst! Caribbean is always nice, and Cape Town special too.

Thoughts on Ireland and Afghanistan? Afghanistan will rise no doubt. Massive talent there.

Will International cricket be played any time soon in Pakistan? The security cost ¬£2.5m for about 10 days recently when he went there with a World XI, so it’s hard to see.

Excited about the upcoming World Cup? Er yes. Jofra Archer one to watch and although the squad needs to be announced now, changes can still be made further down the line.

The Magic of Mumbai! What a special experience.

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Chunabatti. Kids playing alongside parked trucks. Any strip of land will do.

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From dusk till dawn. Cricket.

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Me at the famous Maidan.

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Our run-chase started cautiously.

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Never far from someone off to play cricket.

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The Craftsman.

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The Maidan, where dreams start.