Live cricket is back, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop turning the clock back here on What We’re Watching. Especially not when it involves the sadistic pleasure of a Test-match collapse
Off the bat, off the elbow, in your face
England have capitulated for sub-100 totals four times since the start of 2018, and of that lot, I look upon their 77 all out last year with particular fondness. I interviewed Jason Holder two months prior, and was especially invested in how West Indies went about the series after he said he could see them rise to No. 4 in the rankings. As it turned out, this Test in Bridgetown would set up their first series win against England in ten years. Bonus content at the end of the video: Holder’s unbeaten 202 after the collapse.
Conditions weren’t menacing, and there weren’t a whole lot of daft shots – apart from Moeen Ali flapping at one going down leg to be caught at fine leg for a golden duck. The clip is, instead, a reflection of what sustained pressure – which Kemar Roach, in particular, exterted with great skill – can do. Rory Burns playing on off his bat, Jonny Bairstow off his elbow, Joe Root and Ben Stokes beaten on the inside edge trying to be watchful, and Sam Curran just trying to protect his face.
White lightning duck
I’m a simple man. I see “Ch****a cricket“, I click.
To be fair to India, the expletive in the title of the video is not warranted, though the 66 is true. Still, there is amusement in watching Mohammad Azharuddin plant his front foot into the leg side and toe-end a slog to mid-on at 20 for 4. Preceding him are the wickets of the current India batting coach, India women head coach, and BCCI president, all struggling against a rapid Allan Donald.
In Sourav Ganguly’s case, it seems nothing less than pure anger on Donald’s part; having been made to wait for the batsman to arrive, only for him to take a few more seconds to take guard. Donald sends in a vicious yorker to knock his off stump out.
Take a moment to appreciate the TV producers, who were quick to cut to a spectator holding up a Donald Duck poster as Ganguly walked back. And just as quick to find the boy holding up a “Such a shame for Sachin” poster shortly after.
The lines weren’t crossed
Before the larger cricketing world used sandpaper or crossing-the-line references to gang up on Australia, it simply revelled in this collapse, during which pretty much every batsman was trapped playing inside the line. And then it came back to this video, years later, to make sandpaper references in the comments.
Stuart Broad achieved magnificent things in this innings – the perfect amount of swing and nip, career-best figures of 8 for 15, and the birth of the Stuart Broad Shocked Face meme. Also note that for the 18.3 overs that they lasted, it did appear as if Australia tried to “give the first hour to the bowlers”, if we consider the lack of attacking shots in the wickets package. The overt respect might be where they got it wrong, perhaps, considering England managed to score at 4.58 in their innings, Broad himself managing a 29-ball 24.
Benn here before
It seems the traditional end to a decade-long West Indies series drought is to bowl England out for under 100 in the first Test. From 2009, here is Chris Gayle’s West Indies beating England by an innings and 23 runs – with only a 74-run lead thanks to not-so-good-friends-anymore Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan putting on 202.
This one is a classic. For Jerome Taylor’s sensational outswinger that beat Kevin Pietersen’s flick and took his off stump, and for his five-for. For the phrase “West Indies are absolutely cock-a-hoop.” For Matt Prior’s readiness to move on to the next Test as soon as he’s bowled. For the ironic Barmy Army cheers at England’s 50. And for the memory of Suleiman Benn, who was brought on first change and took four wickets.
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