After the Ireland and Hong Kong results the boys and myself had some pretty intense discussions about where we want to be as a cricketing nation. I’m proud to say that the team really stepped up in this match and displayed the sort of qualities that we hope will keep our supporters believing that the England cricket team can summit some huge peaks in the future.
Under pressure batsman Ben Duckett was retained, as was spin bowler Ollie Rayner after an impressive debut against Hong Kong. The Old Trafford pitch caught us by surprise so unfortunately for left-arm seamer Mark Footitt, he missed out and a debut was given to another spinner, Somerset’s Jack Leach. From the Hong Kong match, Mason Crane also missed out.
Our first innings followed a familiar pattern as wickets tumbled all around. Opening batsman Keaton Jennings batted defiantly until the very end when after debutant Jack Leach managed to eek out a single to get off strike, Jennings, rather than selfishly take an easy single to reach his half-century, was dismissed for 49 as he tried to clear the ropes, therefore narrowly missing out on carrying his bat through the entire innings.
Positive contributions from lower order batsman Ollie Rayner (28) and an in-form Stuart Broad (34) helped us stumble to a disappointing 141 all out.
Broad (2-106) then put in a much improved showing with the ball and debutant Jack Leach looked right at home in the Test arena, claiming figures of 3-81. Kenya declared on 394-6, rather cruelly leaving their not out batsman stranded on 93 and 82 with plenty of time still left in the game and little threat of rain.
In our second innings we lost early wickets again, including that of Duckett for 3. His Test future will have to come under great scrutiny ahead of our next match. Our batsman committed to a positive brand of cricket however and despite an almighty close LBW call whilst in the 90s, captain Joe Root produced a magnificent 132 to lead us to a second innings total of 422.
Haseed Hameed (75), Jonny Bairstow (61) and James Hildreth (54) also made half-centuries.
That left Kenya with a target of 170 for victory. All our bowlers bowled well, particularly young Sam Curran who went at just 3.88 an over but ultimately our limp first innings effort cost us.
Kenya sealed a seven-wicket victory but for the third match in a row we improved and if we can bat as we did in our second innings of this match twice in our next match then we will finally provide ourselves with a real chance of tasting success.