Some are already dubbing it ‘The Greatest Test Match of All Time’. Thailand’s first ever foray into cricket’s ultimate battle, played out in the surrounds of another Test debutant, London’s Olympic Stadium, a match that would go all the way to the proverbial wire.
Haseeb Hameed (141 and 132) reaches his first century of the match.
England reached 330-9 (Hameed 141, Bairstow 85) in their first innings before declaring in order to attack the tourists with the new ball under lights. James Anderson (5-38) exploited the conditions as Thailand tumbled to 29-4. Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes claimed the first four catches in the evening session. Thailand recovered to 81-4 before Ryan Raina threw his wicket away to the final delivery of the premier day’s play. Raina’s 27 was the second highest score of the tourists’ first innings, making Mohammed Haque’s 112 not out even the more incredible. The Thai’s last wicket stand produced 51 runs as they trickled to 191 all out.
Gloveman Ben Foakes snaffled Thailand’s first four wickets and would go onto double that total in the match.
England were 173-2 at one stage in their second innings and looked well set to put Thailand out of sight however the usual collapse occurred before the home side once again chose to avoid the ignominy of being bowled out, declaring this time on 280-9. Just like in the hosts’ first innings, all dismissals were exclusively via spin. Haseeb Hameed then followed up his first innings 141 by writing his name in the record books. The Lancashire willow wielder eventually succumbed for 132 this time around. An outstanding achievement on the part of the young Lancastrian, to have registered a century in each innings of a Test match. He probably wishes that England could play all their Tests at the Olympic Stadium. No other batsman passed 50 in England’s second outing.
All that equated to Thailand requiring 420 to win their first ever Test match. Achieving it would be the third highest Test run chase ever. At 62-4 the visitors looked dead and buried but had reached the halfway point, 210 before losing their fifth wicket. Captain Joe Root deserves great credit for the move as part-timer Keaton Jennings it was who claimed the vital scalp of Daniel Jacobs (107) and in doing so, possibly gave himself one more match to save his Test career. Mason Crane (Match analysis: 38-6-146-2) then doubled his match wicket tally as Thailand slipped into the abyss at 226-6. They made their way to 267 late in the day before Stuart Broad (5-84) struck to provide England’s players with a more comfortable night’s sleep than would have been the case with only six wickets down.
Unusual suspect Keaton Jennings (7-1-20-1) terminated a 148-run partnership.
England were made to work hard on the fourth day but no sooner had Thailand accumulated 300 they lost their eighth wicket and at 318-9 were being read the last rights. By the time they posted 400-9 English hearts were a flutter. Lower order batsman Pengkumpta (106 not out), wicketless and run less in the match prior to the fourth innings, brought up the fifth century of the match, the fourth batsman to score one and the third for Thailand. With his side on 410, just ten runs short of arguably the most astounding result in the history of Test cricket and with England skipper Joe Root possibly regretting both declarations, Pengkumpta’s partner, number eleven Sungnard, who fought hard with both bat and ball in the match, went for one big shot too many and as a nation, two nations, even the world held its collective breath… Gary Ballance held the catch on the boundary. England running out victorious by the minor margin of just 9 runs.
Haseeb Hameed aggregated 273 runs in the match, James Anderson (6-105) and Stuart Broad (6-132) both claimed a fifer and stumper Ben Foakes totalled eight victims. We did drop a few too many catches, including the Anderson/Crane slip combo that went viral but there were contributions throughout the composition with Ben Stokes (3-111) and Sam Curran (2-77) backing up a rejuvenated Anderson and Broad.
James Anderson and Mason Crane combined to squander a chance in the slips.
On behalf of the England team, I’d like to congratulate our guests Thailand, on being part of an epic few days in the history of Test cricket. I’m proud of our side for coming through though, particularly after the difficult results of recent times. I’m pleased to say that we don’t expect wholesale changes to the side come our next outing as we head off on the quest for consistency.
We can even laugh about moments such as these…
Err… boys. Some interesting running between the wickets!
Maybe our new kit was part of the reason for our inspired performance. We’ll be sure to don it again next time we take to the crease.