In the stunning surroundings of Ottawa Oval, home team Canada won the toss and elected to bat first. Our maple leaf dreams soon turned to nightmares as Rory Burns (9), Ben Duckett (8) and captain Joe Root (11) were all soon back in the pavilion. We’d slumped to 48-3 in what was all too familiar fashion. Haseeb Hameed (40) set about repairing the damage with some glorious cover drives before being superbly caught and bowled. His dismissal meant that our top three batsmen had all been dismissed in the forties in the competition but none had yet reached fifty.
That honour was left first to the recalled Moeen Ali. Having replaced Ben Stokes after the Durham man’s ineffectual performance against Scotland, Moeen struck a positive but controlled 51 from 43 deliveries. Unfortunately having compiled a partnership of 97 with Jos Buttler, Moeen was out just before lunch and as a result we headed for our quinoa salads on 197-5.
After the break Buttler and Jonny Bairstow batted with intent through to the beverage break, ultimately contributing a partnership of exactly 100 runs. Buttler (102) would go onto reach our first hundred of the competition from just 80 deliveries but fell to Noah Dodd (4-106) almost immediately after. Despite the loss of Sam Curran (7) the runs continued to flow. After a poor showing with the bat at The Oval, Bairstow made a mature 66 before, like Hameed earlier in the piece, was excellently caught and bowled by Ned Daly (2-50). Chris Woakes (63) and Stuart Broad (35 not out) each maintained their good batting form to frustrate the Canadians. From 293-7 and 341-8, the lower order lifted us to a competitive first innings total of 405. Not a bad effort having been 48-3, 85-4 and half the team down at lunch!
Four deliveries into the home side’s first innings and they were a wicket down courtesy of James Anderson. They were soon 4-2 then 11-3 after Stuart Broad’s double strike. Niall Klein and Hamza Turner (26) resisted with a partnership worth 42. Sadly for them the Sam Curran show arrived in town and by the close of play Canada had subsided to 93-7. Curran’s full in swinging deliveries were just too much for the home side’s batsmen to handle. The hosts promptly lost a wicket to the very first ball of the second day’s play when Anderson doubled his innings tally before Curran (6-27) sealed a five-wicket haul.
The Surrey man then snaffled innings top scorer Niall Klein (42) as Bairstow claimed his fifth victim to terminate the Canadian innings on 105.
Though our bowlers were well rested we invited messrs Burns, Hameed and Duckett to cement their places in the team by opting not to enforce the follow-on. Despite effectively being 300-0, the pressure was on our top order to forge Test careers. They responded well.
Burns and Hameed surpassed their previous best opening stand of 37 and went onto compile 106 for the first wicket.
Left-hander Burns caressed a handful of glorious off-drives for four in his fluent knock of 57 before frustratingly falling to Noah Dodd’s first delivery. Hameed, just one run shy of a half-century, then fell to the first ball of Dodd’s second over. Despite their dismissals, both had done enough to secure their place in the team for the next match.
That meant that the pressure was on Ben Duckett and on it he thrived, becoming the next player to book himself another Test cap. The diminutive left-hander put on 103 with his captain before Joe Root was stumped on 54. Duckett was out for a hugely encouraging 58 and he and his skipper were only dismissed when upping the ante ahead of a declaration.
Moeen Ali (14) and Jonny Bairstow (For a golden duck) fell soon after but Sam Curran survived the hat-trick ball. In the quest for quick runs Jos Buttler (7) was caught behind and when Curran (17) was dismissed we declared on 278-8, a gargantuan lead of 578. In truth we gifted the Canadian bowlers some cheap wickets but our top order had at least discovered some rhythm.
Broad soon had the hosts one wicket down but Ned Daly and Niall Klein batted well thereafter. The pair combined for 96 for the second wicket despite the occasional edge. It was left to Moeen to claim our first wicket via spin in the competition when Daly (59) was trapped in front. Canada closed the day’s play on 121-2, still a whopping 457 runs behind.
In the morning session, though Moeen bowled some good deliveries the only wicket we claimed was that of Klein for 79 courtesy of Woakes. Despite that loss the hosts progressed steadily before the new ball helped turn the tide in the middle session. James Anderson dismissed his namesake Brooklyn (74) with a snorter that had the Canadian in a tangle before the red orb descended to dislodge the bails. New ball partner Broad then had Turner caught behind for a well earned but at times fortuitous 45. Turner’s termination was via yet another catch for YJB and suddenly there were two new batsmen at the crease with our hosts still over 300 runs in arrears.
Canadian captain Dougie Jordan came out all guns blazing though, striking a Test best 32 from only 28 deliveries including three consecutive fours off Curran. Jordan dominated a stand of 35 with Dodd before Curran gained his revenge when DJ nicked behind. Dodd (49) in tandem with Subhran Breen (54 not out) frustrated us with an eighth-wicket partnership of 80 before yet another in swinging Curran yorker did for Dodd. When Curran bowled Rico Ewing via his legs for six the Surrey teenager secured a ten-for in the match, a fantastic achievement. Not long after that though number eleven Sidney Napier scored a single off the last delivery of the day to take the game into another.
Finally, on the fourth morning Chris Woakes trapped Napier (9) LBW and we had our first North Western Hemisphere Test Championship points on the board. We won by a convincing margin of 155 runs having declared our second innings and managed the workload/experimented with our bowlers in the final innings. Every player bar Bairstow had a trundle. Credit to the Canadians for posting 423 in pursuit of what would’ve been a record-breaking run chase. Our bowlers stuck to the task however with Sam Curran, match figures of 10-127 the stand out performer. We were able to rid ourselves of some of the scars inflicted upon us during the Scotland defeat but Moeen Ali’s match return of 1-148 is a cause for concern.
Next up for us are Canada’s neighbours USA in a day/night encounter at Edgbaston. USA ran out surprise winners against the Dutch, winning a thriller by just 17 runs. Fred Klaassen, who claimed first innings figures of 8-42 seems rather unfortunate to have ended on the losing side. Scotland top the table after defeating the Irish to make it two wins from two for them.
We thank you for your support and advice that our squad for the entertaining of the United States in Birmingham will be announced shortly.