USA were victorious at the tossing of the coin and once play had commenced they progressed efficiently to 30 without loss. In the space of three deliveries though they faltered to 30-2 and were soon struggling further at 48-3.
c Bairstow b J Overton
c Bairstow b J Overton
c Bairstow b J Overton
Get used to the above folks!
Messrs Potter (17), star man Trujillo (0) and the stoic Morrison (13) all fell to the above combo. Overton was making the most of the hard deck and delivering one of the most threatening spells in the competition. America’s batsmen were simply blown away.
Following the triple strike USA resisted courtesy of a 40-run stand between Ayan Jeffries and Tahla Pittman. With more than a little fortune Ben Stokes accounted for Pittman (19) after the ball deflected off various parts of the batsman’s body before he inadvertently back-heeled it onto his stumps. Jackson North then joined Jeffries to take the score to 106-4 at lunch. USA’s score benefited from an alarming amount of extras, our quicker bowlers getting a little bit giddy on such a lethal deck.
Jeffries and North went onto compile a fifty partnership but a struggling Sam Curran thought he’d dismissed North LBW immediately after switching to around the wicket. Unsurprisingly the right-hander reviewed and the rather poor on-field decision was quite correctly overturned. The pair then went past 100 as a duo before Joe Root turned to his new go-to man in the shape of Overton. Immediately upon the Somerset man’s return things started to happen. With the final delivery of his new over he executed a perfect slower ball to dismantle North’s (52) timber. Root then immediately brought Moeen Ali (1-17) onto bowl and he knocked over a bitterly dejected Jeffries’ (76) middle stump via a delivery that left the batsman clueless. Henry Wilks could possibly have protected the set batsman so soon before tea. Following stand-in skipper Jos Buttler’s sharp captaincy against Canada, Root brought his tactical nous to the fore. 202-6 were the details at the second interval.
Just three deliveries after the break Overton induced Wilks to nick behind and claim his first five-wicket haul at Test match level. The decision to bowl from around the wicket to the left-hander was justified as USA slipped to 202-7. Rufus Suarez then played Overton straight back down the ground for a glorious four, the shot of the match up to that point but then edged to Moeen at gully the very next ball as Overton’s rampage continued at full steam.
Root then continued his captaincy evolution with a successful decision to review an LBW shout. Having given Shaurya Napier (4) not out the on-field umpires were forced to change a decision for a second time. As a result Chris Woakes (1-32) gained a confidence boosting wicket having beaten Napier four balls in a row.
Sam Curran returned to bowl a much better second spell but Niall Kerr (8*) and Asher Kennedy frustrated for a while before Kennedy (10) became Rob Keogh’s maiden Test wicket. Once again Keogh (10.5-3-15-1) had kept things exceptionally tight and in his second Test finally claimed that elusive wicket courtesy of a well executed arm-ball. USA finished on 229 but we gifted them 23 extras.
Undoubtedly the star of the show was Jamie Overton. The tall express paceman bowled an electrifying opening spell then returned to break a threatening partnership. 6-37 were his figures backing up the 4-41 he recorded on debut. Test batsmen across the globe are struggling to sleep at night because of Overton!
By the close of play on day one, opening batsmen Dawid Malan and Haseeb Hameed had reached 117-0 with no alarm whatsoever.
On day two is wasn’t too long before Malan frustratingly fell for 71 with the score double that at 142. Malan was acrobatically caught and bowled by left-arm pacer Napier (1-66). Ben Stokes (20) made another breezy but unsubstantial knock at number three but was given out LBW to the spin of Pittman. Despite opting to review, the Durham man had to go.
Having batted so well Haseeb Hameed (86) succumbed to a beautifully drifted and angling in delivery from Pittman that went between bat and pad before clipping the very summit of off stump. Moeen, having been dropped on 4, made 24 before edging behind to wicketkeeper J-J Morrison. Jonny Bairstow’s lean run continued when he was caught at mid-wicket first ball before Root (58) was caught at first slip off an attempted reverse sweep to present Pittman with a five-wicket haul.
Rob Keogh made a career best 11 before lazily nicking behind to give Jeffries a first wicket in the innings. Sam Curran (24) then fell to Pittman (6-68) in the same manner, a third catch for gloveman Morrison. Jamie Overton (18) had a good time if not a long time before Woakes (12) joined the list of those who could’ve done better. Both Woakes and Overton fell to the unheralded spin of Jeffries (3-79). James Anderson finished unbeaten on 13. To collapse from 142-0 to 342 all out, losing all ten wickets for exactly 200 runs after such a strong start was extremely underwhelming. All but the first wicket fell to spin and that’s something our batsmen clearly need to work on. Still, we’d constructed a lead of 113.
In their second dig, USA progressed productively to 35 without loss but Sam Curran seemed to have made the breakthrough when he trapped Potter LBW. The decision was overturned however, Potter surviving by a matter of millimetres and Curran left frustrated once again. It mattered little though as Chris Woakes sent Potter’s (21) stumps cartwheeling the very next over, Woakes’ first, and there’d be little point in reviewing that!
Stuart Trujillo walked to the wicket determined to make amends for missing out in the first innings and was quickly into his stride. Curran did soon get a wicket after all when he lured Morrison (21) into an edge that was held by Stokes at gully.
USA then resisted but to continue the theme of overturned decisions we reviewed a not out decision against Jeffries (6) and the on-field umpire was forced to give Jamie Overton a wicket just as the Americans approached parity.
Ben Stokes (1-79) bowled Pittman (19) as he’d done in the first innings to leave USA 148-4. Jackson North batted well alongside the imperious Trujillo to lift the score to 194-4 at the close of day two. Trujillo (Test best 99) would sleep on 94 with the lead a healthy 81.
Only one wicket fell during the premier session of the third day’s play, that of Jackson North (49), edging to Bairstow off the impressive Woakes. Trujillo marched on though with Wilks for company and the lead was up to a frightening 194 at lunch with five wickets still in hand.
Soon after the interval the new ball paid dividends as Curran (2-64) had the big wicket off Trujillo caught by Woakes at gully for a magnificent if at times fortuitous 177. After another frustrating passage of play Jamie Overton (2-61) knocked over Rufus Suarez’s (26) stumps and not too long after that Woakes (3-50) won an LBW shout against Wilks. Left-hander Wilks resisted for 105 deliveries in making 38 valuable runs. James Anderson (2-79), having conceded over a ton of runs in the match eventually claimed a wicket, that of Napier (13) caught by Bairstow after the batsman nicked a rising delivery. Anderson then clean bowled Kerr (8) to wrap things up for 393 leaving a challenging chase of 281 for victory. It was a delight to see Chris Woakes return to form and Joe Root’s inspired captaincy.
After surviving one over before tea, our run chase ultimately got off to a horrible start when Hameed (2) was outstandingly caught and bowled by Asher Kennedy. Kennedy (3-77) then had Stokes (11) foolishly caught on the boundary and Malan (23) caught at slip following a horrible slash outside off stump. Kennedy bowled an exceptional line outside off that moved away off the seam and lured the batsmen into the drive. Moeen (37) also fell to an ugly waft outside off and captain Joe Root (23) didn’t cover himself in glory when being caught at mid-wicket. Napier (1-52) and Suarez (1-43) the respective bowlers.
An under pressure Jonny Bairstow (32) steadied the ship with some responsible batting in a partnership of 95 with Sam Curran to lift us from 101-5 to 196-6. Seemingly intent on seeing the team home Bairstow nicked behind to Morrison off the much improved Wilks but was at least ‘Got out’ by the bowler.
Rob Keogh’s (Caught behind off Pittman for 2) travails continued and it may be that Test cricket is too much of a step up for the Northamptonshire man. Having bowled magnificently Chris Woakes (1), failed to replicate that standard with the bat. The Warwickshire all-rounder provided the immaculate Morrison with a fourth catch of the innings off the bowling of Wilks (2-39). Jamie Overton (35*) then put our top order batsmen to shame by compiling 54 with Curran (88*) to reach the close with us an agonising 13 runs shy of victory.
Rather anti-climatically following a sleepless night for all, the nail-biting two-wicket win came with little threat posed the following morning. Number ten Jamie Overton, playing in only his second Test finished unbeaten on 41 whilst Curran finished heroically yet cruelly 97 not out and denied the possibility of Test tons in consecutive matches.
Huge respect to USA for an amazing Test match and pushing us right to the wire. I’m hugely proud of our team though for pulling through in the end. There were some excellent performances throughout the side from individuals under pressure both in regards to the match situation and their place in the team.
In the other matches Scotland thrashed Netherlands in Edinburgh by ten wickets thanks in part to Saul Skinner’s second innings 6-17. In Ottawa Canada helped our and their own cause by defeating Ireland by 64 runs. Batsman Brooklyn Anderson notching another ton whilst Sydney Napier claimed 8-108 in the match.
Our next match away in Ireland could see us seal a place in the final or alternatively let Ireland stay in the hunt!
Disclaimer: Though the match was played in New York the way the match played out wasn’t a familiar tale. I love the headline though so am sticking with it!