Fear not, I’m still here! Here’s more of me talking about cricket…
Fear not, I’m still here! Here’s more of me talking about cricket…
Five full years into my tenure as Coach/Selector of the England cricket team, here’s a round-up of the highs and lows that we’ve experienced as a collective thus far…
Yes that does say 43 all out against Pakistan at Edgbaston! That’s an England all-time low and a slap in the face for our decision to bat exclusively (And optimistically) for a draw. The sweet success of 806 against Sri Lanka in Kandy seems a long time ago.
Joe Root’s 292 against India in Nottingham, came after he’d been dismissed for 230 twice during my tenure and in the same innings that James Vince briefly (Very briefly) held the record when making 246.
Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson’s 7-82 against New Zealand, also at Edgbaston, are the best individual bowling figures in an innings while Stuart Broad’s 11-98 against West Indies in Jamaica in 2019 remain our best match analysis.
The year before the 43 all out debacle, 436 against the same opponents in Leeds, had been a none too shabby effort in a One-Day International. In truth, our limited overs batting has regressed since then. As in the Tests, it’s former captain Joe Root who leads the way with a rare double ton (214) in the fifty over format, indeed it was in that innings of 436 against Pakistan in front of a packed and vibrant Headingley crowd.
Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed astonishing figures of 6-14 against Australia in the infancy of his international career but lost his way a little in ODIs. He is however averaging sub 30 in the Test format and has become a valuable option in the longer format. He’s no slouch with the bat either.
Errrr, yeah, 41 all out against South Africa in a T20I. Like I said, highs and lows. Never an easy place to bat is Cape Town!
Alex Hales 124 against arch-enemy Australia in Bristol has been the best batting output in the format whilst the often economical Tom Curran’s 5-26 against West Indies in Delhi at the World Cup is our best individual bowling analysis.
It’d be great to post 1000 runs in a Test innings but with the need for declarations this can often only be feasible in a dead rubber. 500 in a ODI and 250 in T20Is would also be welcome. It’d also be great to see an individual batsman reach a triple ton in a Test match but should they approach Sir Len Hutton’s 364 then I might have to declare!
2020-21 Season Review
West Indies Tests: Won 3-0
Australia ODIs: Lost 2-1 (Sam Hain 145, 105 and 88)
Australia T20Is: Lost 2-1 (Tom Kohler-Cadmore 101, maiden ODI century)
Pakistan Tests: Lost 2-1 (Ed Barnard match figures 9-85)
Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed opening partnership 346.
43 all out!
Pakistan T20Is: Lost 3-0
Ireland ODIs: Won 2-1 (Tom Kohler-Cadmore 133, century on ODI debut, 62 and 141)
India ODIs: Lost 3-0 (Ed Pollock 102, maiden ODI century)
India T20Is: Lost 3-0
T20I World Cup: Won 1, Lost 3 – Knocked out at group stage (Jofra Archer 4-21 vs. West Indies)
India Tests: Won 4-0 (Achieved highest ever run chase in history of Test cricket: 489-2 (Vince 204*, Root 198*))
South Africa ODIs: Lost 2-1
South Africa T20Is: Lost 3-0
Won: 8 Drew/Tied: 1 Lost: 2
Won: 4 Drew/Tied: 0 Lost: 8
Won: 2 Drew/Tied: 0 Lost: 14
I’m delighted to announce that the England cricket team, selected and coached by myself, sealed a magnificent 2-0 Test series win in South Africa.
Following draws in the first two Tests, our strength in depth, particularly in our pace bowling depths, helped us claim a sensational series win.
In the first two Tests, opposition opening batsmen Aiden Markram (195 in the first Test) and Dean Elgar (251 in the second Test) prevented us from being able to gain anything more than a draw. This was despite Alastair Cook (105), Joe Root (135) and Haseeb Hameed (104) all registering tons in the first match. We were perilously placed at 29-4 in the second Test but again skipper Root (121) as well as Jonny Bairstow (117) ensured we avoided defeat.
In the third Test, we bravely opted to bowl first. James Vince (182) and Joe Clarke (195) both recorded career best performances in a partnership worth 268. Clarke’s innings was particularly satisfying following a lean spell after which he’d been left out of the XI. He performed well in the warm-up match to get the nod ahead of Ollie Pope and after a quiet first two Tests, stepped up to surpass 1000 Test runs.
Olly Stone claimed 3-51 on Test debut before we went onto win by six wickets in the final session of the match. Bairstow (27) and Ben Stokes (4) opened the batting with Joe Clarke (4 not out) and Dom Bess (5 not out) promoted to number six, seeing us to a famous win.
In the fourth Test we again bowled first. Yorkshire’s Ben Coad was recalled and swung the ball prodigiously in claiming Test best figures of 4-40. Hameed (93), Vince (82) and Root (77) led the way with the bat before Jamie Porter, who like Coad was brought into this match for the first time in the series having been extremely unfortunate to miss out in the first three Tests, took 4-57. The old wise heads of Alastair Cook (70 not out) and Joe Root (40 not out) saw us home in a fashion far more comfortable than our run chases sometimes are.
As the above graphic shows, all our senior batsmen averaged in excess of forty.
We rotated our bowlers well, making bold decisions to rest players when it would’ve been tempting to stick with them and risk burning them out. James Anderson (14 wickets @ 24.79) continued to defy his age as the younger bowlers ran in hard alongside him. Stuart Broad, dropped after a wicketless first Test, has an uncertain future given that our next tour is just a two-match trip to Sri Lanka. He may come into contention for selection in the ODIs.
Though the young spin duo of Matthew Parkinson and Dom Bess didn’t excel statistically, they stuck to their task hard and will hope to reap the fruits of their labours as we seek another second Sri Lanka away series win during my tenure.
We’ll need a win to retain third place in the Test ranking. Only three points separate ourselves, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand down in sixth place.
Unfortunately, come the limited overs matches, we reverted to type and lost both the ODI and T20I series by 2-1 scorelines.
Warwickshire opener Ed Pollock was in scintillating form in the ODIs. He accumulated 251 runs at an average of 83.67. His series contrasted with Alex Hales, who though he scored runs, they were rather laboured innings. The pair compiled back-to-back century stands (153 and 109) in the second and third ODIs.
Joe Root’s rollicking 92 not out from just 43 deliveries did at least seal us a phenomenal consolation victory in the third and final ODI. Jonny Bairstow (61 not out from 41 balls) also made a welcome limited overs contribution. Disappointingly Stuart Broad went wicketless in two outings having been recalled to the ODI team.
The T20Is were lost 2-1 having gone 1-0 up. Sussex’s Jofra Archer continued his encouraging introduction to international cricket, as the above graphic highlights. The recalled Jake Ball was in outstanding form. He claimed seven wickets in three matches at just 10.71 apiece. Joe Root again demonstrated why he should be an automatic selection in the limited overs side by striking 84 not out from 59 deliveries… but we still lost.
Next it’s to Sri Lanka for two Tests but no white-ball matches.
We ended a run of six Tests without a win by defeating New Zealand in the first Test in the Land of the Long White Cloud. This was despite our hosts, who opted to bat first, been in a position of extreme supremacy when placed at both 150-0 and 217-1. Much like his debut in the Ashes, Jamie Porter endured a wicketless first spell but came back to deliver senational figures of 6-71 with New Zealand collapsing to just 290 all out. Ben Stokes’ magnificent 148 then lifted us to 399 before Porter (3-54) again and left-armer Mark Footitt (4-82) dismissed the hosts for a second time, leaving us requiring 186 for victory. We knocked them off for the loss of four wickets to assume a 1-0 series lead.
In the second Test, with a tour of South Africa on the horizon, we rested Stuart Broad and recalled Yorkshire’s Ben Coad. Having won the toss, we opted to bowl first and Mark Footitt maintained his strong from with career best Test figures of 5-36 to help bowl the home side out for a paltry 204. At 244-5 we seemed well set for a healthy first innings lead but there was no wag in our tail as we collapsed to just 254 all out. New Zealand then made 337 in their second dig, despite Mark Footitt (4-79) causing yet more havoc! Requiring 287 runs for victory, yet again we put ourselves in pole position. We were 91-0 and 155-1 courtesy of Alastair Cook (94) and Haseeb Hameed (75). Hameed hung around as wickets fell but again our tail offered next to nothing. We folded for 256 and to a 31-run defeat.
As is often the case, we competed, we got ourselves in good positions but let them slip. What could’ve been an excellent away Test series win ended in a disappointing draw.
For the record: Ben Stokes topped the run charts for our side with 241 at 80.33 whilst Mark Footitt, 13 wickets at 20.00 was our leading bail knocker.
There then followed a five-match T20I series in which the only senior played rested was Test and ODI skipper Joe Root. Unfortunately, following a 3-0 defeat at home to Australia in the summer, new T20I captain Ben Stokes is still seeking his first win. We went down 5-0 in New Zealand and found all manner of ways to lose. Among the positives were Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s 179 runs at 44.75, Jofra Archer’s six wickets at 14.83 as well as a swashbuckling 49 not out from 25 deliveries on debut as well as Ben Sanderson’s five series wickets at just 10.40 apiece. Unfortunately the likes of Matt Critchley and Ross Whiteley endured tough series. Derbyshire’s Critchley conceded 20 from his first over in international cricket whilst Whiteley has a highest T20I score of just 16. Dawid Malan possibly saved his place in the side with a rapid 53 (29) in the fifth and final match, a match lost by just 3 runs!
Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Alex Hales broke the record for our T20I first wicket stand but despite putting on 134, we still managed to mess that match up too!
Bring on South Africa. We’ve always wanted to go on safari!
Firstly, prior to the 2019 Ashes series, there was an oddly scheduled trio of T20I matches of which we managed to lose each one. Well at least we were consistent!
Alex Hales’ 124 from just 64 deliveries in the third encounter was a rare highlight. The next highest score in the innings was Ross Whiteley’s career best 10 from six balls.
Onto the Ashes and the first Test ended in a frustrating rain-affected draw. Having bowled Australia out for 250 (Footitt 4-45), we compiled a mammoth 594-9 (Bairstow 173). Australia managed to hold out though and finished on 286-7. In doing so the visitors acquired the momentum for the matches forth.
In the second Test, we again had Australia in strife but Travis Head’s excellent 126 was the difference between the two sides as the visitors assumed a series lead courtesy of a brutal 272-run victory.
Then, the darkest of days. There have been many bad days in the history of the England cricket team but few Tests have been lost from a position of such supremacy. Having dismissed Australia for 325, Alastair Cook (153) and Haseeb Hameed (140) compiled an opening partnership of exactly 300 (THREE HUNDRED!). Even though an archetypal English collapse ensued, James Vince (113) ensured that each of our top three registered tons to provide us with a first innings lead of 171. The tourists then made a strong second innings score of 368 but that still meant we only needed 198 to square the series. We didn’t even get close, bowled out for a pathetic 124!
In the fourth Test there was at least a return to form for captain Joe Root. The Yorkshireman made 114 in another draw that meant Australia sealed the 2019 Ashes.
The series then ended like it began, with a frustrating draw. In the fifth and final Test Australia compiled 454 in their first innings but we responded with 469. Root (162) maintained his return to form whilst Somerset spinner Dom Bess (79) made an entertaining maiden international fifty. We then bowled Australia out for 327 in their second innings. Essex debutant Jamie Porter responded to a wicketless (23-1-101-0) first innings showing by claiming figures of 3-83. The equation boiled down to us requiring 312 for victory. We committed to go for it. We may as well have lost the series 3-0 than 2-0 playing for a draw. We got mightily close (286-9) and only for the final four overs did we abandon the chase and shut up shop in an attempt to avoid another defeat.
2-0 is not a thrashing. If time had been limitless we would’ve won the first Test. We should’ve won the 4th but fair play to Australia because they did and we didn’t. We had a real go and came almightily close to winning the fifth. In the early part of the series we dominated their top order but allowed their lower order to score runs. In the latter matches we allowed the top order to make big runs but limited the contribution of the tail. Yes we lost the series and to lose the third Test in the manner that we did was inexcusable. However we regularly competed and are not a million miles away from where Australia are.
For the record: Joe Root (485) topped our run charts, closely followed by Alastair Cook (477) and James Vince (445). Ben Stokes topped the averages with 55.43.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with 22 and 18 wickets respectively, silenced their critics. It was a young spinner with 11 wickets at 26.00 who topped the averages however…
Dom Bess, recalled part way through the series, made an encouraging impression not only with the ball but with the bat too. Our immediate tours however are to New Zealand and South Africa so not necessarily spin paradises. We’re spoilt for choice on the spin front so we’ll see what happens this winter before a short trip to Sri Lanka.
At the conclusion of the Ashes there was a trio of ODI matches. I’m delighted that we restored some pride with a deserved 2-1 win.
Jos Buttler’s 127 not out paved the way for a win in the first match but Australia fought back in the second. Buttler again top scored with 82 but our bowling lacked penetration. David Warner feasted on some insipid deliveries to finish unbeaten on a dominant 161.
Cometh the hour cometh the man! In the deciding ODI, Surrey starlet Sam Curran, having been dismissed for a duck and gone wicketless on debut in the second encounter. struck 27 from 24 deliveries before claiming astonishing analyse of 6-37!
Another newcomer, Warwickshire tearaway Ed Pollock, followed scores of 2 and 21 with 70 from 77 deliveries at the top of the order. Ben Stokes, promoted to three in place of the recalled James Vince who suffered a disappointing return, made 87 from just 79 deliveries. Jos Buttler again made runs with 54 off 51 in his new position at number five. Having players of the quality of Stokes and Buttler so high in the order rather than leaving them at six or seven is the way forward. After Chris Wood had dismissed danger man David Warner first ball, Aaron Finch was run out off a free hit before Sam Curran took over. #priderestored
Left-arm pace bowler Mark Footitt is on the move once again. Footitt, who came so close to a Test cap on the tour of South Africa two winters ago, only left Surrey to rejoin Nottinghamshire towards the end of last season. Unable to break into a first XI that includes Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, Luke Fletcher and crucially fellow left-armer Harry Gurney, Footitt has rejoined another ex-employer, Derbyshire, on a 28-day loan. If Ball can join Broad in the England XI and finally transfer his county pedigree to international level then Footitt could be required for Notts upon his return.
During the off-season, another very good seamer in Brett Hutton, realised that opportunities at Nottinghamshire would be limited and has made an impressive start to life at new county Northamptonshire.
Back to Footitt, he did represent England in a tour match but was somewhat erratic and the likelihood of him wearing the shirt pictured above (Well not that actual shirt!) seem extremely slim. Still, if Cricket Captain 2018 ever gets released then, in my Ed Smith role, I’ll try my best to present Footitt with an England cap!
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