The France squad for the two-match Test tour of Australia is:
Jean-Luc Chevalier (Vice-captain)
Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper)
Xavier Le Tallec (Captain)
Maxime Bernard (Wicketkeeper)
Phillipe La Roux*
*At the conclusion of the scheduled warm-up fixture Christophe Martinez and Phillipe La Roux will each join a Sydney based club side. We’d like to place on record our gratitude for the co-operation of the local amateur league and anticipate that the agreement will be mutually beneficial. This deal is subject to change however and messrs Martinez and La Roux can be called up to the Test squad at any time.
First Class warm-up fixture (Perth)
1st Test (Perth)
2nd Test (Sydney)
The France squad for the one-off T20I against Australia is:
Jean-Luc Chevalier (Vice-captain)
Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper)
Xavier Le Tallec (Captain)
Phillipe La Roux
Maxime Bernard (Wicketkeeper)
*Hippolyte Gregory and Matteo Phillipe will both attend a Sydney based five-day conditioning camp prior to the T20/T20I fixtures. The T20I squad is subject to change following the demands/workload of the Test series.
Following our ground-breaking success in the mountains, we named an unchanged side for the second Test on a dust bowl in Delhi. We lost the toss and as was the case in Doon, were inserted to field first. India progressed rapidly to 43-0 but we really should’ve taken a wicket. Louis Martin, brimming with confidence after his second innings figures of 3-91 in the Himalayas, executed a ferocious short ball that Rohit Sharma couldn’t resist. The trap was set but Zidane Thomas, stationed at fine leg, neglected to commit to the catch. Thomas soon made amends however when he caught Sharma (20) dawdling out of his crease and effected an extremely cheeky run out. Cheteshawara Pujara, fresh from striking a century in the first Test, made 21 before edging spinner Mehdi Qadri to Gilles Smith at slip. Despite losing two wickets, India had clocked up 109 runs by lunch.
Just three deliveries after the interval, Qadri was it it again, ousting Indian skipper Virat Kohli (14) courtesy of a superb catch by Zvonimir Pitko at point. Qadri later appealed for LBW against Agarwal, on 78 at the time. We opted not to review but replays showed that Agarwal would’ve been given out had we’d done so. How costly would that be?
Not very! Suddenly Agarwal endured a torrid time against the turn of Qadri and Louis Petit but survived until drinks. In the second over post beverages, Le Tallec (1-31) rolled his arm over and the captain promptly castled Agarwal’s stumps. As in the first Test Agarwal (84) couldn’t reach three figures. India recovered though and by tea were 217-4 with Rahane passing fifty and the partnership with Vihari doing the same.
In the second over after tea and with his first ball of a new spell, Louis Petit accounted for Rahane’s (52) middle stump. He then did for Pant (5) courtesy of a throw from the boundary as the hosts just couldn’t kick their run out habit!
Ravi Jadeja (8) dug in alongside Vihari but then needlessly chased a wide delivery and feathered an edge to wicketkeeper Marwan Leroy. Tactical genius Le Tallec then opted against the new ball and Youssef Rizvi (1-8) immediately claimed Vihari (59) as his maiden Test victim.
In the penultimate over of the day Qadri (3-86) claimed the wicket of Ravi Ashwin (16), caught in the slips by Smith ala the Pujara dismissal. Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah survived until close with India upto 294-9.
Less than three overs were required on day two for the Indian innings to be curtailed. The astute Le Tallec took the new ball yet combined spin with pace and it paid off handsomely as Petit (3-57) had Sharma (13) caught by Pitko. India all out for 298 with all wickets bar run outs falling to spin.
In reply, Enzo Petit and Jean-Luc Chevalier compiled 74 for the first wicket before Petit (35) stepped too far across his stumps and was bowled behind his legs by Ashwin. Smith appeared to be caught at slip first ball but India neglected to review. At times unconvincing, he survived until drinks.
Chevalier brought up a second Test fifty then struck three boundaries before he misjudged a delivery from Ashwin. Despite the review confirming that the ball pitched and struck pad outside the line of off stump, Chevalier (62) had offered no shot so had to depart. It wasn’t long after Chevalier’s dismissal that Smith’s mixed bag of an innings came to an end. He was rather suckered into a trap, caught at leg slip off Jadeja for 23. Rizvi and Pitko took us to lunch on 141-3.
After the interval the pair progressed to 178-4 before Rizvi (13), like Chevalier, chose to leave a ball from Ashwin, only to look back in horror and see his stumps rearranged! Zidane Thomas then endured ten torturous deliveries before falling for single figures for the third time in the series. Thomas (4) was bowled through his legs by Jadeja (2-72). India then made a surprise bowling change bringing back the pace of Bumrah (2-68) and we promptly conceded yet another own goal. Pitko (45), who had batted so well, top edged an unnecessary pull shot onto his helmet and was caught by Pujara. Le Tallec (13) then produced a near identical dismissal only this time Rohit Sharma took the catch. 119-1 had become 216-7.
Marwan Leroy and Louis Petit seemed to be rebuilding with a partnership of 38 but Petit (10) was caught and bowled by Ishant Sharma (1-83). Leroy (38) was then caught at short leg off Ashwin as the collapse continued then terminated when Martin was LBW first ball. It was another five-wicket haul for Ashwin (5-29) as we slumped from 74-0 and 178-3 to 262 all out, still 36 shy of parity. Nearly all our batsmen made a start but poor selection (Or non-selection!) cost us a first innings lead.
Back with ball in hand, in eight overs before tea we were sloppy but also unlucky, edges going to the boundary rather than to hand. Thomas started to work Sharma over however and in a great example of bowling in tandem, Louis Martin lured Sharma (16) into a leading edge. The ever reliable Pitko lunged forward from gully to execute the catch. India 38-1, effectively 74-1 at tea on only the second day.
A period of frustration ensued as the hosts comfortably kicked onto 99-1. Captain Le Tallec brought himself into the attack though and Agarwal soon succumbed. Need I tell you who held the catch at short leg? For Agarwal (36) it was another contribution in the series without progressing to make a really sizeable score. Leader Le Tallec didn’t stop there as he soon accounted for his opposing number Kohli (11). There are no prizes for guessing correctly who took the catch!
India increased their lead but immediately after bringing up a half-century Pujara (51) was caught behind off Qadri. Not long after that, at 148-4 and the lead 184, day two drew to a close.
Rahane and Vihari built on their foundations to lay a fifty partnership before a change of bowling helped oust Rahane. As Thomas appealed for LBW against Vihari, the pair scampered through for a risky single. Rahane (40) appeared to have made his ground but his bat actually bounced off the ground just at the moment that Magic touch Le Tallec broke the bails. It was a well needed stroke of fortune just two deliveries before beverages.
Post thirst quenching Vihari upped the tempo alongside the aggressive Pant. At lunch on day three India had ascended to 269-5 with the lead ballooning to 305.
Finally, after the partnership had surpassed a hundred, Qadri ousted Vihari (91), caught behind by Leroy. Le Tallec then opted against the new ball and Perit had Pant (65) caught by Pitko, his fourth catch of the innings. At that point India were 325-7. Both batsmen had batted extremely well and put their team firmly in control. Jadeja and Ashwin then went about doing the same and lifted the score to 384-7 at tea on day three. By the time the next drinks break came around India were upto 440-7 courtesy of another century partnership. Our captain and bowling unit simply had no answer to Jadeja’s and Ashwin’s efforts.
Eventually Martin found an edge… that went through the slips for four to bring up the 150 partnership! At the close of play on the third day India, having been 207-5, were 498-7, the lead upto a monstrous 534. Jadeja would sleep on 99 not out, Ashwin not far behind on 80.
Two balls into day four and Jadeja nicked behind but the ball didn’t carry to Leroy. Next ball he brought up his ton but soon fell to Le Tallec for 101. Ashwin (112*) also recorded a century while Martin ousted Sharma (1) with a superb caught and bowled. Thomas then terminated the innings when he dismissed Bumrah (3), courtesy of a second catch of the morning for Leroy. Our bowling figures made for grim reading but we had at least performed well to curtail… the tail. Le Tallec (3-103), Martin (2-105), Qadri (2-100) and Petit (1-105) all brought up centuries of their own. Thomas (1-88) wasn’t far behind. India finished 537 all out meaning that we needed 573 to win. We had just under two days to bat and of course a draw would seal a first ever series win. Should we attempt to bat time for a stoic and epic draw or try to achieve the highest run chase in Test history… in only our fourth Test?
Fourteen overs into the fourth innings of the match, messrs Petit and Chevalier had chalked up 57-0, the latter having overturned an LBW decision in the first over. Five sessions remained, 516 runs were required.
As is so often the case, the resumption prompted a wicket. Chevalier, having shown such discipline, played an unnecessary pull shot off Bumrah and was caught behind by Pant. Having batted for in excess of an hour, departing for just 21 was a waste. To the very next delivery Petit (36) was bowled by Jadeja’s first and our solid foundations suddenly didn’t seem so solid!
Smith (11) seemed to be defending resolutely but inside edged off Jadeja into the gloves of Pant. 58-0 had become 77-3. After some boundaries from Pitko, Rizvi defended a delivery from Jadeja only to see the ball bounce up off his boot and be caught at short leg. The wheels had come off and we were 86-4. Zidane Thomas, yet to make double figures in the series, arrived at the crease. 15 balls later, he hadn’t even made single figures and was bowled by Ashwin for a duck! 110-5!
First innings hero Iceman Pitko fell Rizvi style, defending a Jadeja delivery only to see the ball ricochet off his footwear and be snapped up a short leg. Like Rizvi, Pitko (43) will wish he’d just smacked the ball for 6 rather than defend. Le Tallec, who had tactically performed well at times, couldn’t lead by example with the bat. The captain nicked a needless cut shot to Pant off the rampant Jadeja (5-56) having made only 10. Gloveman Marwan Leroy, who had performed well behind the stumps, dug deep to do the same in front of them. He and Louis Petit reached tea on day four with the score 174-7, just 399 required for victory.
Leroy and Petit batted on sensibly and the former passed fifty for the first time at Test level. With the partnership blossoming at 77 and the crowd getting behind them, Leroy (61) nicked behind off Ashwin (3-24) when defending a shortish delivery. After an excellent display behind the stumps the young wicketkeeper had applied himself admirably and cemented his place as the team’s number one wicketkeeper batsman. Petit (43) soon fell in almost identical fashion. Qadri (6) then top edged a pull of Bumrah (2-88) next ball to gift Pant a sixth catch of the innings. The margin of defeat was a whopping 330 runs but there were still many positives gained as we recorded a 1-1 series draw away from home and in alien conditions against an established test nation. Onto Australia…
There’s a suggestion that if any international cricket is played in the near future that England could field multiple teams in order to play different formats on the same day.
Now whether or not that would be a crossover between red and white ball cricket or that ODI and T20I could clash obviously remains unclear. Let’s assume that each and every format was being played on the same day. Who makes which team? Oh, and for ease we’ll select for matches played in England… at the risk of being rather optimistic!
Joe Root (Captain)
Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)
Dawid Malan (Captain)
Sam Billings (Wicketkeeper)
T20I (Which I’ve prioritised over ODI due to the impending World Cup)
Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper)
Eoin Morgan (Captain)
What are your thoughts on my selections? What would you do differently?
Following an encouraging performance in our one and only warm-up match, we faced off against the mighty India in the foothills of the Himalayas.
We lost the toss and not surprisingly were made to field. Opening batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma soon took the hosts to 50-0 with little fuss. It’s fair to say that by the time India had collapsed to 55-3 then 90-4 at lunch, a fuss was being made!
All-rounder Zidane Thomas (1-23), entrusted with the new ball following the omission of talisman Alexandre Riviere, made the breakthrough by pinning Agarwal (35) LBW. Teenage spin sensation Mehdi Qadri, fresh from wickets in the tour game, then had Sharma (16) caught behind by Marwan Leroy in his first over. Debutant Louis Petit also struck straight away to announce his arrival to Test cricket in sublime style. The distinctive slow-left-armer claimed the wicket of India captain Virat Kohli for a seven-ball duck as his maiden Test victim… and who should be the catcher? Only his twin brother Enzo!
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane steadied things briefly before the Qadri/Leroy combo was at it again to account for Pujara (19).
After the interval, things never got any better for the hosts as they plunged further into the abyss at 135-9. Rahane (13) was ousted by Petit (15-3-28-2) courtesy of sharp work by Smith at slip before Vihari (15) was exquisitely caught by Zvonimir Pitko. Pitko, who has already proven himself to be a handsome fieldsman, was positioned somewhere between silly mid-on and mid-wicket. It was an outrageous take.
Our skipper, Xavier Le Tallec, was demonstrating astute tactical nous having been forced to field first. Risabh Pant (8) was another to succumb to rampant spin sensation Qadri before Ravi Jadeja (22) bedded in. However he was needlessly run out to curtail any fight back from the home side. Ravi Ashwin made a hard-earned 4 from 27 deliveries before edging Martin (1-43) to Chevalier who held the sort of catch that proclaimed “When it’s your day then it’s your day!”. Ishant Sharma (7) and Jasprit Bumrah (13*) frustrated briefly to haul the score to 153 before Qadri (5-56) bowled the former to record the first Test five-wicket haul in our nation’s history.
We then made a tidy start in our attempt to gain a first innings lead before Chevalier (14) edged a brute of a ball from Bumrah to third slip. That left us 24-1 before Petit and Smith really got our innings going. The pair had compiled 43 when India reviewed an LBW appeal against our opener. Despite clear evidence that Petit (29) had got bat on ball the decision was incorrectly overturned. We were 67-2 with drinks upon us and me spewing my cafe au lait!
After beverages we continued to build but regularly had our progress checked. Smith (26) was caught at slip off the bowling of Ashwin and Pitko (13) was turned inside out to be caught at mid-wicket off Ishant Sharma. Thomas (7) struck a maximum only to fall the very next ball. Thomas is developing a habit of batting for a fun time but not a long time. It’s such a waste provided his talent and on this occasion was a naive dismissal so late in the day. From 83-2 we’d stumbled to 136-5 at close of play on a wicket frenzy first day. Come day two a lot would rest on the shoulders of set batsman Youssef Rizvi, fresh from a century in the tour match.
On the second morning Rizvi and Marwan Leroy raised their partnership to 53 before both succumbed to the spin of Ashwin. Having contributed a fifty of his own, Rizvi (57) nicked behind to gloveman Pant before Leroy (42) was trapped on the crease LBW. Rizvi will feel that he could’ve left alone the ball that did for him and Leroy was gutted to fall short of a half-century. When the seventh wicket went down we’d accumulated 200 exactly.
Skipper Le Tallec and debutante Louis Petit upped the score to 268 but the return of Ashwin immediately (And by that I mean immediately!) accounted for Le Tallec (37). It was a welcome contribution from the skipper however after registering only 9 runs in four innings against England. The partnership had lifted our lead to in excess 100.
Qadri (6) didn’t last long. He was LBW to Jadeja and an optimistic review didn’t save him. Last man Louis Martin joined his namesake Petit and batted stoically to help build a frustrating (For the Indians!) last wicket stand. Petit, dropped by Pujara on 44, brought up a half-century on Test debut to go with his excellent bowling display. 299-9 and the lead upto 146 were the details at lunch. At the time, both team’s innings had lasted exactly 60 overs!
After the break the innings was soon curtailed by Ashwin (6-51) when he bowled Martin (7) around his legs but not before we’d passed 300. 302 all out with Petit unbeaten on 53 and a healthy lead of 149 meant that India’s batsmen had plenty of work to do.
India’s openers set about that work and amassed 24 runs without alarm at which point Zidane Thomas outright dismantled Rohit Sharma’s (15) stumps with a ferocious Yorker. It was a magnificent riposte by Thomas after being subjected to online vitriol overnight for his failure with the bat and having experienced an expensive first few overs with the ball. He had however made the vital first breakthrough for the second time in the match. India recovered though to reach 92-1 at tea, 57 from parity.
Agarwal and Pujara pushed on to put India in the lead and extend their partnership past 150 before Thomas intervened once again. He lured Agarwal (93) forward to edge a full delivery to Smith at slip. Smith didn’t need to move and India lost their second wicket with the score on 179, effectively 30-2.
There was then a mid-match patch, the replay function wouldn’t work properly, a deadly virus outbreak, screaming kids and Le Tallec (Well me!) dropping a catch off the bowling of Thomas. India were 211-2 at the conclusion of day two and well placed 62 in the lead.
On day three captain Kohli passed fifty at better than a run-a-ball and Pujara, having lingered in the nineties, brought up a determined and potentially match-defining ton. Having combined for 105 Kohli (70 off 71) was casual when running a third and was dismissed courtesy of a direct hit all the way from the boundary by action man Thomas. Soon after that, Pujara (113) had his middle stump uprooted by Pitko’s (1-15) part-time medium-pace. 315-4 and India 166 in the black was the equation at lunch.
Old habits died hard for India as Vihari (7) was inexplicably run out in just the third over of the middle session. Though gloveman Marwan Leroy ultimately effected the run out, it resulted from yet another throw from that man Zidane! The wicket of Vihari came in a Louis Martin over and in his next the opening bowler tempted Pant (1) into an expansive drive that he dragged onto his stumps. India had slumped from 284-2 to 332-6 but the lead was up to 190.
Rahane and Jadeja resisted before Thomas (3-110) finally claimed his third wicket… better late than never! Despite a hint of leg-side about it Jadeja (19) declined to review having been adjudged LBW. Ashwin (2) then feathered behind off a reinvigorated Martin (3-93) before Big Louis knocked over the stumps of key man Rahane (53).
Just as Sharma (6*) and Bumrah (7) started to frustrate, they completed a run out hat-trick for the second innings. India had fought back superbly but then so had we. Having commenced their second dig 149 runs in deficit they’d gained a lead but collapsed horribly from 284-2 to 390 all out, effectively losing eight wickets for only 106 runs. Curiously, all wickets but run outs in India’s second innings fell to pace bowling. We required 242 to win a Test match for the first time in our nation’s history.
To only the second delivery of our defining run-chase Jean-Luc Chevalier (2) pushed at an inducing full delivery from Bumrah and edged behind to Pant. Enzo Petit and Gilles Smith however raced to a fifty partnership. Immediately upon doing so Petit was adjudged LBW to Sharma but with Chevalier already wasting a review Petit rolled the dice once more. Replays confirmed that the ball was destined to bounce over the stumps and Petit survived, providing some atonement for the appalling first inning decision that he’d suffered. Following said review, India introduced spin in the form of first innings tormentor Ashwin. One over later we were 56-1 at tea still requiring 186 more to send shockwaves throughout the world.
Petit and Smith moved their partnership onto exactly 100 when Smith (41) edged to short leg off the bowling of Ashwin. 102-2, 140 to win!
With 106 runs required Rizvi (22), having looked so at ease at the crease but already fatigued between the wickets, was slow to ground his bat and run out. It had the potential to be a sliding doors moment!
Following Rizvi’s fall, Petit put his foot on the accelerator but a field change distracted him and he heartbreakingly fell short of a ton, bowled for 94, Ashwin (2-64) the bowler responsible. A distraught Petit trudged off to a rapturous applause from fans of both sides but he knew deep down that he hadn’t seen his team over the line. Thomas joined Pitko with the score 167-4 but suddenly 74 more seemed a big ask. Thomas promptly despatched his first ball for six to relieve some tension. Getting stumped off his second delivery (Jadeja 1-36) however brought all that tension right back!
Pitko and Leroy (6) steadied the leaking if not quite sinking ship before Bumrah was brought back into the attack. Leroy’s eyes lit up when Bumrah (2-74) served up a short ball first thing but the young wicketkeeper got his attempted pull all wrong, only ballooning the ball skyward before the slip fielder took the catch when it came back down to Earth. 191-6, 51 still required to win.
From there, the ultra-composed Zvonimir Pitko and captain Le Tallec compiled fifty exactly to level the scores. Pitko (49*) was cruelly denied a fifty of his own but how fitting that our captain, Xavier Le Tallec (19*), should score the winning run.
The match had ebbed and flowed like all great Test matches should. We’d made history and President Macron was on the phone before the players had even left the field. Emotion ran high among the playing squad and support staff. Many a tear was shed. Meanwhile back home people danced in the streets of Paris, Nantes, Lyon and beyond. Cricket was headline news on French TV. Children in the parks of Lille, Rennes and Montpellier wanted to pick up a bat and ball. Cricket had entered the French psyche on an unimaginable scale as an ex-teacher, plasterer and more than one university drop out amongst others had put India to the sword and placed French cricket firmly on the map. Forget Platini, Mauresmo and Prost (Well don’t forget them!) and remember Qadri, Petit, Le Tallec and co. There’s a second Test in Delhi to come but for now let’s saviour victory in the Himalayas!
Disclaimer: Apologies for the image quality… long story, various excuses!
England’s cricketers have returned from Sri Lanka and rightly so. If they’d stayed in Sri Lanka there’s no guarantee that they’d be able to get home at the conclusion of the tour. They may have spouses, dependents, children and elderly family who need their support. They can’t possibly have been expected to focus on cricket even if young healthy families are perceived to be at less risk. I myself have a child who is high risk and many people seem to be making misguided assumptions about who are and who aren’t vulnerable. England’s cricketers have a nice life but already spend enough time in hotels. To have been locked up in one with their families in England and no travel authorised just couldn’t have been allowed to happen.
As for The Hundred, the ECB will be worried!
Fingers crossed that cricket like society in general can recover soon.
Many thanks to those of you that voted on my latest poll. It’s clear that Nepal are your tip to be Cricket’s next Test nation…
The Rhinos received 44% of the vote, double that of second placed Singapore. Nepal possesses a population of in excess of 26 million people, has a national cricket team consisting of mainly indigenous players and clearly has a hunger for cricket.
In our attempt to fight back and record a series draw in the ground breaking Trans-Channel Test series against England, we made three changes to the playing XI for our historic first Test match on French soil. Gabin Sauvage, Patrick Pierre and Mehdi Qadri were the unlucky trio to miss out with Youssef Rizvi, Paco Georges and Louis Martin the beneficiaries. As much as we would’ve liked to present the jettisoned personnel with another opportunity we felt that it was necessary to freshen things up and present England with opposition that they hadn’t become familiar with.
Captain Xavier Le Tallec won the toss and chose to bat. The decision to bat or bowl was in the balance but we felt trying to put runs on the board first up was the right thing to do.
Put runs on the board is exactly what opening duo Jean-Luc Chevalier and Enzo Petit did. Having compiled 77 in the second innings in London the pair picked up where they had left off at Lords. Now In Brittany they constructed foundations of 49 for the first wicket. It required England’s leading wicket taker of all time James Anderson, rotated in at the expense of Stuart Broad, to make the breakthrough. The erstwhile Lancastrian found Chevalier’s (14) edge to present a slip catch to Rory Burns. Gilles Smith joined Petit and the latter soon reached his second-consecutive Test half-century. It was actually Petit’s (55) fourth fifty in five innings in First Class/Test cricket but on none of those occasions has he reached 60. He’s basically the French Mark Stoneman! Petit’s dismissal had an air of familiarity about it in that it came just two balls before a beverage break (An unhealthy habit that we’ve developed!) but at least both batsmen to fall had been ‘Got out’. In Petit’s case Jofra Archer was the bowler responsible. 86-2 were the numbers at rehydration respite.
Post thirst quenching Youssef Rizvi (5) didn’t last long on debut. To only his seventh delivery the right-hander played an audacious pull off Archer that resulted in him being caught by Stokes at slip. Smith (41) and Pitko (25) steadied the ship with a stand of 38 before both succumbed to first Test spin nemesis Dom Bess. Neither batsmen were out playing silly shots mind as the batting unit maintained their enhanced application and contribution that had been displayed in the second innings at Lords. When wicketkeeper Marwan Leroy joined Zidane Thomas at the crease the score was 152-5 but both combined defence and run-scoring finesse to lift us to a more than respectable 182-5 at lunch on day one. Whilst our players dined on soup de jour the Bretagne faithful soaked up the rays!
In the second session Thomas et Leroy continued their procession taking the partnership up to 68. Unfortunately the combo came to a halt in freak fashion! Archer got a delivery to strike Thomas in the undesirables and with the batsman losing his bearings he back heeled the pink orb onto his stumps. Cue more pink in the form of the zing bails and Thomas’ (40) knock as well as the partnership was over. It was such a sorry way for an excellent effort to be brought to its conclusion.
Soon after Thomas’ demise Leroy (38) tried to turn an Archer delivery to the leg-side but a leading edge was collected by a grateful Dominic Sibley scampering forward from mid-on. Paco Georges (0) then wafted first ball on debut and as a result of Buttler’s safe hands Archer had a five-wicket haul. Archer (6-60) didn’t stop there as Le Tallec (7) was suckered into a pull shot and 220-5 had become 244-9 in scenes all too reminiscent of the first Test.
Last men standing Alexandre Riviere (12) and debutant Louis Martin (9*) dragged the innings on past drinks before the former fell to Bess (3-20). The innings curtailed at 255. Having been 152-4 that was a hugely disappointing total but still there were contributions throughout the order providing innings for our batsmen to build upon in the future. We can take huge confidence from the way our batting unit saw off James Anderson (0-66) and Sam Curran (0-51).
In only the third over of England’s reply Riviere trapped Rory Burns LBW courtesy of a superb piece of deception. Riviere delivered a painfully slow yorker that had Burns all at see but DRS saved the Surrey left-hander by a matter of millimetres. Burns then pulled for four before being struck on the pad again. This time the finger didn’t go up but Le Tallec opted to review. Sadly for us it was not out once again. After all that drama we’d lost a review but England hadn’t lost Burns.
England had progressed to 32 when we did eventually make the breakthrough. In a repeat of the first innings of the first Test Sibley (16) was out caught Pitko off the bowling off Riviere. In truth it was not a shot that a batsman of Test calibre should be getting out playing, certainly not when opening the batting. England were 52-1 at tea when the lights came on.
In the first day’s final session Joe Denly had a reprieve on 11 when Leroy grassed an edge off Paco Georges. He failed to capitalise though, falling to the always in the action Pitko for 25. As with Sibley’s shot it simply wasn’t good enough and Riviere repaid the earlier favour by holding the catch. Not content with batting and catching well in this series, Pitko had promptly rocked up and commenced his spell with a wicket maiden!
Burns brought up back-to-back Trans-Channel tons and with his captain Root had lifted England to 177-2 at close, still 78 runs behind but with eight wickets in hand.
Riviere and Martin failed to make a breakthrough early on day two but captain Le Tallec needed less than three overs to send Burns packing. Again Pitko was the catcher and again, as was the case in the first Test, Burns (139) rather threw the chance of a gargantuan score away. Le Tallec’s spin had made the breakthrough and then it was the turn of pace in the form of Paco Georges. The tall express left-armer angled one past Joe Root’s blade to send the illuminated stumps flying in all directions. The wicket of Root (48) was a prize maiden Test scalp for Georges (1-106) as England stuttered from 226-2 to 235-4 bang on beverages.
Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope steadied the visitors with a stand of 51 (A lead of 31) before Thomas became the fifth bowler in the innings to claim a wicket. The right-arm slinger trapped Stokes (25) LBW and though there was a hint of leg-side about it Stokes opted not to review thus becoming Thomas’ belated first Test victim. Shortly after that the session concluded, a session in which we’d claimed a more than respectable 3-113.
The new ball had the desired effect with our opening duo both getting among the wickets. In his first over with the new pink cherry Louis Martin had Ollie Pope (51) nonchalantly caught by his captain. For Martin, who’d kept things tight up to that point, it was a fully deserved first Test wicket to join Pitko (1-16) and Thomas as christened wicket takers on the second day. As for Pope, like in the first Test he got to fifty but got out, a little like our own Enzo Petit! Riviere (2-123) then had an out of sorts Curran (3) feather an edge to Leroy but our gloveman was slow to react to a nick off Buttler soon after. Martin (2-86) wasn’t to be denied though as Bess (2) perished next ball with Le Tallec snaffling another catch at about fourth slip, this time courtesy of an excellent dive to his left. England had crashed from 332-5 to 357-8 but Buttler and Archer weren’t to be easily removed. Despite both being beaten occasionally the pair batted superbly to lift the score to 397-8. With one session left in the day and the floodlights switched on, the visitors held the aces to the tune of 142 runs.
Sadly the day’s final session was a torturous one for our players as Buttler and Archer took their partnership all the way to 137. The excellent Archer (58) eventually edged to Leroy off Thomas (2-76) but Anderson (10*) reached the close alongside Buttler with England on 517-9.
Our captain Le Tallec (2-77) did at least knock over Buttler’s (138) stumps in only the second over on day three to dismiss England for 524. To have bowled out an established Test nation is something that we should be proud off but we required 269 to avoid an innings defeat.
Chevalier and Petit continued their trend of producing solid starts by compiling 42 for the first wicket in the second innings on the third day. The breakthrough for England came when Petit (27) was caught and bowled by Curran having presented a leading edge to the Surrey left-armer. Gilles Smith (1) was emphatically bowled by Archer resulting in debutant Youssef Rizvi joining Chevalier at the wicket. Having scored only 5 in the first innings it would be an understatement to say that Rizvi looked all at sea early in his innings. To his credit though he somehow survived and soon grew in confidence to display some strong stroke play. By beverages the pair had hauled us from 43-2 to 99-2 with an encouraging half-century stand.
Resuming after rehydration it took only two deliveries of spin to bring our progress to an abrupt halt. Rizvi (32) was comprehensively beaten and bowled by Bess (Bodes well for the tour of India!) before Pitko (5) was a little unlucky to nick behind via his pad off Curran’s (2-44) left-arm seam. Zidane Thomas (15) attacked Bess (2-17) but was only at the crease for a fun time not a long time. Despite using a review he fell LBW to the Somerset off-spinner. A promising position of 109-2 had become a disappointing 139-5 but Leroy dug in alongside Chevalier who brought up a maiden Test fifty in the over before the interval. 156-5, 133 in arrears the details at 4pm.
Our knight in shining armour Chevalier (51) was gutted to be caught at mid-on when uppishly toe-ending a full delivery from Anderson. Then in a horrible sense of deja vu, Leroy was bowled through his legs by Archer. Thomas had suffered a similar fate in the first innings and this time it was Leroy (9), who’d applied himself maturely for 42 minutes, who saw the ball (Or didn’t!) deflect off the bat, go in between his legs and clip high on the stumps.
Le Tallec (1) was LBW to Anderson (2-34) despite a review. Our captain’s batting efforts in our maiden series read 0, 1, 7 and 1 which is a great shame provided how well he bowled, fielded and led the side. Alexandre Riviere (3) was then outrageously caught and bowled by star man Archer (4-25) to put us in peril at 167-9. Paco Georges (6) resisted temptation for a while but gave into playing a big shot and was phenomenally pouched by Buttler. Having been 42-0 and 109-2 a total of just 172 was disappointing but wasn’t the result of a series of awful shots. We succumbed by an innings and 97 and 2-0 in the series. In general though I think that we can be hugely proud of our efforts against an established and professional Test side in our first two Tests. There’s a lot to build on.
We’re delighted to announce that England have agreed to stay on at the conclusion of the second Test and provide the opposition for our inaugural Twenty20 International. We’ll then be heading to India for an extensive tour consisting of three T20Is and two Tests. They’ll be one warm-up fixture in each format. A spin-bowling camp will run parallel with attendees to be named in due course. After that it’s onto Australia for two more Tests but only one T20I. Again, they’ll be warm-up fixtures in each form of the game. Following that we’ll host Zimbabwe for one T20I and our first ever ODIs in a three-match series before playing one Test. To alleviate strain on Stade de France Cricket in Bretagne, construction on a second national stadium, to be built in Corsica, will begin shortly.
Our squad for our first ever T20I to be played against England at the Stade de France Cricket is as follows:
Nepal currently sit 12th in the T20I rankings and are playing ODIs against USA and Oman at present. Star player Sandeep Lamichhane recently expressed his desire to play Test cricket for Nepal.
Papua New Guinea are ranked 18th and have been on the fringes of major tournaments for the past decade or so.
Singapore are in 21st and have been one of the success stories of recent times. They’ve defeated a Test nation in the form of Zimbabwe and have soared up the T20I rankings.
USA has always seemed like an untapped market and it’s hard to fathom that cricket can’t really take off stateside.
Nigeria, an exceptionally populous nation, and Japan, have both made encouraging strides at under-19 level.
Whether or not the transition from T20I to Test cricket will remain relevant in the years to come is an interesting thought. How do amateur players prepare to play multi-day multi-innings cricket. Can these nations implement First Class leagues and afford them and the players?
If they can and the Test world does expand then who do you think will be cricket’s next Test nation?