A little bit about me and my little blog

This is by far not the first cricket blog to be written and it certainly won't be the last (or necessarily the best). But it's mine.

This is mainly an excuse for me to carry on about a sport that has been something of an obsession since I was knee high to a middle stump. An obsession which has never left throughout the many highs (behave, there have been some) and lows (and boy have there been many of those…..) of being and England cricket fan in the years since.

The views and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Sometimes light-hearted, occasionally irreverent, hopefully never offensive.

What gives this fool the right to have an opinion on this great sport? Where are his credentials I hear you ask? Well I think my catch at mid-on in the inter-house final at Heath Grammar school in 1981 speaks for itself…..

Saturday, 21 May 2016

England v Sri Lanka. 1st Test (day 2)

Captains Cook, Matthews and, er, a Zebra
At this very moment in time an air of gloom and despondency has enveloped the country and possibly, even further afield. I imagine that wherever one looks worried parents are desperately trying to calm inconsolable children, not only that but frantic messages of warning are beginning to proliferate social media. Even the most macho of grown men are wandering the streets wondering just how and why on gods green Earth it ever came to this. All I can do is apologise in some vague and barely believable manner, but yes, Well Bowled, Harold: An England Cricket blog is back. Sorry about that.

Yes I know it's been a while since the world experienced the my cricketing insight (some may say 'bullshit' would be a more accurate description), but what can I say? I suppose there are two possibilities for the delay in updates ; Firstly, that this has all been part of some malicious yet emotionally rewarding master plan of mine to lull the world into a false sense of security - namely to go six months without a blog article, let all and sundry think they'll thankfully never have to listen to my cricketing musings ever again.....then boom! I'm back! The second possibility is that I've simply been perfecting my lifetime quest of being a lazy good for nothing bugger who has any number of plausible yet ultimately ridiculous excuses for not putting finger to keyboard. I'll leave it up to you to decide which of those it is.

So anyway, here we are in the early days of a Cricketing Summer - the county championship (c'mon Yorkshire!) is well and truly underway, the T20 slog in the park Bash (c'mon Yorkshire!) started this week and the Aberdeenshire league recently (c'mon, er,  Fraserburgh!) began just a week or two previously. However, just a couple of days ago the most significant event of all took place, namely the first day of an England Test summer as Captain Cook's brave boys began the first Test match against Sri Lanka. Oh summer of British Cricket, how I have missed thee.

My thoughts exactly........
When I was pondering how to begin the first Well Bowled, Harold: An England Cricket blog in six months I considered a detailed recap of the winters events. Initially it seemed such a good idea. To begin with there was the exciting Test series in South Africa where Ben Stokes proceeded on his merry way to cricketing all-rounder immortality. Yes the series was drawn but boy at times it was a doozy.

Then later there came, bugger, sorry....... I still can't talk about THAT world T20 final against the West Indies, or more specifically, that gut-wrenching final over without me feeling physically sick and still just a little bit on the emotional side of tearful disbelief. Oh god, that was a brutal experience ..... find your happy place, Stuey, find your happy place. 

So no, there will be no recap of the Winter.

But really, who cares? Because this week the 1st Test match of the summer began, and two days into the contest - well let's just say that so far it's been glorious. This is in spite of the collection of geniuses at the ECB who decided that the first international of the summer should take place in the middle of May in the North of England. In other words, it's technically still winter there. I do wonder what some of the Sri Lankans who may touring here for the very first time are thinking about the cold, and the wet, and the dark, and the cold wind, and the 27 seasons in a 'Spring' day in Yorkshire. They must feel that they're on another planet - a cold distant rainy planet. Well done ECB. 

At least the ECB have probably learnt their lesson and planned the 2nd Test (still in the famous English summer month of May) somewhere more southern and therefore more conducive to going somewhere to providing a modicum of uninterrupted play. I mean, the ECB wouldn't have done anything even more stupid and arrange for the match to take place even further up the country in the most northerly Test match ground in England would they? Oh, hang on.......... Yep they have. Durham. Genius.

Despite all that, the first couple of days, in between the wind, rain and stoppages for bad light, from and England point of view has quite frankly been rather excellent. Of course, this being the England team it didn't go initially to plan as some of our batting order on the first day thought they were still playing some of that T20 malarkey with apparently a few of our batsmen being involved in the 'let's come up with some stupid ways of giving our wicket away'. They were seemingly enjoying this game immensely with even the likes of Joe Root (obviously still a bit tired from carrying all those recent cricketing awards) getting in on the party game. It could be that the team felt a little sorry for the Sri Lankans who were quite clearly confused at having to play cricket near the Arctic circle. Nevertheless, at 83 for 5 part way through day 1 it seemed that this new dawn of 'fearless cricket' from Captain Cook's brave boys was going to make fools of us all (well no change there in my case). 

However that was until Jonny (I'm from Yorkshire tha knows) Bairstow came to the crease to join one day basher Alex Hales to show the rest of the batting order how it should be done. Even despite the best efforts of the likes of Moeen Ali and Stuart (walk? I don't walk) Broad to continue the 'let's come up with some stupid ways of giving our wicket away' the first innings finished with England on a respectable 298. I know that I may be a cynical old git (I realise that I hide it well) but seeing Jonny reach his 100 at his home ground brought a lump to my throat. It really did. In all seriousness (for once) it really should now be about time that the doubters get off Bairstow's back and accept that we have something special here in a number 7 that can instill fear into bowling attacks in much the same way a certain Mr Gilchrist did for the Aussies back in the day. How the heck Jonny isn't in the one day set up is beyond me. But what do I know?....... Whoever said 'bugger all' can leave now!

I managed to catch most of the Sri Lankan innings (well, what there was of it) on the radio via the still majestic Test Match Special. I do have to say that ex-spin King Graham Swan is surprisingly excellent in his radio role and a perfect fit into what is quite rightly a cricketing institution. So it was the ideal accompaniment to witness the collapse of the Sri Lankan batting order at the hands of what now should be regarded as perhaps (I said, perhaps) England's greatest ever pace bowling partnership. Yes I know that there are many who would quite rightly extol the virtues of the likes of Trueman/Statham or Willis/Botham, but for me the Anderson/Broad attack in statistical terms is stunning. 

There were periods yesterday when the deliveries were at times unplayable as the tourists were faced with a stellar exhibition in the art of swing bowling. In the process it saw Jimmy Anderson reach 6th in the all time list of leading wicket takers. I know that bowling on home soil in the Arctic during our pretend Spring may be something of an advantage, but honestly - that Jimmy boy can swing it round corners. All we need is for him to stay fit for another 20 or 30 years and I'll be happy.

By the end of the day Messrs Anderson & Broad had claimed nine wickets between them as Sri Lanka crumbled to 91 all out and thus amazingly eight runs short of the follow-on target. The evening was set for one of those magical crowd induced periods of glorious swing bowling as our brave boys went for the jugular. Well it would have been if not for the winter weather moving back in as bad light meant the players came off for the day to sit by the fire and get warm again.

Yeah baby......

So here I sit, patiently waiting for day 3 of the match that might see victory without the need for England to bat a second time. The rumours that I may wait another six months to produce my next blog article have yet to be confirmed.

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