"How can England beat West Indies and lose to Ireland at cricket," asked my stepson moments after England's error strewn victory against the West Indies that, for now, keeps them on the sub-continent and in the Cricket World Cup.
"I don't know mate," was all I could reply
And I don't. I am a pleb when it comes to one-day cricket. Sure, I know all the terminology and what it means, your power plays and what have you, but I couldn't really give a monkey’s. I hate one-day cricket because I love test cricket so much. It feels like cheating with a two-bit brass while married to January Jones. It is dumb. It forces stupid mistakes based on a result needing to happen. One of the things I love about cricket is that you can play five days for a draw. Also, England are rubbish at it, I learnt a long time ago that we might be able to lift ourselves for Test series but, despite the odd flattering win, 50 over cricket is not for us.
Maybe it's because I went to loads of games when the World Cup was held here. Maybe its that the uniforms and terminology add a disgustingly American sheen to one of the quintessentially English things I adore. Who knows, but I'll shut up and give you my view on what happened today.
My problem with England as a one-day team is that, despite KPs early promise, we lack a true bludgeoning beast at the top of the order. Someone like Chris Gayle, only with less concern for his image and more for hanging around for long enough to turn 50-0 into 200-0. We just can’t do it. Our players gamely try to leather it here, there and everywhere but don’t ever do it for long enough. It always seems to be punchy 30s and 40s, rather than the huge numbers posted by one-day specialists from India, Australia and South Africa.
And that, in a nutshell, was England’s innings. Relatively well placed at 121/2, I watched Morgan, Bell and Bopara play three of the worst shots I have ever seen. Horrid footwork, stupid shot selection and a general reluctance to take the ball off the front foot left the situation looking precarious. Thank Christ for Luke Wright, one of two water carriers bought into the side, who scored a vital 44 that helped push the total towards a frankly derisory 243.
After spending the lunch break wondering why Bob Willis doesn’t simply cheer up – and also why Nick Knight is allowed anywhere near a pundits chair – I sat down with the words of my brother ringing in my ears. “Gayle will knock that off in no time…”
If we do, expect me back in full Ashes mode, forgetting my wife, drinking too much, talking to the dog and bastardising the works of Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson, Tom Waits and beyond in the name of cricket journalism.
I have to say I agreed, and when the big fella in the wayfarers, yes wayfarers, slaughtered Tremlett to parts unknown to send the West Indies to 50-0 off five overs I feared the worst.
But Chris Gayle is not one of the great enigmas of the game for nothing. If only he could be arsed we could well be talking about one of the greats. Yet he hates test cricket – heathen – would prefer to play 20/20 and can often be accused of simply not giving a toss. So from 50-0, The West Indies were 118-5. If I’ve missed five wickets there its because this game, like every game England are involved in, came down to the last 15 overs. Could Russell and Sarwan stay in and steer them home, or could England knock off the wickets?
Well, you know what happened, England did it to us again. Just as I felt its safe to forget about the World Cup and put my feet up until the summer, they start to play tremendous defensive cricket. Strauss suddenly became Mike Brearley re-incarnate; changing the field to great effect, rotating his bowlers and geeing up his players even in the face of some devastating hitting from Russell. His defiance in keeping the short-leg into Sarwan was ultimately rewarded and his head didn’t even drop when Trott was adjudged to have touched the boundary when taking that sprawling catch.
Tredwell, Swann, Bopara and Tremlett bowled tremendously. No pundit gave Tredwell any chance of taking wickets today but he kept at it and was rewarded with 4-48. Quite simply, it was a ridiculous game of cricket.
If I sound a little underwhelmed it is because not only have I been here before, not only did I punch the air when Trott secured the vital run out that won the game, but because I’m now interested again. I’ve invested time and will now spend days doing endless mathematics and watching Bangladesh to see if England can stumble into the Super 8s.
If we do, expect me back in full Ashes mode, forgetting my wife, drinking too much, talking to the dog and riding roughshod over the works of Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson, Tom Waits and beyond in the name of cricket journalism.
And if we don’t, it will be another nail in the subjective coffin I have in my heart for the 50-over game.
I hate one-day cricket.
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