44th over: England 112-3 (Burns 52, Pope 11) Burns works Mitchell for two to reach another accomplished half-century, this one from 141 balls. The difference a week makes: Burns has batted almost 13 hours in that time, and re-established himself as one of the surer things in England’s batting line-up.
Thanks Geoff, hello everyone. Let’s start with a bit of news about Ollie Robinson, who has decided to take a break from cricket.
And as the drinks break has come, it’s handover time on the OBO. Thanks everyone for your correspondence, including the messages I didn’t get time to post. I’ll check out, and leave you in the loving arms of Rob Smyth.
43rd over: England 108-3 (Burns 49, Pope 10) Boult bowls another six dot balls ahead of the drinks break. Well, well. Burns will have to wait a little longer for a chance at his minor milestone.
Brad Elliott has some memory-joggers for players whose only ton was a double. “Brendon Kuruppu hit his double ton on debut to boot. Plus Conway and Mayers from this year (who of course both have the chance to add to their tallies, unlike Brendon).”
Jason Gillespie is another memorable one, and Brad Hodge. Tip Foster back in 1903 is one we never forget. And Faoud Bacchus for the West Indies in the 70s.
Ok, I checked my notes, because I knew there were a couple more. Denis Atkinson, in that crazy seventh-wicket stand for the Windies against Australia in the 1950s, and Taslim Arif, the Pakistani wicketkeeper, also against Australia.
42nd over: England 108-3 (Burns 49, Pope 10) Daryl Mitchell is back. Really sounds like an Australian soapie character to me. Alf Stewart and Daryl Mitchell dropping by to see Dr Karl Kennedy. He bowls a maiden! Burns on 49 can’t steer through the cordon, and can’t catch up with a couple of balls down the leg side.
41st over: England 108-3 (Burns 49, Pope 10) Lovely from Pope, leaning into it and plays an even better on-drive than what he played before. This one goes more through straight midwicket, squarer than the last. Wagner curling it into his pads, near the ankle, and Pope leans forward to caress. It gets pulled up inside the rope, but it’s such a long chase plus the dive and the tumble and the recoup, that the batting pair runs four regardless. That shot comes one ball after Pope tucked away two runs. He’s in double figures already, and it may well help Burns to have someone getting on with things at the other end.
40th over: England 102-3 (Burns 45, Pope 4) Zing! from Burns. Beautiful shot through the covers. The left-hander gets width from Henry and steps into it, dipping his knees, flashing the bat through it to the cover boundary. He’s looked better and better, has Burns. Raises the team ton.
39th over: England 98-3 (Burns 45, Pope 4) Just a single from Wagner’s over, to Burns, closing on his half century.
Em Jackson has their own solution to our dawdling problem. “To speed up the bowling side, at the end of each day, the number of overs lost should be calculated, then the bowling side either the next morning or in the second Innings should be made to bowl non-bowlers per overs lost. Lose 8 overs and the batting side get 8 balls, all free-hits and they can pick batters to hit them. If that’s the side fielding second then at the end of the day (when play officially closes), then, yep, batters come out, non-bowlers bowl. Add 8 fours or sixes onto a score, see how that goes down, eh?”
I like it. Daring, inventive, entertaining.
One thing to note, that said, is that batting sides contribute to the problem. Rory Burns making someone within 15 metres of the sight screen move. Steve Smith calling for new gloves after eight balls. Six fluoro vests running out drinks every two overs. So punishment is hard to apportion. I’m increasingly leaning towards a shot-clock sort of situation per delivery, because then both sides have to be in position to play before it runs out.
38th over: England 97-3 (Burns 44, Pope 4) Very nice from Young Pope, he essays the on-drive against Henry, on the up almost, and gets it squarely. Down through mid-on for three runs. Burns has an easier offering with a low full toss that he can drive square for three more. Back and forth they go.
37th over: England 91-3 (Burns 41, Pope 1) Wagner in and full and swinging it, left-arm over to Ollie Pope and aiming to swing it in. A full-throated appeal as he hits the pad, but that ball was swinging down the leg side. Pitched outside and hit outside. Aside from that…
36th over: England 90-3 (Burns 41, Pope 1) That’s Ollie Pope at the crease, I was expecting Lawrence for some reason. How many Olivers does one team need? Pope gets off the mark with a leg glance against Henry. The wicket-taker now decides to try the short ball against Burns, three in the over but Burns doesn’t go for any.
“I’d suggest Zak Crawley could do with a spell in county cricket but he never really showed any form in county cricket. It was a gut selection that has paid off once and once only.” Not unreasonable comment from Kevin Wilson.
Right now Crawley is one of those rare players whose only Test century is a double. Two of them are in the Sky comms box, funnily. Key and Lloyd. Martin Donnelly for New Zealand is another, back in the 50s – he retired from cricket after a very brief career to do business things. Boring, Martin. There might be seven or eight all up, they’ll come to mind as we go along.
35th over: England 89-3 (Burns 41, Pope 0) Yep, that’s Burns getting comfortable. Leans into a square drive as he reads Wagner’s swing and pings it to the fence. Taking back something for England.
“In fairness the England over rate wouldn’t have made a whole lot of difference to the outcome of the last match (except perhaps getting it to finish earlier) if a whole day hadn’t been lost to rain,” says Robin Hazlehurst. “Was the weather also fined for its contribution to denying ticket holders a game to see?”
I’m not a scorer, but my napkin maths says that we saw about 345 overs in the match, which should have been more like 376 (being 90 + 90 + 98 + 98). Five of those overs were due after the handshake, and perhaps four were lost in innings changeovers (given the declaration came during a lunch break). So we lost somewhere north of 20 overs due to rates. Is 20 overs enough to take a team from three wickets down to all out? We’ve seen that many times before.
34th over: England 85-3 (Burns 37, Pope 0) Matt Henry has 2 for 25 from his 10 overs so far. Burns holding firm again, as he did in the first dig at Lord’s.
WICKET! Root c Blundell b Henry 4, England 85-3
Root goes! That’s the one! Henry took three wickets quickly in that World Cup semi-final on this ground, and he now has two quickly here. In the space of five balls he has Root edging on the bounce to gully, edging through the gap for four, then nicking behind. Slight movement away again, and maybe did him for pace too, Root a bit late on his defensive push and undone by the swing. CricViz numbers say there’s more swing after the break, which confirms what the eye suggests.
33rd over: England 81-2 (Burns 37, Root 0) Wagner produces a good stanza to Burns, just outside his off stump and asking a few questions. Plenty of threat in this New Zealand bowling line-up if they can keep the ball moving.
32nd over: England 81-2 (Burns 37, Root 0) Huge reception from the Edgbaston crowd for Joe Root as he walks to the middle. Really giving it the big ones. Henry gets a few wobbles again, first with a no-ball that Burns drives for three, then with a ball that beats Root’s edge but swerves in the air afterwards to beat the keeper Blundell and go for four byes.
WICKET! Crawley c Mitchell b Wagner 0, England 73-2
31st over: England 73-2 (Burns 34) Again from the last ball of the over. Zak Crawley got out twice at Lord’s to big drives early in his stay. And late in his stay, as it turned out when he edged them both behind. He nearly nicks another one early here, as Wagner lasers in at the right-hander’s off stump, and Crawley only wants to defend but it beats his bat. And that upsets his composure enough that even though the next ball is a fraction wider and a fraction fuller, not threatening his stumps, he still pushes at it. Defensively, but it takes him high enough on the bat to carry to third slip.
30th over: England 72-1 (Burns 33) Have to make sure that I’m writing about Matt Henry, who is not Jack Henry, who is a defender for the Geelong Cats, who I was watching during the lunch break. They beat Port Adelaide in a belter, if you want to know. Matt Henry though draws an edge from Sibley for four, then takes his wicket a couple of balls later. Relief for NZ.
WICKET! Sibley c Blundell b Henry 35, England 72-1
There it is at last! Henry with the first over after lunch, taking the wicket with its final ball. He hits a perfect length, Sibley unsure whether to come forward, eventually hangs back to defend from the back foot. Pushes just a little at it, hovering in his crease, indecisive, and Henry gets the ball to deck away. Not much, doesn’t need much. Fat nick, into the gloves.
Lunch – England 67 for 0
An excellent session for England, the first time since 2011 that their openers have batted through the first session of a home Test. Not such a great session for the spectator, with things moving at a pretty sedate pace, but there was plenty of high quality bowling to enjoy. Boult started beautifully, Wagner has done good work too. And Sibley and Burns have been equal to it, waiting patiently, doing just enough attacking when the opportunities came. New Zealand will be the more frustrated team, certainly. They’ll have 40 minutes to take some deep breaths and come back to try again.
29th over: England 67-0 (Burns 32, Sibley 31) We’ve almost got the overs in. 29 of them in the session rather than 30, as Patel starts the last one. He’s really teasing Sibley through the air, very slow, then slips in the faster in-dipper that very nearly pins him in front of off stump. Sibley gets his bat down just in time. No run, and lunch.
“Any idea where the 40% of the match fee fine to the England players last time round goes?” asks Brad Carpenter. “Does it go back to the spectators who paid 100% for their tickets for 90 overs a day?”
Haha, as if. It’s levied by the ICC via the match referee, so I’m not sure where it goes. It should go to women’s teams in emerging cricket countries, that would make a big difference.
28th over: England 67-0 (Burns 32, Sibley 31) Burns is playing with the edge a lot against Boult, trying to play square to the leg side but instead squeezing through the off side. The second such error yields him a couple of runs. Everything’s coming up Milhouse.
27th over: England 65-0 (Burns 30, Sibley 31) Burns is on the gallop against Patel, coming down to drive a single away through the off side. Sibley, conversely, is playing exclusively from the crease, getting his big giraffe legs all over the place like he’s coming down to drink, trying to keep some pad between ball and stumps in case the bat doesn’t do its job. It’s very entertaining stuff, he keeps out spin like he’s trying to throw a blanket over a fire.
26th over: England 64-0 (Burns 29, Sibley 31) Boult bowling, Burns defending everything that’s pitched up. But as soon as he sees a short ball he takes it on, as he did at Lord’s against Wagner. Only a single but a nice pull shot.
25th over: England 63-0 (Burns 28, Sibley 31) First runs off Patel, as each opener drops a ball away defensively and darts through. The third umpire takes a look at a run-out appeal from a direct hit for the second run, but Burns beat the Wagner throw home comfortably. Sibley picks up another boundary just as comfortably, pulling out the cut shot. That’s three boundaries through the off side for him now. Unthinkable.
24th over: England 57-0 (Burns 27, Sibley 26) Burns is getting going. Not quite a cut shot against Boult, more of a stab, as the ball is close to his body and Burns just jabs it away into the gap at gully for four. He plays a better version of the shot very next ball, more fluent, but this time Latham dives and grabs it on the bounce. These openers have done an excellent job so far.
23rd over: England 53-0 (Burns 23, Sibley 26) Patel tiptoes through the tulips and whispers his way through another six dot balls. Bowling to Sibley must be quite relaxing, in a way. Draws a false defensive shot from the inside of the bat at one stage.
“I was somewhat surprised to see mention of an eclipse in the OBO coverage,” writes John Harrington from Hertford (in Hertfordshire). It pays to be specific. “And even more surprised to see no one so far has mentioned Monty Python’s take on a Test match commentary team’s coverage of a solar eclipse. It’s two minutes long so you might be able to squeeze in a listen between now and the next run being scored.
22nd over: England 53-0 (Burns 23, Sibley 26) Trent Boult is back, and he starts with a couple of short balls, as if to say that no one should get too comfortable on the front foot against him. Sibley waits for a straighter ball and dinks it square for a run. That thing that he does, over and over.
21st over: England 52-0 (Burns 23, Sibley 25) It’s spin time. Ajaz Patel with his left-arm lobs. He’s a curious bowler. The slightest approach to the crease I’ve ever seen in Tests. Six places, just walking up. But not like Shane Warne with all that drive through the crease in the final couple of strides. Patel just hops as he reaches the crease, then loops the ball up gently to the other end. Lands it in a good spot, though, and that’s what matters most. No run from his first over.
20th over: England 52-0 (Burns 23, Sibley 25) As he did earlier, Sibley drags an attempted off-drive to mid on. Gets a single. They’re not too worried about Mitchell. Burns turns over the strike, then Sibley plays the scissor-lift again to deep square leg for four. He’s flying, and raises the fifty stand.
19th over: England 46-0 (Burns 22, Sibley 20) Wagner draws the mistake from Burns, who tries to repeat the shot to midwicket. Instead gets a thick leading edge away into the gap between slip and gully. Latham chases and dives, but only succeeds in clattering into the LED advertising board down at deep third, which is far too close to the rope. I thought there were guidelines about the gap? Latham has hurt himself, banged his elbow fiercely, but picks himself up eventually. Burns follows with a much nicer shot, waiting for the swing and driving through cover point for three. Sibley shovels a single. Eight from the over.
“I feel the England openers ought to get some credit for the over rate,” emails Ally Liddiard. “By not sending the fielders all over the place to chase the ball, they’re ensuring that it finds its way back to the bowler in the quickest time possible.”
Aside from this over, which has been sparkling. Normal service will resume shortly.
18th over: England 38-0 (Burns 12, Sibley 19) Mitchell bowls another decent over except for a ball that gets picked off. Both Burns and Sibley have waited for the straight one, and Burns gets exactly that, working it through midwicket for three. Mitchell follows up with more curl and a bit of seam movement.
17th over: England 35-0 (Burns 12, Sibley 19) Whoah-hoh! Sibley saw the wagon wheel and he did not like. So he drives square for four! Reaches for Wagner’s width, gets a big outside edge, could easily have been caught at point, but Will Young has been placed backward of point and can’t get across for the snare. That’s first ball of the over, and from the fifth Sibley goes again. Four more! Gets a bigger piece of a very wide ball, angled way across him, so he reaches for it and drives it inelegantly but effectively square along the turf.
16th over: England 27-0 (Burns 12, Sibley 11) Daryl Mitchell on for his first trundle of the day. He looks fit, but not necessarily like an athlete. Modest in size, a bit balding, shaven headed, stubbly. Could see him as a personal trainer. Concedes two runs when he can’t land his first ball on the pitch, but gets some good seam jag after that, dots things up.
15th over: England 25-0 (Burns 10, Sibley 11) Wagner, left-armer, over the wicket to Sibley. Swinging the ball back into the right-hander’s pads. The wagon wheel shows that Sibley in this series has not scored a single run between a very straight mid-off and backward point. He might need a chiropractor if he tried.
A message in from Carl (Rae) Jepson. “Modern world fits into a matchbox,” he begins. Which could be a song title. “On a cold wet Sydney, Australia night I log in for the OBO to find I am reading about a game in Birmingham, written by a man in Melbourne, Australia – who is watching the telly. Is this where the fish eats its own tail and then vanishes?”
Well, the OBO was a television thing, in its inception. A sort of silly accompaniment for people sitting on their sofas from people sitting on a sofa. A general sofa community. I might even have been the first person to do the blog from cricket grounds, starting during the 2015 World Cup. Or maybe the India Test series before it. It was considered scandalous at the time. These days we’re a broader church. On the road, on the run, on the lash. The OBO comes from anywhere, anytime, whatever it takes.
14th over: England 25-0 (Burns 10, Sibley 11) Henry continues into a seventh over. Gets Burns driving a couple of runs through cover, then takes advantage of that movement by bowling a scrambled-seam delivery that decks away, so nearly taking the edge of a Burns push. We’re up to the drinks break – and, shock of shocks, we’ve nearly had the 15 overs in an hour that we’re supposed to get in international cricket. Often we’re lucky to get 12 to start the day.
13th over: England 23-0 (Burns 8, Sibley 11) The patience game continues. No run from Wagner as Sibley’s vigil goes on.
“Once you get over a certain age, you realise there are only two circumstances in which you slide,” writes Grif. “1) running whilst batting. 2) fielding off your own bowling. The rest is a younger person’s game.”
12th over: England 23-0 (Burns 8, Sibley 11) It’s the Burns and Sibley show. Like Ren and Stimpy, but less picturesque. Sibley shovels away a single off his pads. Burns contorts his neck and bobs and weaves and blocks and leaves. Another Henry over passes.
11th over: England 22-0 (Burns 8, Sibley 10) Wagner to bowl now, and remarkably nothing in the over is short. He’s a very skillful swing bowler when he pitches up, and he shows that now. A single to Sibley first ball, glanced, but after that a decent line to Burns.
“Wouldn’t it be sacrilege to wash the hallowed turf out of Sibley’s jumper?” asks Robin Hazlehurst. “The jumper that contains the revered dirt of Lord’s cannot be washed, it would be like like digging up the main batting strip and flushing it down the drain. Sibley’s stained sweater should be framed and put on display and he should simply get a replacement, but maybe funds were a bit tight if they all got fined for the over rate and he couldn’t stretch to a new jumper for this match.”
I’ll tell you, that’s one way in which I do feel sorry for Robinson. It’s all very well getting pinged 40% if you’re Joe Root. But for a fringe player who finally gets a gig, gets the big windfall, then gets it cut to half-weight because their seniors and betters couldn’t get the actual game played in time, that seems rough.
10th over: England 21-0 (Burns 8, Sibley 9) A little nick on the Burns lbw shout, says the forensic analysis. Correct call from Umpire Kettlebells. Henry bowling to Sibley, who skews a defensive push off the inside portion and away through mid-on. Neil Wagner the Irrepressible puts in the big chase and slide and keeps the scoring to three. Burns flicks two runs from the sixth ball, and scoreboard creaks over for both players.
9th over: England 16-0 (Burns 6, Sibley 6) Now it’s Boult’s turn to beat the edge. Pitching up but not too full, swinging away. Then into the pads, and Burns clips but it gets well stopped at midwicket to prevent a run. Huge swing for Boult there. Burns covers up on off stump for the next ball. Then hit on the pad! Big appeal from Boult, the scrambled seam on this occasion and it decks in, hits Burns on the back thigh pad right in front. Umpire shakes his head, Latham isn’t interested in the review, but that looked close. Probably going over, but Burns was lunging forward so it might have been clipping the bails. Four overs without a run.
“Leave Dom alone,” writes Dave Williams. “He washes his jumper every time he hits a six.”
8th over: England 16-0 (Burns 6, Sibley 6) Henry finds the off-stump line against Sibley, drawing him into defending. Then a lovely bit of seam movement from his fifth delivery, the perfect length and decking past the forward push of Sibley’s bat. Sibley scowls, furrows his prodigious brows, and determinedly leaves the next ball… which decks back in, and soars over his off stump! Did he leave that on length? Rare outside the WACA, but he may have done. Probably didn’t account for the inward movement, more likely. Sibley survives the over. Three in a row without a run.
John Starbuck has reported for duty. “Perhaps there’s a Sibley plan to collect as much soil as possible from Test grounds around the country? At the very least, it would make an excellent item for a charity auction.”
For that, he’ll have to dive more often. And to dive, he’ll have to take sharp runs. Love the idea, but I don’t like our chances!
7th over: England 16-0 (Burns 6, Sibley 6) Boult digs in the bouncer for the first time today, a grunt of effort as it sails over Burns. A bit too leg-side as it tailed away. Plenty of outswing either side of that anomaly, waiting to see whether Burns will dash. No run.
6th over: England 16-0 (Burns 6, Sibley 6) A scoreless over from Henry, as Sibley gets the leave up and running, purring like an old Jag.
“You don’t see many Elvises anymore,” laments Bumble on the telly. Waiting for this to be taken up as a grievance in the Commons. Everyone who was mad about a picture of the Queen at a university. “‘Woke millennials think they’re too good for Elvis,’ said Baron Phillip Botheringham-Rochford, the Secretary of State for Medium-Sized Aquatic Industries.”
5th over: England 16-0 (Burns 6, Sibley 6) It’s a funny shot that Sibley plays, when a ball is one his hip, and he stands up really tall to glance it away, more of a fend than a glance. He looks like a scissor-lift going up to fix a power line. Can your scissor-lift score a single to deep backward square, though? Burns turns over the strike promptly. Boult bowling left-arm over the wicket to the right-handed Sibley, zeroing in on the pads, but Sibley is equal to it, flicking to midwicket for three. That’s his spot.
4th over: England 11-0 (Burns 5, Sibley 2) Burns is on strike to Henry after that single, the right-armer staying over the wicket to the left-hander. Gets the ball to jag back in off the seam and hit his thigh pad, that’s twice that Burns has been beaten on the inside edge. Better bowling in this over from Henry, he makes Burns play at everything, and only concedes a couple of leg byes off the pad. Old Mate Extras is doing well.
3rd over: England 9-0 (Burns 5, Sibley 2) A quiet over for Boult, working at Burns outside the off stump before bringing one back in and hitting his pad. Too high. Burns nicks a single to fine leg off the sixth ball.
“Do you think Root will ever get punished for the over rate?” asks Ruth Purdue. “He is not alone but one of the main culprits for missing overs at the end of the day. Other captains have be suspended.”
They have, but that penalty has been changed. No more suspensions, but fines for the whole team. England’s XI lost 40% of their match fee from Lord’s, although the ruling was that they were only two overs behind the asking rate. Absurd, given how slow that whole match was. Clearly the money doesn’t motivate these teams to get it right, because they know the fine is coming.
2nd over: England 8-0 (Burns 4, Sibley 2) Matt Henry sharing the new ball with Boult, and he doesn’t start as well. Loses his line very wide of off stump, and that’s that’s just the stuff that Sibley loves, because it lets him leave the ball alone. He does score a couple of runs though, flicking the one straighter ball away for two. Aside from that, Henry donates a no-ball and a wide to England’s cause.
“Lovely to see Dom Sibley rocking up in a sleeveless sweater that looks like it carries the remnants of his morning coffee!” writes Brian Withington. Check down the page, Brian. It’s historic Lord’s dirt.
1st over: England 4-0 (Burns 4, Sibley 0) And we’re away! Trent Boult with the ball, the trumpet sounding around the ground, the singers getting Jerusalem up into the morning air, and queues of people still waiting outside to get in. Boult starts beautifully, as he is wont to do. Curling the ball away from the left-handed Burns, once, twice, thrice, nearly drawing an edge on that attempt, before Burns gets full timber behind a block of a fuller ball. Reaches for the final deliver and edges along the ground into the gully gap for a streaky four.
“Sibley’s jumper!” yelps Oliver Atkinson. “He hasn’t washed it since the last test. He muddied it up diving to get home and he’s got the same stain on it today. This is actually a scandal, questions need to be asked in parliament.”
A few of your MPs were pretty keen to hop into cricket affairs during the past few days, let’s see if they come good here.
Here’s Tim K. “While the England XI leaves most pre-match predictions high and dry, who saw 6 changes coming for NZ? Is that a record for an away team in successive tests? Touring sides would not usually have that many reserves to call on.”
Quite! I canvassed five of the changes, but CDG took me by surprise.
Dean Kinsella, meanwhile, asks “Should we be surprised at no full time spinner or does Joe feel he is that now? How’s the weather (gun barrel grey here in Co. Mayo) and pitch?”
No spinner is strange, but perhaps England just want to keep Wood playing anytime he’s fit, and keep Branderson rolling, and give Stone a rare turn round the paddock. Maybe you’re right, Root figures they may only need 10 or 12 overs out of a spinner and he can do that job.
As for the weather, I wish I could be there to tell you. But it’s dark and wet and cold and winter where I am, which is Melbourne. Yes, Tom Cruise, that’s Melbourne, Australia. Hello from over the seas. On the TV it looks cloudy.
Here’s the TMS Overseas link, via David Crowther. It won’t work in Australia and a few other countries, but without specifically wanting to encourage anyone I will say that there is a browser called Opera that has some very useful features. Have a wee Michael Googlé.
Nicholas Hunter writes in. “Has cricket ever been stopped by an eclipse before? Has an annular eclipse ever occurred on the first day of a Test Match? Does this portend the death off Test Cricket, or am I just overreacting to the England second innings in the first Test?”
I… did not know that there was an eclipse planned. Will we even be able to tell the difference compared to a normal overcast day in Birmingham? Knowing when an eclipse was coming would be pretty handy if you were living in an earlier era and needed to convince people of your witchcraft cred.
I’m sure we’ll get plenty of emails about Ollie Robinson today – the best bowling performer with seven wickets and a crucial batting innings in his debut Test, and now missing. So I’ll put a few things on the board.
One point of view is that it’s disproportionate and unfair to punish a player in his later 20s for saying stupid things when he was 18. Which makes some sense given the near-universal tendency of 18-year-olds to say and do some pretty stupid things on occasion, which shouldn’t be held against them for life.
When it comes to racism though, being able to treat it as just a silly mistake is a privilege that only some teenagers have. Those on the receiving end know the damage it can do. So Robinson’s comments still say something about the environment in which younger English cricketers are growing up.
As for the timing, while he wrote those things some years ago, they’re current to people who have just read them. When you write something down it retains immediacy for the reader, whenever they find it. Intention can be taken into account to an extent, but not entirely. Of course nobody was interested in his posts when he was a teenager, but people are interested once he becomes a national representative for a high-profile team.
Missing a Test match that you were already going to be rotated out of is not a punishment. Nor is it really supposed to be a punishment, it’s a measure so that the ECB can fully investigate and find out whether there are other Robinson problems that could emerge. Thirdly, had the ECB done nothing and let him roll into this current Test, the message to anyone in England who has been subject to racism would be that it doesn’t matter, and they don’t matter, ahead of the needs and wants of white people.
It isn’t really about Robinson, in the end, it’s about being a representative national player. And in that sense, others have been found wanting as well. A lot of the argument against confronting this has come from people with no skin in the game. Confronting it isn’t about wanting to see individual players in trouble, it’s about wanting the whole standard to lift across the board, so that the people who actually need things to improve can see that happen.
Interesting! Only one change for England, an Olly for an Ollie, but even more than expected for New Zealand. Colin de Grandhomme is out as well, for Daryl Mitchell. Santner, Jamieson, Southee all out, and Will Young in for Williamson.
Joe Root *
James Bracey +
Tom Latham *
Tom Blundell +
England win the toss and will bat
Joe Root gets first choice, and despite Trent Boult sounding enthused about the pitch in a pre-match interview, England will choose to bat first.
Plenty of moves to be made with these two teams. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson is getting a rest with elbow tendonitis to make sure that he’s fit for the WTC final, meaning that NZ Test captain #30 will step into the breach. Tom Latham has deputised in the job in two different one-off instances before. Mitchell Santner has that cut on his spinning finger that saw him bleeding all over his whites at Lord’s, so he’s out and presumably Ajaz Patel will be his spinning replacement. Tim Southee will most likely get a rest to make sure he’s fresh for Southampton, and that will also give Trent Boult the chance to return to the side and scour off some rust after being part of the IPL debacle. I’d guess they’ll keep Kyle Jamieson in the side, to keep the younger bowler rolling ahead of the big match to come, but Matt Henry is a quality replacement if a rest is needed, and he bowled beautifully on this ground in the World Cup semifinal of 2019.
Then there’s a late update for New Zealand: BJ Watling has a sore back, and will also miss this match. Tom Blundell will replace him as wicketkeeper.
As for England, the top seven will likely stay as is. Ollie Robinson is suspended, but England would have wanted to bring in a spinner for this match anyway, so Jack Leach will come straight in. England may also want to get a Test into Craig Overton or Olly Stone before Chris Woakes and Sam Curran become available again for the upcoming India series. That would mean resting Mark Wood, which may be preferred in back to back Tests, and/or leaving out Stuart Broad. James Anderson won’t miss, because we’ve already seen ECB posts online about how he will pass Alastair Cook to become England’s most capped player this week. Bowlers who only play Test cricket probably won’t take kindly to being ‘rested’ when there’s a month and a half until their next England engagement.
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Hello World. It’s cricket time. England and New Zealand in the decider of this brief two-Test affair – you can’t really call two Tests a series – that essentially serves as New Zealand’s preparation for the World Test Championship final. Very sporting of the hosts to lay on the hospitality, while the Indian players were supposed to have only just emerged from the IPL by now, but have had rather more time on their hands since it was called off halfway through.
Edgbaston is the venue for the current match, where seam bowlers tend to prosper when there’s anything in the pitch, but a few big scores can be made if a batting pair gets set. It will be interesting to see what sort of surface is dished up.
There are no World Test Championship points on the line this week, but there is a possible win available. The first Test lost a full day to rain, plus any number of overs to slow bowling rates, and ended up as a fairly unexciting draw when England decided not to attempt chasing the target they were set on the fifth day. They’ve taken some criticism for that safety-first approach, while others have scoffed that such people clearly don’t understand Good Old-Fashioned Test Cricket.
That’s the scene. On we go.