Sunday, 14 August 2011

The best team in the world...

It's official
I chose a good day of test cricket for my only day at a ground this year - the day England officially reached the number one spot in the ICC test rankings (the rankings will update once the series is over).  I honestly didn't think I would see the day.  Having followed cricket since the early 90's I grew up with an England team based around players such as Atherton, Stewart, Thorpe, Gough, Caddick, Hussain, as well as my personal favourites of Cork and Knight.  This team often produced good days of test cricket and in a one off test they would often compete and sometimes even win the odd test against the best teams, but you wouldn't ever put money on them winning a test series against the likes of Australia and India.  Now though, you can't bet against them.  

I am really pessimistic in general (I predicted a 3-1 Australia win in the winter and a 2-1 India win this summer), this I've always put down to following England and Hartlepool - not exactly used to success, expect the worst and then you'll only be pleasantly surprised.  This English team are something else though.  They didn't beat India yesterday, they annihilated them!  710-7 is their third highest total ever - and highest in a none timeless test!  If this was a timeless test it looked like Alastair Cook could have batted all week, it was only because he was looking to score a bit quicker that he ended up getting out.  India's batting line-up is the scariest of any opposition, a middle order of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman is frankly frightening.  These men my be in the twilight of their careers but they are still incredible players.  That said they have now had six innings and are yet to reach a score of 300 - which England have more than managed on 3 occasions out of 5, declaring on one of their other innings.  Laxman in particular has been quite poor.  The reason this domination is so incredible is because India were ranked number 1 in the world.  Yes it is always easier to play at home but as the number 1 side in the world you should be able to compete anywhere and India haven't been at the races.

The day itself was such a good atmosphere.  The new stand looks really good, having never been to Lords it was probably my favourite ground that I've been to - at least as good as Old Trafford.  The crowd were all really optimistic, everyone fully expecting a result that day even though there was another day to go today.  This was pretty much confirmed in the fourth over when Jimmy got Dravid out.  He has been their best performer with the bat this tour so once he was gone it just felt inevitable. This wicket was actually a strange one, nobody around me started appealing/celebrating until after Prior started, it just didn't feel right.  Listening to Test Match Special they seemed to think he may not have hit it, instead it looked like he clipped the plastic part of his shoe laces.  Very surprised he didn't review it.  

Sachin Tendulkar coming to the crease
That wicket was the second to have fallen, Gambhir had already edged through to Swann at second slip in the second over of the day which brought Sachin to the crease.  He was of course greeted by a standing ovation and after a difficult opening over or two he was looking really good.  He is a legend and I bought my ticket with the sole hope of getting to watch him bat so it had worked out pretty perfectly.  His career figures are incredible, it is no wonder that many Indians treat him like a god.  He has scored 51 centuries in test matches and 48 in one day internationals, as such he needs just one more for his 100th century for India.  A lot has been made about this in the press in particular and given the state of the match everyone in the crowd seemed to want to see it happen yesterday.  It would have been something great to see and to say that you were there.

It was looking highly likely as he played some lovely cover drives and really looked like he'd found his groove.  But unfortunately it was not to be as he had the worst piece of luck.  I don't think there are many more unfortunate ways to be out in the game of cricket than his.  MS Dhoni played a nice straight drive off Graham Swann who reacted well and got a finger to it, deflecting the ball onto the stumps at the non striker's end.  Tendulkar had been doing the right thing, he was backing up and as such out of his ground.  As England appealed there was actually some booing in my stand you could really sense the disappointment - if he had to be out it would have been good to see a high quality piece of bowling rather than a moment of luck.  

It was also a bit of a shame that England are so good that they were all out before tea, meaning I didn't see as much cricket as I anticipated when booking the ticket.  Overall though it was a great day and it was a pleasure to be there when England achieved what I didn't think would be possible.  The challenge now is to dominate the game like the great sides of the past.  


  1. Copyright! Only kidding!

    I really need to get myself down to a Test Match one day soon - the Swalec now really should be my best bet!

  2. Ha! Yeah your blog had me dreaming of that old team!

    Yeah you really should. I was at the Swalec for the Ashes, was a really good ground. Would have gone there for Sri Lanka but it clashed with my last exam. Hope they get another one soon!