Cricket, Lovely (5-day Test) Cricket
Just spent a lazy Sunday pottering about, clearing a backlog of crosswords, and listening on the wireless to the final day of the Third Test between England and Pakistan taking place at Edgbaston (in the Midlands).
It turned out to be an eventful day, to say the least! England had overcome a first-innings deficit of 103 to finish Day 4 on 414 for 5, a lead of 311. As I suspected, they continued to bat on the morning of Day 5 but the declaration came earlier than expected, after they added just 31 runs in four overs. Pakistan needed to score 343 to win, a stiff but not impossible challenge.
I must be getting a bit cautious in my old age, but I would probably have wanted 30 more runs in so to be sure Pakistan had no chance of winning, but it seems Alastair Cook is getting a bit bolder in his captaincy…
Anyway, Pakistan lost an early wicket but otherwise proceeded fairly comfortably, a draw looking increasingly likely. Suddenly, though, some reverse swing started to appear, and wickets began to tumble. In no time at all they were 125 for 7, four wickets falling in as many overs. They limped to 151 for 9 but with 25 overs to survive with only one wicket left, Pakistan looked doomed.
The last pair, Rahat Ali and Sohail Khan decided to have a go, Sohail in particular throwing the bat to good effect and enjoying a sizeable chunk of good fortune. The overs passed. The England bowlers started to look tired. Could this pair do what Jimmy and Money had done for England against Australia at Cardiff all those years ago?
But no. All of a sudden it was over, as Man of the Match Moeen Ali took the final wicket (caught and beard) with 14 overs to spare. England won by 141 runs, with about an hour’s play left, and so take a 2-1 lead in the series with one match to play.
There has been some talk about reducing Test Matches to four days, to try to force a faster tempo which will appeal more to the public. I think that would be a shame. It is true that some passages of play in this series, and indeed in this match, have been slow, but the games have been absorbing precisely because of the tension generated by the shifting tactical situation.
So I hope we keep the 5-day format for Test cricket. I love it!Follow @telescoper