Archive for The Oval

The Beard and Hat-Trick Test

Posted in Beards, Cricket with tags , , , on July 31, 2017 by telescoper

I’ve just arrived where I shall be for the next two weeks (of which more anon), but I couldn’t resist noting today’s remarkable finale of the Third Test between England and South Africa, which ended with Moeen Ali taking the last three wickets in consecutive balls. A hat-trick, no less. Quite a spectacular ending for the 100th Test Match played at the Oval.

I was so excited by Moeen’s performance that I tweeted about it and ended up on the BBC website with this analysis:

Fame at last!

The `inimitable Keith Flett’ didn’t need any encouragement from me to write a blog post pointing out that Moeen is the first England player with a beard ever to take a Test hat-trick.

Incidentally, there were quite a few comments on social media about the timing of Joe Root’s declaration, mainly arguing that he’d waited too long. I certainly wouldn’t have declared unless and until England had a lead of 450+, so thought he got it about right. More importantly, his team won with plenty of time to spare.

It’s been a truly topsy-turvy series so far, with England thumping South Africa at Lord’s and the Oval, but losing heavily at Trent Bridge in between. I wonder what will happen in the final test, at Old Trafford?

Probably it will rain…

Testing Times

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , on August 22, 2011 by telescoper

Ugh. I seem to have come down with a nasty bug, which started as the sorest of sore throats but has since broadened its ambitions. Not very nice, particularly since I’ve got a lot on my plate this week.

I have a feeling this may be a consequence of sitting in the rain for several hours on Saturday. The trip I mentioned in yesterday’s post was, in fact, to London SE11 in order to catch the Third Day’s play in the Fourth (and final) Test between England and India at The Oval. It’s been a long time since I was last there – about twenty years, in fact – and I’d almost forgotten the contrast between Kennington and St John’s Wood. Cricket at Lord’s is an altogether posher affair than at The Oval, you see. It’s also rather harder to get to from Paddington.

Anyway, I left Cardiff early and managed to meet up with an old pal (who still lives in South London and who got the tickets) in good time to get into the ground for the 11am start. It was quite sunny when proceedings opened with England resuming their first innings on 457-3 and looking to push on quickly. Within half an hour they lost the nightwatchman, James Anderson, quickly followed by Eoin Morgan. Bell and Bopara then put together a fine partnership until Ian Bell’s magnificent innings of 235 came to a close with England on 548-6. Matt Prior chipped in with 18 to take the score to 591-6 at lunch.

I reckoned England would probably want to score around 650 before declaring, but unfortunately the weather intervened and made this calculation irrelevant. It starting raining during the interval and didn’t really clear until about half past four. Play eventually resumed at 16.50, with time added on to make up for the disruption. Meanwhile, England declared – a wise decision, taken to ensure England would have enought time to bowl India out twice – so it was the tourists who came out to bat when play resumed.

In the first over, Sehwag hit two fours off Anderson and  was then out lbw, with India 8-1, which soon became 13-2 as Laxman departed, caught behind the wicket.  Tendulkar then arrived to the customary standing ovation and together with Dravid kept England’s fast bowlers at bay for a time.

But then, with the shadows lengthening, there followed one of the most fascinating hours of Test cricket I’ve ever seen. Graham Swann was introduced into the attack and immediately generated exceptional bounce and turn. He troubled both batsman until, with the score on 68, Tendulkar played a rash sweep shot which caught the top edge and dollied up a simple catch to James Anderson. In came the hapless Raina who looked all at sea. In fact he faced 29 balls without scoring a single run; he fell stumped, both literally and metaphorically. At 93-4 and with about 15 minutes to play, India sent in Sharma to play the role of nightwatchman.

At this stage England were smelling blood and had fielders around the bat like vultures waiting for the kill. I haven’t seen such attacking fields for an offspinner since watching old films of Jim Laker bowling at the Australians. Every ball looked dangerous.  Sharma didn’t survive long under the pressure. When he departed, for 1, that brought in the Indian captain Dhoni to partner the imperturbable Raul Dravid to the close at 103-5. India looked demoralised, England jubilant.

And with that I legged it back to Paddington and thence back home to Cardiff. A long day, good at both ends but with a damp patch in the middle.

POSTSCRIPT. India recovered well to score 300 all out  in their first innings, but that wasn’t enough to avoid the follow-on. They got a better start in the 2nd innings, but once again Tendulkar failed to get his 100th international century – just, this time; he was out for 91. Thereafter India collapsed hideously to 283 all out. England won by an innings and 8 runs, and completed a clean sweep. I wouldn’t have dared predict a 4-0 victory at the start of the series, but as it turned out England completely overwhelmed India.

And that’s the last Test cricket of this fascinating summer….

The Ashes Return

Posted in Cricket with tags on August 23, 2009 by telescoper

Just a short note, for posterity more than anything else. England have won back The Ashes from Australia!!

The final test match at the Oval ended this evening, with England finally knocking over the last Australian wicket, the gallant Mike Hussey who scored a defiant 121 today. Set to make a total of 546 to win in the second innings, Australia got to a creditable 348 all out but it was always going to be too stiff a target on a pitch that has been visibly deteriorating since the first day.

I’ve actually been struggling since last Friday with a nasty stomach bug, otherwise I might have had time to blog a bit more about this match. I have to say the tension as England’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed hasn’t done much for my convalescence either! Earlier this afternoon Australia looked very comfortable, in fact. Two run outs set them back a bit , but even so England were making heavy work of bowling them out. Cue Steve Harmison (who  had a mediocre match until that point) and Graham Swann (who had an excellent game) , both of them weighing in with wickets, as Australia finally keeled over, from 327-5 to 348 all out. Indeed Harmison took two wickets with consecutive balls and could have finished the match and won the Ashes with a hat-trick.

Although the game finished (just) inside four days instead of carrying on into the fifth, I was struck by how much the pattern of this match followed that of the Lord’s Test  that I was lucky enough to see a part of. In particular, both games turned on poor first innings with the bat for the Australians.

As for the series, we now all know just how important that last day at Cardiff was! With England winning at Lord’s, a draw at Edgbaston and Australia trouncing England at Headingley, it was only still 1-1 because of that staunch rearguard with the bat by England’s bowlers, Anderson and Panesar. Without them the series would have been 2-1 to Australia. If the series is tied the Ashes stay with whoever held them before the series started, so  a draw in this match would have meant Australia retaining them,  but England won and took the series 2-1. Although Monty Panesar didn’t play at the Oval, let’s not forget how important his contribution was.

 I don’t think this series produced as much quality cricket as the epic struggle of 2005. In that series the games were closer and on most occasions the game went into the final day with any result possible, which is actually quite a rare occurence in Test cricket.  But the result is the same and the celebrations will be similar.

If England can sort out their batting problems (especially at No. 3) then they could become a really good side. They’ll need to be when they travel to South Africa later this year. How about bringing Monty in at No. 3?

The football season is also under way and that’s the last Test cricket of the summer. Time passes. I enjoy football , especially when Newcastle United are winning – an all too rare experience but one which is happening these days – but I have to say that nothing can match Test cricket for drama and entertainment. If football is like a rock concert, then cricket is grand opera.