Ali Martins day two report


Righto, that’s us – England are on the slide really, perfect yesterday and only near-perfect today. But they’re still in a very strong position, and it’ll take some spectacular behaviour from both sides to prevent the series from going 1-1.

In a way, those afternoon wickets were as good for England as for India, because assuming they’re all out by lunch tomorrow, that’s two-and-a-half days to take 10 wickets with a lead of around 400. The pitch looks pretty flat, but perhaps that’s just the case when India’s seamers bowl on it – England’s swingers might be a different proposition.

England lead India by 345 with two first-innings wickets intact

It’s been a dreamy two days for England, and tomorrow is set up to be a belter.


Overton got bat on it.

129th over: England 423-8 (Overton 24, Robinson 0) Ishant will bowl it, and when he offers short width, Overton’s eyes light up and he bangs down into the pitch and away for four. That’s 300 runs in the day for England, which suggests that dislodging India a second time won’t be easy even with SB Pressure in the attack, then Overton eases one more to deep backward point. One ball left in the day, and Ishant gets some swing! I know! Overton misses it, and India review!

128th over: England 418-8 (Overton 19, Robinson 0) Siraj, who was delighted with that wicket, takes a lie-down and the physio helps him with some cramp – just a little while ago, Nasser wondered if he had enough zip left to try a bouncer and of course he did, but it came at a cost. Anyway, he’s soon up smiling before charging in at the new batsman – I love the way he plays the game – and sends down the five dots which complete his wicket-maiden. I reckon we’ll have one more over before the close.

WICKET! Curran c sub (Agarwal) b Siraj 15 (England 418-8)

Was a decent partnership. Siraj tries a bouncer and it’s a goodun, Curran pulling directly to deep forward square.

127th over: England 418-7 (Curran 15, Overton 19) Ishant returns for his eighth spell and Overton, who knows what he’s doing, whips four through midwicket after Curran takes one to cover. Two singles follow and this is a decent partnership now, worth 35 off 50.

“Possibly late to the greatest bowler debate,” says Christopher Dale, “but there’s a case for Underwood surely? Both in terms of statistics, longevity and importance to the side he played in.”

Just yesterday, Sky told us that Dexter didn’t rate him, but I have to defer on this one as I’m too young to have seen him. I do, though, recall a Sunday Times cricket sticker wallchart from the late 80s that taught me “he’d have played for England even if he hadn’t turned the ball”.


126th over: England 411-7 (Curran 13, Overton 14) It sounds like recency bias but probably isn’t: in co-comms, Nasser wonders if we’re watching England’s best-ever bowler and best-ever batsman. Which is ironic because we’re watching a team who’re been absolute nonsense quite a lot of the time. Anyway, Curran looks to go over the top and does but can’t get all of it; they run two. Then, facing the final ball of the over, he takes on Jadeja at mid off - good luck old mate – a direct hit and he’s gone. But Jadeja misses, and England’s lead is Graham Gooch, 333.

125th over: England 408-7 (Curran 10, Overton 14) Very nice from Overton, letting his arms go to deposit Jadeja back over his head for a one-bounce four – the only runs from the over. He’s enjoying himself out there, and looks right at home.

124th over: England 404-7 (Curran 10, Overton 10) Siraj returns, looking bushed before he’s even started because he probably is, and the batters take a single to square leg apiece.

“Re: Timothy Sanders,” says Stewart Fellows. At least according to StatsGuru, Bairstow did not bat at 5 during the 2017/2018 Ashes. He was at 6 from Perth onwards, and indeed doesn’t move back up to 5 until the arrival of Buttler for the Pakistan series.”

I’m not certain how much difference there is between those two spots, but I do think Bairstow was extremely fortunate to still be getting picked at that point – if they’d sent him off to work on his technique when they should’ve done, he might’ve been back and in from by then, though.

123rd over: England 402-7 (Curran 9, Overton 9) Five dots from Jadeja then Overton goes for an expansive drive that he doesn’t get all of, taking to past mid on anyway.


122nd over: England 400-7 (Curran 9, Overton 7) Bumrah drops short and wide so Overton slashes, missing slip and earning four, then opens the face to add two more. A single follows, guided down into the off side, then a no ball, and the lead is 322.


121st over: England 388-7 (Curran 5, Overton 0) Curran fancies this, a back cut taking four off Jadeja - the only runs from the over.

“Talking of Mr Kipling’s cakes,” says Paul Hobson, “I always remember part of the script of the M Kipling’s spoof advert from The Goodies: “Did you ever wonder how Mr Kipling makes his delicious cakes ... well, he has bloody great big factories.”

I wonder if he ever met Mrs Elswood. They strike me as a perfect match.


120th over: England 388-7 (Curran 5, Overton 0) This is actually a semi-important knock for Overton, who presumably is in the team partly for his batting – a point he needs to emphasise given the talent to come back. But in the meantime, a cover-drive from Curran gets him off the mark with a boundary, then retains strike with a bang down the ground, Bumrah doing well to get down to it – had he not, that was probably four.

119th over: England 383-7 (Curran 0, Overton 0) A wicket-maiden for Jadeja.


WICKET! Moeen Ali c sub (Axar Patel) b Jadeja 8 (England 383-7)

Moeen puts in a big stride then clouts straight to mid on. Hello collapse, we’ve missed you! The lead is 305.

118th over: England 383-6 (Ali 8, Curran 0) Applause as Curran blocks back Bumrah’s first ball to him, the batsman smiling wryly to himself. Three further dots follow, and this is a veritable marathon!

WICKET! Root b Bumrah 121 (England 383-6)

Root is aggravated, swishing his bat in frustration at a third ton in three Tests and rightly so – absolute joker, him. This is a good ball, though, kissing the surface and skidding in – not one to cover drive which, presumably, is why Root is naused. He hears the rattle behind him and leaves, saluting the crowd as he reaches the rope, and Sam Curran is in next, following a king pair at Lord’s.

A standing ovation for Root as he leaves the field. Photograph: Jon Super/AP


117th over: England 383-5 (Root 121, Ali 8) Root was stretching earlier and now has the physio out, who looks like he’s administering to cramp – Root’s on his back and has one leg elevated. Then he gets up and immediately tickles Jadeja under the chin around the corner for four – that’s as deft as Mr Kipling’s cakes are good – adding one more with a bunt to cover.

“I hope Tom van der Gucht is open to disagreement regarding Jonny Bairstow’s move up the order,” says Timothy Sanders. “Rather than mismanagement, it was the happenstance of Ben Stokes being suspended for the 2017-18 Ashes tour, combined with Moeen and Woakes being unable to live with the Aussie pace attack. Jonny moved up to no5 at Perth so that he didn’t run out of partners, and it worked pretty well when he and Malan both made centuries. That was 18 months before Ed Smith’s experiment with the specialist no7, so it wasn’t the Buttler who did it.”

Ha, very good.


116th over: England 378-5 (Root 116, Ali 8) Bumrah returns, which will delight England – what strange words those are to type. But the more overs he bowls in this particular cause the better it is for them, and his loosening over costs him a single and a two which takes the lead to 300.

115th over: England 375-5 (Root 115, Ali 6) A single apiece, then Root gets forward to reverse Jadeja down the hill for four; Jadeja gives it an “Ooooh!” like he’s Shane Warne and that was nearly out. Root then takes one to point, and we’ve got 17 overs left in the day or an hour maximum; England lead by 297.

114th over: England 368-5 (Root 109, Ali 5) Shami is really charging in now, but after three singles, Moeen absolutely cleanses him through backward point for four – that is glorious. Like Buttler, he is not someone you want coming in at this stage and Shami has seen enough, gingerly hobbling off the pitch for a bath and a rub-down.

“Never mind peak Flintoff,” emails Colum Fordham. “We’re witnessing peak Root for sure. I think India have missed a trick by not including Ravi Ashwin who, besides being a more than decent lower-order batsman, is arguably the one Indian bowler wily enough to trouble Root. Long may peak Root continue!”

Yup, I think Kohli will know he made an error there. I’d expect Ashwin to replace Ishant for the Oval and OT (where they’re playing a Test match in the middle of September!)

113th over: England 361-5 (Root 107, Ali 0) Root takes a single to square leg, then Moeen presses forward and the ball passes through the gate; there’s an appeal, but any impact there was was outside the line and then Rahane drops what would’ve been a dolly. I’m pretty sure no bat was involved, but.

112th over: England 360-5 (Root 106, Ali 0) That wicket precipitated drinks but no one thought to say so. Anyhow, Shami, in his sixth spell I think, has 3-80 off 24.4, which is a serious piece of effort.

“From a rival site,” says Timothy Reston, “it seems that straight after tea, Pant had to remove tape that was binding two fingers of his gloves together. As webbing except between the thumb and index finger is illegal under the Laws, what should the penalty have been for each time Pant handled the ball, and should Malan (caught by Pant the previous ball) been not out?”

That’s an interesting point. In general, sportsfolk contravening the rules isn’t something that bothers me – I thought the fuss over the Aussie ball-tampering was astonishing, and bore no relationship to the offence but a lot of relationship to the ego of the CA suits. But on an intellectual level, I’m intrigued to know what’s gone on here and how people rationalise it – is the taping an offence?


WICKET! Buttler c Ishant b Shami 7 (England 360-5)

Buttler catches this nicely, but sends it whizzing just above the turf directly to square leg. Maybe he should stick to coming in at 23-4.

Jos Buttler looks dejected after losing his wicket. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters


112th over: England 360-4 (Root 106, Buttler 7) Root takes a single, then Buttler plays away form his body, half-battting four between gully and slip.

“Regarding bowling stats and best-ever bowlers,” says Peter Hanes, “I remember when Botham came on the scene and for all his heroics and magnetic personality on the field, a lot of those early Test wickets came against marginal teams and even inept Aussie line-ups. Don’t we have all-time Test rankings to resolve these debates?”

Well, sort of – we’re not mandated to agree with them, or to deploy the same criteria.

111th over: England 355-4 (Root 105, Buttler 3) Buttler takes a single to deep backward square, then Root turns one more into the on side.

110th over: England 353-4 (Root 104, Buttler 2) Shami is a solid, solid geezer, and he powers through an over that yields just a single, Buttler dabbing to cover and hauling Root through. England have run brilliantly this innings.

“On the subject of declaration,” emails Alexander Hayes, “I’d imagine it’s as much about the psychology as the pitch and Moeen. England copped a psychological shellacking on the fifth day at Lord’s, and I’m sure Root will want to return it with interest. Bat on and on, exhaust them and then put them in after tea tomorrow facing 400+ and seven sessions. Sounds good to me!”

Yup, agree with that. This is a five-Test series, and the harder India’s bowlers work, the better that is for England – but they’ll feel like right charlies if they run out of time to take 10 more wickets.

109th over: England 352-4 (Root 104, Buttler 1) Jadeja continues – how’s your patience Jos? – and Root takes one to square leg, then Buttler gets away in similar vein.


108th over: England 350-4 (Root 103, Buttler 0) As per the below, this is why Buttler was picked – to take the game away, not to save the game. Let’s see...

“Interesting to hear you are a right handed bowler and lefty batter,” lies Darrien Bold. “I reckon the current/recent crop of England players is the most ambidextrous we’ve seen: Jimmy, Stokesy, Broady, Moeeny... Even big Ali Cookie was a dangerous right handed bowler in his day.”

We’ve done his prowess today as it happens, but yes, now that you ask I write, eat and bat left-handed, but throw and play tennis right-handed and can play table-tennis with both. I am odd.


WICKET! Bairstow c Kohli b Shami 29 (England 350-4)

Bairstow plays a lazy drive, barely moving his feet, and edges behind where Kohli takes a catch that’s actually pretty smart, given Pant was diving across him.

Jonny Bairstow walks after being dismissed by Mohammed Shami. Photograph: Nigel French/PA


108th over: England 350-3 (Root 103, Bairstow 29) Shami returns and Root eases a single to third man.


107th over: England 349-3 (Root 102, Bairstow 29) I didn’t think this’d take long. Bairstow comes down the track to clobber Jadeja over long on for six, and I doubt that’s the last time we see him try that. Two singles follow, then Bairstow unfurls his sweep, sending four to very fine leg and raising the fifty partnership at the same time; he and Root greet one another in the middle, not something I’ve managed with any of my close mates after putting a top-class attack to the sword.

106th over: England 337-3 (Root 101, Bairstow 18) Five dots from Ishant, then Bairstow turns a single to square leg. Root then takes a drink, which makes me wonder just how fit he must be to keep batting for so long, especially given the mental energy he expends captaining in the field.

“What I found especially interesting about Nath Jones’ stats for the most runs scored in a year,” says Tom van der Gucht, “is that Root has two of the English number of runs scored in a year above him on the list. And that Bairstow is up there too. How was he rewarded for such an amazing year? He was moved out of position to accommodate Buttler who’s scored fewer centuries in all his matches since than Bairstow had managed that year.”

I’m not sure – I’m glad Buttler was given a chance and it worked really well. The problem of late has been him coming in with England in ridiculous trouble, which isn’t what he was originally restored for.

105th over: England 336-3 (Root 101, Bairstow 17) Another quick over from Jadeja, a single to Bairstow coming from it.

“On the subject of the best English bowler” emails Patrick Brennan, “I would say that Peak Harmison (for example vs WI 2004, 7-12 and all that) was about as unplayable as I have ever seen from an English bowler (for me, that’s since about 1998). Similarly Peak Broad, but they do tend to be more one-off spells of utter lunacy, rather than longer periods. On the other hand, Mitchell Johnson in 2013-14 was like nothing I’ve ever seen *shudder*.”

Yes, agreed on Johnson. The first cricket I remember is the 1984 West Indies one, so I’m old enough to remember Marshall – and Ambrose, Wasim and Waqare. But I’ve never seen a series dominated by one bowler like that one was.

Joe Root makes his third century in three Tests! He is a rrrridiculous individual!

104th over: England 335-3 (Root 101, Bairstow 16) A stern flick through midwicket does it and Root leaps into a celebration in front of his home crowd, then leaps into the arms of Bairstow, in front of their home crowd. Goodness me, what a feeling and what a moment, Root’s dad standing there applauding his boy – not something my old fella’s done lately. That’s six tons in the calendar year, the same as Compton in 1947 and Vaughan in 2002, and who’s to say there won’t be a few more? As DK notes, India haven’t a clue how to get him out.

Joe Root reaches his hundred and jumps for joy. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images


103rd over: England 329-3 (Root 96, Bairstow 15) Unless England get after him, I’d expect Jadeja to bowl a long spell here. Kohli said at the toss that he thought there’d be more for him in the pitch than at Lord’s but more than that, he won’t want to flog his quicks when all he’s waiting for is a declaration that might not come until this time tomorrow. Root adds one through Harrow drive, the only run from the over, and is four away from yet another yet another ton.

102nd over: England 328-3 (Root 95, Bairstow 15) Ishant returns and when he drops short and wide Bairstow doesn’t need asking twice, cutting for four through point. The over also yielded two singles, and England have setpped things up again.

“Am sure approximately 1 million OBOers have already contacted you, but the RH/LH shirt is, of course, due to cricket’s god Mammon – all about the sponsor being in full view of the camera,” tweets Gareth Wilson.

Good knowledge – and relatedly, the word mammon originated in Aramaic. Somehow, in chapter eight of Bava Kama, the Talmud extrapolates that the intention of Exodus’ phrase “an eye for an eye, a hand for a hand, a tooth for a tooth, a wound for a wound” was monetary compensation. Course it was, lads.


101st over: England 321-3 (Root 93, Bairstow 10) Gary Neville once said that playing with Paul Scholes was relaxing, like wandering into a bar and hearing someone play nice piano music, which is how I imagine batting with Joe Root feels. Except Bairstow isn’t really into relaxation, so adds consecutive fours through mid on and point (but refrains from issuing any playful headbutts).

100th over: England 313-3 (Root 93, Bairstow 2) Ach, England are away again, Root cutting hard past second slip for four – he places the ball so delightfully – then takes two more to midwicket. Three dots follow, then Root drives elegantly down the ground which takes him into the note remotely nervous nineties; 10 off the over.

“Agree that peak Flintoff is up there,” returns Tom Bowtell, “but how high does a short peak need to be surpass sustained excellence? For brief blazing peaks, Tyson’s Ashes would be in with a shout too – or even Malcolm at the Oval in 94 ... someone needs to do an algorithm. I caught myself doing the maths to see how it will take Jimmy to catch Murali yesterday.”

Yup, Tyson is one of the peaks, but as you imply, his didn’t last long enough and neither did Freddie’s.

99th over: England 303-3 (Root 83, Bairstow 2) Thinking about England’s declaration, if they get there, I wonder if Root wants to stay out for as long as possible so that the pitch, likely to flatten out, deteriorates so that Moeen is properly in the game. Already, it’s offering Jadeja a smidgeon of turn, and Root’s flick to square leg yields the sole run form the other.

Root plays a late cut off Jadeja. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images


98th over: England 302-3 (Root 82, Bairstow 2) Siraj is doing his best and after Root takes one to point, Bairstow edges ... but the ball drops shy of two and I wonder if India’s cordon is sufficiently close in because this isn’t the first time that’s happened. Anyhow, Siraj then beats Bairstow, who misses with a forward defensive, and India have staunched the flow.

“Being too young for early Botham makes you too young for Tavaré,” says Ian Copestake. “At the end of the day, it’s swings and roundabouts.”

Alas not – I’m afraid I remember the 1989 Ashes all too clearly.

97th over: England 301-3 (Root 81, Bairstow 2) Jadeja doesn’t half rush through his overs, four dots preceding a drive from Bairstow that goes into the ground, hits silly mid off, and loops up for a catch. There’s an appeal and the umpire’s soft signal is not out, and it’s not even close from what I saw. Indeed, the ball went into the pitch, a dot follows, and that’s a maiden.

“Just noticed that England have left and right handed shirts,” emails Mark Russell. “Is this usual?”

Great spot! And when I’m picked, will I be issued with one for my right-arm over and one for my left-handed batting? I guess we can check Jimmy.

96th over: England 301-3 (Root 81, Bairstow 2) I wonder how Bairstow will approach this. On the one hand, it’s in his nature to attack, but on the other, he probably wasn’t expecting to get back into the Test team so soon and will want to ensconce himself by making runs. as for Pant’s gloves, it turns out he’d taped bits of them, which isn’t allowed, while back to the action, Bairstow gets himself away with a tuck to square leg – the first of three singles from the over, the second of which raises England’s 300.

“I absolutely loved Will’s Anderson work back in over 86 too,” says Tom Bowtell. “I’ve been trying to nail whether the Jimmy of the last 10 years is England’s greatest post-war seamer. Here’s where I’ve got to:

- He’s ahead of anyone who debuted post Botham on stats alone (more wickets at a better average than Broad/Gough/Fraser/Irani etc). His career average has now dipped below John Snow’s (202 @ 26.66)

- If you compare Anderson’s last 90 Tests with Bob Willis’s entire 90-Test career you get: Jimmy: 351 @ 23.07, Bob: 325 @ 25.20- If you compare Anderson’s last 50 Tests with Botham’s first 50, you get: Jimmy: 178 @ 21.72, Botham: 229 @ 22.89 (also c/f Bedser 236 @ 24.89 from 51 Tests)

- If you compare Anderson’s last 67 Tests with Trueman’s entire 67-Test career you get: Jimmy: 253 @ 21.40, Fred: 307 @ 21.57

So on average, Jimmy of the last decade takes it. But on wickets/strike rate, you might go with all of Fred or early Botham.”

I think the other argument is whether Jimmy’s best is the best. I’m too young for early Botham, but Flintoff’s peak is as good as anything I’ve seen from an England bowler.

95th over: England 298-3 (Root 80, Bairstow 0) There’s a brief pause – if you can pause something which hasn’t started - while Pant sorts a problem with his gloves, then Jadeja wheels through a maiden at Root.

“Also interesting,” returns Richard O’Hagan. “Not only have England’s top four all scored more than 60, but each batsman has scored more than the one above him in the order.”

Lovely stuff, absolutely buzzing for Jimmy’s tripleton with England on 1298-9.

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