Cricket’s own goal as England and Stokes on verge of sixth win of Summer
Ben Stokes ended yesterday’s play at the Oval open-mouthed as cricket again shot itself in the foot. The England captain was beside himself as the umpires instructed openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley, as well as the South African field, to leave the crease due to so-called bad light as the hosts moved within 33 [...] The post Cricket’s own goal as England and Stokes on verge of sixth win of Summer appeared first on CityAM.
Ben Stokes ended yesterday’s play at the Oval open-mouthed as cricket again shot itself in the foot. The England captain was beside himself as the umpires instructed openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley, as well as the South African field, to leave the crease due to so-called bad light as the hosts moved within 33 runs of a series victory against the Proteas.
In a match first affected by bad weather and then the Queen’s passing, the Test resumed on Saturday with a splendid tribute to the monarch before concluding with England 36 ahead at close.
Yesterday Stokes’s side could only add four runs before being skittled out for 158 – Marco Jansen backed up English pacer Ollie Robinson’s first innings five-for with one of his own, for 35 runs.
It looked as though the low totals from the first innings would be isolated events as the Proteas’ openers Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee began solidly. But it soon began to unravel.
Erwee fell for 26 before Elgar departed for 36. The following eight batters were bowled out for 95. England needed 130 runs to win the third Test and the series.
In that innings Stuart Broad passed Glenn McGrath for seam wickets with South Africa having been 70-1 at lunch. England really rallied after lunch and were looking to wrap up the match yesterday evening.
And they got off to the best of starts in chasing the 130-run target.
Crawley, who has struggled this season as the crease, settled in quickly and notched up his first half-century of the summer in just 36 balls – the eighth fastest in English Test history.
Alongside his batting partner Alex Lees, who scored 32 runs, Crawley finished day four on 57 runs before the umpires called time due to bad light.
With just 33 runs left for England to achieve, with 10 wickets in hand, it looked as though common sense had disappeared from Test cricket when the umpires forced stumps.
It raises questions as to why the sport cannot modernise, given that it didn’t seem as if either side were keen to leave the field given the state of play.
Autumnal Test matches could start earlier to negate the issues with light, the spinners could be brought on if both teams agree, or play could continue with the consent of both captains. It’s something the sport must work on.
One thing that has changed, though, is England’s playing style. Their new attacking mindset under head coach Brendon McCullum has seen them win five Tests this summer. If they win today it’ll be six, the first time they have reached that number since 2004.
“The summer has been amazing,” bowler James Anderson said. “Baz [Brendon McCullum] has come in and it just feels positive in the dressing room and the messages that he sends us about going out to entertain, everyone has bought into it. Yes, sometimes it hasn’t come off but when it does it’s spectacular and I think it has changed not just how we see Test cricket, but how the world sees it.”
England are within touching distance of another series win under Stokes and McCullum. If only the sport could modernise in the way that the cricket has this year. England have 33 runs to get; how long it could take is anyone’s guess.
The post Cricket’s own goal as England and Stokes on verge of sixth win of Summer appeared first on CityAM.