S.N. Don's blog

For Six Days Thou Shalt Play Down The Line. On The Seventh, Thou Shall Smite

I remember reading this in one of the many cricket books or magazines that I have accumulated over the years. The original quotation was in reaction to the new John Player Sunday League where hitting across the line was positively encouraged. Times have changed a lot since then. Fielding restrictions, coloured clothing, white balls with black sightscreens and a version of the game that I regularly played on summer Wednesday evenings. Has it been worth it?

My long-suffering partner will go to Chelmsford occasionally for a T20 game. I even took her to the first day of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG in 2012. To say that she was bored would be an understatement. So, I have first-hand experience of the draw that the 20 over slog produces. For anyone wanting to get into the game, it might be a good starting point. But is it? Without resorting to any of the cricketing websites out there, how many Test Matches have gone the full five days in since the advent of T20?

Jim Laker once said that the main purpose of the England cricket team was to beat Australia. Look at the last series where we defeated the old enemy 3-2. How much Test cricket was actually played? It is one of my biggest moans that too many of the modern-day batsmen don’t know where their off stump is. A major responsibility of a top order batsman is to see off the new ball and tire out the opening bowlers. It’s not just the top order batsmen that need to preserve their wicket. From my point of view, one of the best innings I saw was from Paul Collingwood on the final day of the last Test of the 2005 Ashes series. He batted for near on an hour and scored something like 12 runs in that time. His innings was just as important as Kevin Pietersen’s who was at the other end. Chris Tavare, at the time, held a unique record of having two scoreless hours in the same innings.

Having resorted to looking up cricket records, how about Tavare’s contribution of 35 runs from 332 minutes in Madras 1981-82? I have a sneaky feeling that during the winter, we would be more than happy to have someone of Tavare’s patience and perseverance to stave off an ignominious innings defeat in the first test.

Strange that it may appear, there is one English batsman who looks as if he has the technical ability and the patience to occupy the crease and that is Ben Stokes. He is probably as good a hitter of the ball as anyone but it does look like he has got the temperament to occupy the crease. It is essential that there are others prepared to stick around when the going undoubtedly will get tough.

T20 is here to stay but a player will always be remembered not for what he achieved in 20 over slogs but by his test record. And long that should stay the case.

As a footnote, I am not ignoring the women’s game so please substitute male references for female.

S.N. Don

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