S.N. Don's blog

Does Chris Tavare still play cricket?

What has happened to Test cricket? I don’t think that there can be any more doubt that the white ball game is the dominant force globally. Much has been said and written about England’s top order batting. One alarming statistic from the recent Test defeat at Trent Bridge is that in half of the last 60 Test innings, England have limped to 100-4 or less. This fragility has forced Joe Root to move up to 3 and his form has suffered. What would Bayliss, Root and Co give for a batsman with the fortitude of Chris Tavare? Tavare was the glue that held England together while the more attacking batsmen could do their thing. What would England have given to have someone of Tavare’s abilities available? To underline how good Tavare was, he was the first batsman in Test history to have two scoreless hours in the same innings. However, by nature he was an attacking batsman but changed his style to meet the requirements of the Test side.

In 1981 against Australia at Old Trafford he scored 69 and 78, but was at the crease for twelve hours. His 50 in five hours and fifty minutes, against Pakistan in 1982, was the second-slowest in the history of the English game. Among his slowest innings was a score of 35 runs in six-and-a-half hours at Madras in the 1981/2 season. What a legend!

David Steele was drafted in to face Australia and then the West Indies in the mid-1970s because of his durability at the wicket. His performances were so good that he ended being voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1975. He scored 50, 45, 73, 92, 39 and 66 against the Australians in his trademark staunch, courageous and steady manner.

Look at Virat Kohli in this series. He has been the best batsman on show by a mile. Shivnarine Chanderpaul is another example of a batsman with the technique to survive when batting. Hashim Amla has also shown limpet-like attributes over many years.

Yet where are the Englishmen who can block and leave as well as those mentioned? The answer lies with the ECB and their obsession with short forms of the game. The County Championship is fast becoming obsolete while the money is chased from floodlight to floodlight. Players starting their way in the professional game have been brought up on reverse sweeps and ramp shots; hardly ideal preparation for spending five or six hours at the crease. If there is an English batsman out there who can grind down the opposition’s bowlers, please tell the ECB!

S.N. Don

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