Cricket Weekly Column #10 First Ashes Test and T20 Blast

By Riley Taylor (@rileyttaylor21)

Welcome to the 10th edition of Overtime’s Cricket Weekly Column, where we look at the week’s biggest stories and games.

The Ashes get underway with the First Test at Edgbaston as England look to win back the urn after their 4-0 hammering down under two years ago.

As well as this we’ll be looking at the top 10 moments from this years Vitality T20 Blast so far.

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The Ashes, the oldest rivalry in the history of cricket and the series that has produced some of the most thrilling games of Test cricket is back and there is plenty to look forward to.

Australia announced their squad a week before the First Test and it included three names which would make members of the Barmy Army lick their lips.

David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft, three players who were involved in the arguably the lowest point of Australian cricket when they resulted to cheating by using sandpaper to rough up the ball in a Test versus South Africa in order to get reverse swing.

Despite being out of the game following their yearlong bans both Smith and Warner looked good during the World Cup and Bancroft has had time to adapt to English conditions following his stint with Durham so England will still be wary of them.

There are plenty more players for England to fear with an incredible bowling arsenal with Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon the most likely attack for Australia.

The Aussies do share a common theme in their squad with England which was batsmen out of form or who are inexperienced so it will certainly be a series were the ball is likely to dominate the bat.

England welcome the addition of Jofra Archer into the squad for his first Test callup where he is joined by Olly Stone after a solid Test versus Ireland. However, doubts over the fitness of Archer and veteran swing bowler James Anderson will be a worry.

It is looking like to be a last chance saloon for Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Moeen Ali and even Jonny Bairstow after a string of bad form for the group.

Steve Smith’s Redemption: England v Australia Day One at Edgbaston

Australia: 284 (Smith 144, Siddle 44, Broad 5-86, Woakes 3-58)

England: 10/0 (Roy 6no, Burns 4no, Cummins 0-3, Pattinson 0-7)

Steve Smith returned to Test cricket with a superb hundred as he recovered Australia from a terrible collapse on day one.

England reduced Australia to 122 for eight despite being a bowler down after James Anderson hobbled off the field, still not being fully recovered from an injured calf.

However, Smith and Peter Siddle put on an 88-run partnership to frustrate England with the former going through to a superb hundred.

Moeen Ali removed Siddle but some poor captaincy from Root allowed Smith to build another partnership with Nathan Lyon, adding 74 for the last wicket.

Stuart Broad bowled Smith for 144 to take a deserved five-wicket haul but the former Australian captain had already done enough damage to put the Aussies in a decent position.

Rory Burns and Jason Roy took England through to stumps on 10 without loss at the end of a mixed day.

England should of go off to the perfect start when David Warner edged behind off Broad but the umpire turned down the appeal.

However, karma soon got to Warner when he was given out lbw off Broad for two but replays showed the ball was going down the legside.

Broad picked up another wicket four overs later when Cameron Bancroft edged to Joe Root at first slip for eight.

 Seven overs later, Woakes picked up his first wicket when Usman Khawaja edged through to Jonny Bairstow and was dismissed for 13 to leave Australia in a precarious position at 35 for three.

Travis Head and Smith joined together, and the pair repaired the early damage with a 61-run partnership.

However, Australia then lost five wickets for 23 runs starting with Head when Woakes trapped him lbw for 35.

Woakes got his third when Matthew Wade was pinned lbw for one before Broad got two wickets in one over, Tim Paine caught on the boundary for five before James Pattinson was trapped leg-before for a duck.

Ben Stokes then took his first wicket when Pat Cummins was trapped leg-before for five to put England in the driving seat.

However, some poor captaincy from Root allowed Smith to farm the strike with Siddle to add 88 for the eigth wicket.

Siddle was caught at short leg by Jos Buttler off Moeen Ali for 44 but Lyon continued to add runs with Smith to frustrate England by adding a further 74.

Smith was castled by Broad as he tried to add quick runs as the former Aussie captain walked off to a mix of boos and applause from the Edgbaston crowd.

Jason Roy and Rory Burns saw off an over each from Cummins and Pattinson as the England openers prepared for their first day of batting on day two.

England’s BURNing Sensation: England v Australia Day Two at Edgbaston

Australia: 284 (Smith 144, Siddle 44, Broad 5-86, Woakes 3-58)

England: 267/4 (Burns 125no, Root 57, Pattinson 2-54, Siddle 1-43)

Rory Burns made a superb debut Ashes century as England made lightwork of the Australian bowling on day two.

His century as well as a 50 from captain Joe Root as well as decent start for Ben Stokes (38no) put England in a strong position at the end of day two, trailing Australia by just 17 runs.

Burns had been struggling for runs in Test cricket and there were questions about his place in the side, after debuting in Sri Lanka during the winter.

However, he played a gritty Test innings as he scored 125 runs off 282 balls with the Surrey batsman going through to stumps with Ben Stokes having put England in a good position going into day three.

England openers resumed on 10 for no loss but it wasn’t long before Australia got their first wicket when Jason Roy, also batting in his first Ashes Test, edged to Steve Smith at second slip off James Pattinson to leave at England 22 for one.

Root joined Burns and the two put on a brilliant display of batting as they added 132 for the second wicket.

Root brought up his half-century in the process but failed to push on yet again as he was caught by a superb catch by Peter Siddle off his own bowling.

Another player who needed to stake his place in the side was Joe Denly but he failed to impress as he was trapped lbw by Pattinson for 18.

There will have been some complaints from England fans as Australia were handed a different ball after the old one went out of the shape.

This ball had resulted in the dismissals of Root and Denly and after England were denied the same luxury in the first innings it will be another thing that the umpires have got wrong after failing to get several decisions right in the Australian first innings.

This change of ball seemingly got Australia back into the game and it proceeded to help them further when Jos Buttler received a superb delivery from Cummins which he could only edge to Bancroft at slip as he departed for five.

Despite this late flurry of wickets, England composed themselves as Burns and Stokes survived through to stumps with the former bringing up his first century for England after battling hard in the middle.

Test in The Balance: England v Australia Day Three at Edgbaston

Australia: 284 (Smith 144, Siddle 44, Broad 5-86, Woakes 3-58) & 124/3 (Smith 46no, Khawaja 40, Stokes 1-18, Broad 1-26)

England: 374 (Burns 133, Root 57, Cummins 3-84, Lyon 3-112)

England collapsed before being rescued by their lower order as Australia took a slim lead going into day four.

England lost four wickets for 18 runs before a 65-run partnership between Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad got them out of trouble before they were eventually bowled out for 374.

Australia struggled as David Warner and Cameron Bancroft fell early before first-innings centurion Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja repaired the damage.

Khawaja was dismissed for 40 but vice-captain Travis Head and Smith saw Australia through to stumps with a slim lead of 34.

Resuming on 267 for four, it wasn’t long before England lost their first wicket of the day as Stokes brought up his half-century before wildly slashing at a ball from Pat Cummins which took an edge and was caught by Tim Paine for 50.

Burns followed shortly as his superb innings came to an end when he edged a ball from Nathan Lyon through to Paine who took a sharp catch to see the back of the Surrey opener for 133.

Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow departed with the score on 300, the former leaving a straight ball from Lyon as he was bowled for a five-ball duck.

Bairstow fell, wildly swinging at a ball from Peter Siddle as he was caught by David Warner at slip for eight.

With a lead of just 16 runs, England needed something from their lower order in order to put pressure on Australia in their second innings.

This is exactly what they got as heroes with the ball Woakes and Broad put together a 65-run partnership to frustrate Australia.

The Aussies eventually got the breakthrough when Broad was caught by Pattinson off the bowling of Cummins for 29 before James Anderson came out to bat following his injury in the first innings.

The Lancashire swing bowler added nine runs with Woakes before he was caught by Cummins off Lyon for two to give England a lead of 90.

Anderson did not resume the field so England were a bowler down from the start with Broad and Woakes opening up.

This didn’t seem to worry England as they got an early breakthrough when Warner was given out on a review after Snicko found an edge when the ball flicked his glove when trying to leave a ball from Broad. The Aussie opener refused to walk but he had to go for eight as he was booed off by the Edgbaston crowd.

England soon had both openers back in the pavilion when Bancroft edged to Jos Buttler at short-leg and departed for seven.

Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith repaired the damage with a 48-run partnership, but England broke through again when the former edged through to Jonny Bairstow off Stokes for 40.

Smith and Head saw Australia through to stumps as they took a slim lead going into day four with the test in the balance.

England Seriously Struggle: England v Australia Day Four at Edgbaston

Australia: 284 (Smith 144, Siddle 44, Broad 5-86, Woakes 3-58) & 487/7 dec (Smith 142, Wade 110, Stokes 3-85, Woakes 1-46)

England: 374 (Burns 133, Root 57, Cummins 3-84, Lyon 3-112) & 13/0 (Burns 7no, Roy 6no, Pattinson 0-2, Siddle 0-2)

England threw away a commanding position as Steve Smith notched his second century of the Test as Australia dominated on day four.

Steve Smith became the first man since Matthew Hayden in 2002 to score two hundreds in an Ashes Test as England struggled against their nemesis from two years ago. He received able support from Matthew Wade who made his third Test century as Australia declared with a huge lead of 397.

Resuming on 124 for three, Smith and Travis Head added 81 runs with the latter bringing up his half-century.

However, Head was to fall soon after as Stokes got him to edge through to Bairstow to get a much-needed breakthrough for England.

This was to be England’s only solace for a while as Smith and Wade dominated the English bowling as they added 126 for the fifth wicket.

Smith brought up his hundred in the process as England’s archenemy came back to haunt them again.

He was eventually dismissed for 142 when he was caught behind by Bairstow off Chris Woakes but he had already done plenty of damage to take the game away from England.

This did not stop Wade as he and captain Tim Paine added a further 76 to wilter an already tired England bowling attack.

Wade brought up his hundred but fell soon after as he pulled a short ball from Stokes to Denly on the boundary as he walked off for 110.

Paine was then bowled by Moeen Ali to give the England spinner some solace after having an awful game.

However, these two quick wickets did not stop Australia as James Pattinson and Pat Cummins hit a brisk 78-run partnership before Paine declared to set England a target of 397 to win.

Burns and Roy survived seven overs through to stumps as the openers walked off knowing they would need to bat all day the next day in order to save the Test.

Shambolic England Capitulate: England v Australia Day Five at Edgbaston

Australia: 284 (Smith 144, Siddle 44, Broad 5-86, Woakes 3-58) & 487/7 dec (Smith 142, Wade 110, Stokes 3-85, Woakes 1-46)

England: 374 (Burns 133, Root 57, Cummins 3-84, Lyon 3-112) & 146 (Woakes 37, Root 28, Lyon 6-49, Cummins 4-32)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/8973#overview

Australia won by 251 runs

Australia took a 1-0 series lead in the Ashes as a shambolic England batting collapse saw the hammered by 251 runs.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon took six wickets as the hosts completely fell apart as they looked to bat out the day to save the Test.

This followed a poor bowling performance on day four which had seen the Aussies gain the upper hand, setting England were set an almost improbable target of 398 to win.

However, all they had to do was to save the Test was a thing they had done on day two with ease by batting out the day but with the pitch turning a lot more and becoming harder to bat on it would be no easy feat.

England openers Rory Burns and Jason Roy resumed on 13-0 after batting through seven overs before close in day four.

However, it only took two overs for Australia to strike as Burns failed to replicate his superb first-innings effort as he was caught by wicketkeeper Tim Paine off a short ball by Pat Cummins for 11.

Joe Root joined Roy and the pair looked comfortable at the crease as they looked to see England through to lunch without losing anymore wickets.

Roy was surprisingly batting well in a situation he is not used to as he looked to sit back and play defensively.

However, with 10 overs to go to lunch he played a reckless shot as he charged down the pitch to Lyon, looking to smash him for six but instead he was done by the spin of the ball and was bowled for 25.

Joe Denly joined Root and looked to save his place in the side with a good innings and he started well with a string of boundaries off Lyon.

However, Denly departed when Lyon got his revenge by having the Kent batsmen caught at short leg for 11 as Australia started to make progress towards a win.

Root was still at the other end and would have liked to go into lunch without adding to the collapse but this wasn’t to be as Lyon got a third as the England captain was caught by Bancroft for 28 as England continued to crumble.

England went into lunch 85 for four with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in the middle but will have been severely disappointed after collapsing yet again in a Test match.

The collapse continued after lunch as Buttler was bowled by Pat Cummins for one.

Four overs later Australia were on the home stretch as Jonny Bairstow was caught by Bancroft off Cummins for six before Ben Stokes was dismissed next ball, caught by Paine off Lyon for six to leave England at an embarrassing 97 for seven.

Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes came together and provided some brief resistance with a 39-run partnership.

However, Moeen was caught by David Warner off Lyon for four as the Australian spinner took his 15th five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

It was another low score for Moeen which could see him dropped from the side as well as the eighth time he had been dismissed by Lyon in Test cricket.

It wasn’t long before England’s innings was wrapped up as Stuart Broad fell first ball to Lyon, caught by Steve Smith at slip.

The final wicket fell when Woakes was caught by Smith at slip for 37 as England were humbled by Australia.

It was an almighty fall from grace for England going from a strong first innings in terms batting and bowling to the complete opposite.

There will have to be many changes to the team in order for England to even mount a challenge to Australia and with James Anderson out of the second test with a calf injury, the Aussies could be well on their way to retaining the Ashes for the first time in 17 years.

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What with the World Cup and now the Ashes being in full swing, the Vitality T20 Blast has taken a back seat in recent weeks but whilst it may have not been in the headlines it sure has uncovered some superb games and performances.

In case you haven’t seen any, here are our top ten moments so far.

10. AB de Villiers smashes 88 not out on debut. (Middlesex v Essex at Lords’)

Essex: 164/6 (ten Doeschate 74, Westley 40, Helm 3-27, Sowter 2-32)

Middlesex: 166/3 (de Villiers 88no, Malan 43, Quinn 1-20, Snater 1-29)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10501

Fans were eagerly awaiting AB de Villiers first game for Middlesex after the county announced his signing as their overseas player. With over 8000 in T20 cricket, he is a certainly a legend of the game and the former- South African batsman duly delivered. Coming in at four, he smashed 88 off just 43 balls to win Middlesex the game as he introduced himself to the Lords’ faithful.

9. Babar Azam hits 95 but ends up on the losing side. (Somerset v Hampshire at Taunton)

Somerset: 172/3 (Babar 95no, Trego 35, Wood 1-22, Morris 1-34)

Hampshire: 174/6 (Donald 48, Dawson 47no, Gregory 2-31, Overton 2-49)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10525

Another overseas player that fans were excited for was Pakistani batsman Babar Azam. The number one T20I batsman in the world struggled in his first two games but came out all guns blazing as he hit nine fours and three sixes in his innings of 95 to setup a strong Somerset total. However, this was undone as some poor bowling from his teammates saw them defeated by four wickets by Hampshire.

8. Benny Howell takes 5 for 18. (Gloucestershire v Glamorgan at Cheltenham)

Glamorgan: 96/8 (Lloyd 21, Ingram 17, Howell 5-18, Tye 1-18)

Gloucestershire: Did Not Bat

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10505

There is often a lot to take from rained off games, especially in the white-ball formats where both teams come away with just a point. However, Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell was able to do a large of amount of damage before the rain came down and ruined what was to be an inevitable win for Gloucestershire. The experienced T20 player, who has plied his trade in Bangladesh for the Khulna Titans, used his constant changeups of deliveries to surprise the batsman and ended up running through the Glamorgan order, taking figures of 5-18.

7. Toby Roland-Jones takes five and a hattrick. (Glamorgan v Middlesex at Cardiff)

Glamorgan: 136 (Cooke 29, Lloyd 27, Roland-Jones 5-21, Finn 2-24)

Middlesex: 137/2 (Eskinazi 51, Malan 45no, de Lange 1-16, Douthwaite 1-35)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10531

How do you top getting a five-wicket haul? A hattrick of course, which is what Toby Roland-Jones did against Glamorgan. He took the big wicket of Glamorgan captain Colin Ingram in his first spell before returning to removed Owen Morgan for 11, before wrapping up the tail with a hattrick by removing Dan Douthwaite for 16 and then Marchant de Lange and Andrew Salter for golden ducks as Glamorgan’s campaign continued to falter and this won’t be the last time the Welsh county feature on this list.

6. Yorkshire hit 255 against Leicestershire. (Leicestershire v Yorkshire at Leicester)

Yorkshire: 255/2 (Kohler-Cadmore 96no, Lyth 69, Klein 1-40, Parkinson 1-53)

Leicestershire: 201/4 (Hill 49no, Lilley 47, Thompson 1-19, Bess 1-45)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10517

T20 cricket is known for its explosive style and run-saturated affairs. However, it is not often that teams score over 200 as this requires them to go at 10 runs an over from the very first over. Yorkshire went better than 200 as they smashed 255 against Leicestershire, that’s a run rate of 12.75!

Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Adam Lyth put on 116 in ten overs before West Indian overseas Nicholas Pooran came in and smashed 67 off just 28 balls. Leicestershire are arguably one of the weakest sides in the competitions what with them having no overseas players, but it was still an incredible batting performance from the Vikings.

5. Dawid Malan hits 117 versus Surrey (Middlesex v Surrey at Lords’)

Middlesex: 209/3 (Malan 117, Eskinazi 42, T.Curran 2-29, Tahir 1-40)

Surrey: 172/9 (Pope 47, T.Curran 31, Roland-Jones 4-35, Helm 2-26)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10518

From a superb team batting performance to a superb solo batting performance. Dawid Malan has always been constantly on the cusp of England’s white-ball side and he showed why this was the case as he dismantled a Surrey attack that contained international cricketers in Imran Tahir, Liam Plunkett and Tom Curran. His knock featured 11 fours and seven sixes and came at a strike rate of 205. A truly brilliant T20 innings.

4. Worcestershire chase down 182 in 12 overs. (Worcestershire v Durham at Worcester)

Durham: 181/8 (Lees 44, Handscomb 37, Pennington 2-26, Brown 2-38)

Worcestershire: 184/1 (Guptill 86no, Wessels 74, Carse 1-37, Raine 0-9)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10534

Chasing down a score above 180 in T20 games is often a tough ask but when it does happen, chases are often completed in 19 or 20 overs.

Worcestershire were set 182 to win by Durham but chased down in just 12 overs, at a run rate of 15.12 an over!

World Cup finalist Martin Guptill hit 86 of 31 balls and was supported by Riki Wessels who hit 74 off 29 balls as the Pears pulled off one of the best chases in T20 history.

3. Sussex and Surrey tie in thriller (Sussex v Surrey at Hove)

Sussex: 144/8 (Wright 76, Salt 27, Batty 3-20, T.Curran 2-32)

Surrey: 144/8 (Pope 43, Jacks 35, Mills 2-16, Archer 2-21)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10530

Jofra Archer returned to cricket after his break from a thrilling World Cup final as he featured in another tied game.

Former England batsman Luke Wright carried Sussex to a reasonable total of 144 for eight as the Sharks struggled in their batting innings as Gareth Batty claimed three wickets for Surrey.

In response, Surrey slipped to 71 for four but vital runs from Ollie Pope (43) gave the London-based county hope.

However, Tom Curran (19), Ryan Patel (0) and Rikki Clarke (16) all fell in quick succession leaving 41-year old Gareth Batty and 40-year old Imran Tahir needing 11 off the last over.

Incredibly Tahir smashed David Wiese for a six before the latter tightened up his bowling but the Surrey pair were still able to tie the game to conclude a thrilling game.

2. Glamorgan bowled out for 44 by Surrey with Tom Curran taking a hattrick. (Surrey v Glamorgan at The Oval)

Surrey: 141 (Jacks 40, Finch 28, Salter 4-23, de Lange 4-26)

Glamorgan: 44 (Fakhar 17, Cooke 13, T.Curran 3-3, Batty 3-7)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10523

Glamorgan’s woeful T20 campaign got even worse when they took on Surrey as they were bowled out for the joint third-lowest T20 total of all time.

With the ball they started well as the Welsh county bowled Surrey out for a measly 141 with only Will Jacks, Aaron Finch and Jordan Clark offering any resistance.

However, this hard work by the bowlers was completely undone when the batsman took the field.

Their collapse started in just the second over when Tom Curran took a hattrick by dismissing David Lloyd for four and then Colin Ingram and Billy Root first ball.

Owen Morgan fell for two when he was caught by wicketkeeper Ollie Pope off Jade Dernbach to make the score nine for four.

Fakhar Zaman and Chris Cooke added brief resistance before Surrey wrapped up the last six wickets for just 11 runs to end an embarrassing innings for Glamorgan.

1. Cameron Delport hits 129 off just 49 balls in mammoth Essex total. (Essex v Surrey at Chelmsford)

Essex: 226/4 (Delport 129, Lawrence 51, Batty 2-38, Dernbach 1-21)

Surrey: 174/7 (Burns 47no, Clark 45, Quinn 3-34, Snater 2-44)

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/10507

Cameron Delport produced one of the best T20 innings of all time in a rain-affected game in Chelmsford.

With heavy rain reducing the match to 15 overs, Delport set out to attack from ball one as he smashed 14 sixes and seven fours in his stunning knock of 129 coming at a staggering strike rate of 263.26.

He was ably supported by Dan Lawrence who incredibly batted at a higher strike-rate then his teammate at 271.42 in his knock of 57.

Essex reached a mammoth total of 226 for four off their 15 overs, requiring Surrey to bat at 15 an over from the first over.

The bowlers backed up a superb batting performance as they reduced Surrey to 86 for six before some late hitting from Jordan Clark and Rory Burns provided some solace for Surrey but the total was to much for them as Essex cruised to victory.

For more cricket content click here: http://www.overtimeonline.co.uk/category/cricket/

For our summary of England’s Test versus Ireland click here: http://www.overtimeonline.co.uk/cricket-weekly-column-overtimes-cricket-world-cup-best-xi/

Featured image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DeathofEnglishCricket.jpg

Stay tuned for more Cricket Weekly next week!

Sub-edited by Tony Robertson

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