11.28am EDT11:28 40th over: Pakistan 104-3 (Babar Azam 15, Asad Shafiq 0) Curran is bowling an excellent line to the new batsman Shafiq, on or around fourth stump for the most part. Another maiden. “Sometimes,” says Emma John, “I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.” I’m voting for Dukakis. 11.23am EDT11:23 39th over: Pakistan 104-3
40th over: Pakistan 104-3 (Babar Azam 15, Asad Shafiq 0) Curran is bowling an excellent line to the new batsman Shafiq, on or around fourth stump for the most part. Another maiden.
“Sometimes,” says Emma John, “I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.”
I’m voting for Dukakis.
39th over: Pakistan 104-3 (Babar Azam 15, Asad Shafiq 0) Babar is beaten thrice during an excellent over from Anderson that also includes an edge along the ground for a couple. Anderson was fortunate to play in this game but he has been close to his best.
38th over: Pakistan 102-3 (Babar Azam 13, Asad Shafiq 0) Asad Shafiq is beaten by his first ball. Curran has good figures of 8-1-19-1.
I don’t know whether he’s a golden arm on legs, a Chaminda Vaas tribute in the making or what, but Sam Curran always seems to make things happen. He has picked up Abid Ali for 60 with a nice piece of bowling. Curran followed a series of full, straight deliveries with a back-of-a-length ball angled across Adif Ali, who fenced it to second slip. Really good bowling, that. “He’s outfoxed him,” says Wasim Akram on commentary.
WICKET! Pakistan 102-3 (Abid Ali c Burns c Curran 60)
Let’s all keep writing Sam Curran off, shall we.
37th over: Pakistan 96-2 (Abid Ali 54, Babar Azam 13) Babar Azam plays a beautiful stroke, jumping back in his crease to caress Anderson through midwicket for four.
“Following up Karl’s point,” says Philip Rebbeck, “if you are comparing Tufnell to Warne the more salient point would be wickets per test. Warne took nearly 5 wickets per Test throughout his career, which is extraordinary, the Cat fewer than 3.”
Oh, I don’t think anyone was comparing them overall, just in terms of economy rate. Even Tufnell didn’t do that, except to lament that that fella’s making me look fakkin ordinary.
36th over: Pakistan 89-2 (Abid Ali 51, Babar Azam 9) There’s a soupcon of swing for Curran, no more than that, and Babar Azam deals with him comfortably. As admirable (and matchwinning) a cricketer as Curran is, I can’t help thinking England should have picked Ollie Robinson or Mark Wood. I told you, I can’t help it!
35th over: Pakistan 87-2 (Abid Ali 51, Babar Azam 7) Abid Ali edges Anderson short of slip and through for a couple of runs. That takes him to a fiercely determined fifty, the first of his Test career (he has two hundreds and an average of 81, which takes the sting out of that potential statgasm). He is beaten off the last ball of the over, fencing needlessly at a back-of-a-length delivery outside off.
“I’ve just noticed Tim’s reference to Doug Bollinger and his hilarious hot hair piece, and other cricketers who have spotted rugs,” says Steve Hudson. “Does anyone else remember Didier Camberabero, the French fly half, who turned up to the 1991 rugby world cup with a very obvious wig? Amazingly, no-one managed to pull it off, which is incredible.”
Have we mentioned the bald Sanath Jayasuriya, who was bald, dislocating his shoulder while reaching for the shampoo, while bald? I used to find this entirely hilarious until the day arrived and I realised that, yep, even bald men use shampoo for the bits at the side.
34th over: Pakistan 85-2 (Abid Ali 49, Babar Azam 7) Curran has one delivery remaining in his sixth over. It’s a wide yorker that is defended by Abid Ali.
“Dear Rob,” says Karl White. “I read this last night and haven’t been blown away by a cricket fact as much in years. As a 1990s Test fan, I felt obliged to share with you: ‘His [Phil Tufnell’s] Test economy rate, though, was a fantastic 2.42 — which made him the third-best in the 1990s with anyone over a hundred Test wickets — behind just Curtly Ambrose and Shaun Pollock, and ahead of the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, and Anil Kumble.’”
I make the statistics slightly different (career economy rate 2.42, 2.37 in the 1990s) but it’s still an excellent spot. It doesn’t surprise me he had a decent economy rate, though I’m surprised it was that good. The spectacular start to his career helped, with matchwinning performances like the one in Christchurch in 1991-92: 46.1-25-47-7 puts a lot of credit in the economy-rate bank. It also helped that he only played two Tests in the 2000s, when scoring rates went through the roof. Shane Warne, for example, had an economy rate of 2.39 in the 1990s and 2.95 in 2000s. And poor old Tuffers was marmalised by Australia in his last appearance.
“It’s the first time in three days it’s been cool enough to leave my flat so I’m going out for a walk and DARING this thunderstorm to intervene and stop me. (I was quite, quite cross when I discovered the rain that swept across the rest of the country skirted London yesterday.) Please could you organise for there to be some cricket for me to listen to as I walk?”
Who do you think I am, Donnie Darko?
Play will resume at 4pm.
There will be another inspection at 3.45pm BST, 3.45am SST (on Friday).
“Afternoon, Rob,” says Digvijay Yadav. “Where do you stand on this Archer business? I think he’s done alright in his first year in Test cricket but England (or the fans) think if he’s going to bowl mid 80s and swing it around there are about five other blokes who can do the same, to say nothing of the fact that unless he channels his inner Frank Tyson, England won’t be able to regain those Ashes.”
I think we’re a weird little country that can’t cope with being gifted a once-in-a-generation talent. Archer’s been an England player for 15 months. In that time he’s starred in a World Cup win, taken three Test five-fors, been involved in the most exhilarating head-to-head battle in an England match since Donald v Atherton, been involved in another with Matthew Wade, hooped the ball round corners like Sir Alec Bedser to skittle Australia, been overbowled and underbowled, been racially abused by people who will never know better and treated with a thundering lack of empathy by those who should. I’ve no idea how we got to this position, but it’s wearingly familiar and I’m pretty worried. If I was in charge I would send him off to the white-ball bubble; a fortnight or so with Eoin Morgan would do him the world of good.
“’noon, Rob,” says Ian Copestake. “So where do you ‘stand’ on the MBM contributor style guide regarding to ‘double-quote’ or not? Be warned though, hombre: “Don’t push too far your dreams are china in your hand/Don’t wish too hard, because they may come true.”
Tim’s right. This is not infrequently the case, as he’s the finest editor I’ve ever met. In this case, we use double quotes for the email, so any quotes within that email should be single marks. Liveblogs are so frantic that consistent house style often takes a hit (diacritical marks, for eg), but it’s nice to do things properly when we can. There’s nothing worse than waking up at tree o’clock, in a cold sweat, and dashing upstairs to check whether you had the correct quotation marks on the latest Mac Millings XI.
“A large thunderstorm has also curtailed my planned lunchtime gardening activities here,” says Kim Thonger, “so I’ve wasted the early afternoon compiling teams for a potential Disney v Pixar Test Match. Surprising how many characters have names that sound splendid in a scorecard situation. For example: Abraham DeLacey c Peter ‘Claws’ Ward b Finn McMissile 83.
- Abraham DeLacey
- Giuseppe Casey
- Thomas O’Malley
- Scrooge McDuck (Wicketkeeper)
- James Hook (Captain)
- Prince Charming
- Jiminy Cricket
- John Smith
- Shere Khan
- Christopher Robin
- Horace Horsecollar
- Auguste Gusteau
- Mike Wazowski
- Brent Mustangburger
- Bob Gunderson
- Buzz Lightyear
- Peter “Claws” Ward (Wicketkeeper)
- James P. Sullivan
- Finn McMissile
- Dash Parr
- Lord MacGuffin (Captain)
- Stinky Pete the Prospector
Sheriff of Nottingham
Judge Claude Frollo
The umpires are chatting to the groundstaff. There are two problems: a) a wet outfield and b)
some malevolent clouds in the distance.
the innate futility of the human existence
The barest of margins I must say thanks to the kind folk at Allen & Unwin who sent me a copy of Morgan’s Men by Nick Hoult and Steve James. Apparently England won the World Cup last year, which sounds like a great yarn, and this is the inside story of how it happened. I’m three chapters in and it’s terrific stuff.
“Hi Rob,” says Graham. “Firstly, a shout out to Krakow Cricket Club in Poland is always welcome. We’re still going strong although this year our only visitors came from the Warsaw Hussars (the only Polish only cricket team!). Secondly, elephant in the room for this Test is surely the weather forecast. Can we get a result in the 6-7 sessions of play we’re likely to manage in Southampton in the next four days?”
If we only get six or seven sessions it’ll be a draw. But the forecast I’m looking at isn’t that bad. (I’m not saying my forecast is better than your forecast, btw. Though it is from the Met Office, now you mention it.)
Thanks Tim, afternoon everyone. It’s stopped raining in Southampton and there will be an inspection at 3.15pm.
After my little plea about quote marks, Adrian Goldman responded by saying he would be “citing” me, complete with chevrons. “Now’s my chance,” he adds, gleefully. “Yes, someone: «In his last few Tests, he’s been thrifty, accurate but not penetrating, and after that bright start this performance seems to be heading the same way.»” As the players say, gotta hold my hand up.
And that’s it from me, with Rob Smyth all set to take over. Thanks for your thoughts on everything from selection to hair loss – see you tomorrow.
By the bucket load
The Hampshire groundstaff sprang into action, but even so Ian Ward on Sky reckons we’re in for a 45-minute delay, which is frustrating for fans of Jimmy Anderson, Babar Azam and good contests.
“Hair,” says a crisp subject line from Bob O’Hara. “Harkarn Sumal [31st over] forgot, or was not aware of, Doug Bollinger’s hair issues, which gained some brief notoriety a few years ago.” We just need that keeper.
Rain spoils fun, again
Mid-34th over: Pakistan 85-2 (Abid Ali 49, Babar Azam 7) Sam Curran comes back, bowls a few dots and then has to trot off, along with everyone else, as that lowering cloud empties itself. It’s now raining so hard that the screen has gone white.
“Without wishing to do down Jofra,” says Ian Batch, “it strikes me that the first thing England need to know is if he really wants to bowl fast in Test matches. Take a look at S Gabriel earlier this summer, still steaming in whilst every muscle in his body was rebelling. So far in a short and [mainly] successful Test stint, Jofra has been a ‘daisy’ – some days he does, some days he doesn’t bowl fast – not all of that can be down to rhythm and conditions. Maybe it’s unsurprising when you consider his meteoric rise through the short forms to the Test team. Once Jofra really commits himself to wanting to be an express pace bowler then England should support him fully, mentally, physically and tactically to try and ensure this once in a generation talent is not wasted, we’re not going to win in Australia without him!”
33rd over: Pakistan 85-2 (Abid Ali 49, Babar Azam 7) Another three to Babar as he clips Anderson gently through midwicket.
32nd over: Pakistan 82-2 (Abid Ali 49, Babar Azam 4) Babar isn’t going to hang around. He plays and misses at Broad, then repeats the stroke and picks up three to the cover fence, where Woakes pulls off a Mr Immaculate stop.
“Morning Timmers!” said Hamish Kuzminski, a while ago. “Segueing from the last Test’s OBO conversations about cricket in Germany, I thought I’d send you a link to our local team’s website here in Friedrichsdorf, just North of Frankfurt. Jolly competent they are. Good looking bunch as well. It’s only available in Germish, but I think readers will get the gist all the same.
“We had significant rain here overnight, the first proper precipitation in months, and given that the square this summer has been akin to distressed concrete, at the weekend I suspect the ball will be whizzing off the track like Barnes Wallis’s you-know-whats. No game today, only nets – so the likelihood of seeing some scary swinging is low. Auf wiedersehen, pal.”
31st over: Pakistan 79-2 (Abid Ali 49, Babar Azam 1) So that’s the end of a fine partnership of 72, a classic ship-steadier. Pakistan could so easily be five down here. Those grey skies are getting even darker, alas.
And here’s an urgent question from Harkarn Sumal. “How far are we from being able to put together a solid Advanced Hair Studios XI?” he wonders. “Over the years we’ve had openers Gooch and Vaughan, bowlers Gough and Warne, and ooh, wait, what’s this? [Scroll down, past Warne and Gough.] Gautam Gambhir, Martin Crowe (gawd rest his soul), Sourav Ganguly, Greg Matthews all available for selection. We’re up to a strong IX here, to contest the AHSes (ahem). And Ben Stokes has had a suspiciously lustrous rebound up top in the last year or two, so he could be on the fringes of selection too. We just need one more (ideally a wicketkeeper).”
Wicket!! Azhar Ali c Burns b Anderson 20 (Pakistan 78-2)
At last! An England slipper holds on to a catch, low to his right, and Azhar’s vigil is over. The ball was nice and full and fatally tempting. Did some idiot just start writing Anderson off again?
30th over: Pakistan 78-1 (Abid Ali 49, Azhar Ali 20) England still haven’t got a gully or a third man to mop up Abid’s guides and nicks, and he cashes in again with a stroke that is somewhere between the two. Then, for a change, he picks up two with a shovel off the hip.
29th over: Pakistan 72-1 (Abid Ali 42, Azhar Ali 20) Just a single to Azhar off Anderson, who now has figures of 10-3-20-1. In his last few Tests, he’s been thrifty, accurate but not penetrating, and after a bright start this performance seems to be heading the same way.
28th over: Pakistan 71-1 (Abid Ali 42, Azhar Ali 19) Broad is on the spot, but Azhar knows exactly where his off bail is and pulls off an inch-perfect leave. The cameras find the next man in sitting on the Pakistan balcony: Babar Azam, who, if he gets going, will give England even more trouble than these two.
27th over: Pakistan 71-1 (Abid Ali 42, Azhar Ali 19) Another guide from Abid, off Anderson – more of a nick this time, but angled down, with soft hands, and the result is the same, four. Joe Root may be beginning to regret leaving out both his truly fast bowlers.
One or two readers were confused by the Bowtell list – sorry. I took him to mean that this was each bowler’s record in his first ten Tests.
26th over: Pakistan 67-1 (Abid Ali 38, Azhar Ali 19) Broad beats Abid with a lifter that held its line; Abid retorts with an unruffled guide for four. And Nasser Hussain establishes that that appeal from Root was backed up by a little wiggle on Ultra Edge. Should he have had the courage of his convictions?
25th over: Pakistan 62-1 (Abid Ali 33, Azhar Ali 19) Anderson beats Azhar’s outside edge and Root goes up, but it’s a lonely appeal and he doesn’t feel strongly enough to review.
Tom Booth has been looking at Tom Bowtell’s stats for novice bowlers (13:02). “Broad’s figures for his first couple of years were indeed fairly poor with the ball (albeit compensated by good work with the bat). This was partly because he was under team orders to act as an ‘enforcer’, bowling too fast and too short to retain proper control. Not long after taking over, Flower publicly rescinded this and instead returned Broad to the line-and-length bowler he was always meant to be, with excellent results.” Good point. And this is your periodic reminder that it’s a big help to us if you can use single quotes, as everything you say may be taken down in evidence and put in double quotes.
24th over: Pakistan 62-1 (Abid Ali 33, Azhar Ali 19) Broad finishes his over under thick grey cloud and bright white lights. Broad is very full outside off, Abid Ali is leaving well alone and Jos Buttler is just about coping with a late wobble as the last ball dies on him.
Tom van der Gucht has been thinking about Steve Finn. “I’ve never fully fathomed what happened to him. Was it a lack of form and injury, or something psychological that has tragically left long-standing scars? In The Edge, he was very candid about a period when his mental health deteriorated which I assumed was during the Ashes tour when Giles described him as ‘unselectable’. At the time, I had taken that to mean he had issues with his action, but now wondered whether it was the latest ECB euphemism for mental health issues – such as Trescothick having a virus – which I suspect are used in order to protect the privacy of the players rather than out of fears of any stigma involved with the term. But, either way, it’s sad to see and I still regularly check the Middlesex scorecards in the hope that he’s playing and has taken a bucketload of wickets.”
Play stops rain
It looks as if they’re going to resume at 1.35.
“Hope you are melting nicely,” says Tom Bowtell. Ha. “With a low-level snarkiness/vague disappointment creeping in about Archer in certain quarters, I thought I’d check his stats against his peers and the most recent England quicks to get 100+ Test wickets. Turns out he’s doing pretty well. As Broad and Flintoff (66.42!) show, it takes time to nail fast bowling in Tests. It also makes me yearn for what might have been if Finn hadn’t got injured or messed around.”
Finn: 45 @ 25.24
Woakes: 34 @ 25.58
Gough: 43 @ 28.97
Archer: 38 @ 29.21
Hoggard: 41 @ 29.70
Anderson: 33 @ 31.51
Caddick: 35 @ 36.65
Harmison: 28 @ 36.78
Stokes: 28 @ 40.10
Wood: 26 @ 40.65
Broad: 26 @ 45.23
Flintoff: 7 @ 66.42
Very interesting. Was Broad really that bad?
Lunch: Pakistan 62-1
Yes, that is luncheon. And the morning belongs to Pakistan, who batted first and walked the walk by watching the swinging ball, riding their luck, and taking umpteen singles into the leg side as England bowled a touch too straight. Jimmy Anderson made his point by grabbing an early wicket, and the new old firm of Broad and Woakes would have had one each if the opening batsmen in the slips had done their job. For now, the Alis have it. See you shortly.
Rain stops play
Mid-24th over: Pakistan 62-1 (Abid Ali 33, Azhar Ali 19) Broad is back to replace Woakes. He finds the edge of Abid Ali’s bat – with a nip-backer, oddly – but the ball drops short of slips. The nicks this morning have either gone very low or fairly high. And then the umps do wave the players off.
23rd over: Pakistan 62-1 (Abid Ali 33, Azhar Ali 19) Anderson puts the plug back in by returning to the eternal verities and aiming at Azhar’s off stump. When he goes wider, Azhar can’t find that cut again, hanging out a limp 45-degree bat that deserves to get a nick. Overall, though, he’s backed up his decision to bat with some sturdy defence. And he may get an early lunch as it’s now raining.
22nd over: Pakistan 62-1 (Abid Ali 33, Azhar Ali 19) Six off Woakes’s over as the batsmen continue to work the angles. By the time he gets to the sixth ball, Woakes is banging it in outside Abid’s off stump. He hasn’t been at his immaculate best, though that dropped catch would make anyone tear their Alice band out.
“Regarding Abid Ali’s recent problems,” says Pete Salmon, “it’s been a long time since I bought a cricket box, but a quick google seems to suggest that even the best are the same £3 plastic ones as 20 years ago. Given the advances in not only cricket technology but every single bit of technology in the world, this seems odd given what is at stake. Do test cricketers have some sort of wurtzite boron nitrade thingy down there, or is it all plastic at even the highest levels?” That is a great question. I’m hoping one of our readers is better placed than me to answer it.