Our T20 World Cup campaign commenced with a thrilling six-run win against West Indies. A rather strike starved Jos Buttler (66*) carried his bat meanwhile captain Liam Livingstone (45 off 22) and Ben Stokes (39 off 24) helped get us to 195. A seven ball 16 from Jofra Archer proved vital. Despite Shimron Hetmyer striking an unbeaten 103 from only 59 deliveries, we clung on! Absurdly, we then lost to Pakistan by… 6 runs! This was despite 92 not out off 51 balls from Ben Duckett. We then restricted South Africa to just 138-9 with Archer claiming 5-21! Opening batsmen Duckett (68) and Buttler (43) more than lay the foundations of a successful eight-wicket run chase. We then chased down 185 to beat Sri Lanka. A fifty wicket partnership of 80 between Livingstone (44) and Sam Curran (42* off 31) was crucial. Ollie Pope hit 16 from only eight balls to all but take us over the line. After that we restricted Bangladesh to 144 all out (Stokes 3-9, Payne 3-24) before Duckett (54) and Livingstone (27* off 12) led the wat to a five wicket win. Onto the semi-final…
David Payne (4-24) and Sam Curran (3-31) starred to limit India to just 136 all out. Benny Howell (4-0-20-0) and Mason Crane (2-0-10-0) backed them up by keeping things extremely tight. We never got going with the bat though and collapsed to just 91 all out. Joe Root’s 91 was the highest score of the innings and his highest of the tournament.
For Root, Stokes and Buttler, it was a sorry end to their international careers.
My tenure has, up to this point, been one where we’ve always been competitive. However our white-ball form has become inconsistent in recent times. We’ve also now narrowly failed to force last session victories in two Ashes series and lost a ODI and two T20I World Cup semi-finals. The emergence of players like batsman Henry Peters and pace bowler Oliver Taylor, fill me with confidence that the next generation will be even stronger and so, I’ll continue to lead the side.
We got back to winning ways with some thumping wins in Zimbabwe… though it wasn’t all plain sailing!
Henry Peters (235) struck a third Test double ton in as many series while Ollie Pope (186) and Zak Crawley (123) helped us post 795 all out, the highest total of my tenure. Match figures of 8-99 from Mason Crane spin is to victory in the first Test. We won the second match by ten wickets with Lewis Goldsworthy claiming 4-53 in the first dig on debut. He always made 66 in a last wicket stand of 80 with fellow debutante Saqib Mahmood (42*). Rob Yates (93), Ben Foakes (64) and Martin Andersson (55) were also in the runs. Ben Coad picked up a career best 4-73 in Zimbabwe’s second innings then Yates (50*) and Crawley (41*) took us to a series victory.
Ben Slater (85), Foakes (62) and a vital 44 not out from Dom Bess put a score on the board in the opening ODI. Bess then claimed 4-35 and Ed Barnard 3-14 to restrict the hosts to 190, 66 runs short of their target. Bess (3-16) and Barnard (3-27) did the damage again in the second match before Ollie Pope struck 89 not out to earn a seven wicket win. Sam Hain used up 67 deliveries for 25 to leave him still without a half-century in 18 ODIs (As well as 6 T20Is) despite a List A average above 50! Young pacer Mitchell Madden picked up 3-2 and part-time off-spinner Dan Lawrence 3-33 in the third ODI but despite and opening stand of 165, Ben Slater was as slow as ever, needing 132 balls to score 99. He’s scored 1075 runs in just 21 innings at an average of 51.19… but his strike-rate is just 76.60! Ben Duckett made 110 not out but we fell short by 13 runs. We bounced back with a stunning 16-run victory in the only T20I! We were 17-3 but Tony Skillbeck (Who’d previously had a rough introduction to international cricket) struck 29 batting at three before Ben Cox (24*) and the unlikely Tom Helm (29*) took us from 70-8 to 111-8. It still didn’t look enough but…Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson (3-29) and the superb left-arm pacer Luke Wood (2-29) gave us hope before stand-in skipper Lewis Gregory promptly bowled three balls and claimed a hat-trick to win the game. The Somerset man had been unlucky to miss out on selection recently but his record with the ball in T20 International cricket is impressive.
We then set off to play our old foes Pakistan… again!
What is it about us and great Test series? This one had more twists and turns than a rollercoaster! Crawley (187) and Yates (113) began the series with an opening stand of 270 before the recalled Dom Bess claimed 5-73. He went onto add 5-57 in the second innings as we ran out winners by 68 runs. Amazingly, Bess then claimed 5-35 to roll Pakistan out for just 171 after they’d elected to bat first in the second Test. Once we’d posted 453 (Yates 148), the series looked a forgone conclusion… but Pakistan got back with 464 before we collapsed to 114 all out (Naseem Shah 5-12) to lose by 67 runs. With the series level, Rob Yates (187) made it centuries in each match of the series. Having been reduced to 39-4, he put on 174 with Sam Curran (84). A Test ton still eludes Curran. Matthew Parkinson (3-39) finished off Pakistan’s first innings then Crawley hit 125 in our second. Michael Dyson (100*), brought into the side at the expense of off form Ollie Pope, registered a superb maiden Test hundred. We declared then our spinners, Parkinson (4-54), Bess (2-32) and Crane (2-11) sealed a whopping 304-run win an 2-1 series success. Yates totalled 521 runs at an average of 86.83 while Bess took 21 wickets at just 15.52 in the series. As a result, we were top of the Test rankings.
Our indifferent limited overs performances continued though as we went 2-0 in the ODIs. In-form claimed 6-59 in the second match but we couldn’t chase down 304 despite skipper Livingstone following a top score of 59 in the first match with a 45-ball 73. Bess (4-34) was at his best again in the dead rubber. The off-spinner finished off the hosts by taking four wicket wickets in as many balls! Henry Peters, no longer pigeon holed as a Test specialist struck 113 not out in an unbeaten combo of 175 with Dan Lawrence (80*). A maiden ODI ton for the former, an important knock for the latter and an eight-wicket win… but a series defeat. The result left us fourth in the rankings.
We then performed disgracefully in the T20 series. Score of 100 all out, 104-9 and a pathetic 79 all out were all that we could muster. Captain Liam Livingstone, promoted to opener and Ben Duckett made one double figure score between them at the top of the order. Tom Moores struggled to convert domestic performances into ones on the international stage. One positive was young Tony Skillbeck. He made 50 in the opening match and collected three wickets in the series. Clearly we need to revisit selection of of our XI in the shortest format. We sit seventh in the rankings.