0England and Wales Cricket Board logoSummer 2016 — A good summer

So, the 2016 crick­et sea­son is over and the foot­ballers are back dom­in­at­ing the tabloids and the TV. What did we make of this year in inter­na­tion­al crick­et and domest­ic crick­et.

Eng­land v Sri Lanka

Well, we did­n’t learn very much to be hon­est. A dis­ap­point­ingly 1‑sided series with Sri Lanka rebuild­ing after the retire­ment of sev­er­al of their most key play­ers in recent years. From England’s per­spect­ive all you can do is beat the oppos­i­tion put in front of you and they did just that, with Jonny Bair­stow tak­ing the hon­ours, and secur­ing his place in the Eng­land team for the fore­see­able future. The bowl­ers did their bit as usu­al, and “Rooooot” and Cap­tain Cook did the rest. The oth­er top order bats­men are still clearly an area of con­cern although Alex Hales did enough to secure his open­ing spot at least in the short term.

My biggest gripe was the loc­a­tion of the test matches. We don’t help Eng­land, and we don’t pro­duce excit­ing com­pet­it­ive crick­et matches if we play the first 2 test matches of the sum­mer at the most north­ern test grounds in the coun­try. Nor is the weath­er likely to be on our side. The res­ult­ing com­bin­a­tion of low tem­per­at­ures and 3‑day res­ults make for very chal­len­ging fin­an­cial cir­cum­stances for the hosts of such matches. Durham’s fin­an­cial woes and sub­sequent loss of test host­ing status and releg­a­tion this sea­son at least par­tially res­ult from the tim­ing of the tests played there.

Eng­land v Pakistan

What a bril­liant series. Pakistan are an excel­lent team, and at times they played the best crick­et of the sum­mer. If they had man­aged to be con­sist­ent they could and prob­ably should have won the series, but Eng­land are a side who pun­ish you if you let your guard down and Pakistan had a few too many ses­sions where they let their con­cen­tra­tion lapse. In the cir­cum­stances a 2–2 draw was a fair res­ult, and rightly sent Pakistan to the top of the world test rank­ings. The meas­ure of a really good side is the abil­ity to per­form in for­eign con­di­tions, and Pakistan did that. Even more impress­ive was the spir­it in which the matches were played, all the more impress­ive giv­en some of the his­tory between the sides and the boo­ing aimed at Mohammad Amir.

England’s upcom­ing winter

England’s home per­form­ance against Pakistan does not leave me feel­ing optim­ist­ic about their winter tour to Bangladesh and India. I expect Eng­land to win in Bangladesh, as I’m sure most people do, how­ever I also expect them to make hard work of it, and to have a very tough time in India. The focus will be on the bowl­ers, with Eng­land lack­ing many qual­ity spin options, but if the bats­men per­form Eng­land can sur­prise India and should at least be able to take a draw. I have ser­i­ous doubts about the cur­rent Eng­land bats­men doing the job in India how­ever. We’ve been too reli­ant on Cook, Root, and the lower order. We need some oth­er play­ers with the class to play long peri­ods of spin. I’d actu­ally like to see a double recall of Bell and KP — both of whom have made a lot of runs in India in the past, but pigs will fly before that hap­pens. In their absence I’m pre­dict­ing a chas­tising series defeat for Eng­land at the hands of the recently world-top­ping India.

County Cham­pi­on­ship

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Middle­sex. As a proud York­shire­man I was of course dis­ap­poin­ted that York­shire wer­en’t able to win a 3rd suc­cess­ive title, but of course, if one side keeps dom­in­at­ing then the tour­na­ment becomes less inter­est­ing, so it was good for crick­et to see the title change hands. The excite­ment of the final day was superb and a real advert for the county game, with the pos­sib­il­ity very alive on the final day of the sea­son that 3 dif­fer­ent sides could all win the title. Next sea­son I’m look­ing for­ward to the title return­ing to it’s home back here in York­shire 🙂

Over­all

A great sum­mer. There was an absence of scan­dal, a lot of excit­ing crick­et, and a clear con­tinu­ation of the spir­it of crick­et that the vis­it of New Zea­l­and rein­vig­or­ated a couple of years back. Let’s hope Eng­land can carry the pos­it­ive energy from the sum­mer for­ward and sur­prise us in the sub­con­tin­ent.

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