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.
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 🙂
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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