9th over: England 59-2 (Morgan 22, Bairstow 39) Morgan turns a slightly wide Cummins off his backside and down for four but Cummins then regroups and cramps him and no runs come from the remaining balls. Steve Smith walks round the ground, disposable mask under his chin, dark glasses covering his eyes.
8th over: England 54-2 (Morgan 18, Bairstow 34) Fifty up in the eighth, as Bairstow and Morgan move into cruise control.
7th over: England 47-2 (Morgan 16, Bairstow 29) Pat Cummins is whistled up by Aaron Finch, the Patrick Swayze of the Australian side, but Bairstow is in belligerent mood, pecs bursting out of his shirt in bristling intent. He whips Cummins, high and with the wind for six, then through cover for four.
“Hi Tanya,” thumps Rendel Harris into his typewriter. “If we’re talking melancholy, a close second (more boiling rage than melancholy TBH) to not having seen any live cricket at all is the fact that Surrey CCC, in their wisdom, has arbitrarily decided that having had no cricket at all to watch members will still lose 75% of their membership fees for 2020; to add insult to injury the letter informing us of this invited us to forgo the 25% refund to help the club out. The fact that we’re better off than MCC members, who are getting no refund at all, isn’t much consolation. Can anyone think of any other business that has taken payment in advance, been unable to provide the goods/services paid for due to Covid, then decided it has the right to refuse to refund the monies paid?”
6th over: England 37-2 (Morgan 16, Bairstow 19) England have refound their head, they’re so good at this stuff now. Morgan dances down the pitch at Hazlewood – it looked pre-meditated – and cuts him for four. Then hooks him – quick hands-to the deep-square rope. Three overs for 20.
5th over: England 25-2 (Morgan 7, Bairstow 16) A stylish whip off the toe of Bairstow’s boots sends Starc back over his head for four, which is followed next ball by a squished-up fly-swat which flies off the top edge for another boundary. Awkward but effective. Tick, tock.
“Absolutely brilliant article from Rebecca that you linked to earlier,” writes “It got me thinking that perhaps the OBO contributions from readers should be subjected to some sort of age-based algorithm to ensure that the next generation of inveterate witterers get their head. As someone who recently looked down the biscuit barrel of 39 and has for several weeks now had his hand deep in that particular jar, I doubt very much to benefit from this new system, but if that’s the quality of output we can expect from the nonophytes of this world then I’ll happily disperse in to the eternal word pond.”
The biscuit barrel gets a lot deeper than 39…
4th over: England 13-2 (Morgan 4, Bairstow 8) This is proving quite the test for England. Bairstow unveils his late-cut to shoot the ball down to the short boundary, but other than that he is troubled by Hazlewood, edging short of slip and gesturing with irritation at the umpire for a wide that wasn’t given.
3rd over: England 9-2 (Morgan 4, Bairstow 4) Starc:, from the back a window cleaner, white cloth tucked into the back of his trousers, from the front a 1970s popstar, all swarthy facial hair and a thick black headband. Morgan plays him tentatively, unusure, feet not quite in the right place, nearly tempted into a swish, uncomfortable against the short stuff.
“Tanya,” writes John Starbuck. “I’ve got a feeling that neither side will use the full 50 overs in this game. It’ll be great if they do go the distance but there seems to be a change in the air now (end of term effect?).”
I think you could be right. Very hard to stay in the zone for the last few metres of a long race.
2nd over: England 8-2 (Morgan 4, Bairstow 4) Bairstow, who could only watch as Starc caused carnage at the other end, safely negotiates Hazlewood’s first four balls, then drives him, with panache, for four. Perhaps this is the way its going to be – boundaries, or wickets.
1st over: England 4-2 (Morgan 4, Bairstow 0) The hat-trick ball passes harmlessly down the legisde and Eoin Morgan, whose capacity to clear his mind is spooky, knocks the next delivery for four through cover. Interesting start by England. Roy was particularly furious, slamming his bat into the stairs and letting rip some of his juiciest catch-phrases.
WICKET! Root lbw Starc 0
Second ball! The ball swings into Root’s back pad and that’s that! He has a chat with Bairstow who takes a ridiculously long time to tell him that he’s got no chance on review. Hat-trick ball!
WICKET Roy c Maxwell b Starc 0
First ball! Roy’s eyes light up at a ball outside off stump, he has a dart and the ball flies straight into the hands of Maxwell at backward point.
The Aussies walk out in bright banana yellow to a very dramatic version of Jerusalem, and Mitchell Starc has the new ball..
Something to throw into the mix: because of the position of the pitch, there is an extremely short boundary on the left hand side of the ground, with the wind blowing towards that rope.
Do write in with your summer thoughts/melancholy on this final day of men’s cricket this season.
England: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wkt), Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch (capt), Marcus Stoinis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wkt), Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood.
Thanks to Nick Moreton for pointing out this smashing article by the Guardian’s young sports writer of the year, age 7-9, Rebecca Close. A sensational idea, wonderfully done. Congratulations!
Australia are unchanged – so no Steve Smith for England to worry about. He’s still “a little big groggy.” Finch would have batted as well. It is breezy out there, his shirt rustling across his chest. Australia “mis-executed” on Sunday, he’s hoping for better today.
England have won the toss and will bat
Sam Curran, most unluckily, misses out for Mark Wood. “Sam’s an extremely young, versatile cricketer but we’ve gone for extra pace.”
The bio bubble has its challenges and you can’t but think there will be an air of last day at school to today’s proceedings.
“It’s almost one day at a time…” said Justin Langer when asked yesterday. “it’s just when you start looking ahead to when we get home and then quarantine and how the summer looks and if you keep looking too far ahead, then it gets challenging.”
Jofra Archer, who has spent more days in the bio bubble than any other player, was more outspoken. “It has been mentally challenging. We’ve been here for 16 weeks. It is going to be more rare going home or being normal again. Here (OT) has become the new normal. We’ll have to adjust agains when we get some time off.”
They haven’t got long to rest – Australia and England’s IPL players fly to Dubai on Thursday to join their franchises.
Good early afternoon from Old Trafford, where the sun is high, the cabbage whites are having a last autumn flutter and England play their final match of this long, strange, covid summer.
And what a few months they’ve had – albeit tucked inside the bio-secure bubble – series wins against West Indies in the Tests (2-1), Ireland in the one-dayers (2-1), Pakistan in a Test series (1-0), Australia in the T-20s (2-1), a drawn T-20 series against Pakistan (1-1), and yet, after all that, this final game perfectly poised – with both Australia and England having won one game each.
Like all of England’s opponents this summer, Australia have had to arrive, bubble, and hit the ground running. After an easy win the the first ODI, it seemed they had made up for lost time, but the batting collapse on Sunday night will have pursued Justin Langer into the night. Australia hope to bring Steve Smith back into the team after his concussion scare, but Langer said Smith was “rusty” in the nets and a late call will be made.
England face a difficult choice of whether to bring back Mark Wood and Moeen Ali to replace to the Curran brothers, who couldn’t have done much more to retain their places. The pitch at Old Trafford is a new one, so Moeen could well miss out.
Other things to watch out for: Archer’s continued mastery over Warner, Sam Curran’s golden arm, Adam Zampa’s irresistibility, the Manchester DJ’s last tunes of summer.
Play starts at 1pm – see you there!