England back in the shining spotlight | Daily News


 

England back in the shining spotlight

Let's thank small mercies. Rather than lock down cricket completely, at least we had England opening the doors to the two teams to round up a wonderful series with victories over the West Indies and Pakistan at home. Take a bow England

The series was played behind closed doors with no spectators allowed which to an extent dimmed the interest, and made it look like a funeral parlour, yet it could not be helped, because it was done in the interest and safety of all.

With the absence of the spectators the England and Wales Cricket Board were deprived of the all-important revenue which could not be helped.

The curse in the English cricket scene is the fickle weather, especially the cold and the intermittent showers that continue to plague the game. England players are quite at home in these condition. Its the tourists from warmer countries who find it difficult to unwind and play their natural game and show their prowess.

The first foreign team to step out into the playing fields of England were the West Indies. They were not expected to trouble the home team who had the better players man for man and home conditions favoring them.

But after stunning England in the First of Three Tests where they turned the cricket world upside down, the Windies were no hopers in the next Two Tests and succumbed meekly which would have had their former greats hiding their faces in shame.

But West Indies, from the time they stepped into the big league, have based cricket on the fact that the ball is there to be hit. And hit they will. And with no care whether it is a good or bad ball and not to be caressed like some damsel.

The mention of the word damsel brings to mind what Gary Sobers who was then the coach of the Sri Lanka team said at cocktail party when Abu Fuard introduced me to Sobers.

Sri Lanka were down to playing a Test in Asgiriya. I asked Gary what he would do first after reaching Asgiriya :whether he would have a look at the wicket. Promptly came the reply: ‘No. I would first grab a damsel’, to much laughter by Gamini Dissanayake who was then the cricket President and ‘Killi’ Rajmahedren who was Vice President. That was Sobers the greatest all rounder produced in the game for you.

Back to the topic and West Indies will never again produce the champion cricketers they produced in the early 1960s when Frank Worrell led the team to Australia for a Test series that rewrote the record books by playing the first ever tied Test in Brisbane. Australia was led by their great Richie Benaud.

That Windies team had Sobers, Kanhai, Hunte, Smith, Nurse, Hall, Watson, Griffith, Gibbs and Solomons who come to mind. It was Soloman who threw down the wicket to run out the Aussie last man to signal the first ever tied Test in the history of the game.

Then the Windies glorious years were the 1970s and ’80s when Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards led them. The greats in those teams were Greenidge, Fredricks, Haynes, Lloyd, Richards, Gomes, Logie and the terror fast bowlers in Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft, Marshall, Daniel and Boyce who were simply feared and unplayable.

West Indies cricket will never again see the likes of those greats who were great attractions where ever they played with their brilliance in their respective departments of the game.

With rain and bad light continuing to interrupt, the third and final Test between England and Pakistan ended in a draw and England pocketed their second series victory which should strengthen their claims to become the Test Champions of cricket. England will be savoring the sweet taste of success while Pakistan who visited with high hopes which were dashed.

In the drawn Third Test, England’s Zak Crawley 267 and Jos Buttler 152 made the Pakistanis chase leather that took England to 583 for 8 dec. and left the Pakistani batsmen to sink or swim with odds favoring England for an innings win which would have been a reality had not rain and bad light curtailed play for most of the Test.

Pakistan managed 273 with classic knock of 141 by captain Azhar Ali and having the ignominy of following on were 187 for 4 when the adverse weather saved them from yet another big defeat.

Anyway Pakistani need not be disappointed with their series loss. They have some talented cricketers ably led by Azhar Ali and a great coaching staff comprising Misbah ul Haq, Waqar Younis pace bowling coach, Mshtaq Ahmed spin bowling coach and Younis Khan batting coach.

In the final Test England paceman James Anderson a hard working bowler richly deserved bagging his 600th Test wicket in a glittering career that is nearing its end.

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