Test cricket is BEST CRICKET! The indelible image above showing Jimmy Anderson frozen in position after being clean bowled by Mohammed Siraj and the India players celebrating around him tells a great deal of the story of the 2nd England v India Test at Lord’s. India declared their 3rd innings on the final day in a desperate attempt to prevent a draw, and unlike almost every other time this was attempted, it worked. Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj relentlessly hammered the England batting attack on Day 5, getting both openers, Rory Burns and Dom Sibley, out for ducks, another rare feat. This was followed by no other England batter managing better than 33, although Jos Buttler battled as best he could to preserve the draw over 96 fraught deliveries before finally succumbing to a caught behind. After Buttler, there were only two deliveries to the number 11 man Anderson before he struck his pose on the third one that rattled the stumps. What a performance by the visitors to get the victory. India take a 1-0 lead in the series after the opening draw, and the teams move on to Headingley in Leeds for the next Test starting August 25th.
Not to be outdone, if not overshadowed, were Pakistan and the West Indies. Did I mention that Test cricket is BEST CRICKET? In their first of two Tests, Pakistan entered the final innings on Day 4 at Sabina Park in Kingston looking to restrict the Windies to under 168, which wasn’t completely out of the question considering that the top score by either team to that point was 253 by West Indies and the wicket had deteriorated. Pakistan got out to a great start, getting three wickets from the pompadoured fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi in the first 8 overs. Jermaine Blackwood came on and delivered a crucial knock, though, getting 55 runs in a quick 78 balls to straighten things up a bit. After Roston Chase was taken out by Faheem Ashraf to end the Blackwood/Chase partnership at 68, things turned back around Pakistan’s way. Ashraf got Kyle Mayers for a duck, Blackwood was finally dismissed, and white-ball captain Jason Holder and keeper Josh Da Silva were limited to 16 and 13 respectively. A win for the visitors was in sight when number 8 man Kemar Roach stepped in. Afridi, Ahsraf, Hasan Ali and the others could not get him out, though, with Ali dropping what might have been the match-winning catch off Roach when he was only at 16. The Windies kept it going and eventually reached the total with only one wicket to spare. Roach ended at 30*, and Jayden Seales got player of the match for his 8 wickets, including a 5-fer in the 3rd innings. What a match. The two play a final Test at Sabina Park to close out the tour starting today.
Ok, so The Hundred ain’t so bad either. In fact, it’s been amazing for the Women’s game, and that alone is worth all the non-stop Twitter chatter about it. The Women’s eliminator starts at 9 am CT and features Oval Invincibles v Birmingham Phoenix at the Oval in London. The winner moves on to face the seemingly unbeatable Southern Brave at Lord’s tomorrow. Oval is led by a trio of terrific South Africans, captain Dane van Niekerk, van Niekerk’s wife, the allrounder Marizanne Kapp, and the diminutive but rapid fast bowler Shabnim Ismail. Birmingham will lose their opening batter, Shefali Verma, to India national team service and will have to rely on the Jones’ women, captain Amy and allrounder Eve, as well as the stylish opening bowler Issy Wong. Verma is a brutal loss for Birmingham since she can grab a game and put it out of reach by herself. Southern have been dominant in this comp, led by Sophia Dunkley and Danni Wyatt with the bat and Australia spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington and 6’0″ tall England fast bowler Lauren Bell with the ball.
The Men’s Hundred eliminator later today will have Brave v Trent Rockets, also at the Oval, with the winner also going to Lord’s tomorrow, to face Birmingham in this case. Southern has Quinton de Kock and James Vince leading the batting and Jake Lintott having an outstanding season with the ball. Trent has Dawid Malan and Alex Hales as top run scorers, and they also have Rashid Khan, who has no idea exactly what is happening with his family back in his home county of Afghanistan and is playing with the weight of a nation on his back. Birmingham has massive six-hitter Liam Livingstone and beloved England spinner Moeen Ali, who always seems to shine in these short-form competitions.
Week 4 of Minor League Cricket is happening this weekend. My Texas teams are traveling for the next couple of weeks. I won’t get to see them until September, when I hope the temperature has dropped a bit. Week 3 saw the first super over in the history of the league, at Moosa Stadium right here in Pearland, between Austin and St. Louis. Austin won after 19-year-old spinner Laksh Parikh took both St. Louis wickets and veteran batter Jannisar Khan bashed a match-winning six.