Time for a quick review of the BBC coverage. It was sparky, inclusive, full of good humour. Anderson, as our correspondents have noted, was illuminating about his craft. Phil Tufnell wasn’t, but we knew to expect that from TMS: he’s all about being Phil Tufnell, rather than actually saying anything.
Isa Guha was excellent as a frontperson, not quite so good as a commentator, when she forgot the first rule of questions in journalism – keep them short and open. Vaughan was Vaughan, as analytical as Nasser Hussain but not as concise. Shan Masood was wryly likeable. Andy Zaltzman, the stand-up comic who doubles as the TMS scorer, was the wittiest of the lot. All told, I did miss the sound of silence, but then Richie Benaud isn’t with us any more. And this is a more frantic form of the game than he ever found himself covering.
Thanks for your company, your emails and your Beeb jokes. The last word goes to Janet Stevens, picking up on my response to Tom Bowtell (16:07). “I agree that he chose the word carefully,” she says. “However I think his “their” is not a pronoun but rather a possessive adjective.” Bang to rights! Welcome to the Association of Cricket-Loving Pedants. But, next time, would you mind using single quotes?
So the BBC get something that didn’t come along too often in the Nineties: an England win. It was achieved at more than ten runs an over, with an aplomb that would have been quite unthinkable in those days. And without eight of last year’s World Cup winners – Jason Roy, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.
“In my time,” says Michael Vaughan, “ we were struggling to find five or six white-ball players. Now we’ve got 25 or 30.” That’s an exaggeration, but not an outrageous one.
“Even in the Test team,” adds Anderson, “there’s a lot of competition for places.” That “even” has a nice touch of humility.
“I’m a newbie,” says John Dench, “but what’s the relevance of wickets to margin of victory in T20? Surely overs/runs remaining is the measure in this game when the second to bat wins.” Fair point, though wickets do count too, and they are still the official yardstick, even if they shouldn’t be. Let’s say England won by five wickets and with five balls to spare.
The man-love is flowing, and not just for Morgan and Malan. “Jimmy really is superb as a commentator,” says Guy Hornsby. “Is there anything he’s not good at? I wonder what the odds are on Jimmy and Stuart commentating on 150 Tests together after they’ve both hung up their spikes? They seem to be made for bowling analysis, such is their love of it.” The commentary box is in danger of going like the England white-ball teams, with too much talent to fit into one line-up. Mark Butcher, who is fearlessly forthright, can’t even get a game.
“Further to my comments about the BBC showing live cricket for the first time in 21 years,” said Nigel Phillips a few minutes ago, “it strikes me this game might be over by 6pm.” And so it came to pass. “I remember they used to last five days. What the hell is happening? Covid nonsense.”
England win! By five wickets (199-5, Malan 54)
Malan has the strike at the start of the 20th over and he calmly strokes Shaheen through the covers to get England over the line. That is a superb run-chase, though it could have been very different.
If Morgan had been given lbw when he was on 0, we would probably be congratulating Pakistan on a fine victory. As it is, Morgan and Malan got the job done with a spectacular partnership of 112 off 10.2 overs – half ice-cold strokeplay, half canny calculation.
Wicket! Billings c Fakhar b Rauf 10 (England 195-5)
Billings! He flicks for four, over his left shoulder, then stands and delivers with a thwack down the ground for four more. The commentators are just calling him The Finisher when, with the scores level, he slaps Rauf to cover.
Mid-19th over: England 187-4 (Malan 50, Billings 2) Malan cover-drives Rauf for a comfy single. Billings digs out a yorker, a 90mph toe-ball, and that’s another single. Malan makes room to squeeze yet another single and reach 50 off 35 balls. His T20 international record is extraordinary.
18th over: England 184-4 (Malan 48, Billings 1) Billings hits a shot along the ground, which is more than poor old Moeen managed, and Malan takes a single off the last ball to keep the strike. England need 12 from 12.
Wicket!! Moeen c Babar b Shadab 1 (England 182-4)
After almost getting caught first ball, Moeen manages it off his second, chipping lamely to midwicket. Are England choking?
17th over: England 178-3 (Malan 44, Moeen 0) Needing only 23 off 24 balls, England saw no reason to stop helping themselves from the buffet. Malan pulled the first ball of the over from Haris Rauf for four, but then Morgan perished, and Moeen is in no sort of form – it would surely have made more sense to send out Sam Billings. Well done Haris Rauf. Now England need 18 at a run a ball.
Wicket! Morgan c sub b Haris Rauf 66 (England 178-2)
They’ve got him! For once, Morgan doesn’t fully get hold of his swing to leg, and it’s a simple catch for the sub fielder at deep square. Is it too late, or can Pakistan turn this round?
16th over: England 173-2 (Malan 39, Morgan 66) Malan has been playing a shrewd second fiddle to Morgan, but now he cuts Imad for four and cover-drives him for four more. This partnership is 107 from 9.3 overs. Somewhere in the skies, the old BBC commentators wonder what on earth is going off out there.
15th over: England 162-2 (Malan 29, Morgan 65) Mohammad Amir emerges from the dressing-room, but only to be given his marching orders by Babar – he’s clearly unfit. Another left-arm quick, Shaheen, comes back on, and aftre a rather harsh call of wide, Morgan clips a low full toss for six to reach a fabulous fifty. He almost blows it next ball, bottom-edging into the crease, setting off for a single, thinking better of it and only escaping because Shaheen’s kick goes wide of the stumps. That was untypically uncool from Morgan, but he gathers himself, swings for four, chips for four, and finally nicks for four more. That’s 20 off the over. Morgan has 65 off 31 balls, and Pakistan simply have to get rid of him.
14th over: England 142-2 (Malan 28, Morgan 47) Shadab returns from his ponderings and he too goes for six as Malan plays a slog sweep. England need 54 off the last six overs. These two batsmen have put them right on top, but there’s still time for it all to go wrong.
13th over: England 130-2 (Malan 19, Morgan 45) Babar keeps Haris Rauf on and Morgan swings his first ball away square for another six. Shaheen Shah Afridi fetches the ball from the stand, rather forlornly. The last ball is a full toss and Morgan thwacks it over mid-off for four, to go to 45 off 24 balls. England have hit 31 off two overs: controlled carnage.
12th over: England 117-2 (Malan 17, Morgan 34) Iftikhar continues and Morgan immediately plays a phenomenal shot, going inside-out, with fast hands, and getting six over extra-cover. That deserved ten. Malan joins the fun by rocking back and cutting for four, and then Morgan follows suit. That’s 18 off the over, and this partnership is already worth 51, off 33 balls.
11th over: England 99-2 (Malan 10, Morgan 23) Off goes Shadab, to ponder the fickleness of fate, and on comes Haris Rauf, who is, of all the bizarre things, a right-arm seamer. He dishes up some yorkers and Morgan manages to dig them out, but the over goes for only five, which is not enough for England.
10th over: England 94-2 (Malan 8, Morgan 20) A few singles and a two off Iftikhar, who looks harmless but isn’t easy to hit. At the halfway stage, England need 102, which is feasible if Morgan stays there for at least five more overs. Mohammad Rizwan, who is a fabulous wicketkeeper, is blotting his copybook by talking non-stop into the stump mike. At this rate, he too will become a commentator, and he won’t even have to retire first.
9th over: England 88-2 (Malan 6, Morgan 16) Morgan sees those figures of Shadab’s and decides to ruin them with a slog-sweep for six. That’s off the first ball of the over, then, after some milking, Morgan pummels the last for four, back past the bowler. Shadab now has 2-0-16-2, as Dr Ebb slips into his seat next to Mr Flow.
8th over: England 74-2 (Malan 5, Morgan 3) So England have two left-handers, and two veterans. Dawid Malan opens his face and shows his class with a late dink for four off Iftikhar.
7th over: England 67-2 (Malan 0, Morgan 1) That was a thrilling first over from Shadab Khan, who turned the innings round in the space of two balls. His figures are ridiculously good: 1-0-2-2.
That was umpire’s call on impact too, and because it hadn’t been given out by Martin Saggers, Morgan escapes. Is that going to be a turning point?
Review! Morgan may be lbw b Shadab
Not given, but it looks good…
Wicket!! Banton lbw b Shadab 20 (England 66-2)
Another one! Banton misreads the top spinner, sweeping, missing, and finding the ball hurrying on to hit his right thigh. He reviews, it’s hitting, and it’s umpire’s call on the impact, so he has got to go. One brings two, and Pakistan are back on top.
Wicket! Bairstow c Imad b Shadab 44 (England 66-1)
The breakthrough! Bairstow top-edges a sweep, Imad takes it comfortably on the 45, and Shadab, who started an England collapse on Friday, has taken a big wicket with his second ball. Bairstow’s 44 came off only 24 balls, at a personal rate of 11 an over.
6th over: England 65-0 (Banton 19, Bairstow 44) Amir is going to finish this over even if it kills him. Bairstow thwacks him for two twos, and that’s the end of the powerplay. England are 14 ahead of where Pakistan were at this stage, but then Hafeez had yet to make his entrance.
“Jimmy Anderson,” says my colleague Stephen Moss on Twitter, “is an excellent commentator/analyst. Long media career ahead if he wants it.” Yes – though, as in the wickets table, Stuart Broad will be hot on his heels. And Mark Wood will make a great presenter when his dodgy ankle finally defeats him.
Mid-6th over: England 61-0 (Banton 19, Bairstow 40) Bairstow plays the first-ball trick on Amir again, staying deep in the crease, waiting for the cutter, and swinging it over square leg for six. Amir seems to have an injury, and it’s not just a bruise to his ego. He manages a dot ball, only the seventh in 33 balls, but he seems to have gone in the hamstring. Something possesses him to bowl one more ball, and then he’s flat on his back, and there’s a delay while the physio attends to him. Two balls of the powerplay to come.
5th over: England 53-0 (Banton 18, Bairstow 33) Back comes Shaheen, from a different end. An attempted yorker turns into a full toss that is also a no-ball. Bairstow clonks it for two and scampers back for the free hit, which is a monster slog, all height and not enough distance, and that’s two more. “Such a good start by England,” murmurs Michael Vaughan.
“Been looking forward to watching cricket on TV for the first time in 21 years,” says Nigel Phillips, “and BLOODY HELL it’s changed. The ball is white and they are wearing shell suits. It’s like amateur baseball.”
4th over: England 43-0 (Banton 16, Bairstow 27) Pakistan’s secret sauce today was attacking the first ball of the over, which often went for four or six. Bairstow squirts a bit of that on his meal, glancing Mohammad Amir’s first ball for four, and then he flicks the second for six. His 27 has come at very nearly two runs a ball, which is what you need from one of your top order. Hafeez almost managed it, with 69 off 36.
“Every cricketer has their moment in the sun, eh?” mutters Damian Clarke. “I’ll channel my inner Fran Healy and ask why did it always rain on me.”
3rd over: England 30-0 (Banton 15, Bairstow 15) Tom Banton sees Bairstow’s fours and raises him a six – with a reverse sweep off Imad. We need the BBC commentators of the Nineties back, right now, to tell us just how outrageous that was. Bairstow, not to be outdone, plays a conventional sweep for four. Banton then top-edges a slog-sweep, but gets away with it as the ball lands in the middle of nowhere. A very good over for England.
2nd over: England 14-0 (Banton 4, Bairstow 10) It’s Shaheen Shah Afridi, swinging it back into these right-handers – but Jonny Bairstow is ready for him, clipping him over midwicket and then just skimming it over extra-cover. That’s the slips gone already, and England are in the groove.
“Nice to see an ex-Settle CC pro getting runs today,” says Anthony Bradley. “Would like to say we taught Hafeez all he knows – but perhaps not!”
“Good to have cricket back on the BBC,” says Simon McMahon. “Watching alone, even though wife and daughters are at home. I asked my 18-year-old if she wanted to watch with me and she replied, ‘I don’t like cricket’. I waited for the ‘I love it’, but it didn’t come.” I do love that, for what it’s worth. “I feel as though I’ve failed as a parent. Let’s hope for a cracking game anyway, maybe even a super over? That’ll teach her.”
1st over: England 3-0 (Banton 2, Bairstow 1) It’s Imad Wasim with his slow left-arm, which isn’t all that slow – he spears it in at middle-and-leg, like a mirror image of Eddie Hemmings. And he restricts England’s buccaneering openers to three singles. That’s a great start for Pakistan.
“Every cricketer has their moment in the sun,” says Tom Bowtell, choosing his pronoun carefully, “and today we’re seeing Mohammad Hafeez’s.” Yes, he was terrific. It’s not just England’s Test team who have an old master.
Pakistan close on 195
20th over: Pakistan 195-4 (Iftikhar 8, Shadab 0) Stanhope, sorry Curran, just wanted to prevent boundaries in this last over and he succeeded – a one, a two, a one that should have been four as it was a hip-high full toss, a two that was basically identical to the one before. Then came the wicket, which stopped Pakistan getting to 200. But 195 is still a very good score, their best in this format against these opponents. Babar was imperious, Fakhar explosive, and Hafeez majestic. England were scrappy at best. They can chase almost anything when they have Roy, Buttler and Stokes, but can they do it without them? We will soon see.
Wicket! Hafeez c Morgan b Curran 67 (Pakistan 194-4)
Hafeez finally gets it wrong, toe-ending a chip to extra-cover. That’s a flat end to a beautiful innings.
19th over: Pakistan 188-3 (Mohammad Hafeez 66, Iftikhar 4) For some reason, the slower ball has been a disaster today. Jordan tries the off-cutter and Hafeez swings it serenely over midwicket for six. Jordan restores a measure of order by ditching the slow stuff for the yorker, and then has Hafeez technically dropped by Morgan – more of a save, tipping it over the bar. Jordan finishes with the uncharacteristic figures of 4-0-41-1.
“Another one here very excited to be watching,” says Damian Clarke, “but still following on OBO. Going back a few overs, I played Stanhope in a school production of Journey’s End, but being only 12, my Tom Curran moustache was glued on.” I suspect his may be too.