That was an unusual runchase. Jonny Bairstow’s violent 41-ball 82 put England miles ahead of the rate, but they kept losing wickets to loose strokes and suddenly found themselves in a bit of a bother at 137 for six. The in-form pair of Sam Billings and David Willey took control of the situation with the minimum of fuss, adding 79 from 88 balls to take England to victory. They lead Ireland 2-0 with one match to play on Tuesday.
ENGLAND WIN BY FOUR WICKETS WITH 105 BALLS TO SPARE!
32.3 overs: England 214-6 (Billings 46, Willey 47) That’ll do. Willey hooks Campher for four to complete another bilateral series victory for England.
32nd over: England 210-6 (Billings 46, Willey 41) Willey pulls Young for a one-handed six, and then Billings pulls fiercely for four more. This has been a superb partnership of 73 in 14.1 overs, strikingly calm and businesslike at a time when England were facing potential embarrassment.
31st over: England 196-6 (Billings 40, Willey 34) In the past week, Billings has scored 161 runs against Ireland without being dismissed. He also hammered an unbeaten 54 for England Lions in a warm-up game. He is content to play out a maiden to see off the dangerous Little, who finishes with figures of 10-3-60-3.
30th over: England 196-6 (Billings 40, Willey 34) Willey bottom-edges a pull off Young that falls just short of the keeper Tucker. It’s been a good effort from Ireland, who at once stage were facing a heavy defeat, but it’s slipping away nopw.
“Having followed the Bob Willis this afternoon, I was chuffed to see some red-ball cricket,” says Rooto, “but this evening I feel a little sadness for the losers of this curtailed season: the county white-ball specialists. While we can watch Vince nick off again and discuss how many more chances Moeen or Denly will get, there’s a guy like Sam Hain – the Shai Hope of the West Midlands – who won’t get any opportunities to show off his 50-over average till 2021. Small fry in the greater scheme of things, but deserving of a little sympathy perhaps.”
Yeah I was a bit surprised they included Vince and Denly in the squad, especially with players like Hain, Liam Livingstone and Phil Salt around.
29th over: England 192-6 (Billings 38, Willey 32) Little returns to the attack, with Ireland realising it’s now or never. Probably the latter: Billings drives him classily through mid-off for four to take England within 21 runs of victory. Billings has put almost 50 per cent on his ODI batting average in the last three days. It was 22.58 at the start of the series, it’s now 31.33.
28th over: England 186-6 (Billings 33, Willey 31) Craig Young returns to the attack and is timed gloriously through mid-on for four by Billings. That might be the shot of the day.
27th over: England 179-6 (Billings 26, Willey 31)
26th over: England 178-6 (Billings 25, Willey 31) After a bit of a wobble – a Little wobble, even – England are back in control of the match. Willey belts McBrine for four, and three safe singles make it an excellent over for England. They need 35 from 24 overs.
25th over: England 171-6 (Billings 23, Willey 26) It’s offspin at both ends, with Simi Singh coming into the attack. With the run-rate not an issue, England are happy to deal in safe singles for now. Two from the over.
24th over: England 169-6 (Billings 22, Willey 25) The offspinner McBrine replaces Little, whose last two overs are being saved for the business end of the innings. For now Billings is playing the anchor role, dealing in low-risk singles while Willey takes care of the boundaries.
23rd over: England 167-6 (Billings 21, Willey 24) No faffing around from Willey, who drives Campher for consecutive boundaries to bring the target below 50.
“Can we please talk about Moeen, and specifically how he still gets selected?” says Gareth Wilson. “His last score of note in ODIs was 102* in Sept 2017; his last decent bowling performance was 3 for 50 against Pakistan last year. He’s not young, he’s not a great fielder – why do England stick with him?”
Morgan likes having two spinners, and we know that at his best Moeen is a devastating death-hitter. I agree his recent form has been pretty poor, and his barren spells are getting longer. But Moeen, perhaps more than any England cricketer of my lifetime, has sudden, dramatic swings in form. He could easily stroke a euphoric 74 from 34 balls on Tuesday. But at the moment he’s in the side because of what he offers on paper.
22nd over: England 154-6 (Billings 19, Willey 13) Little digs in a short one to Willey, who flick-pulls it nonchalantly to long leg for six. That was a cracking shot. England need 59 from 28 overs.
21st over: England 146-6 (Billings 18, Willey 6) England have a bit of a tail today, with Saqib Mahmood and Reece Topley in the team, so Ireland have a great chance of a famous victory. If England are to win, Billings, Willey and Adil Rashid will need to score most of the runs.
20th over: England 143-6 (Billings 17, Willey 4) In his short ODI career, Josh Little has a bowling average of 13 against England and 217 against everyone else. He almost gets another wicket when Billings fresh-airs a booming drive. This is all becoming a bit hairy for England.
19th over: England 143-6 (Billings 17, Willey 4) Half an hour ago, Ireland were 50/1 to win this match; they’re now 10/3. If they get Billings out in the next 10 minutes they should be favourites.
Young bowls a no-ball, picked up by the third umpire, but Willey misses an attempted hook off the resulting free hit. Willey gets off the mark later in the over, blasting an uppish drive past short extra cover.
18th over: England 137-6 (Billings 17, Willey 0) A double-wicket maiden from Little, who has taken three for nought in his last seven deliveries.
“Perhaps Vince can be slotted into a group of not just elegant players who flatter to deceive but the ones with otherworldly talent who just didn’t translate it consistently on the bigger stage,” says Ian Copestake. “Am picking at the scars of Hick and Ramprakash because I am ancient, but I wonder if selectors see them as bad boy dates they could reform and claim credit for guiding towards the light.”
There’s definitely something in that. Even the great Duncan Fletcher, an unsentimental man, couldn’t resist recalling Graeme Hick.
WICKET! England 137-6 (Moeen c Tucker b Little 0)
Now then! Moeen Ali has also gone for a duck, top-edging a hook off Josh Little. The keeper Tucker ran round towards backward square leg to take a comfortable catch.
WICKET! England 137-5 (Morgan c Campher Little 0)
Hello. Eoin Morgan goes for a second-ball duck, slapping a long hop from Little straight to cover, and suddenly England are five down.
17th over: England 137-4 (Billings 17, Morgan 0) Billings, who looks in terrific touch, eases Campher wide of mid-on for his third boundary. England need 76 from 33 overs.
16th over: England 131-4 (Billings 13, Morgan 0) “Bairstow must have a strong inner resolve to put up with constantly hearing about how good Buttler can be when he’s actually being pretty good himself,” says Tom Van der Gucht. “In terms of averages and number of centuries in relation to games played in Test and ODI cricket, he’s outperformed Buttler. Yet everyone always bangs on about how Buttler is a genius and what potential he has.
“In Moneyball terms, the stats paint an interesting picture. I know Bairstow’s returns in Test cricket dipped over the last two years. But that coincides with two years where he was shunted up and down the order, was stripped of the gloves and put up with a lot of hammer in the press about how good Buttler MIGHT be…”
From 2015-17 Bairstow was such a good Test player, better than Buttler has ever been. I’m still not quite sure how or why he lost his way – but he did, spectacularly so, and I thought it was the right decision to drop him. I find it much harder to compare him and Buttler in ODIs because their role is completely different.
WICKET! England 131-4 (Bairstow c Tucker b Little 82)
Bairstow’s storming innings comes to an end. He carved at a poor delivery from Little and edged it through to the keeper. I think there were a few words between Bairstow and Little as he left the crease. It was a savage knock from Bairstow: 82 from 41 balls with 14 fours and two sixes.
15th over: England 120-3 (Bairstow 73, Billings 14) Four more to Billings, clipped easily off the pads when Campher is a bit too straight.
“Good afternoon Rob,” says Adam Roberts. “Well, this is like old times with me on my sofa in Cayman and you at your keyboard in Orkney. The big difference is that I have been working out of this room since March 19th. I have been trying to do other things while keeping an eye on the cricket, which was a big mistake as I looked up and Bairstow was already on 30! The lowkey commentary and lack of crowd noise gave little away about the carnage taking place. In non-international news, great that Haseeb Hameed has joined my beloved Notts (along with youngsters Chris Nash and Peter Trego) and has scored 68 today. I so hope this can be the beginning of a resurgence for him.”
He’s still only 23, so he’s got loads of time. Mind you, we might be having the same conversation when he scores 94 on his debut for Kent in the year 2037. “He’s still only 40, so he’s got loads of time.”
14th over: England 114-3 (Bairstow 74, Billings 6) Josh Little returns to the attack. Bairstow creams him for consecutive boundaries down the ground, the first over his head and the second along the floor. This is a ludicrous innings: 73 from 36 balls with 12 fours and two sixes.
“Vince out to a loose drive?” says David Horn. “Who’d have thunk it. I know he’s a beautiful player to watch, but you never get to watch for very long. The selectors really must see something in him that the rest of us (me) can’t.”
Style is always more persuasive, no? Vince makes batting look easier than most, and for much of his England career – probably until the World Cup – it felt like he was one innings away from a significant breakthrough. Even Ian Chappell liked the look of him, and I’m not sure there’s a better judge in world cricket. I wish England had kept him in the Test team a bit longer after the winter of 2017-18, though I can understand why they decided to cut their losses. His shot selection hasn’t really improved and he’s 29 now, so I suspect this summer is the last we’ll see of him.
13th over: England 104-3 (Bairstow 64, Billings 5) Replays show that LBW was only just hitting leg stump. It was still out, though, so you can save your conspiracy theories. The new batsman is Sam Billings, who gets off the mark with a confident back-foot drive for four.
WICKET! England 98-3 (Banton LBW b Campher 15)
Tom Banton falls again to his nemesis Curtis Campher. He missed an attempted clip at a very full delivery that hit him in front of middle. It looked plumb.
12th over: England 98-2 (Bairstow 63, Banton 15) Bairstow, on the charge, crunches McBrine down the ground for four to move into the sixties.
11th over: England 88-2 (Bairstow 58, Banton 10) Banton inside-edges Campher just wide of the stumps for four. His second boundary is a classier affair, a beautifully timed straight drive.
“Does Bairstow have somewhere to be tonight?” asks Stephen Brown. “Do they get to leave the biobubble today?”
The players don’t, but the ball might if Bairstow carries on like this.
10th over: England 77-2 (Bairstow 57, Banton 1) “Evening Rob,” says Will Lane. “Bairstow is brilliant, I never would have thought four years ago that Alex Hales wouldn’t get into the ODI team. Even without being ostracised by captain fantastic Morgan, I’m not sure he would make it into the team. On another, related note, given the option of YJB and Roy, who would you choose? (FWIW for aesthetic reasons I would go with Roy.)”
I can’t split them. Even the statisticians can’t split them – since they opened together for the first time in the aftermath of Bristol, their performance is almost identical:
- Bairstow 2170 runs at 49.31, strike-rate 112.20, 8×100
- Roy 1996 runs at 49.90, strike-rate 112.13, 6×10
9th over: England 71-2 (Bairstow 52, Banton 0) A wicket maiden to start from Campher.
WICKET! England 71-2 (Vince b Campher 16)
Curtis Campher does it again! It looks like Ireland have found a player here. After top-scoring again he has bowled James Vince with his fourth delivery. It was a beauty, which nipped back to beat Vince’s slightly loose drive and knock his middle stump over.
8th over: England 71-1 (Bairstow 52, Vince 16) The offspinner Andy McBrine replaces Little, who was smacked for 25 in three overs. Bairstow greets him with a savage straight drive that bounces just inside the rope. He nails the same stroke two balls later, launching McBride back over his head for six. That takes Bairstow to a record-equalling 21-ball fifty. It’s been utterly brutal. His next target might be England’s fastest ODI hundred: 46 balls by Jos Buttler against Pakistan in 2015-16. He has 52 from 23 balls.
7th over: England 59-1 (Bairstow 41, Vince 15) Bairstow clips Young over square leg for six, another meaty, mighty blow. He has 41 from 18 balls and could yet hit England’s fastest ODI fifty. Eoin Morgan holds the record, 21 balls against Australia in 2018.
6th over: England 48-1 (Bairstow 32, Vince 13) Bairstow’s assault means that Vince doesn’t need to rush his innings at the other end. He still picks up two boundaries in Little’s over with two beautiful drives, one off each foot.
“Jonny Bairstow,” says Abhijato Sensarma, “is Rohit Sharma with more brutality, less elegance, an equally good average and a much better middle order!”
5th over: England 40-1 (Bairstow 32, Vince 5) One thing I love about Bairstow is that he often treats the first ten overs of an ODI innings as if he’s playing a T10 game. He smokes Young through square leg for another boundary, his sixth in only 14 deliveries. Make that seven in 16 balls after another brusque thump over mid-on. This is spectacular stuff. I’ve just looked at the ODI batting rankings, and Bairstow is 14th. That’s a travesty.
4th over: England 30-1 (Bairstow 23, Vince 4) Vince gets off the mark with a boundary, flick-pulling Little round the corner.
3rd over: England 25-1 (Bairstow 23, Vince 0) Bairstow is off to the usual flyer. He clips Young through midwicket for four and then launches a pull over square leg for another. Bairstow has become an awesome ODI opener and must be seriously intimidating to bowl at. He finishes the over with a majestic chip over midwicket that takes him to 23 from 12 balls.
“Hi Rob,” says Mike Williams. “Great to follow the cricket with you and the team after weeks of lockdown frustration. Can I give a major shout out from Versailles to Dan Allen who posts great vids on YouTube of his club Sanderstead – based in Croydon. Dan has been providing 10-minute highlight vids of games from previous seasons, some wonder ‘bloopers’ and more and has generated a worldwide following for this village side (16,000 subscribers and four million views). He’s really made lockdown a little less painful.”
2nd over: England 13-1 (Bairstow 11, Vince 0) The muscular left-armer Josh Little, who has troubled England in the past, shares the new ball. Bairstow has a cursory look before launching the fourth ball over extra cover for four. He throws his hands at the next ball, a very wide half-volley, and inside edges it past the keeper for another boundary.
1st over: England 1-1 (Bairstow 0, Vince 0) England get off the mark thanks to a leg-side wide, the only run from a good first over by Young.
WICKET! England 0-1 (Roy c Delany b Young 0)
Ireland have got one of those early wickets! Jason Roy has gone for a third-ball duck. He chased a very wide half-volley from Craig Young and clonked it straight to Gareth Delany at extra cover.
Thanks Adam, evening everyone. You’d expect this to be a comfortable runchase for England, though you can never be completely sure on a used pitch. One thing is for sure: Ireland need early wickets, ideally Nos1 and 2.
Better than Ireland would have thought an hour ago. That’s the long story short, the visitors limping along before Campher (68) and McBrine came together at 151/7 in the 42nd over, advancing the score to 207/8 by the time they were separated with nine balls to go. It’s something to bowl to. England will be disappointed not to have finished it off but they made sure in the first half that they’d never be chasing that many, thanks to Willey’s early breakthroughs and Adil Rashid’s three wickets in the middle overs. Oh, and remember the time when James Vince came on first change and picked up the wicket of an international captain? Let’s never forget when we were together for that one. Over to Rob, bye from the bubble!
IRELAND FINISH ON 212/9 (WICKET! McBrine c Bairstow b Topley 24)
Reece Topley has the job of the last over and does it expertly, too quick and too tough to get away, McBrine nearly hit by a bumper to finish, gloving it to Bairstow. He earned that entry in the book – an international wicket for the Andy Carroll lookalike (thanks, Matt Davies in Mexico City) after four years away from the big time. England are set 213 to win the ODI and wrap up the series.
49th over: Ireland 209-8 (McBrine 22, Young 1) McBrine has three balls left in this penultimate over, how will he manage it? With a single to begin, out to deep midwicket. Young swings hard… top edge… and put down! In fairness to Bairstow, he had to sprint hard and made enough ground to dive with the flight but after getting both hands to it, the ball slipped through. Back to McBrine, who is nutmegged by Mahmood to finish his work for the day, 2/45 from nine. Nice job.
Very good catch, this.
WICKET! Campher c Rashid b Mahmood 68 (Ireland 207-8)
That’s a top catch, Rashid racing in from third man, diving forward. It’s the end of Campher’s innings, the first time he’s been dismissed in international cricket after a pair of fine half-centuries, giving his new side a chance. Mahmood gets his second.
48th over: Ireland 205-7 (Campher 67, McBrine 20) The 50 partnership comes up in just 35 balls between these two, the second time they have combined nicely for the ninth wicket. McBrine’s turn to make room, carving over point, but only getting two. Topley holds his nerve, too quick for McBrine – nearing cleaning him up – then deceiving him with a slower ball bumper. They finish with a couple, dropped behind square by the left hander, who races back to the danger end.
“England seem very good at causing early wobbles in ODIs,” writes Tom V d Gucht, “such as getting the opposition 5 down for about 50 runs, but despite getting them on the ropes, they very rarely seem to go for the jugular and finish them off for really low scores. They always seem to step back and let their opponents limp on to around 200 which often seems to cause England’s own wobbles as they struggle to work out how to approach the chase. They’re like the Chris Eubank of bowling first in Cricket.”
On the other hand, gives them plenty of experience chasing tricky targets?
47th over: Ireland 200-7 (Campher 66, McBrine 16) Campher really making it count now, pulling Willey with authority into the gap for four more. He makes it two in a row with his best shot yet, slamming a powerful lofted off-drive to the boundary. Goo you good thing. Now three in the over with a reverse! He played that superbly, third man up to push long-off back, lifting it just there. 15 off the over; by far Ireland’s best of the innings. Keeping the strike with one, the 200 is up. Well, forget what I said at the 35 over mark about battling to get to 200… 230 might be on here.
Campher to 50!
46th over: Ireland 185-7 (Campher 52, McBrine 15) What a great story this is! To recap, Campher wasn’t able to get out of South Africa until June. He arrived with no expectations, got himself onto this tour, into the squad of, into the XI and now has back-to-back 50s before playing a single game in Ireland. Lovely kid, too. He gets to the mark with his sixth boundary of the innings, getting down low in the crease to lift Topley over short-fine leg. Clever late-innings batting. Keep going!
Raphael Sechemabite asks, as a newcomer to the game, whether England will be able to get 200-odd on this slow, big ground. That shouldn’t be a problem, but Ireland – through Campher – have given themselves something to bowl to.
45th over: Ireland 179-7 (Campher 47, McBrine 14) Willey goes full to McBrine who goes BANG in reply, straight over his head for four. The Irish off-spinner/lower-order slapper is having a good series so far. Campher’s turn now, going for the both-feet-in-the-air uppercut to finish, landing just inside the rope for a couple more. Eight off it, they’ll take that. If these two are there at the end, 210ish? A chance.
44th over: Ireland 171-7 (Campher 45, McBrine 9) Topley is back to inject a bit of pace into the final stanza, which is used nicely by both batmsen early in the over. But they can’t go on to find the boundary, the big left-armer beating the edge then too zippy with his bumper at McBrine. Two more singles to finish. This is pretty much where their innings ended on Thursday, all out for 174 in the 45th.
43rd over: Ireland 167-7 (Campher 43, McBrine 7) Campher pulls Willey in the air behind square but there’s no fielder where he has placed it – he gets four for the shot, moving into the 40s. He made an unbeaten 59 on Thursday and is well on the way to something similar here today. Using that ramp again, McBrine keeps the board ticking over whenever he’s on strike. Ten from it: nice, positive batting.
42nd over: Ireland 157-7 (Campher 35, McBrine 5) McBrine pushes and runs first ball, straight to David Willey at mid-on who misses his ping at the stumps for about 12 metres. He was well short had the throw been on target. But the close call doesn’t bother the punchy number nine, carefully ramping the final ball of the successful Mahmood set, over the top of about third slip for four. He was very good the other night with Campher, slapping a quick 40. Again, please.
“Good afternoon Adam.” And to you, Kim Thonger. “Entirely unrelated to cricket, my wife has looked up from her book on Phillipa of Hainault, wife of Edward III, and informed me earnestly that Queen’s College Oxford is named after her and I just jolly well think all the good people in the London Borough of Redbridge ought to know. Could you shout it from your virtual rooftops please? I thenk yow. Also could you tell my wife not to interrupt me in future when I’m concentrating on the OBO?” Kim, I can’t tell you how ill-equipped I am to offer comment on this!
WICKET! Singh c Bairstow b Mahmood 25 (Ireland 151/7)
He’s earned that, Mahmood. It’s the cross-seamer that gets him into the book here, Singh not quite picking the change of pace, edging into Bairstow’s safe gloves. The partnership of 59 comes to an end.