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June 5, 2009
Over of the day
Who'd have believed it could possibly come down to this? The final over of the opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 - and the hosts in desperate peril against the minnows of the Netherlands? Stuart Broad had the ball with seven runs to defend, and what followed was a sensation in the rain. Twice in two balls, Broad muffed run-out opportunities, first a missed shy as Ryan ten Doeschate dived for home, the second a referral reprieve for Edgar Schiferli as a diving Broad broke the stumps with his hand. The third ball was a drop as ten Doeschate burst a drive through Broad's fingers, the fourth and fifth were singles. It all came down to the very last delivery … and Broad was back in the thick of it again …
Over-throw of the day
England missed the stumps with astounding regularity throughout the Dutch innings. Time and again the ball whistled wide as the batsmen scampered cheeky singles galore, but no single cock-up was as costly as the last. Broad, to be fair, bowled the best over he could muster - full and straight and offering only singles. But when Schiferli flat-batted the ball into Broad's palms and set off, the only feasible upshot was an agonising one-run defeat. Instead Broad's measured shy whistled wide, the batsmen turned for two, and to scenes of euphoria that belied the misery of the weather, Lord's was turned orange as the carnival of cricket was ignited by the host's spontaneous combustion.
False dawn of the day Mk 1
In the first 11 overs of England's innings, Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright made the contest look every bit as easy as it really ought to have been. In that time they sauntered to a 100-run stand, finding the gaps and strolling the singles, and generally accumulating with an uncomplicated air of supremacy. It wasn't a bad tactic to be fair, and the platform they set should have been enough to put the contest beyond reach. But then, unfathomably, their impetus went "phut". With Kevin Pietersen on the sidelines, the middle-order showed no class, and the final nine overs of the innings delivered a puny 62 runs, and five squandered wickets.
Momentum-stealer of the day
England lived down to their single biggest failing in limited-overs cricket, even during an enterprising century stand for the first wicket, as they failed to clear the boundary ropes even once in their 20 overs. Not even the cudgel-wielding Wright managed to get it up and over, despite clobbering three in a row against West Indies on Wednesday. Over to the Dutchmen to show how best it's done, with the bull-like biffer Darron Reekers swiping his third and eighth deliveries clean over midwicket for sixes. The tone of the run-chase had been set.
Shot of the day
Not even Reekers, however, managed to get hold of one to quite such devastating effect as Peter Borren, whose blistering pull off Paul Collingwood sailed high and handsome over midwicket, through the gathering mizzle and straight into the hospitality boxes. It was, as the Cricinfo commentary put it, "not a six, that's a twelve!" and it was hardly hyperbole either, as the shot carried Netherlands into an even more commanding position on the Duckworth-Lewis charts. Which meant that the subsequent loss of the top-scorer Tom de Grooth wasn't enough to enable England to regain control.
Innings of the day
de Grooth's performance was that of a man possessed. "Tom's biggest challenge is to make sure he is not happy with mediocrity," was what Andy Moles, the ICC's academy director, said of him during a winter training camp in 2005-06. de Grooth had had a fitful international career in which he had fallen short of the standards his coaches had set for him, and he failed to feature in either the 50- or the 20-over World Cup in 2007. He didn't miss out tonight. His first shot was a scything cut off Broad, whom he belted for 15 runs in five deliveries.
Ironic cheer of the day
No sooner had the news of the cancellation been relayed, up popped an ICC official at the front of the media centre to make the best of a bad situation. "Unfortunately, the opening ceremony has been canned," he declared. "But we will have a couple of speeches." Oh, the joy. Everyone cheered, except, that is, for the veteran correspondent on the front row who turned the air blue for five minutes as he struggled to locate a remote-control to hear the emboldening words of the Duke of Kent and fill the 700-word requirement for his morning paper colour piece. We never did get to hear his words, but we didn't need to. His mere presence said it all.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?