Ch takes game to new level
England v Pakistan
(probable): JM Bairstow,
T Banton, DJ Malan, EJG Morgan (capt), JL Denly, SW Billings (wkt), Moeen Ali, DJ Willey, CJ Jordan, TK Curran, AU Rashid.
(probable): Babar Azam (capt), Fazhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wkt), Imad Wasim, Wahab Riaz, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi.
M Burns, D Millns.
deliveries for six – more than a six every eight balls. He is now in rare terrain: a batsman hitting almost as many sixes as fours.
In basketball, attempting a three – rather than a two from closer to the rim – is regarded analytically as the savviest shot. Sometimes in T20, the pay-off of a six – if there is a short boundary or wind in the batsman’s favour – makes a maximum the shrewdest shot to attempt.
Morgan has a brilliant capacity to size up when the six is the best option. In the third T20 in South Africa, he smote his fifth ball for six and hit seven sixes in 22 balls. He did not hit a four. Six maximums were over the same short leg-side boundary, which Morgan targeted with calculated ruthlessness.
This is daring and uninhibited, yes, but it is also smart cricket. Like Kieron Pollard, the West Indies captain, Morgan is at the apex of his game, a cricketer brimming with T20 knowledge who marries wonderful ball-striking with shrewdness.
While both men attack with sagacious selectivity, their games also embrace what analysts have long emphasised: most batsmen in T20 are too cautious. So being bolder is both aggressive and playing the numbers. As Morgan has said: “People talk about taking risks all the time and T20 cricket being so risky. And naturally you don’t take as high a risk as you should and as data tells you to.” Part of Morgan’s
brilliance now is taking as high a risk as the data tells him to.
His audacity is now also the template for reliable run-scoring. He has always been capable of pyrotechnics against pace at the death. With next year’s T20 World Cup in India in mind, his game against spin has soared to new heights. In all T20s, he averaged 18 with a strike rate of 114 against spin from 2015-18, but 53 with a strike rate of 152 since.
At times it has been tempting to depict Morgan as a sort of whiteball Mike Brearley. Yet he is a whiteball titan even if his captaincy is ignored. Morgan is England’s highest international run-scorer in both one-day and T20 cricket. Indeed, he is a batsman of such pedigree that, despite managing only a brief Test career, only 10 cricketers have ever scored more international runs than him for England.
For all his achievements as England captain, Morgan’s essential greatness as a white-ball batsman has never been so clear.
England all-rounder Nat Sciver recorded the first hundred of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and claimed two wickets to help Northern Diamonds to a nine-run victory over Lightning.
Coming to the crease with her side four for one in the second over, Sciver hit 104 off 116 balls, including 13 fours, to help her side post 226 for nine from their 50 overs.
Her innings was all the more important with Lightning captain Kathryn Bryce dismantling the rest of the Northern Diamonds’ top order cheaply before her fifth wicket eventually came in the 48th over when she bowled Sciver to finish with figures of five for 29. Bryce then top-scored for her side with an unbeaten
68 but, despite openers Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Bryce also hitting half-centuries, the lower order were not able to get Lightning over the line. In addition to Sciver, Jenny Gunn and Linsey Smith also took two wickets in Diamonds’ second successive victory.
Meanwhile, in the South Group, Tara Norris (right) took four for 45 in eight overs as beat arch rivals
by 22 runs. Storm’s reply to Vipers’ 239 all out looked to be on course as Heather Knight and captain Sophie Luff put on 130 for the second wicket following the early loss of Fi Morris for four. But a batting collapse, sparked by an inspired spell from Norris, cost the hosts seven wickets in 11 overs while scoring 31 runs, and they were eventually bowled out for 239 inside 48 overs. Earlier, captain Georgia Adams, Danni Wyatt and Charlie Dean hit half-centuries for the Vipers, who top their group. secured their first win of the tournament, successfully chasing down 135 total with four wickets remaining. Marie Kelly anchored the innings with an unbeaten 59 after Issy Wong and Gwenan Davies had earlier starred with the ball, taking three wickets each after Thunder opted to bat. There was also a first victory for as England’s Sophia Dunkley plundered 97 off 116 balls in their 77run win over Despite captain Amara Carr’s 99, the Sunrisers were all out for 212.