An­der­son’s 500th Test strike crowns long­est sum­mer

Away from that night out, there was plenty for cricket to cel­e­brate over the past sum­mer, says Scyld Berry

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - Ban­ning Rabada from the Trent Bridge Test for

Not ev­ery­thing that hap­pened last season should be for­got­ten after the night out last week­end of Ben Stokes and some team-mates, even if it has sab­o­taged Eng­land’s chance of re­tain­ing the Ashes. It was the long­est of all English cricket sea­sons – be­cause the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board greed­ily packed the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy into their normal sched­ule – and plenty else should be re­mem­bered:

Best bowl­ing

James An­der­son. In seven Tests against South Africa and West Indies, he took 39 wick­ets at only 14.10 runs each – a wicket ev­ery six overs. The key was that he made his outswinger his stock ball again, after years of swing­ing the ball away from left-han­ders, like the former South Africa cap­tain Graeme Smith (who told Test Match Spe­cial that he much pre­ferred An­der­son swing­ing the ball away from him). The cul­mi­na­tion came when An­der­son took his 500th Test wicket at Lord’s, breach­ing Kraigg Brath­waite’s de­fence.

Best bat­ting

Shai Hope. In the Head­in­g­ley Test, in con­di­tions made for English seam­ers not West In­dian bats­men, Hope bat­ted for 11 hours to score 147 and 118 not out. He be­came the first bats­man to make a cen­tury in each in­nings at Head­in­g­ley in a first­class game, let alone a Test. Hope’s se­cret was his con­trol: he not only kept him­self in check, but played checked drives, not the un­in­hib­ited strokes com­monly as­so­ci­ated with the Caribbean of the past – or 20-over bat­ting now. Hope lived up to his name in en­hanc­ing the be­lief that West In­dian Test cricket will re­vive.

Best all-rounder

Moeen Ali. After a non­de­script Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy, he scored more than 250 runs and took 25 wick­ets against South Africa – the first such dou­ble in a se­ries of fewer than five Tests – then pow­ered from 50 to 100 against West Indies in the Bris­tol ODI in only 12 balls.

Best oc­ca­sion

The Women’s World Cup final. Eng­land looked to be gone un­til In­dia staged an old-fashioned bat­ting col­lapse. The hero­ines were Anya Shrub­sole, who took six wick­ets, and Sarah Tay­lor, first for turn­ing up after over­com­ing her panic at­tacks, sec­ond for grac­ing the stage with her foot­work and hand­i­work, both as bats­man and wick­et­keeper. But the whole Eng­land team should be ap­plauded for hold­ing their nerve in a se­ries of the tight­est fin­ishes.

Best match

The Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy final be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan. Had enough of anal­y­sis, and stats, and per­cent­ages, and pitch maps? Then bring on Fakhar Za­man. Aged 27, a former naval rat­ing and a left-handed bats­man who had never played a one-day in­ter­na­tional be­fore this tour­na­ment. He tor­pe­doed Eng­land in the semi-final with a fifty and In­dia with a cen­tury. Pak­istan’s bowl­ing was su­perb in its pas­sion and al­most in­fi­nite in its va­ri­ety, from quick lef­t­arm to the wrist-spin of Shadab Khan.

Eng­land’s big­gest strate­gic mis­take

The fail­ure to iden­tify the right open­ing pair of bats­men to win a global 50-over tour­na­ment. Giv­ing Sam Billings an open­ing slot when­ever Ja­son Roy or Alex Hales was un­avail­able blinded the se­lec­tors to the need for a Test match-style bats­man to open with Roy or Hales. The switch to Jonny Bairstow for the semi-final in Cardiff came too late.

Best ball

The yorker by Kag­iso Rabada in the Eng­land v South Africa Test at the Oval that de­mol­ished the stumps of Dawid Malan.

Most stupid ICC de­ci­sion

say­ing some­thing less po­lite to Ben Stokes than, “After you, Claude.”

Most cred­itable county per­for­mance.

In the cham­pi­onship, Es­sex for win­ning the Di­vi­sion One ti­tle with so many home-grown play­ers – most no­tably the season’s lead­ing wicket-taker, Jamie Porter, and bats­man Dan Lawrence – sup­ple­mented by the sign­ing of two over­seas left-arm pace bowlers into whose foot­marks off-spin­ner Si­mon Harmer could pitch. In 50-over cricket, Not­ting­hamshire took the palm and won the 20-over ti­tle.

Lit­tle-noticed bat­ting feat

Six sixes in an over by Worces­ter­shire’s Ross White­ley off York­shire’s Karl Carver. Worces­ter­shire still lost.

Most wel­come ini­tia­tive by MCC

Lim­it­ing the thick­ness of the bat, thus re­duc­ing the dan­ger to non-strikers, um­pires and bowlers.

Most uned­i­fy­ing sight

The can­ni­bal­ism at Ch­ester-le-Street. The ECB gave Durham a lethal in­jec­tion last year, now coun­ties are de­vour­ing the still-twitch­ing corpse.

Sec­ond-most uned­i­fy­ing sight

Play­ers trans­fer­ring mid-season. No player should rep­re­sent two coun­ties in the same com­pe­ti­tion in one season.

Big­gest crowd dis­con­nect for the ECB to solve

Bri­tish Asians watched the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy in large num­bers, but not Eng­land or the NatWest Blast.

Most en­cour­ag­ing over­seas de­vel­op­ment

Zim­babwe’s re­vival. Since they brought in Faisal Has­nain as CEO, they have won a one-day se­ries in Sri Lanka and repa­tri­ated some Test play­ers.

Best philo­soph­i­cal re­flec­tion on the Stokes in­ci­dent

No­body is in­dis­pens­able, the game goes on.

Star of the show: James An­der­son’s sen­sa­tional swing bowl­ing earned him a land­mark 500th Test wicket for Eng­land

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