By Andy Hyslop
- Kicking off our cricket coverage, we take a look at the state of the nation so far
The summer of cricket has only just started and what a great one it’s been so far. England started the summer perhaps not knowing where they were going. They returned from the West Indies having drawn the three-match Test series 1-1, despite having gone 1-0 up the series, they were skittled out cheaply twice to allow the West Indies to level the series.
There were probably two high points of the tour to the Caribbean, first being the return to form of captain Alastair Cook who made his first test century in two years in the third test despite England losing the game. Secondly we saw bowler James Anderson overtaking Sir Ian Botham as England’s leading wicket-taker in test cricket. Anderson overtook Botham’s mark in the 2nd test match in the Caribbean.
England returned home from the West Indies with their tails between their legs slightly, as they were expected to win the series in the Caribbean. Former captain Andrew Strauss was appointed to the new role of Director of Cricket and one the first things he did was to sack head coach Peter Moores, starting the speculation over who would replace Moores.
Yorkshire head coach Jason Gillespie was the early front-runner and seemed like he would be the man to get in the job, until England made their choice. Assistant coach Paul Farbrace was put in temporary charge of the side for Test and One-day series against New Zealand.
In the Test series against New Zealand, Cook continued his return to form as he scored his 27th Test Century in the first test, to rescue England from 30/4 in the 2nd innings. His century helped England eventually reach 478 all out. Another major factor in this fightback from England was a quick-fire century from Ben Stokes, scoring the fastest Test century at Lords.
England won the game by 124 runs to go 1-0 up in the two-match series. The second test at Headingley saw both team scoring 350 in their first innings, with Cook becoming England’s all-time leading run scorer in England’s first innings. New Zealand won the Test by 199 runs to level the series at 1-1.
On to the one-day series between the two nations and England named a much changed squad from their World Cup campaign – the less we talk about that the better. Senior players Ian Bell, Stuart Broad and Anderson were all missing and younger players in Jason Roy, Sam Billings and David Willey were named in the squad, there was talk of a new attacking approach from England.
This new approach has seen them score over 400 in the first game and over 300 in the next three games as they have won 2 and lost 2 to leave the series on a knife-edge going to the deciding game to be played at Durham this weekend. This series saw Joe Root score two centuries, Jos Buttler smash the quickest one-day century by an Englishman, and captain Eoin Morgan scored three 50s and one 100 in his four innings.
Australian Trevor Bayliss was appointed the new head coach after the first test against New Zealand, but it was announced he wouldn’t take charge until after the series against New Zealand, meaning he would be in charge in time for the Ashes. Bayliss has a good record as an international coach, having previously coach Sri Lanka and taken them to the World Cup final in 2011, while the Sri Lankan head coach, his assistant was Farbrace. So while Farbrace has been concentrating on the matches against New Zealand, I’m sure Bayliss will have been concentrating on making his preparations for the Ashes series which starts on July 8th and takes place in Cardiff.