A significant 24 hours for Test Match Cricket
Cricket : The Don considers the impact of great wins for the West Indies & Bangladesh
A truly incredible 24 hours for Test Cricket, with a resurgent West Indies defying huge odds to beat England at Headingly and then Bangladesh recording a first test victory over Australia.
Remarkable, unbelievable, historic....just three of the many adjectives that are used all too often to describe sporting normality - but in the context of West Indies' victory over England at Headingly, they barely suffice.
After a truly abject display in the day/night game at Edgbaston, culminating in the loss of 19 wickets in a day, many cricket commentators were prepared to write the obituary for West Indies Test Cricket.
So many reasons have been given for their demise over the years - the introduction of T20, the lure of other sports such as basketball, poor funding, chaotic administration. All are valid, but more than anything, enthusiastic Caribbean supporters have lacked real heroes in the five day game. Not a decent fast bowler in sight, let alone a true great that was the norm through the 60s, 70s and 80s. Hall, Griffith, Roberts, Holding, Croft, Garner, Marshall, Walsh, Ambrose - household names all. This century ….um….
Same story with the batting….Walcott, Weekes, Headley, Sobers, Greenidge, Kallicharran, Kanhai, Lloyd, Lara(I’m sure I’ve missed a few !) This century…..I’m struggling.
But, as the saying goes, there’s always hope. In this case, Shai Hope. To be the first cricketer EVER to score a hundred in both innings of a first class game at Headingly is no mean feat. To do it aged only 23, and in so doing spearhead the 4th highest successful run chase in England, is mighty impressive. He was almost matched by Kraigg Brathwaite, the second youngest player in the match at just 24, who fell just 5 runs short of achieving the same double century record. Two young batting talents that should be around for a decade - at last something for the Windies to build upon. Too early to say they are a resurgent force in world cricket - there have been false dawns before - but a first win in England since 2000 sets up an intriguing finale at Lords next week.
And now a quiz question - who is the current no 1 all rounder in ICC test rankings ? Stokes ? Moeen ? Jadeja ? Ashwin ? Philander ? Starc ?
Nope, it’s Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s “one man army”.
In a low scoring game against Australia, he made 84 of his side’s first innings 260, before grabbing two five wicket hauls to secure an historic first Test win for Bangladesh against Australia. As with the Windies, it’s too early to describe Bangladesh as a genuine force in world cricket - they rely heavily on a couple of individuals and have yet to show the necessary technique to cope with overseas conditions - but they are clearly on an upward trajectory.
The prospect of Test Cricket comprising eight world class sides has got a lot closer in just 24 hours which is greatly to the benefit of the long form of the game and will delight purists everywhere.