The First Test – A View From the Covid Chez Lounge

Posted on June 21, 2023

When I woke up yesterday morning, I knew I had Covid. I am not claiming to be Dr Chris Whitty here (remember him?) it’s just that the symptoms were identical to when I had it last time. In another, presumably, coincidental twist that would have a conspiracy theorist on the verge of ejaculation, I contracted it in the same week of the same month I had it in 2022.

So, only because Jennifer works for the NHS and has loads of test kits, I confirmed my status as one of the reinfected. In one way it was a relief as I now know what is making me feel about 90. In another, it pissed me off a bit, as I know I am set for several nights of hot flesh, a rumbling stomach, and a nose like a fucked tap.

A Chez Lounge Excuse

Still, it at least gave me the excuse to take to the chez lounge and watch the drama unfolding at Edgbaston, the venue for the First Test between Australia and England. So, at least the timing of the best team in the world being challenged by the team wanting to be the best team in the world, was good. Without Covid, I could not have justified lying on the chez lounge for six hours.

The result was an Australian victory in dramatic circumstances. It was a pulsating clash where England’s cavalier ‘who dares wins’ approach was met by Australian obduracy and a belief they would get there in the end. Australia prevailed, just, and the debating began. Was England’s approach bold or brainless?

Positives and Negatives

Let’s look at the positive side first. Test cricket has to be entertaining, or it will be washed away in a tide of one-day and 20/20 tournaments. That would be tragic for cricket purists who still love the twist and turns of Test cricket. The word ‘Test’ is something of a giveaway. Five-day cricket is a test of endurance, wit, and skill. Cricket would have died long ago without 20/20 bish bosh cricket but let’s be honest, you don’t need to be a tactical genius to play the shorter forms of the game.

So, England’s bold approach to entertain and fill stadiums has to be admired. However, elite-level sport is about winning, and England lost. At what point do you, as a team, look at the practicability of a game situation and weigh it up? If England had racked up 450 on Friday night (instead of declaring on 389) would have the game been less entertaining? Possibly, especially if Australia saw a draw as the only option.

Divided Opinion

Opinion has been divided at my cricket club. In fact, I my son and his mates all piled into me on Friday night when I said it was a stupid declaration. The support I did have, generally came from older members who carried similar bitter memories of Australia swarming all over England when on top. England were well on top on Friday. The Australian team was getting narked and Joe Root, one of the best players in the world, was thrashing them to all parts.

Why stop there? Well, the plan was obviously to give Australia a glimmer of hope which would then shape the game. For purposes of entertainment, this tactic has to be admired. However, I liken Australia to a bonfire. If it is nearly out but there are still embers that could reignite it, stamp them out and eradicate that chance. The declaration failed and Australia started day two 372 behind, rather than around 450, with a draw being their most realistic hope. In the context of this game, those 70-80 runs were pivotal.

Bounceback or Disaster?

Of course, if Australia had finished day one 15-2, it would have been a masterstroke, so hindsight is a wonderful thing. However, after watching Test cricket for 45 years, so is gut feeling. When you feel something is wrong, it normally is. I was right on this occasion and some people don’t like it because they love the England approach. I love the England approach too, but a bit of nous wouldn’t go amiss occasionally.

If England bounces back and wins the series, or loses it by a small margin, their high-risk philosophy will continue to be commended, even by miserable old gits like me. However, if they keep throwing Australia lifelines in a bid to gain a positive outcome, a comprehensive Australian victory might not seem so entertaining. With aging players and injuries mounting, a 1-0 deficit already looks daunting.

We shall see.

1 Reply to "The First Test - A View From the Covid Chez Lounge"

  • Norman House
    June 21, 2023 (11:55 am)

    When I first thought about England’s 1st innings declaration, I thought it was dumb. On reflection, I thought it was dumb and reckless. This feat of arrogance was only matched by the stupidity of how England blew it when they had Australia 8-down… and they tried to be clever by continuing to bowl Root. Cumming took 14 from the over and the momentum had changed.

    I applaud England for their more entertaining approach but please throw in some common sense and don’t go all ‘Spursy’ at the wrong moments!

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