Midway through England’s now forgettably respectable first innings at Edgbaston, Moeen Ali located his off stump. It was difficult to miss because it was on the move.
Straight one from Lyon!
The Aussie spinner is causing havoc now and Ali goes for 0
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) August 3, 2019
It was hard to know on what basis Moeen left that particular Nathan Lyon delivery. Watch the footage again and it’s a real challenge to envisage the ball going anywhere other than into off stump. Knocking out off stump was in fact a best-case scenario because the only other credible possibility was that it would have hit middle.
Moeen is a cricketer with an incredibly wide discrepancy between his best and his worst. One can only assume that he prides himself on it. Another cricketer with similarly bipolar output is Jonny Bairstow. Have the two of them entered into private competition to become England’s purest boom-or-bust Test cricketer?
Both men have performed brilliantly in the past, but now seem engaged in a helter-skelter race to bat at number 11.
Moeen batted at three as recently as November, but has since come out at six, seven and now eight. An envious Bairstow has followed. Number three in January, he’s since come out at five, six and seven.
The Yorkshireman then upped the ante with a pair against Ireland.
What can you do to compete with that? Moeen had notched a pair of his own in Bridgetown – one of which was a first-baller – but Bairstow’s Ireland effort was on another level entirely.
The answer is that you fight fire with fire, because any firefighter will tell you that is absolutely the most effective method of extinguishing a blaze.
Jonny Bairstow has two signature moves. One is the righteous, proving-the-naysayers-wrong hundred celebration. The other is getting clean bowled.
Moeen Ali has taken the second of those, and, unbelievably, improved upon it. If seeing a top-level batsman fail to keep ball from stumps is a breath-taking sight, then seeing one decline to even try is more akin to suffering a collapsed lung.
It’s hard to know where we go from here. Over to you, Jonny.
“The reality is at the time [Saturday] he didn’t have a concussion.”
Mixing politics with sport rarely ends well.
James Anderson will play for Lancs second XI as his rehabilitation steps up.
Smith underwent a “precautionary scan” of his neck that thankfully had not revealed any structural damage.
“I think it was important that we bounced back strongly after Edgbaston and I think we’ve certainly done that.”
Jofra Archer has changed the mood if not the scoreline.
Steve Smith out, Marnus Labuschagne in.
Woakes enjoyed Archer v Smith just as much as the rest of us.
The marquee might read England v Australia, but we all know it’s Steve Smith v Jofra Archer
Thankfully, Smith appears to have suffered no lasting damage.