The fever of cricket returned soon to the subcontinent post the ICC Cricket World Cup which saw the journey of the Asian sub-continent nation end way before the first ball of the finals with a traumatic exile of India after they were defeated by the Blackcaps. However, the cricketing fans across the globe witnessed one of the closest finishes ever in international cricket and the moment occurring during the finals between the hosts England and the second consecutive finals for NZ. England became the 6th nation to be crowned as the World Champions of cricket on July 14th,2019 at the “Lords Cricket Ground”-Home of Cricket on the basis of number of boundaries count as the outcome post the regular 100-over and the super over showcased a tie on paper. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Kiwis and their countrymen, but the entire cricketing fraternity was in awe post the encounter. A healthy and a positive rivalry between England-Newzealand won millions of hearts among the cricket fanatics. The positive approach of Kiwi skipper- Kane Williamson during the post match presentation of the finals and the turning down the offer of being the “Newzalander of the Year” by English all-rounder Ben Stokes revived the true sense of the sport being labelled as the “Gentlemen’s Game.”
The approach has shifted to the red ball cricket with the arrival of the “World Test Championship”(WTC)- a tournament introduced by ICC to revive the dying interest in the red ball cricket. The inaugural edition of the global event started with the ongoing Ashes at Edgbaston. The old and classical rivalry between foes- England and Australia had lots more than before to fight for when they locked horns couple of days back at Birmingham. With most of the Test matches following under the bracket of the Test championship, no nation is willing to take any particular red ball game with ease as the 9 top-ranked teams look to book the 2 tickets to Lords in 2021 where the final of the championship is scheduled to take place. With 120 points available in the kitty for every nation in each of the series irrespective of the number of matches, the nations will aim to showcase their strength of patience, calm and longevity in the sport. Considering the dying spirit of the red ball losing to the limited over encounters, such tournament will contribute massively to not only revive the Test cricket across the globe, but also will help new and young talent with a platform to showcase their agility, stability and longevity associated with the sport.
The 1st of the 5 Test matches in the Ashes 2019 played in England proved to be a complete entertainment for the cricket fanatics in day 2 itself as it witnessed some magical performance from the sides. The English side had entered the competition post a dramatic test victory over the Irish side in the capital city. The team that won its 1st ICC Men’s ODI World Cup was brought to a toss by its neighbouring vistors- Ireland. Though the things seems complicated for the World Champions for the initial duration being beaten up for a mere 85 by their neighbouring minnows, a solid comeback by Root boys meant a comparative cakewalk for the home side in the end. The pace duo of Braoad-Woakes brought into account their experience with an equivalent speed with the ball that it shattered the Irsish side for 38 in less than 20 overs of their 2nd innings which meant the winning run for the World Champions had extended in their home. The opening day of the iconic test which also marked the opener of the WTC proved to be a balanced encounter as both the nations to cheer about under the overcast conditions. The names of the players on the back of their white jerseys for the game gained traction with the bold and black letter didn’t find much approval from the players and fans, yet it was successful in grabbing the attention. The Kangaroos were unable to find a realistic start off their Ashes campaign with its top order and Test specialist- Bancroft, Warner & Khawaja seemed troubled by the duo of Broad-Woakes. Steve Smith, however was rock solid in the middle and was successful to get past his side and prevent a shameful all-out similar t the Irish side few days back against the powerful English side. The ex-skipper notched up his 24th ton in his 118 innings to better off the record set by Virat Kohli of having reached the landmark in 123 knocks. The iconic Australian batsmen- Don Bradman had achieved the feat in just 66 innings (averaging 99.99) in his 52 test career span. It was a nostalgic moment for the fans and ex-members having represented the Australian cricket. Having continued the Steve storm and building partnership towards the end for the 9th and 10th wicket bruised the Kangaroos to post 284 in their first innings.
“No gain seems joyous without the pain”, and it was exactly how the 33-year old English pacer expressed his feeling after becoming the 19th bowler to claim 100 Ashes wickets. The day of twists and turns folded with Rory Burns and Jason Roy at the crease. With the 1st inning proving to be a major takeaway for the pacers, the major responsibility of shattering the England innings and taking the charge under control lied on the shoulders the pace trio of Cummins-Pattinson-Siddle. Top order of England in form of left-right duo of Burns-Roy had the major responsibility of shaping the innings and putting the side in a dominant position early in the 5 day encounter. The importance of top order was very well quoted by the home coach, Taylor Bayliss who stressed on the top order as the biggest obstacle to regain the Ashes for the World Champions. The iconic ground of Lords and the marquee “Ashes” test didn’t had to wait too long for its second centurion in form of Rory Burns who reached his maiden red-ball century for his national side. However the knock didn’t came as easy for the left-handed Surrey batsmen as the 28 years Englishmen, was left alone at constant intervals with wickets falling at the other end. Watchfulness and occupation of the crease to the best of the effort helped Burns to carry his bat by the stumps on Day 2. With Ben Stokes at the other end, the home side is expected to indulge in a special partnership when the day resumes on Saturday which will strengthen the chances to hold a grip on the match. Nathan Lyon aim to contribute with his offbreak and thereby assist the Aussie pacers to wrap up the England innings soon and prevent the dangerous looking Rory Burns to further dampen the chances of the visitors.