Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 4 June

Musings from beyond the boundary – cricketing thoughts through the eyes of Trevor Auger, an Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club Member.

As we sat and enjoyed 19-year-old Sam Curran’s entertaining all round skills for the Aces in last season’s Burger King Super Smash it was easy to recognise a very talented and mature young cricketer, but there would have been few of us who would have expected him to be making his test debut just months later.

Shortly after his first class career-best for Surrey and still before his 20th birthday, he was called up to the England test side in place of the injured Ben Stokes.  He was England’s seventh-youngest test debutant and the 3rd player aged 20 or less to have debuted for England in their last five tests, following Mason Crane in Sydney and Dom Bess a week ago at Lord’s.

Curran came into an England side besieged by the critics after their defeat by Pakistan the previous week, and he performed creditably in an England victory as convincing as Pakistan’s had been in the first encounter. In the first innings he dismissed top-scorer Shadab Khan, and he captured the same victim in Pakistan’s second turn at bat. Between times he contributed a useful 20 in a 34-run eighth wicket partnership with Jos Butler which helped England to reach 363.

The England batting card had an unusual look about it, in that each of the top nine in the order scored at least 17, but apart from Butler, unbeaten on 80, no-one else passed 49.

The batsman who got to 49, was the young Somerset off-spinner Dom Bess who came in as nightwatchman on the first evening and went on to bat for almost two and a half hours, just missing a reprise of his First Test half century at Lord’s. Not required with the ball in Pakistan’s first innings, he then played an important part in their second, snaring 3/33 from 11 overs and helping wrap up the English victory as Pakistan collapsed to be all out for 134 in just 46 overs.

Meanwhile in the Royal London One Day Cup, Curran’s older brother Tom, who made his own test debut in Australia last summer and who last played for England in an ODI in New Zealand, has been reminding the selectors that cricket is a family affair with hauls of 4/75 against Kent and 4/33 against Middlesex over the past week.

Incidentally, the Curran’s father, Kevin, was also an international cricketer, playing One Day Internationals for Zimbabwe. He passed away in 2012, aged just 53, after collapsing while out running.

It has been a relatively quiet week for the New Zealand contingent in the county game. Top performer was Tom Latham , with 86 for Durham  against Northamptonshire, but he then fell for 13 as his team lost to Warwickshire, with Jeetan Patel capturing 3/51.

Ross Taylor has continued to make useful contributions to Nottinghamshire’s efforts to retain the title they captured last season, with 47 against Worcestershire and 56 against Patel’s Warwickshire. Against Durham though, he and Latham rather cancelled each other out, with Latham’s 28 just eclipsing Taylor’s 25.

With the ball, Neil Wagner had 2/52 against Sussex, while Matt Henry had a quiet week by his recent standards. Indeed both the New Zealand quick bowlers proved expensive at times in recent matches.

The Quarter-finalists in the One Day Cup will be decided by the end of this week, as the countdown begins to the Final at Lord’s on 30 June.

Two more recent Auckland Aces were also on the international stage this week with Tymal Mills opening the bowling alongside Mitchell McClenaghan for the World XI in their T20 match against the West Indies at Lord’s. This game, arranged to raise funds for the West Indies Hurricane Relief efforts, carried full T20 International status.

Although the West Indies finished victorious, Mills was one of the stars of the match, not conceding a run until his 11th delivery, and giving away only 13 in his three overs. Unfortunately the New Zealanders in the match didn’t fare quite so well, McClenaghan finishing with 0/31 from his three overs and Luke Ronchi lasting just two balls at the top of the innings.

Afghanistan has again shown that they are a serious contender at the highest level with a convincing T20i victory over Bangladesh. We spoke last week about Rashid Khan’s performances in the IPL. This week he was back playing for his country and picking up 3/13 from three overs as Bangladesh were all out in 19 overs for 122, well off their target of 168.

Rashid also played in the Hurricane Relief Match at Lord’s last week, taking 2/48, the only one of the World XI bowlers to capture more than one wicket.

Finally this week, for those debating whether last season should be their cricketing finale, take inspiration from 83-year-old John Reynolds who, according to the 2018 Wisden Cricketers Almanack, finally retired in 2017 after 64 years of club cricket, claiming ‘worn-out knees’. He had taken 5,811 wickets, including 14 hat-tricks.