By Kyle Jones
England will wrap up its international cricket summer over the next few weeks with the Vitality IT20 series against Pakistan and Australia, followed by a 3-ODI series against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester. The games cap off what has been a successful summer both on and off the pitch for English cricket. While sports halted worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the English Cricket Board quickly established protocols and a bubble, giving cricket the chance to be one of the first sports back on TV.
It came back with a bang.
England’s first test series at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton against the West Indies began with a huge win for the visitors, who systematically broke down the English bats in their first innings and followed up with a stellar batting performance of their own. Of particular note was West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who took a total of nine wickets. The great performance both batting and bowling led to the West Indies winning by four wickets.
The loss may have been the best thing for England.
Coming off of last summer when the country won the World Cup, combined with being the only other sport on TV, English cricket had more eyes on it than ever before. A loss in the opening test gave the series intrigue, and fans would tune in to see if England could turn things around.
They would not be disappointed.
The second test saw England win by 113 runs, powered by first innings centuries from Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley. England tactically declared after their second innings, to avoid drawing the match due to rain. The decision was a good one, as a hat trick from Stuart Broad helped hold the West Indies under 200 runs.
Broad continued his form in the series finale, taking six wickets in the first innings and four in the second as England won by a whopping 269 runs and took the series 2-1.
The series produced some exciting test cricket, with both teams strategizing around rain delays. The second test in particular was riveting, in that it became an unconventional 4-day test due to the weather. This atmosphere was perfect for anyone starved for sports, and it seemed as though the cricket community grew substantially over the three games.
England then followed with 3 ODIs against Ireland, and always intriguing matchup due to both the history surrounding the two nations and the traditional scrappiness of the Irishmen.
England won the first two games handily, taking less than 40 overs to beat Ireland’s run total in both games. However, the Irish pulled a stunner in the third ODI. England batted first and put up what seemed to be an insurmountable total of 328 runs, powered by a century from Eoin Morgan. Yet, just when it looked as though the visitors would be swept, Irish opener Paul Stirling stormed out the gate and put up an incredible 142 runs.
Stirling and Irish captain Andrew Balbirnie formed a 214 run partnership that eventually spurred the men from the Emerald Isle to victory. A win over the reigning world champions is one that will live long in the memory of cricket fans, and the Stirling-Balbirnie partnership was some of the best cricket ever played.
England wrapped up their test series against Pakistan this past week, a series that was largely pushed to the background by the return of other sports worldwide. The weather wasn’t helpful either, forcing two matches to be drawn.
For a few weeks cricket had its moment in the sun. Despite America’s abysmal coverage of the sport, with outlets like ESPN not even thinking of airing coverage of cricket, the sport still capitalizes on chances too showcase its brilliance and grow.
Edited by Emma Moloney