Jos Buttler ascends unto greatness, with a bit of help from Ben Stokes.
While we were busy this week getting angry at the shitness of this ODI series, sad about the retirement of Matthew Hoggard or just really drunk (see the lack of articles and podcast over the last few days), we may have forgotten that it is possibly to actually enjoy watching ODI cricket. And so it proved in the fourth game of the series (albeit only the second to be completed) with a genuinely entertaining run chase, superbly marshalled by Jos Buttler. We’ve been saying for ages that he’s actually brilliant, despite him doing his best to prove us fools, but we were finally able to parade around town with smug grins on our faces (at least until some local youths tried to bottle us) after this masterclass in timing , placement and letting the Mitchell Johnson wides go safely down the leg side.
Mitchell was again threatening the upper registers of the speed gun – we could have sworn there was a 94mph in there at one point – but it was Grunter McKay who did all the damage, ripping through the opposition like Michael Le Vell’s legal team.
All this came after a much improved bowling performance from England, particularly with the new balls at the start of the innings where Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin looked every bit as threatening as two men with a combined height of over 13 feet should. James Tredwell may have picked up three wickets but he was again clearly targeted, going at 6.36 an over (and with one of his overs farmed out to Joe Root). Despite the success, it’s clear that this current England setup is still extremely thin in terms of bowling.
From Australia’s point of view, this was ODI cricket as they’ve become accustomed to over recent months – the batsmen (bar George ‘Rumpole of the’ Bailey) failed collectively and while the bowling was fairly decent, they utterly failed to ram home their advantage. Plus Mitchell Johnson bowled an enormous comedy wide near the end that may as well have had a white flag attached to it.
Have we mentioned yet how much we love Jos Buttler?
With the world’s dullest series finally jerking into life like Frankenstein’s monster or Editor Steve that time Operation Yewtree came knocking on the 51allout office door (which turned out to be nothing more than a misunderstanding), there’s suddenly a reason to watch the last game on Monday. And for that alone Jos Buttler deserves all the plaudits in the world. We reckon England will actually win it and Australia will go back to saying how they didn’t actually take the series seriously and perhaps rethinking the whole ‘picking Mitchell Johnson for the Ashes’ thing.