Recent Match Report – England XI vs WICB XI Tour Match 2021/22



Runs throughout the top order as Test preparations begin to take shape

CWI President’s XI 48 for 2 trail England XI 466 for 6 (Bairstow 106*, Lawrence 83, Lees 65, Crawley 62, Root 54) by 418 runs

There’s a very strong argument that says the quality of warm-up opposition should be as high as possible in order to best prepare for the Tests that lie ahead. Today offered the opposite. That you want a competent opposition. No more and no less. An ego-rubbing massage to give a batting order bereft of confidence the chance to sit back in the evening and think, “you know what, I’m really good”.

Led by Jonny Bairstow‘s unbeaten century and Dan Lawrence‘s 83 off 121 balls, five of England’s top seven passed 50 whilst Chris Woakes at No.8 finished the innings on 49 not out as the team declared on 466 for 6.

It was the culmination of a perfect day for England’s batters, with no-one dominating to the extent that you questioned the quality of the opposition, but all batting with a certainty that left you with no doubt that they were a cut above their opponent at the other end.

For Bairstow, the innings represented consecutive centuries in an England shirt as he made his first appearance on a cricket field following the Sydney Test where his heroic century was tempered by suffering a broken thumb in the same innings.

“Jonny obviously seems like he’s in fantastic form at the moment and hopefully long may it continue,” Lawrence said at the close, after sharing a 64-run partnership with Bairstow. “Obviously he’s happy and he seems like he’s in a really good place.”

Lawrence himself batted well for his 83. Resuming overnight on 46, Lawrence made the most of his selection ahead of Ollie Pope as he reached his half-century with a six pulled over midwicket.

“It was quite a nice feeling scoring a few runs. It’s only a practice game early in the tour but it was nice to spend some time in the middle. I’m trying not to look too far ahead to be honest, just take it day by day out here.

“That was my first competitive bat since the end of the English summer so it was just nice to spend a couple of hours at the crease. It’s a very good batting wicket, it’s quite a slow surface and it was nice for all of our batters to get quite a lot of time in the middle.”

While deserving of praise, the day should not go without caveat. As a whole it was noticeably lacking some of the intensity of day one. For the hosts, yesterday was a chance to impress, whereas today was one to get through.

The result was a scoreboard that ticked along at a comfortable rate of 3.8 an over, compared to yesterday’s 2.8. The ball reached the boundary that bit more often, the sweeper was out that bit sooner, the singles available that more freely. These were the fruits sown by yesterday’s contributions from Alex Lees, Zak Crawley and Joe Root. It’s almost as if cricket can at times be a team game.

It was the sort of team contribution that England so desperately require if they’re to experience success in the future. The England of 2021 was a team reminiscent of an U12s rugby team, completely reliant on their one player to have already gone through puberty. If big boy Root scored his big boy runs, things were okay. But if he didn’t, England were as exposed as boys playing a men’s game.

For this reason, while it is always hard to quantify what counts as success when reviewing warm-up games, you can only imagine that if you gave England the choice, it’d look something like this.

In reply, the CWI President’s XI were 48 for 2 at the close, with rain bringing the day to a close eight overs early after Jack Leach and a run-out had broken through for England.

Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby


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