2nd over: Afghanistan 4-1 (Gulbadin 3, Rahmat 0) Rahmat Shah is beaten by a sharp lifter outside off stump. Jofra Archer is 33/1 to win SPOTY. He was 250/1 a month ago, and I thought about putting £100 on it, and I thought about it a bit more, and I thought about it even
“According to the ODI rankings, Rashid Khan is the third best ODI bowler in the world and there’s one England batsman in the top 15,” says Jeremy Gostick. “Make of that what you will.”
You misspelt ‘was’.
WICKET! Afghanistan 4-1 (Noor Ali b Archer 0)
Two balls. That’s all Jofra Archer needed to take his first wicket, even if it wasn’t his greatest piece of bowling. Noor Ali had a leaden-footed slap at a full, wide delivery and dragged it back onto the stumps.
1st over: Afghanistan 1-0 (Noor Ali 0, Gulbadin 0) Chris Woakes starts with a goowho cares let’s just keep talking about Morgand over to Noor Ali. A legside wide is the only run conceded.
Thanks Tim, hello everyone. Cricket is a simple game. Eleven men chase a ball around for 50 overs, and at the end, England break another record. They claimed two of the biggest today. Eoin Morgan beasted 17 sixes, the most in a one-day international, and the team broke the ODI record with 25.
It’s rare that someone breaks a world record while having a fitness test. Morgan’s back got quite a workout; so did his jaw. He has a distinctive six-face – you know the one, a kind of effort gurn as he makes contact – and I doubt I’ll ever get it out of my head after today.
Moeen Ali also hit four sixes in a nine-ball 31. A nine-ball 31! Given his recent form, that could be a really important little innings. But this is and forever shall be Morgan’s match. Seventeen sixes. That’s only one fewer than England hit throughout the last World Cup. Morgan has since created a team that have normalised the preposterous. And he has a practice:preach ratio we could all learn from.
I need to go and lie down. Thanks for your company, your mutterings about boring England (which didn’t go unheard), and your entertaining reactions to one of the all-time great fireworks displays. Apologies for the typos and the odd blank that had to be filled in later – writing the OBO is like doing an exam in your favourite subject, but today it turned into a tricky Greek unseen. And it was still an honour to do it.
Time for a bowling change of our own: on comes the consistently excellent Rob Smyth.
At halfway, England were 139-1. So the last 25 overs brought 258 runs.
Morgan didn’t even come in till the 30th over. The headlines will say Captain Fantastic, but then they often do, and this wasn’t something we’ve ever seen before – even from Jos Buttler.
When Morgan came out to bat, the leading six-hitter in this tournament was the Australian captain Aaron Finch, with 14, from 310 balls faced. Morgan hit 17 sixes today, from only 71 balls – not one in 20-odd, but one in four. And Old Trafford is a big ground.
Morgan brought all his calm, all his strength, all his eye, all his chutzpah. It was unreal. All England should be rising to him. And all Ireland too.
Afghanistan fielded poorly, but they actually bowled pretty well and didn’t fall apart in the face of the biggest onslaught I’ve ever seen. Their captain, Gulbadin, deserves a medal of his own, for making some shrewd bowling changes and nurturing a wounded Rashid Khan.
Way back when, in the 26th over, a reader named John Morrissey made a good point. He now follows it up. “So, when we do go full Morganballs…”
Time for a glance at Twitter. “Reading along at work in Norway,” says Brendan Large, “and just wondering…what did Morgan do to his back and can someone please do it to mine?”
50th over: England 397-5 (Ali 31, Woakes 1) Collapse, what collapse? Moeen is slyly taking the opportunity to play himself into form. He hits two sixes off Dawlat that combine the power of Eoin Morgan and the grace of David Gowe, and finishes with 31 off nine balls. The world has officially gone mad.
Wicket! Stokes b Dawlat 2 (England 378-6)
The final over is bowled by Dawlat, who is no doormat. He pulls out a perfect yorker to bowl Stokes round his legs, and England have lost four wickets for 25 off 15 balls, so we can add one more to the pile of superlatives: possibly the least significant collapse in their history.
49th over: England 378-5 (Stokes 2, Ali 14) Like the caring dad he seems to be, Gulbadin brings back Rashid Khan now that his tormentors have left the playground. His luck doesn’t change, alas – Moeen tonks him for six to bring up Rashid’s hundred. Showing some spirit, Rashid has Stokes almost stumped and then dropped by the schoolboy keeper, Ikram. The gods really have it in for Rashid today: he finishes with another six from Moeen, and figures of 9-0-110-0, which are, I’m afraid, the worst in World Cup history.
48th over: England 363-5 (Stokes 1, Ali 0) And well played Dawlat, who somehow produces an over for only five runs, and gets Jos Buttler to boot – chipping a slower ball to mid-off. The Afghanis’ fielding has suddenly improved – Morgan, like Root, was caught by Rahmat. Morgan had hit 17 sixes, and only four fours.
47th over: England 359-4 (Buttler 0, Stokes 0) Gulbadin, in a generous piece of captaincy, takes Rashid off and brings himself back. If the Tory contenders are wondering what leadership looks like, that’s it right there. It costs him a couple of sixes, naturally, from the frankly ludicrous Morgan, but it also brings the wickets of both batsmen. Root holes out at long-on and Morgan miscues to the cover sweeper. Well played Gulbadin, well played Root, and phenomenally well played Morgan.
Wicket!! Morgan c Rahmat b Gulbadin 148 (England 359-4)
At last, Morgan holes out. The end of an unbelievable innings: 148 off 71 balls.
Wicket!! Root c Rahmat b Gulbadin 88 (England 353-3)
Root is out, don’t ask me how. He ends up with 88 off 82 balls.
46th over: England 340-2 (Root 88, Morgan 124) Root sees that chip from Morgan and thinks he’ll have one of those – well, it’s never easy to see someone else enjoying their chips. And then Morgan hits the sponge at long-off with a drop-kick. That’s his 13th six, a new one-day record for England, beating even Buttler. He adds a four with a lofted cut, to go to 40 off his last 12 balls (I think). This is just preposterous. The tannoy plays Ca Plane Pour Moi by Plastic Bertrand, which captures the mood, all gleeful abandon.
45th over: England 323-2 (Root 83, Morgan 118) Doctor, I think I’m suffering from delusions. Joe Root has just danced down the track and hit Rashid Khan for six. Morgan adds another six with a slog-sweep, and a third with an inside-out chip over mid-off. And another hundred is looming, for poor old Rashid, who has the chastening figures of 8-0-96-0. That dropped catch has been horribly expensive.
“What was this about ‘boring England’?” wonders Robert Darby. “It seems to be getting quite interesting right now.”
44th over: England 302-2 (Root 76, Morgan 104) Such is the carnage that Root is playing a ramp for four off Gulbadin. These two have added 136 off 14 overs. Imagine how handy they could be if they weren’t both nursing bad backs.
Morgan, bloody hell
43rd over: England 293-2 (Root 70, Morgan 101) Rashid Khan is back, like a naughty schoolboy, expecting further punishment. And getting it: Morgan hits a straight six, a square six, a third six I’m not sure where, and he’s made a hundred off 57 balls, with 11 sixes. This is sublime and ridiculous at the same time.
42nd over: England 272-2 (Root 69, Morgan 81) It’s Mujeeb’s last over and he is himself again, conceding only three and even beating Morgan outside off. He finishes with 10-0-44-0 and wouldn’t have been flattered by a couple of wickets.
Here’s an email from Emma Sambrook. “If it wasn’t for the nutmeg (over 34), we wouldn’t have the Natmeg where Nat Sciver deliberately hit a leg-stump yorker between her legs during the women’s World Cup.” Spot on.
41st over: England 269-2 (Root 67, Morgan 80) One way to lord it over a bowler is to attack the first ball of their over. So Morgan hits Nabi’s first ball for six, and his second. The hundred partnership comes up – 104 off only 67 balls. What a phenomenal pair these two make when they’re both in form. Wouldn’t you love to see them bat together in a Test?
40th over: England 255-2 (Root 66, Morgan 67) Morgan is playing so well, he is even getting after Mujeeb now: a slog-sweep for six, an orthodox sweep for four. He now stands second in the sixes table for this World Cup with 11, behind only Aaron Finch (14), and he’s overtaken Root after letting him have a 20-over head-start.
39th over: England 238-2 (Root 64, Morgan 54) Just when Mujeeb has calmed things down, Nabi dishes up a long-hop. Morgan helps himself from the buffet, pulls for six, and reaches 50 off only 36 balls with five sixes. When he could have sent Buttler up the order, he opted to do the same job himself, and not even Buttler could have done it better.
38th over: England 232-2 (Root 64, Morgan 48) If you want to restore order, who you gonna call? Mujeeb, that’s who. He allows only a two and a couple of singles, and now has 0-27 off eight overs, which is no mean feat.
37th over: England 228-2 (Root 63, Morgan 45) Even with a bad back, Root isn’t going to miss out on something short and wide outside off. He jumps back and upper-cuts Dawlat for only his third four of the day.
Here’s Matt Dony, picking up on my pedantry from the 28th over. “I always say to myself, ‘Matt, you need to remember what the wise English teacher said; “Class, you should pay attention to what the textbook says; ‘One of the important rules in writing is, “Always alternate between single and double quotation marks.” ’ ” ’ Couldn’t be clearer.” Haha. Have we reached peak OBO?
36th over: England 217-2 (Root 53, Morgan 44) Don’t give Morgan a let-off. He rubs it in ruthlessly by pulling the next ball for six, and repeating the trick off the last ball. So poor Rashid, who should have been celebrating the very scalp he was after, goes for 18 off the over. And that’s drinks, with England well on top, give or take a couple of bad backs.
Dropped! Morgan off Rashid Khan
Morgan lofts Rashid straight to the man at deep midwicket – who drops it and lets it dribble over the boundary. Oh dear.
35th over: England 199-2 (Root 53, Morgan 26) Dawlat returns and finds the edge of Morgan’s bat, but it’s a slower ball so there’s not enough carry for a caught behind. The one with the bad back now is Root, who is suddenly moving stiffly and stretching. That’s a worry for England, and perhaps a reason for him to retire hurt, admirable as he has been. Get Buttler out there!
Meanwhile, here’s Scott Roberts. “Brian Withington’s comment about sorting the wheat from the chaff [16th over] reminded me of this utter gink of a middle manager I had to report to a few years ago. Amongst his classic inadvertent middle management malapropisms was telling us forthrightly that he was going to have to separate the ‘weak from the chafe’. It would have been funny had he not been earning a fortune for being incompetent.” Fairly sure I worked with that guy too.
34th over: England 196-2 (Root 51, Morgan 25) Gulbadin takes himself off, job done, and brings back Rashid Khan. He too has one job – get Morgan – but it doesn’t happen right away as he drops too short and Morgan cuts for two, then again for three.
“Ok,” says Jane Evans, “I will risk looking the fool that I probably am, but what is nutmegged? Clearly not something good (unless you are junket).” Ha. My fault for using a bit of football jargon, which captures that awkward moment when the ball goes through your legs. Makes you feel like a right piece of junket.
33rd over: England 189-2 (Root 50, Morgan 19) Root, the man who gets to 30 without anyone noticing, reaches yet another international fifty by tucking Nabi off the pads. He has purred along, hitting only two fours, yet using up only 54 balls. Morgan, more aggressive, reverse-sweeps for four.
32nd over: England 183-2 (Root 49, Morgan 14) Gulbadin bowls a no-ball, which means a free hit. Morgan doesn’t miss out, spying the slower ball, waiting and waiting and then whacking it for six over square leg. Next ball, Morgan goes big and straight and it’s another six. Back spasm, what back spasm?
31st over: England 168-2 (Root 48, Morgan 1) Nabi is bowling into the rough to the left-handed Morgan, who doesn’t find it easy. He eventually scrapes a single, whereupon Root eases into the covers for a couple. Before our eyes, England’s anchor is turning into a yacht.
30th over: England 164-2 (Root 45, Morgan 0) So Gulbadin has 1-25 off seven overs, and Bairstow misses out on a hundred. His 90 came off 99 balls: he played some superb strokes without ever quite banishing the dots.
Wicket!! Bairstow c & b Gulbadin 90 (England 164-2)
Gulbadin does the trick! This time a slower ball does deceive Bairstow, who plays a back-foot push, straight back to the bowler. Gulbadin brought himself back, bowled the ball and caught the catch – no wonder he stands there and flexes his biceps, which are enormous.
29th over: England 163-1 (Bairstow 90, Root 44) Mujeeb returns and keeps the runs down to five.
“Boring England,” says the subject line from Robert Taylor, though he actually approves. “Seems that England are putting away their usual bombastic approach. I reckon this is because they know Afghanistan have yet to pass 200 and have a quality spin attack on a spinning pitch, so going all guns blazing trying to get 400 is a) unnecessary and b) the strategy most likely to lead to a disastrous collapse.” Yes, there may have been a touch of bananaskinophobia.
28th over: England 158-1 (Bairstow 87, Root 42) Gulbadin takes his underperforming starman off and turns to… himself. And it works: just three from the over. But what he really needs to conjure is a wicket.
“England have 7 bowlers (counting Root whose Test bowling average is actually below his batting one),” notes Daniel Howell, “two potential wicketkeepers and a captain – leaving only Vince as ‘nothing but a batsman’. But while he doesn’t bowl in internationals, he has taken 22 wickets for Hampshire down the years. Given the batting performance in recent Tests, I can’t help wondering if this ‘pick nothing but a tail’ approach might work wonders in 5 day matches as well…” Good point. A polite request: if you’re using quote marks, please can you make them single ones, as they will appear within doubles and then I won’t have to change them.
27th over: England 155-1 (Bairstow 86, Root 40) Now Bairstow wallops Nabi for six. The gulf between these sides is beginning to tell.
26th over: England 145-1 (Bairstow 80, Root 38) Bairstow brings up the hundred partnership in style with a back-foot drive off Rashid Khan. These two needed 99 balls to add a hundred, so it’s been an ice cream with a Flake as well as a pair of Yorkies. England have made Rashid look bad (4-0-29-0) while having the opposite effect on the other bowlers.
“Grrr!” says John Morrissey. “What is it that you people want? Unless my arithmetic is fundamentally awry, England are going along at a little over 5-an-over, for the loss of one wicket. Continue at that rate and they will have accumulated >250 at the end of 50 overs. Accelerate smoothly from 35 overs onwards, without going completely Morganballs and they will be over 300, probably ~320. Afghanistan’s strength is in the bowling, not batting, so the likelihood of them entering the top 5 World Cup run-chases seems, to me, pretty remote.
“Enjoy a good quality spin bowling attack vs. a sensible, concentrated batting approach, and revel in the joys of being able to follow it from hundreds/thousands of miles away via the medium of print delivered digitally.”
25th over: England 139-1 (Bairstow 74, Root 37) Another four from Bairstow, pulling Nabi and beating the man at deep square just by virtue of the intent in his eyes. Afghanistan need to get him out.
“Going by some of the dietary advice lately in the Guardian,” says John Starbuck, “I’m surprised we still bother to separate wheat and chaff (16th over). I shall drink a mug of green tea and hope to reach equilibrium.”
24th over: England 132-1 (Bairstow 69, Root 35) Bairstow’s itching to assert himself now. He slog-sweeps Rashid Khan for four, then swats him for six. In between, there’s an edge, but even that goes for two. Bairstow has 23 off his last 18 balls. Go Jonny, go big.
23rd over: England 118-1 (Bairstow 56, Root 34) Bairstow works Nabi away for three to the cover sweeper’s left. If his batting has been patchy, his running between the wickets has been immaculate, as ever.
If you’d like to switch over to the county scene, do join Tanya Aldred.
22nd over: England 112-1 (Bairstow 54, Root 30) Gulbadin keeps the plug in, conceding just three.
“Mooting around,” says the subject line from our old friend Brian Withington. “Harking back to your 5th over moot with Jim Evans, I see that the word has far more nuance than I had realised. As an adjective it can mean more than just of little practical importance, by encompassing uncertainty worthy of debate. As a verb it can be used to encourage such debate, but as a noun it describes an Anglo Saxon or medieval assembly of like minded souls, and a form of mock judicial proceeding. As you rightly say, where would the OBO be without it?” Blimey.
21st over: England 109-1 (Bairstow 52, Root 29) Rashid Khan whistles through an over at a speed that is frankly unsporting. Doesn’t he realise that some people have paragraphs to compose?
20th over: England 106-1 (Bairstow 52, Root 26) England’s hundred comes up thanks to yet another little misfield, as short third man allows himself to be nutmegged. The hundred took 117 balls, almost sedate by Morganball standards. Bairstow, perhaps conscious of this, strokes a lovely off-drive to bring up his fifty, off 61 balls. Like Winnie the Pooh with the honeypot, he can surely hear a century calling to him.