Young Surrey spinners seize control as Gloucestershire follow-on at The Kia Oval
Gloucestershire 158 (Hammond 77, Moriarty 6-60) and 124 for 5 trail Surrey 473 (Amla 173, Clarke 65, Patel 62, Overton 50*) by 191 runs
Rarely do Surrey have licence to play the underdog card, but having lost to these opponents in the opening round of fixtures there was an added bite to their play here. In the stands, some pinkly glistening patrons attempted to start a “thunder clap”, made famous by Iceland’s football fans during exuberant campaigns at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. Gloucestershire, still 191 runs adrift at the close and having collected just two bowling bonus points from their trip to Kennington, face going home with little more than a pat on the back.
Rarely does the county game provide the stage for two young, English spinners to dictate proceedings in tandem, but with the sun shining down on a dry and dusty Oval, conditions were ripe for Virdi and Moriarty to wheel away. Le tweak, c’est chic, as the French don’t quite say. Certainly they are a complementary pair, having taken 18 wickets together in the victory over Sussex during last season’s Bob Willis Trophy. Virdi, the diminutive offspinner, bounds in and gives the ball a twirl, while the taller, more angular Moriarty sinisterly stalks his quarry.
Asked to bat again in the face of a 315-run deficit, Kraigg Brathwaite and Chris Dent walked out to find Moriarty and Virdi waiting for them again. Gloucestershire’s openers survived their unusual new-ball test, only for Brathwaite to chip a return catch to Jamie Overton, before Abbott struck twice in as many overs, pinning Dent in front and then castling Tom Lace to send the former Middlesex man on his way having bagged a pair.
Ryan Higgins avoided the same fate, but was stumped off Virdi deep into an extended evening session – Jamie Smith completing the dismissal after a smart take by his left shoulder – after Ian Cockbain had fallen to a ripping offbreak.
For the first hour of the day, Gloucestershire seemed capably attuned to the requirements of navigating a way past the follow-on target of 324. While spin was always likely to play the major role, this used pitch was still some way removed from a raging Bunsen. Indeed, after Brathwaite and Hammond had seen off the pro forma opening overs of seam – the latter taking advantage of Overton’s pace to pull and drive three boundaries in as many overs – the introduction of Virdi and Moriarty initially did little to change the tenor of the morning.
In the end it was a lack of turn, deliberate or otherwise from Virdi, that succeeded in foxing Brathwaite, as the West Indies opener played around an offbreak that went straight on to rap the back pad. Virdi was off and running, haring across the square in celebration, and so were Surrey, as the visitors tumbled from 84 for 1 to 89 for 5 inside five calamitous overs.
Lace was Moriarty’s first victim, sucked into pushing at a flighted delivery from round the wicket that straightened just enough to clip the outside edge. Cockbain attempted to counterattack but only succeeded in cuffing his sweep off Virdi straight to square leg, and Higgins was guilty of an even more glaring misjudgement when he offered his second ball unimpeded passage into off stump. With Jonny Tattersall turning a full delivery straight into the hands of leg slip and Tom Smith snapped up one-handed by Jacks at forward short leg off the face of the bat, Moriarty had four and Gloucestershire were limping to lunch on 113 for 7.
Despite the carnage at the other end, Hammond had doggedly held the line throughout, earning praise from a small-but-vocal pocket of Gloucestershire support in the JM Finn Stand. He moved to a sixth first-class fifty – and first for Gloucestershire since 2019 – with a single from his 124th ball, though might have been stumped in the following over when Moriarty turned one inside the bat only for it to elude Smith as well.
Surrey’s charge was briefly held up by the eighth-wicket pair, as Matt Taylor dug in for more than an hour. He had just driven Abbott through extra cover for four when he left a delivery from Jacks that spun big to hit off stump and give the Surrey allrounder his maiden first-class wicket. Moriarty claimed the last two, including that of Hammond, who dragged a short delivery to midwicket; the spinner’s name may hint at Machiavellian intent but Gloucestershire were too often complicit in being duped.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
Ban vs Aus, 2021 – Russell Domingo
Bangladesh head coach says he does not expect big turning tracks in his side’s bid to register their first T20I series win over Australia
“Obviously, winning is always important,” Domingo said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to try and win a series against Australia; it will do wonders for our confidence. We also want to try and find our best combination [for the T20 World Cup], and playing against Australia will give us that opportunity.”
“Bangladesh don’t play against Australia that often, so this is a big series for us and we’re determined to do well in it.”
Surfaces in Bangladesh, regardless of the format, have traditionally been spin-friendly and the presence of wristspinner Adam Zampa and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar make Australia’s spin attack a formidable threat even in overseas conditions. Domingo, however, said the Shere Bangla National Stadium pitch would not overwhelmingly favour spin, instead offering the type of challenge the hosts need to fine-tune for the T20 World Cup.
“We want to play on good wickets because that’s what you’re going to be facing when playing World Cups away from home,” Domingo said. “So, I don’t expect the wicket to be a major factor in the series. I don’t think it’s going to spin that much.
“It looks like a pretty good surface at the moment and there’s been quite a lot of rain around Dhaka at the moment, so there’s obviously a little bit of moisture in the surface.
“We’re just going to get a pretty good T20 wicket, a traditional Dhaka wicket, I suppose. Probably, later on [it might spin more] because we’re playing so many back-to-back games, but we can’t preempt it. [That said] nobody knows what the wicket is going to be like until we start playing on it.”
Bangladesh were without any major injury concerns two days out from the series opener. Domingo said: “Soumya Sarkar is recovering from a mild strain that happened in Zimbabwe; we’re very confident he’ll be fit.”
“We’ve thought long and hard about this. Obviously, Shakib is there and he will move into that opening spot. We’ll also get Mohammad Mithun back. I know he is a middle-order bat but in this format, he can do the job as an opener should one of the openers get injured.”
“[Shakib is going to be] Very important,” Domingo added. “Like I said, he’s a very difficult player to place because he bats in the top order and bowls ten overs in 50-over cricket, so he’s going to be massively important for us. He’s been bowling really well. He’s confident with his bowling at the moment, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how he shapes up against the Australian top order.
“We know they’ve got a few right-handers in the mix, which could work in our favour as well.”
“I can’t understand the stringent rules Australia have placed on Mushfiq’s bubble,” Domingo said. “Ten days [on re-entering the bubble after visiting family] surely would have been enough, so [it’s] very disappointing the way they went about it.
“But, look, we want to play against some of the best teams in the world. It’s a great opportunity for one or two of the younger players, or fringe players, to play and show what they’re capable of. We know Mushfiq’s absence is a big loss for us but we’ve got a biggish squad and some quality players, so it’s a great opportunity for them.”
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
Ban vs Aus, 2021 – Ashton Turner hopes return to bowling will boost T20 World Cup chances
He hopes for more opportunity with the ball during the five-match T20I series in Bangladesh
He now hopes for more opportunity with the ball during the five-match T20I series in Bangladesh, starting on Tuesday, which is a final chance to impress the selectors before the World Cup squad is named.
“Bowling is something I’ve always loved and unfortunately due to my shoulder injuries I haven’t been able to contribute much in games,” he said. “It’s been almost two years since my last operation, so I feel as good about my bowling as I have in a long time.
“Although I haven’t been able to bowl a lot in games, behind the scenes I’ve been working a lot at training and it’s nice in conditions that suited spin bowling and to be another option for the captain. Hoping that my bowling workloads can increase from here.
“Don’t think I’ve bowled eight overs in a game for more than four years…no doubt that will take some time. Feel like I’ve done everything I can over the recent periods and I’m starting to enjoy it as much as I used to.”
To date, he has made 87 runs from 89 balls across nine T20I innings. The 22 balls he faced in the third ODI in St Lucia is the most he has managed in a single game, in a position where the demands are often for instant results very quickly, but he believes his role in domestic cricket for Perth Scorchers stands him in good stead.
“There’s no secret until you’ve been able to walk out in high-pressure situations and perform, training can’t replicate that pressure,” he said. “I’m fortunate that for a number of years now I’ve been able to experience some close games in the middle order and try to finish innings. With that experience, comes confidence and that’s not something that can be found at training.”
In the West Indies, he also took the chance to pick the brains of Andre Russell who is a master of the closing overs and has also lent on the recalled Dan Christian in the Australian dressing room.
‘[Speaking to] Andre Russell on the back of the West Indies tour, being able to get some insights from him about how he goes about his game. He’s probably the best in the world at the moment at finishing innings and he’s another one playing T20 cricket only,” Turner said. “The message coming from Andre is that he’s trying to replicate the situations he has in games and challenge him as much as possible.
“Dan Christian is someone I’ve played a lot of cricket with but not necessarily spent a lot of time in the same dressing. So I have spoken to him about his transition from playing all formats of the game to now plying his trade as one of the best middle-order finishers in the domestic circuit. It’s interesting to see a change in his philosophy around batting and how he models his training and that’s certainly evolved over the last five years.”
The five-match T20I series against Bangladesh that begins on Tuesday will be played across seven days in Dhaka. Australia are expected to be captained by Matthew Wade in the absence of Aaron Finch who has returned home with a knee injury.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Australia selector George Bailey and his pressing tasks in the next 12 months
New selection chief will play a key role in picking squads for the T20 World Cup and Ashes
A team to win the T20 World Cup
Test batting spots
Managing bubble fatigue
No one really knows at the moment how the summer in Australia will play out although it seems increasingly likely there will be disruption at least to the early months. It also appears inevitable that there will need to be some type of bubble arrangement for internationals, which raises the question of how long players can stay in them. That is more than just an issue for Bailey, but he is likely to be the latest selector around the world to accept he may not always be able to pick from his strongest hand.
This is partly related to the above point but would be a topic of debate – pandemic or not. One of the strategies Trevor Hohns presided over in his second spell as chairman was the largely successful approach to mixing and matching Australia’s pace attack during the 2019 Ashes. Whether it’s termed rotation or conditions-based selection, it is the only time in Test cricket they have really embraced a squad mentality with the bowling attack. It will be no easy task for Bailey to tell one of the quicks they aren’t playing but with six Tests in less than two months it’s all but inevitable. Over to you, James Pattinson, Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson.
If the schedule plays out as currently planned, Australia have a trio of subcontinent tours next year that will make or break their chances in the World Test Championship. Trips to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India will provide stern challenges for the adaptability of the Test team that hasn’t played away from home since the 2019 Ashes. The balance of the side will be the key debate although Green’s emergence will help that if his bowling returns to full tilt. Legspinner Mitchell Swepson looks well placed for elevation, but can Ashton Agar come again as a Test cricketer or Adam Zampa transfer his white-ball skills to red?
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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