And in comes an email from Tanya, who blazed the trail with our live coverage last night. “Torrential storm in Manchester right now!” she says. “What luck to have good weather for the opening matches.” True! Although it may not be the first time that London has been basking while poor old Manchester gets drenched.
And that’s me done, almost literally. I have a pool of porridge where my brain used to be. But what matters is that this half-crazy form of cricket, 40 balls shorter than T20, devoid of all those helpful pauses, is delivering some riveting entertainment. Thanks for your company, and sorry not to have got round to all the emails. The last word goes to Peter Gibbs: “It’s lovely to see cricket without the adverts . And free to air.”
And here’s Jos Buttler
He’s got a smile on his face and some magnanimity in his heart. “Really enjoyed it, thought it was a great game, great atmosphere here. I love the product.” Asked about the Originals’ injuries, he prefers to accentuate the positive. “There’s a lot of young guys in our team who will take a lot from this.” Yes, he says, it did feel a lot faster. Jos, you can say that again.
“Unbelievable atmosphere,” says Sam Billings, wearing his medal. “One of the best grounds in the world to play at. Great to get a first win on the board and follow the example of the ladies yesterday.” The ladies! That will go down well with the readers in Iceland who popped up in Tanya’s Obo this time yesterday.
What is par, Rob Key asks. “One-fifty,” says Billings firmly. In his honour, a peachy moon appears in the deep blue twilight.
“Am I a terrible person,” asks Miles Geffin, “for working out the run rate in the Hundred by dividing the balls bowled by six?”
“It’s only a matter of time,” says Peter Gibbs, “until we get The Sixty. Anyway, I’m enjoying this for the mo.” Me too. Just don’t ask me to make any sense about it.
The Match Hero…
… is Sam Billings, for his 49 and his shrewd captaincy. How he and Buttler managed to captain so well while keeping wicket, I have no idea.
The score, in case it matters
Originals 134-7 (Hartley 4, Klaasen 3) They just left themselves with too much to do. “Narine, for me, was the key,” says Nasser Hussain. So the Invincibles win, just like last night, and more importantly, the game has gone the distance, also like last night, if not quite as finely balanced.
Invincibles win by 10 runs!!
It’s all over! Sam Curran recovers his poise and the win is in the bag.
Originals need 17 off three balls…
And Sam Curran bowls a wide so wide that it’s a no-ball, so there’s a free hit. And Originals need 15 off three!
Wicket!! Brathwaite Roy b S Curran 37 (Originals 127-7)
Another one! The seriously big one! It’s in the slot, but Brathwaite can’t get hold of it and Jason Roy does the rest. Game off.
95 balls: Originals 127-6 (Brathwaite 37, Hartley 1) If only the Currans’ dad, Kevin, could see them now. Tom, after taking the wicket, nails his yorkers and allows Brathwaite only a two as he shapes to hit the ball out of the ground. The asking rate climbs to three runs a ball, and more. Originals need 19 off the final five.
Wicket! Harrison c S Curran b T Curran 23 (Originals 122-6)
Calvin Harrison has done so well, but he can only club Tom Curran’s full toss to Sam Curran at mid-off. You know when you’ve been Curraned.
90 balls: Originals 120-5 (Brathwaite 33, Harrison 21) Tom Curran hands over to Sam Curran, who’s firing his yorkers in at the toes… But then Harrison clips for four! The partnership is 51 off 30, and it’s kept this game alive. Originals need 26 off 10. And we’ve got another time-out. Phew!
85 balls: Originals 112-5 (Brathwaite 31, Harrison 16) Tom Curran returns, and he can practically smell the Match Hero award – but Carlos Brathwaite may have something to say about that. He eases him over mid-off for six! And Harrison nicks for four. “The Originals are still in this game!” says Stuart Broad, who is such a good commentator that he went to last night’s game just to do his research. They need 34 off 15.
80 balls: Originals 99-5 (Brathwaite 24, Harrison 10) For a huge man, Brathwaite has a delicate touch. He laps Narine for two as Mahmood, apparently recovered from his side injury, makes a fine diving save. Well bowled Narine, who finishes with 1-22 off his 20 balls. Originals need 47 off 20: a tall order.
75 balls: Originals 93-5 (Brathwaite 19, Harrison 9) After that big five, Sowter manages to restrict the batsmen to singles, which is a good effort. Originals need 53 off 25.
70 balls: Originals 88-5 (Brathwaite 17, Harrison 7) Calvin Harrison can see that something needs to be done, so he does it – stepping away to off and scooping Reece Topley for four. Shot! Brathwaite, getting the message, pulls for four as Sam Curran does well to save it but can’t stop his deflection sliding into the rope. And then Brathwaite cuts for four. Game on! Originals need 58 off 30.
65 balls: Originals 73-5 (Brathwaite 7, Harrison 2) The run-rate required is just over two per ball, which is hard to sustain for long, with the top order all gone. And Brathwaite hasn’t got into the groove – his eight have come off 12 balls. Originals need 73 off 35.
60 balls: Originals 69-5 (Brathwaite 6, Harrison 0) Sowter dropped short and gave Munro a simple cut, which seemed like manna from heaven for the poor old Originals – but then came the wicket. Some of the credit goes to Tom Curran for that exemplary first five.
Wicket!! Munro c Roy b Sowter 26 (Originals 69-5)
Holed out to long-off! And he was supposed to be the anchor.
55 balls: Originals 62-4 (Munro 22, Brathwaite 3) Narine is too good: he’s got Brathwaite blazing at phantoms.
50 balls: Originals 58-4 (Munro 21, Brathwaite 2) Time for Tom Curran, who batted so well at the death. He bowls a sensational five, flummoxing Brathwaite twice, beating him with some outswing, then beating him again for lack of pace. At the halfway stage, the Originals are all over the place, but they’ve still got Brathwaite.
45 balls: Originals 57-4 (Munro 20, Brathwaite 2) Here’s the legendary Carlos Brathwaite, with a job to do. Well bowled Nathan Sowter – yet another leggie, but a quick one, fizzing it down at around 60mph and going for only seven off his first five.
Wicket! Lammonby c Ingram b Sowter 2 (Originals 50-4)
Another one! It’s that man Ingram again, taking another good sharp catch as Lammonby’s confidence leads him to play a hockey shot to short extra.
40 balls: Originals 50-3 (Munro 18, Lammonby 2) Here’s Tom Lannonby, oozing confidence after his exploits for Somerset. But it’s Munro who catches the eye by lofting Will Jacks for six!
35 balls: Originals 42-3 (Munro 11, Lammonby 1) Narine is befuddling everyone with his variations. Munro got a leading edge to short third man, where Saqib Mahmood was bamboozled by the spin and went down clutching his side. I hope it’s not too serious. After a pause, Buttler reverse-sweeps for four, his first big shot – and then perishes.
Wicket!! BUTTLER c Ingram b Narine 8 (Originals 41-3)
The big one! Buttler doesn’t know what this ball is and can only pop it to extra cover, where Ingram takes a fine catch with a swallow dive. The Invincibles are ahead now.
30 balls: Originals 35-2 (Buttler 4, Munro 10) Billings gives Topley a slip, then changes his mind – and Munro nicks the next ball for four! The crowd are sounding restless, and Jos Buttler may be too. The Originals are not doing a great job of giving their captain the strike: he’s faced eight balls out of 30, and not got going at all. Are you Dawid Malan in disguise?
25 balls: Originals 28-2 (Buttler 4, Munro 4) Reece Topley bowls a superb five – wicket, dot, dot, dot, and only then a four, thumped down the ground by Munro. Topley’s reward is to be asked to bowl another five. The powerplay belongs to the Invincibles.
Review! Munro escapes
Colin Munro saves his skin, or Buttler does it for him – given LBW b Topley, but there was a nick.
20 balls: Originals 24-1 (Buttler 4, Clarke 15) Hang on, here’s Sunil Narine, with his spin all-sorts. He thinks he’s got Buttler LBW, but the umpire demurs, and Buttler hits back with a delicate soft-hands two, taking a leaf out of Billlings’s book.
“Invincibles?” says Tony McKnight. “Is this a case of over-promising and under-delivering?” Ha.
15 balls: Originals 18-1 (Buttler 1, Clarke 12) Here’s Saqib Mahmood, fresh from making Babar Azam his bunny, so Sam Billings opts not to open the bowling with a spinner. Clarke steps away and carves through the covers for four, and Buttler is still a spectator.
10 balls: Originals 11-1 (Buttler 1, Clarke 6) Joe Clarke comes in and just eases his first ball for four through gully. Jos Buttler has faced only two balls, a dot and a single stroked through the covers. Sam Curran tries the slowest slower ball ever seen, and Clarke waits for it and pushes a single.
5 balls: Originals 4-1 (Buttler 0, Clarke 0) Sam Curran is one of rather too many people with the Phil Foden peroxide hair, but he gets it right with the ball, bowling full, swinging it, and restricting Phil Salt to one blast of a four.
Wicket! Salt c Ingram b S Curran 4 (Originals 4-1)
A slower ball, and Salt chips it into the stratosphere. All Colin Ingram has to do is not panic, and he doesn’t.
It’s going to be Jos Buttler and Phil Salt to open the batting – two England openers, although I don’t think they’ve appeared for England together.
Gary Naylor is back for more. “If a batsman is in for 30 balls (and one ought to be),” he says, “they should make 60. That leaves only 86 to get in 70 for the others. Easy pickings.” Up to a point, Lord Naylor. Sport isn’t quite that simple, is it?
Invincibles finish on 145
100 balls: Invincibles 145-8 (T Curran 29, Mahmood 1) Tom Hartley returns, which suggests that Jos Buttler is a fan of ring composition. He gets a couple of deliveries dead right, tying Curran down, but then there’s a six! It’s the only scoring stroke off the final four balls, though Curran still finishes with an excellent unbeaten 29 off 18 balls. He and Billings have given their team a chance. Time to take a deep breath – see you shortly.
95 balls: Invincibles 137-8 (T Curran 21, Mahmood 1) Curran belts Parkinson for a couple of twos, turns down a single, then takes one, and watches Saqib Mahmood get off the mark with a perfectly competent clip to long-on.
90 balls: Invincibles 131-8 (T Curran 16, Mahmood 0) So with ten balls left, the wickets are tumbling and all that stands between the Invincibles and being bowled out is Tom Curran.
“There is a good-sized crowd,” notes Robert Jones. Yes – a full house, allegedly. “But they seem to be mainly the adults who would normally attend T20s. I thought that the competition was supposed to be aimed at attracting family groups – particularly mothers and their children who would not normally attend cricket. Perhaps they are all at home watching on television!”
Sowter b Klaassen 4 (Invincibles 131-8)
And another! Nathan Sowter whacked his first ball for four, but his second hits the pad and the stumps.
Wicket! Billings c Clarke b Klaassen 49 (Invincibles 127-7)
The big one! Billings gives himself room and tries to loft it over the ring, but gets a toe-end and misses out on what would have been a well-deserved fifty.
85 balls: Invincibles 123-6 (Billings 45, T Curran 16) Suddenly Originals need a wicket again, because Curran has come in and gone straight from nought to sexy. He gets his third boundary with a rasping pull off Brathwaite.
80 balls: Invincibles 116-6 (Billings 44, T Curran 10) Matt Parkinson returns with his slow-mo grunting leg-breaks and concedes only three singles. The calm after the storm.
75 balls: Invincibles 113-6 (Billings 43, T Curran 8) So Evans came and went, and here’s our second Curran of the innings – and he hooks his first ball for four. Great control. And then he shows Evans how to chip for four down the ground. But that’s still a fine five from Finn, with two wickets.
Wicket! Evans c Salt b Finn 0 (Invincibles 105-6)
Another one! Laurie Evans chips his second ball to mid-off. Is Billings going to run out of partners?
Wicket! Ingram c Brathwaite b Finn 17 (Invincibles 105-5)
The breakthrough! Ingram uppercuts one tall man straight to another, at short third.