Notes from day one at Lord's

Tongue's cover sweeper

Scouting report on Josh Tongue

My first note is that I keep going to say Gavin Tongue, who hasn’t played in a long time. I may be the only person who remember him.

Pace wise he gets to 91, but he is clearly not that quick. He averaged around 86 MPH, which is fine. But it’s certainly more fast-medium with the possibility of fast than out and out quick.

However, I do want to point out that at times he felt quicker than that.  I think because he has a bit of a windmill action (both hands go up before delivery and sort of come through at once) it actually seems to feel a bit quicker.

If you look at McCollum facing him you could see him really picking the ball up late consistently, even when the ball was 86 MPH. That is something worth watching going ahead.

His interesting style doesn’t end there, because his arm also goes past the perpendicular. I don’t know how to explain this other than in this graphic. Basically, his arm is on the wrong side of 12 O’clock. He should be around 11, and he’s at one.

You can also see that this is just a weird position to be in for a bowler. His back foot is not in a position you would want, and also because of how he falls away to deliver the ball his wrist is not behind the ball.

This will not be intentional, and it is clearly not ideal. But players who can control this are very difficult to play. The ball angles in naturally, but it also means he can accentuate that more. It’s the other side that matters more. If we can regularly get the ball to move away from that position, it’s a really tough proposition.

That is where he can either have a long career or a short one. If that wrist drops low accidentally and he can do anything else, I don’t think he’s quick enough to bowl short stuff in Tests regularly.

But he’s an intriguing player because of his peculiarities, and he certainly deserved wickets today.

Covering McCollum

It has hard to be critical of an Irish opening bat who basically doesn’t play any Test cricket turning up at Lord’s on a greenish wicket against good bowling with movement in the air who makes runs. But let me try.

I think he plays late and has good patience.

But is it possible he can only score through cover? That was how I felt at times today. That he stays leg side of the ball and has this fast hands angled cover drive which he got a couple away. But he really doesn't seem to have many other shots.

And sometimes you can get a bit obsessed with one innings, and often players are a bit different because of the circumstances or anything else. But I looked at McCollum’s record and so far he has scored twice as many runs through cover as any other region on the field.

I mean, this is a thing. And I did a deeper dive into his first-class cricket, where he has a good record. The majority of his runs there so far are Irish domestic cricket, but he also made some for the A side as well. I think he does look like a good player at the lower level. But I don’t think you can survive in Tests without the ability to score in more areas. The cover drive is a shot you need, but when it is your only shot outside a flick to leg, that is a concern.

The big problem for McCollum is that he’s a specialist red ball player in a place that has decided red ball cricket is not that important. A generation earlier he’s off playing in County Cricket, and his game would be so much more rounded as he reaches his peak years. Now he’s kind of on his own and then thrown into a bunch of matches without the game development he probably needs.

England and the sweeping sweeper

Lorcan Tucker and Paul Stirling are sweepers. And generally, teams just block the back at deep square leg, maybe put a short fine leg in and leave it at that.

England went with a completely different idea. For Stirling they tried men up, but then went with a medium fine leg (I really don’t know how else to explain it, the fielder about 40 metres in from the boundary), Fielder at square leg, and then one out on the boundary. It meant that to get boundaries Stirling had to sweep fine, but still hard.

That was what probably did for him.

For Tucker, they didn’t put a sweeper out. Everyone was there. I thought at the time that should be an ideal situation for a good sweeper. You just have to ensure contact a few times and pick up easy twos and probably some boundaries.

Instead, he danced around the wicket - he was doing this to pace and spin - and then finally moved across and went for a big sweep and missed it.