121st over: England 438-4 (Crawley 236, Buttler 127) Cries of “Catch it!”, twice over, as Crawley lofts Yasir close to long-on, and Buttler almost gives him a caught-and-bowled. But the runs keep flowing. Crawley reverse-sweeps for four, and poor old Yasir has two for 142.
Here’s Brian Withington, just back from YouTube. “A bit of retro 70s disco trash to celebrate the arrival of leg spin,” he says. “Yasir, I Can Googly.” Trash? It’s a disco classic.
120th over: England 428-4 (Crawley 227, Buttler 126) Back comes Naseem, to be greeted with a drive from Crawley that is so good, it’s frightening – struck on the up, rippling past mid-off. A flick for two by Buttler, and that’s the 300 partnership – 301 off 490 balls. And people used to think Buttler couldn’t bat long.
“Crawley and Buttler may have just completed England’s all-time highest 5th wicket partnership,” said Ian Forth a little while ago, “but there have in fact been 26 higher 5th wicket partnerships in the history of Test cricket. Of course, we don’t know how much longer these two will bat, though Dravid and Laxman’s 679 run 5th wicket partnership is probably safe.”
119th over: England 421-4 (Crawley 222, Buttler 124) That’s better! Crawley sweeps Yasir for four, in front of square, then dances down the track and chips him over mid-off for six. He hit that almost softly, and just evaded the man at long-off, who ended up in a heap. A single takes Crawley to 221, the score forever stamped with the name of Rob Key. Like mentor, like mentee. Another single takes him past Key, which brings a beaming smile to Crawley’s face – he knows.
118th over: England 408-4 (Crawley 210, Buttler 123) Shaheen tries his bouncer on Crawley, who waves a bat at it like a man trying to hail a taxi in a high wind. He misses, and a wide is given. Reverting to type, Crawley plays a back-foot force into the covers for two, and then there are a couple of singles. We don’t want singles, we want fireworks.
117th over: England 402-4 (Crawley 206, Buttler 122) Yasir’s leg-break fizzes past Crawley’s outside edge. On another day, England would now be all out for 280.
Time for another XI, and it’s not even from Mac Millings. It’s from Alex McGillivray, who calls it the Okes XI. The Mighty Oaks, surely.
Phil Ochs (c)
Ben Foakes (wk)
116th over: England 401-4 (Crawley 205, Buttler 122) Shaheen decides it’s time for a bouncer or two. The first is good and Buttler ducks; the second less so, and Buttler pulls for two to bring up the 400. For four! Are you Andrew Strauss’s England in disguise?
Here’s William Lane. “Not to sound too gushing in praise for Crawley and Buttler (though I am firmly team Buttler in the endless debate that is his Test career, but what is truly wonderful about this partnership is the tempo. It is lovely to be 350/4 after 100 overs instead of 250/4 after the same period of time, which would be the case had Sibley stuck around. Of course after relatively recent times of being 50/4 the Sibley option isn’t too bad either, I suppose.”
115th over: England 399-4 (Crawley 205, Buttler 120) Buttler is starting to milk Yasir now, working the gaps. Crawley plays and misses, not for the first or even the tenth time today, but then sweeps imperiously for four.
114th over: England 392-4 (Crawley 201, Buttler 117) Shaheen Shah Afridi is back, replacing the unlucky Naseem. Just a single to Buttler. At the risk of being high-maintenance, I’d say England need to get a move on now.
“Only six England batsmen,” says Lawrence Booth on Twitter, “have turned their maiden Test hundred into a double: Tip Foster, Wally Hammond, Eddie Paynter, Bill Edrich, @BumbleCricket and @robkey612.” So Crawley has a 50pc chance of becoming an England legend, and, failing that, a 33pc chance of a job as a Sky commentator.
Crawley goes to a double hundred
113th over: England 391-4 (Crawley 201, Buttler 116) Signs of aggression now, as Buttler pulls Naseem (for just a single) and Crawley plays that signature shot of his, the classical clip to the midwicket boundary. Mind you, he then plays and misses. As usual, this game is holding a sign up saying “don’t get too cocky”. Then he nicks one – and it flashes past second slip and goes for four, to give him a double century. That was about the worst stroke in an outstanding innings. He’s the youngest man to make a double for England since David Gower in 1979.
A new England record
112th over: England 382-4 (Crawley 193, Buttler 115) Crawley cuts Yasir for a single, Buttler pushes into the covers for another one, and that is England’s highest partnership ever for the fifth wicket.
111th over: England 380-4 (Crawley 192, Buttler 114) Naseem beats Buttler again. That’s a maiden. Michael Holding reckons Naseem should just do what he’s doing – landing it on a length, on and around off, and moving it away – for the rest of his career.
109th over: England 378-4 (Crawley 191, Buttler 113) Yasir Shah was limbering up, but it’s Naseem to continue. Crawley has a few sighters and then creams one through the covers, to reach what look like being the nerveless 190s. That takes the partnership to 250.
The rain is kindly holding off, so we should have some more play in a minute. Time for England to find the accelerator.
Time for some man love. “It’s hard not to feel adoration for these two,” says Guy Hornsby, “not only because they are classical batsmen and lovely blokes, but to an England fan that lived through the 90s, this sort of partnership still feels a bit surreal. This is the sort of thing other teams do to us.”
Emergency correction. If there’s one thing that gets the OBO community going more than an England selection, it’s the provenance of an ale. “Sorry Gavin [107th over],” says Richard Davies, “they do sell Larkins at the Windmill – my brother sups there daily. They may well have the excellent Harvey’s, but that’s from over the border in Lewes, Sussex.”
This last point has already been echoed by Ben Skelton, Paul Compton, Nick Veale, Shaun Pilgrem, Clive Stanley, Steve Tayler, John Willshire, David Rathborne, Alan Macpherson, Daryl Lloyd, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and Alan Cooper, who puts it like this: “I’m guessing you have a hundred emails on this already (so I suspect Gavin Bullock is trolling us…), but Harvey’s is from Lewes in Sussex. Wonderful beer, but not ‘fine Kent beer’.”
108th over: England 373-4 (Crawley 186, Buttler 113) It’s still Abbas, whose bowling average when the batsmen play him from the crease, as they have to at the moment, is a scarcely believable 9. Buttler manages to tuck him for two. And that’s lunch. The scoreboard says it’s been England’s morning, and the Jos Buttler fan club certainly won’t forget it in a hurry, but spare a thought for the Pakistan seamers, who deserved at least one wicket and probably three.
Time for a couple of tweets before the break. “*My first cricket tweet*,” says Scott P. “England will learn the hard way if they don’t pick the best keeper they have. Australia went down this path and it has been a litany of woes.”
“Please tell me,” says Miranda Jollie, “#zakcrawley’s nickname is Creepy.” Of course it is. See you in half an hour.
107th over: England 371-4 (Crawley 186, Buttler 111) Naseem is still bowling well, but the gods are not on his side. When he draws a thick edge from Crawley, it flies through a big gap in the slips and goes for four.
“Love the commentary,” says Gavin Bullock, “but if you’ll forgive me I’d like to make a minor correction – it’s Harvey’s at the Windmill, not Larkins. Fine Kent beer.” Such good manners.
106th over: England 367-4 (Crawley 182, Buttler 111) No rest for Abbas, who still has Rizwan standing up. Buttler succeeds where he failed a short time ago and pulls off that dink to the third-man boundary. But then he plays at thin air again, going for an expansive drive. There’s a delay as Rizwan takes a blow to the hand, but he seems to be OK. Keepers, like their gloves, are made of strong stuff.
This is now Buttler’s highest Test score, beating his 106 against India two years ago.
105th over: England 362-4 (Crawley 181, Buttler 107) The first bowling change of the day as Naseem Shah replaces Shaheen. He beats Buttler’s outside edge, then Crawley’s, in an excellent first over.
If you’re a TMS fan, Peter Haining has found the overseas link.
104th over: England 360-4 (Crawley 180, Buttler 106) Abbas, after that seven-run insult to his figures, reverts to type as Crawley plays out a maiden. The ball has been well on top this morning, with nothing to show for it.
103rd over: England 360-4 (Crawley 180, Buttler 106) And how would you like to celebrate your century, sir? “I think I’ll have an off drive, so sweetly struck that I won’t even bother to run.”
102nd over: England 356-4 (Crawley 180, Buttler 102) That over was classic cat-and-mouse. Buttler cruised to 99 with a handsome back-foot punch for four, rather ruining Abbas’s figures. Rizwan came up to the stumps. Buttler played and missed, opening the face, looking for a dink past the slips. Then came the awful moment when the finger went up, but he’s a keeper, he’s good with reviews. And the shot with which he made it to a hundred was a good one – suddenly calm again. He has played beautifully after coming in, as so often, with his team in a tight corner.
A hundred for Buttler!
Next ball, he gets there. A crisp cover punch for three, and Jos Buttler finally has a second Test hundred, and a first one, amazingly, as a wicketkeeper. He smiles that broad smile of his.
Wicket!? Buttler c Rizwan b Abbas 99
Noooo! But he’s reviewing…
101st over: England 349-4 (Crawley 180, Buttler 95) At the other end, England are breaking the shackles. Buttler gets a full one and drives for three; Crawley gets a short one and cuts for four. Their partnership is now 222, a new England record for the fifth wicket against Pakistan.
“To address the question raised in the 98th over,” says Abhijato Sensarma, “as an amateur spinner, I can promise you that getting hit for boundaries by an unconventional batsman is worse, because you are led to wonder ‘Am I so bad anyone can hit me to the boundary?’ On the other hand, when the bowler is the recipient of a Bellesque drive, there is disappointment but also the lingering thought that ‘he’s too good for my length to make any difference’.” Top marks for single quotes.
100th over: England 341-4 (Crawley 175, Buttler 92) Buttler, squared up by the immaculate Abbas, gets what looks and sounds like a routine nick to the keeper, but it has merely flicked the outside of his right trouser leg. Abbas has now bowled five overs this morning for one run.
99th over: England 341-4 (Crawley 175, Buttler 92) Play! Buttler, who could easily be spooked by these interruptions, faces Shaheen, and tucks him calmly for a single. And then Crawley makes his first runs of the morning with an on-drive that is somewhere between sumptuous and creamy.
Time for a correction. “Regarding Mr Keegan’s assertions [12:56],” says Jake Santa Maria, “the figures he used for Perth were the figures for the whole of Australia. Perth has 9 deaths but alas no one is a winner in the rain.” Or in a pandemic. It seems that Phil Keegan’s point stands – he was also using the figures for Vietnam, not just Hanoi.
“I hope you’re right,” says the next email, “about Zak liking a pint of the proper stuff. They serve delicious Larkins Traditional at the Windmill, Weald – which I believe is owned by his dad Terry. Richard Davies, former Weald resident.” What I was actually driving at was that Zak looked the type to drink fancy wines, in the Gower tradition. But no doubt he likes a pint too. His dad, by the way, is reported to have made a fortune as a futures trader – the financial equivalent of a Test selector.
Latest from the umps
They’re coming back on … at 1.15. What will become of lunch is anyone’s guess.
An email from Rainy Weather, of all people. “Dear Test Cricket,” it goes, “2-0 to me today. Yours faithfully, R. Weather.” We may have reached peak OBO: even the rain is gloating.
“If there are to be marks for aesthetics,” says Niall Mullen, “which wins, a sumptuous cover drive, or a creamy one?” Ha. In my book, sumptuous comes second only to sublime, which leaves the cream not quite rising to the top.
Deprived of one international contest, we have another. “Regarding George Grundy’s assertion that his city of Perth is the most Covid-free city on earth,” says Phil Keegan. “A quick Google search revealed the following comparison between Perth and my adopted city of Hanoi.
“Perth: cases 24,602; deaths 485.
“Hanoi: cases 1,009; deaths 25.
“So much for ‘sodding Aussies always winning’.” Oof.
Noooo! It’s raining again
And off they go, after ten minutes, 14 balls, no runs, and a string of moral victories for the bowlers.
98th over: England 336-4 (Crawley 171, Buttler 91) Rizwan is back in the groove now, pulling off a fabulous take as Crawley plays and misses again at Abbas. And then there’s a leading edge, which lands safely. After his day of mastery, Crawley is finally batting like the novice he is.
“To address Kim Thonger’s point on style bonuses for batsmen (semi seriously),” says Toby Sims, “I think it’s definitely valid (no offence to Sibley and Burns, they’ve got ‘ticker’, another great quality). Four runs off a bowler is always going to frustrate them, but when it’s a shooooottttttttt and you have to admire the sheer beauty (Mr I.R. Bell MBE springs to mind) does it do more psychological damage than ‘oh, it appears to have made it to the boundary’? Just a thought.”
97th over: England 336-4 (Crawley 171, Buttler 91) “A much better over from Shaheen,” says Mike Atherton. very true: aiming at off stump, not way outside, and getting some swing back in. Wasim Akram, his fellow left-arm swinger, points out that he’s playing his 17th first-class match – which is two more than Naseem Shah.
It did pitch just on leg stump, but it was going over middle. Michael Gough’s reputation is intact, and so are Jos Buttler’s chances of a first Test century as a wicketkeeper.
Review! For lbw, Shaheen to Buttler
Pitched outside leg I think… Not given by the great Michael Gough.
96th over: England 336-4 (Crawley 171, Buttler 91) Abbas has two balls of his over left, and Rizwan is standing up, as planned before the rain. The first ball is a beauty, beating Crawley’s prod, and also defeating Rizwan, who fumbles it. The other ball darts back and takes an inside edge into the inner thigh. Ouch.
The players are out there again, and we’ve only lost four overs. Play can continue until 7pm.
Twitter fan. Beer specialist. Entrepreneur. General pop culture nerd. Music trailblazer. Problem solver. Bacon evangelist. Foodaholic.