@Yas_Wisden 5 minute read
The English Test summer has come and gone with England dramatically reversing their fortunes in record-breaking fashion.
They finish the 2022 summer with six wins from seven, the most they have achieved in a home season since 2004 where Vaughan, Trescothick, Flintoff and co. warmed up for what was to come the following year.
After one of the most memorable Test summers on record, here are some end-of-season awards – let’s call them The Bazzies.
Best player: Jonny Bairstow
England’s remarkable upturn in form would not have been possible without the rejuvenated Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow was a force of nature in the middle order, propelling to a level that he has never before reached. No one has ever scored more Test hundreds than his four across a single English summer and his contributions were vital in a number of England wins. England’s extraordinary last day push for victory at Trent Bridge, his rescue mission alongside Jamie Overton at Headingley, his twin hundreds against India and even his 49 at Old Trafford against South Africa where the game was finely poised were all knocks without which England may have fallen short.
Best innings: Jonny Bairstow – 136 (92) vs New Zealand, Trent Bridge
A knock that Ben Stokes hailed as “one of the best things” he’d ever seen. England reached tea on the fifth day with the game firmly in the balance and all four results still on the table. The hosts required 160 to win with six wickets remaining leaving them needing more than five runs an over for victory with just Ben Foakes separating Stokes and Bairstow from a dangerously long tail. A year or so ago, England would almost certainly have settled with the draw – something they did in similar circumstances at Lord’s in 2021. Instead, Bairstow launched an astonishing assault on the New Zealand attack, bludgeoning 45 runs off the next 20 balls he faced as England knocked off 59 runs in the first four overs after tea. In a way, all the hundreds he scored this summer almost took away from the others as the remarkable became normalised. But this was the tone-setter and the one that best encapsulated how England wanted to play.
Best spell: Trent Boult – 3-43 v England, Headingley
A spell that ended with Bairstow smearing him through the leg side for four more started with Boult ripping through England’s top order, bowling each of Alex Lees, Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley. It was a thrilling passage of play and its stark contrast with what followed makes it stand out further as more time has passed. It was Boult at his best, charging in and pitching it up enough to let the new ball do its thing. Breathtaking new ball bowling.
Best newcomer: Matt Potts
Okay, there’s not much competition in this category given that Potts was England’s sole debutant across the summer but amid a desperate injury crisis that ruled out the likes of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Matt Fisher, Saqib Mahmood, Olly Stone and Ollie Robinson, Potts stood up and immediately made an impact. At Lord’s on debut, he dismissed Kane Williamson twice in the match on his way to claiming 7-68 in the match. Potts probably deserved more wickets than he claimed in the games to follow but he gave an excellent account of himself and there’ll surely be more opportunities to come.
Biggest surprise – Alex Lees’ Matthew Hayden impression at Edgbaston
Back in the West Indies during his first series as a Test cricketer, Lees battled for every run he scored. His strike rate was 27.39 as he resisted a strong West Indies without ever really applying pressure back onto them. So when he came out all guns blazing in the second innings against India as England set off in pursuit of a record run chase, it was somewhat of a surprise. Lees took the attack to India, charging Mohammed Siraj down third ball in the second innings of the chase before making it his responsibility to unsettle Ravindra Jadeja. He was eventually run out for a 65-ball 56 – perhaps the clearest demonstration at the time of how McCullum and Stokes were unlocking parts of players we’d previously not seen in the Test arena.
Best tourist – Daryl Mitchell
Had Henry Nicholls been fit for the first Test of the summer it is entirely possible that Daryl Mitchell wouldn’t have played a game. Instead, he rattled off three hundreds in as many Tests producing a tally of 538 runs, the most ever recorded by a New Zealand batter in a three-Test series.
Most ridiculous day of the summer – Day two, Leeds
McCullum and Stokes’ collective imprint on this England team has been there for all to see since the first session of the summer ever since they ran through the New Zealand top order on the first morning at Lord’s with a realigned slip cordon gobbling up every chance that came their way. Their attacking brand of cricket, one that is far less reckless than it initially appears, brought with it its fair share of days that’ll live long in the memory. Chief among them, the second day at Headingley. A day that started with Jack Leach, whose spot in the side was under pressure (from the outside at least), taking his first home five-for, ended with Jonny Bairstow and Jamie Overton walking off the field after an unbroken stand of 209 had rescued England with 55-6 with Boult’s scintillating new ball spell sandwiched in between. Overton, on debut and in his only appearance of the summer, finished agonisingly short of a century on debut.
Least ridiculous day of the summer – Day two, Lord’s (England vs New Zealand)
England’s tail is blown away, they then threatened with the new ball but not with the old as Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell batted for the majority of the day to leave New Zealand in a dominant position. At the close, the Blackcaps led by 225 with six wickets in hand in the second innings. Really, they should have batted England out of the game to extend the hosts’ wretched run to one win from 18. Instead, New Zealand collapsed on the third morning to leave England a target of 277 – one they knocked off with five wickets in hand as Joe Root scored his first ever fourth innings Test hundred.
The thing we didn’t see but really wanted to see – Anderson hitting the winning runs
Despite the talk in the media and Stuart Broad’s change of Instagram bio, we never actually got to see The Night Hawk deployed. And while that would undoubtedly have been exciting, what we really wanted to see and yet missed out on was James Anderson hitting the winning runs, something that Ben Stokes suggested in the dressing room in the final moments of England’s record run chase at Edgbaston. Anderson declined the opportunity to be promoted to number six and knock off the winning runs. A great shame.
Biggest disappointment – the collective batting output in the South Africa series
The balance between bat and ball just wasn’t right during the South Africa series as two frail top orders were blown away by a pair of fearsome seam attacks. Only two team totals exceeded 180 and while there were some sensational bowling on display, the batting, with the odd exception, wilted upon scrutiny robbing the Tests of longevity and flow. It was a series of good moments, not a good series.