January 27, 2017

Seven reasons why the English summer will be special

A date with Ireland, a day-night Test, and a Women's World Cup are among the mouth-watering fixtures in a packed season of cricket

Ireland famously beat England in the 2011 World Cup. Lord's waits with bated breath © Getty Images

One swallow might not a summer make, but seven Tests, three bilateral ODI series, and four T20Is should be enough to make anyone gulp. Crowbar in an ICC tournament, in the form of the Champions Trophy, and it's easy to see how the upcoming home season will be England's longest yet.

As easy as it is to be sceptical about the hardships of playing cricket for a living, the fact remains that England's home international season is alarmingly full. While the schedule risks burning out the players, it also risks overloading spectators: with so many days of international cricket on offer, it's easy to be swamped by the choice.

By and large it may be an exciting, seething mass of possibilities, yet once-familiar signposts, such as the May Lord's Test, have been uprooted and transplanted. Therefore, as an aid to planning one's viewing, and for no other reason than that seven is in accordance with what Peter Cook termed the mystic rules of life ("seven days of the week, seven deadly sins, seven seas, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"), here are seven bright points of the 2017 English season.

Sunday, May 7, Lord's, England v Ireland: The Irish Quest
A win on the first attempt at what is not only the home of English cricket but also the adopted home of Eoin Morgan would be the perfect statement by William Porterfield and his men. Should London's large Irish population turn out in force, this could easily turn into an away fixture for England - and if England are tempted to leave key players at the IPL, Ireland will sense their history-making opportunity. There is something to be said, indeed, for the ECB making this a yearly season-opening fixture, as one of a pair of ODIs to be played on each side of the Irish Sea.

This year the Royal London One-Day Cup gets a midsummer stage better suited to the thrills it has the capacity to produce © Getty Images

Thursday, June 1, The Oval, England v Bangladesh: Three Lions versus Eleven Tigers
How can a match against Bangladesh be anything to either worry about or look forward to? Take a look at England's recent ODI record against Bangladesh and you'll see: they have lost four of their last seven matches, and two of their last three defeats have come in ICC tournaments. The short-sharp-shock format of the Champions Trophy provides no margin for error for either side in their tournament opener. Bangladesh might be prowling out of their natural habitat in London, but it's a sign of how far the Tigers have come that this game is far from a foregone conclusion.

Saturday, July 1, Lord's, Royal London One-Day Cup final: The Nifty Fifty
Once the centrepiece of the English season, now rather unloved, in recent years the domestic one-day final has been languishing in mid-September, which has rendered it less than spectator-friendly, due to weather conditions and the tiredness of the pitches. That's a shame, because recent years have provided some classic moments, mainly at Surrey's expense: Gloucestershire's last-over gasp gave Geraint Jones a fitting send-off, while last year's flattening by Warwickshire contributed to a happy coda for Jonathan Trott's career. Moved to the middle of the summer, sliding in between the Champions Trophy and the Tests, with pitches likely to prove better suited to one-day cricket, the tournament has the chance to shine again.

July 14-18, Trent Bridge, England v South Africa, second Test: A Broad-Rabada show - a kind of magic
Two of the most exciting bowlers in the world, on their day, will take a break from persecuting Australian cricketers. For a golden glance of what should be, check their respective performances at Trent Bridge 2015 and Perth 2016. When they go head to head on Broad's home turf, who will be the wizard of the Radcliffe Road End?

Sunday, July 23, Lord's, Women's World Cup final: WWC 'n' roll
England first have to get to the final, of course - by no means a sure thing these days - but if they do, they will have the chance to make it three out of three World Cup triumphs on home soil. Even if they don't, the calibre of the women's game has arguably never been higher: it would be a major surprise if the final didn't feature at least one of Stafanie Taylor, Meg Lanning, and Suzie Bates - any one of whom would be worth the admission price alone.

Dare we hope for another Trent Bridge eight-for? © AFP

August 17-21, Edgbaston, England v West Indies, first Test: Evening Ball
The first day-night Test in England might be better termed a day-twilight Test, since civil twilight will end no more than four minutes before scheduled close of play. West Indies may, surprisingly, have an advantage over England here: unlike England, they have already played a day-night Test, at one point threatening an unlikely win. If they pull off a victory here, and September rain plays a part in the other two Tests, they have an outside chance of regaining the Wisden Trophy.

Saturday, September 16, Chester-le-Street, England v West Indies: Stokes v Samuels II - This Time it's Personal
On his home ground Ben Stokes, to date, averages one boundary every four minutes in international games, a statistic only undermined by the fact that he has had a grand total of one 12-minute bash. Of nearly equal interest will be whether either Marlon Samuels or Stokes will be able to maintain control over their words, as they meet in a T20I for the first time since the Day of Brathwaite.

Packed it may be, but if 2017 is as tumultuous as it threatens to be, perhaps we will be glad for every distraction that cricket can provide. Could it be that the schedule is not the one we deserve but the one we need?

Liam Cromar is a freelance cricket writer based in Herefordshire, UK @LiamCromar

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wildakerr on January 30, 2017, 9:46 GMT

    You forgot the best all rounder in World Cricket...Ellyse Perry!

  • Cricinfouser on January 28, 2017, 17:18 GMT

    Call me an old fogey if you like, but this entry from Wikipedia aroused my nostalgia. "The West Indian cricket team in England in 1963 played 30 first-class matches of which they won 15, lost 2 and drew 13. West Indies played five Tests and won the series against England by three matches to one, with one game drawn." Now that was a proper tour, with time for the touring team to adjust to the host country's conditions, and for players to take their chance to earn places in the test team. Moreover, each county hosted the visiting side. Life has moved on, but perhaps for the Ashes season at least we could return to a programme that includes more three or four day cricket for the visitors, and a visit to each county for either a one day or a three or four day match? John Blore

  • Bruce on January 28, 2017, 13:15 GMT

    Yet more mediocrity beckons for the Poms. You'll lose against Ireland as you hilariously did before, SA will smash you and you'll choke as usual in the CT. After all this, you'll get smashed 5-0 as per usual Down Under. I imagine you'll try to get more South Africans into your team to cover up your lack of talent.

  • Terry on January 28, 2017, 11:50 GMT

    The highlights are the England v S Africa Tests and the Champions Trophy. Its not wrong to admit that to make other people feel better. I am guessing Eoin Morgan will find a reason to miss the England v Ireland ODI.

  • PJ on January 28, 2017, 6:07 GMT

    "Can something exist without being perceived? -- e.g. "is sound only sound if a person hears it?" The most immediate philosophical topic that the riddle introduces involves the existence of the tree (and the sound it produces) outside of human perception. If no one is around to see, hear, touch or smell the tree, how could it be said to exist? What is it to say that it exists when such an existence is unknown? Of course, from a scientific viewpoint, it exists.[7] It is human beings that are able to perceive it."

    Source - Wikipedia

  • Cricinfouser on January 28, 2017, 5:16 GMT

    The Bangladesh team has certainly improved, but so has the one-day unit of England. This English side is virtually unrecognisable from the side which used to stutter and play with a load of statistics at the back of their heads (remember the incident when their head coach talked about average score etc after a loss in a major tournament?). Today's team is dynamic, with a lot of power hitters, and they carry no baggage of the past. So, improved whilst Bangladesh might be, this English side holds the edge - not only against Bangladesh, but even at the shot of winning the Champions Trophy as well as the WC in 2 years time@

  • andrew2711976 on January 27, 2017, 21:28 GMT

    The first six represent a good set of choices. The last just looks to be a case of making up the numbers. The match itself is clearly meaningless and lacking any context, hence its only selling point is the potential revival of a depressing, petty and very childish squabble.

  • Stuart on January 27, 2017, 21:11 GMT

    English Summer. Always special.

  • neilhe5800535 on January 27, 2017, 16:26 GMT

    I look after the youth cricket at my local club in Surrey, and take up is great at U9, very good at U11, ok at U13 & very poor at any older age group. This is worrying not only for youth cricket but also for the future of our clubs as we need these youngsters to play on Saturday's & Sunday's when they become older. Many reasons for this, but mainly due to there being no live cricket on terrestrial tv. Unless you grow up in a cricket interested house, where is the new cricket lover going to hear of Joe Root or Ben Stokes, in the way I watched David Gower & Ian Botham in the 70's & 80's growing up on BBC or those who loved Flintoff or Warne in 2005 on C4? The day the ECB took the Sky contract domestic cricket was given a death sentence. I have Sky & agree it's a great product and it's certainly made the cricketers wealthier but in 2025 when they have had the contract 20 years who will play cricket in England? Not the average kid from any back street that's for sure.

  • akash.9556123 on January 27, 2017, 16:06 GMT

    I am waiting England Vs Ireland Test Match i am very excited i hope very soon my wish Complate

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