Alzarri Joseph’s Day of Fun at the Old Trafford
Jamming Partner: Easy Come, Easy Go by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal https://open.spotify.com/track/0T4o2fxS3szl0QciWTwm7r?si=-6FCyNBzSLapghUhbYz8SQ
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Cricket aficionados are well aware of the role of a night-watchman in a Test match. Seeing-off the few remaining overs till stumps is their cardinal mission. If they stick around on the next day and annoy the opposition bowling attack in the vital first hour of the morning session, then that’s a bonus. Alzarri Joseph did both of that in the on-going second Test match between England and West Indies.
Leaving anything off the stumps and blocking everything on the stumps is usually the approach a night-watchman adopts, and rightfully so. Thinking about scoring runs doesn’t run heavily in his mind. However, Joseph wasn’t of that opinion.
When he arrived at the crease at 16 for 1 in the dying hours of Day 2, he was respectful towards the deliveries that solicited respect but he also wasn’t shy of chipping Dom Bess over covers, against the spin, for a couple. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that his innings was a cocktail of caution and adventure.
Since the previous day was washed-off, the morning session of Day 4 became all the more crucial for both the teams. The English needed to make haste and crave out some early wickets while the Windies required a steady, prudent start.
The responsibility of steering the ship to safe waters was on the shoulders of the opener, Kraigg Brathwaite. Expectations from Joseph, who averages 13.06 from 35 first-class matches, weren’t many. Hence, the serious-looking pacer, who means business when he bowls or talks, decided to have some fun and enjoy his time in the middle. This, however, isn’t to say that he was rash or reckless in his approach.
His cameo of 32 from 52 was delightful to witness. It was packed with drama and bits of flair. While there was a dropped catch, a missed run-out chance, a bouncer on the helmet, and nicks and nudges down to the third-man region for runs, there were also confident forward defenses, well-judged leaves, and beautiful drives.
The technique that Joseph showcased was sturdy and resolute. His overall average might be low but it is evident that he has been honing his batting skills. In the latest season of the West Indies Championship, playing for the Leeward Islands cricket team, he scored 235 runs from 5 innings at a massive average of 117.50 with a highest individual score of 89.
Joseph’s assertive yet carefree manner of batting complimented the typical waiting game of Braithwaite. While Braithwaite tested the patience of the bowling attack, Joseph put the pressure back on the bowlers by not giving his wicket and scoring some quick-fire runs.
Apart from being refreshing for a neutral spectator to see a night-watchman putting a price on his wicket and scoring some runs against the odds, the partnership of 54 runs between Joseph and Braithwaite turned out to be quite significant in the context of the match. By playing-out the new ball — something that the West Indies batsmen will fail to do with the second new ball — and seeing-off the first hour of the morning session, they made things easier for the incoming batters. Moreover, the runs they added helped them in avoiding the follow-on.