England – very good or very lucky?

Depending on who you listen to or who provides your kicks on Twitter, England are either very good or very lucky. Sometimes they are both, and to illustrate that let’s first use the medium of Ross Taylor.

Taylor is a huge LBW candidate. Statistically, the average ODI batsman gets out leg before 8% of the time, according to CricViz. But this right-hander gets his pad in the way a whopping 14% of the time.

Anecdotally, there was an ODI earlier this year against India when he was convinced not to take a DRS review by his batting partner and captain Kane Williamson. The impact was high, above the knee roll and, according to the ball-tracker, comfortably passing over the stumps. But it was Taylor. Both he and his partner figured it was probably the right call. New Zealand, chasing 253, went on to lose the match.

Now, Taylor averages 50 against England, with more hundreds against them than any other opponent (five). This side, specifically these English players, were on the receiving end of his career-best 181 not out last year and, among the scars, realised they lost sight of bowling at that front leg. They rectified that here: all four of Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood maintaining this line, in their own unique ways.

To the first ball of the 16th over, Taylor lets out his frustration on a rare half-volley. Williamson is backing up to a fault. The connection on the straight drive is sweet, but Wood’s follow-through and reaction to extend his arm results in fingertips on the ball, which skips into the non-striker’s stumps.

Taylor was kept in check, 33 balls for his 22 runs and getting tetchy. Williamson sensed it. “The English bowlers put us under pressure,” said Williamson, post-match, “and I don’t know whether that run out came from that.”

Wood, though, offers a counter-point: “He doesn’t know how unlucky he is because I’ve got the smallest hands for a bloke you’ve ever seen!” He also does not bite his nails.