Dele Alli’s cricket catch in Tottenham training: An expert view

Will Macpherson
·5-min read
<p>Howzat! Dele a dab hand - and foot - at cricket</p> (Twitter/@dele_official)

Howzat! Dele a dab hand - and foot - at cricket

(Twitter/@dele_official)

There’s only two things cricketers love more than football – golf and Nando’s. Cricketers will play football at any opportunity, but often get in trouble for doing so.

Only this year, England’s men were banned from playing in their warm-up after Rory Burns damaged some ankle ligaments in Cape Town.

The familiar refrain whenever such an incident occurs – approximately twice a decade – is that you don’t see footballers warming up by having a net.

Well, times have changed. On Monday, Dele Alli posted a video of his incredible catch when horsing around with his Tottenham team-mates.

Here’s cricket correspondent Will Macpherson’s thorough analysis of that training ground action…

Pitch report

Looks a flat, true surface with a bit of bounce at Hotspur Way. Unlikely to break up later in the game. Big enough boundaries for local rules of to allow attacking strokes. Sensible to station fielders straight. The ball is soft so there’s no need to worry about that nice big mirror.

The cricket itself

The first thing to say here is that, as the commentary cliche goes, this is very good cricket all round. Let’s start with the delivery. Bowler Jack Clarke, a good Yorkshire lad, serves up a very tidy off-break indeed. His delicate side-on approach is vaguely reminiscent of Michael Vaughan’s part-timers, but there’s more purpose as he approaches the crease and a faster arm. The ball is full, flat and true.

The batsman Harvey White, another youngster, plays the ball well. Really, he’s done little wrong. It’s a strong, modern stroke, clearing the front leg, with a bit of Sam Curran about it. He whacks it down the ground and, assessing the field, picks out his man.

With the exception of Ben Davies at midwicket, who is having a swig of his drink as the bowler walks in (Ben, we have actual breaks for this in cricket), Dele looks the least on it. He’s neither tight on the one nor back on the fence. Just look at the rest of them, stalking in the field.

Long-off: Harry Kane - A Ben Stokes-esque boundary rider. Kane has shown vague interest in cricket before, palling up to Virat Kohli on social media and playing with your Stuart Broads, your Moeen Alis and your Jos Buttlers for some good, clean cross-sport #content.

Short extra cover: Joe Hart - Don’t hit it near this bloke. He’s an actual cricket badger who was in the Worcestershire academy for a bit as a teen and famously turned out for Shrewsbury against Knowle and Dorridge on that glorious sunny summer’s day in 2018, when Kane, Dele and the lads turned over Sweden at the World Cup.

Slip: Gareth Bale - Classic senior pro. This bloke, you have to assume, has had a bat already and has settled in for an afternoon in the grippers. Strong, wide base, hands on knees. If it comes near him, he’s taking it. He’s actually quite bravely placed close in at almost what England’s cricketers call a “suicide gully” position. Perhaps should be wearing a helmet.

Twitter/@dele_official
Twitter/@dele_official

Wicketkeeper: Eric Dier - There’s a lot going on here. Dier is wearing actual wicketkeeping gloves. And, correctly, he is wearing long sleeves to accompany those gloves and clapping them manically. But he’s standing back when Clarke’s bowling spin. Get up to those stumps, son! Get in his ear and give him something to think about.

Anyway, back to the catch. Dele appears to be getting himself into a horrible position before a spectacular recovery, just rolling his ankle, deftly allowing the ball to float up, and taking a calm catch. Needless to say such a move would have been much more uncomfortable with an actual cricket ball – but it’s not unheard of. Mark Taylor did it once.

Hart joins Dele to celebrate in disbelieving style. In the bottom left, Dier initially does a T-sign to ask for a review, then goes back to clapping like a seal. White initially looks to the floor, incredulous, then appears to question the decision, even turning to a non-existent square-leg umpire in search of confirmation that he is on his way.

Twitter/@dele_official
Twitter/@dele_official

Were this a Test match, the umpires would probably take a look upstairs, with a soft signal of “out” and some absolute nonsense to follow about foreshortening. At Hotspur Way, White is on his way.

Follow-up observations and questions

Monday was Clarke’s 20th birthday. Was this why they were playing? Let’s hope not – this should be a regular occurrence.

Speaking of Clarke, he’s clearly in the wickets and has a very tidy action. England are heading to the subcontinent after Christmas, need a big squad because of Covid and are light on spin options. #ANNOUNCECLARKE

It is strangely reassuring to see that Football Twitter reacts just as badly as Cricket Twitter when players dare to have a bit of fun with another sport. The tone of the comments was that Dele needs to “focus on football". Chill out, guys!

Why, oh why, did Amazon do that documentary the year before Hart (who presumably brought this kit in) joined Spurs? More of this sort of thing.

On that note, there clearly is more footage – these are CCTV cameras. Dele knows exactly where each one is and has requested the footage, then edited and posted it.

There might be hours of footage. As Davies asked Dele on Instagram: “Why won’t you put up the video of you batting?”

Most importantly, what does Jose make of it all?

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