Posted by: nestaquin | December 16, 2008

Pataudi Trophy 2008: First Test England Review

monty-kpApologies to all for my extended absence although I should inform that my inability to write will continue for some weeks to come. There is much that I have missed including Australia’s easy win over the Kiwis, the madness in Mumbai and how it has affected cricket, and most recently the stunning run chase by India in Chennai.

Fortunately, I discovered The Tooting Trumpet‘s latest review before I began work this morning and I present it below for all who venture in at 99.94.

Before I depart again, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Xmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year and inform that in early 2009 the blog will be metamorphosising into a full blown web site. If you, the reader, have any ideas about what features the upgraded 99.94 should have, leave a note in the comments and they will be gratefully taken on board and implemented if feasible.

TTT’s Chennai Review

The most wonderful game was at its most wonderful in its most tragic circumstances. It’s not The Trumpet’s place to set this match in its context – news outlets have done that very well – but if you want to know how The Trumpet felt as an Englishman, have a look at the heaving masses in the stands saluting Tendulkar and Yuvraj. The Trumpet felt the way they did, not just about Sachin and co, but about all the players, officials and security staff who made this match happen and all the cricketers over the years who have played their part in giving us this game called Test Cricket.

And so, to the England XI.

Andrew Strauss – On the field for all but 4 hours 48 minutes of the Test, his iron will carved out twin centuries as he answered his critics (including The Trumpet) in the most emphatic manner possible. In the 1,897 Test matches played before this one, nobody can have played better and lost.

Alastair Cook – After a solid start, a lapse in concentration gave away his wicket in the first innings, then he was undone by a top class bowler in the second. His career is approaching a crossroads at which his youthful promise and obvious class needs converting into big runs. Michael Slater stands as a rebuke to anyone believing that past runs will count towards future selection.

Ian Bell – The vultures circle ever more closely as he again failed to impose himself when most needed. In this most unanonymous of Tests, he managed to be anonymous.

KP – Under as much strain these last few weeks as any England captain, his batting suffered what hindsight shows were inevitable failures. On and off the field, he captained his country superbly well and deserves the gratitude of every follower of the game. Unlikely to fail again in Mohali.

Colly – With his place under threat, his heart must have sank as Billy Bowden raised the finger in the first innings, despite his bat being nowhere near the ball. Played an innings of immense heart and skill in the second dig to show exactly what England will miss when he is eventually dropped.

Andrew Flintoff – Bowls like only Andrew Flintoff can: skill, hostility, endurance and brains, especially during his first innings working over of Yuvraj. Bats like Andrew Flintoff can’t sacrificing his natural hitting game for an attempt to play like VVS Laxman. It ain’t going to happen. Flintoff’s future must be at 7 or maybe even 8 with a licence to get his eye in, then hammer the bowling straight, high and hard.

Matt Prior – Unconvincing with the gloves, but two well judged knocks with the tail showed that his batting is improving to the point of being worthy of a full middle order slot. Prior, Broad, Flintoff may well be England’s 6, 7, 8 and, if so, it’ll be as strong as the late middle order has ever been for England.

Graeme Swann – Bowled with skill and heart throughout showing that his hard spun off-breaks are much underrated. Took two good balls to dismiss him, but runs will come if his confidence from his bowling remains as high as it appears.

Jimmy Anderson – Bowled just 22 overs in the match and most of those were pitched too short to allow the ball to swing. Impossible to believe that Matthew Hoggard wouldn’t have served England better. As unconvincing as ever away from English conditions (and possibly English cricket balls).

Stephen Harmison – Bowled with hostility, but needs more in the pitch to make best use of his bounce and pace. Delivered even fewer overs than Jimmy, which doesn’t bode well for the future.

Monty – In mitigation, he probably suffered more than most for lack of match practice, but this was a desperately disappointing match for England’s senior spinner. Given 627 runs by the batsmen and the second and fourth innings in which to work, he took just three wickets at a cost of 170 runs.  That’s match losing figures and so it proved.

Later: Rajesh Kanaan with a review of the Indian performance.



  1. Oooh a full blown website, how exciting. I’m sure I can offer suggestions etc, what’s the overall aim of the new NQ experience?

    TT’s a lot more flattering of the English performance than Suave, very not safe for work link but hilarious none the less

  2. I also read this after reading Suave’s piece. They are very different in tone.

    In the 1,897 Test matches played before this one, nobody can have played better and lost.

    Lara once made a double-century and century in the one Test and lost (against Sri Lanka).

  3. I was thinking of Shane Warne in the 05 Ashes, but there was no real stand out performance in either of the losing tests..

    At Edgbaston he took 10 wickets and made 50 runs, then in Trent Bridge he got 8 wickets and 40 runs.

  4. That is interesting Moses. There have been 64 (or was it 61? I’ve clicked away from that window) instances of a player making a century in both innings of a Test. But there are only 31 cases of a player taking 10+ wickets and scoring 50+ runs.

    So in that sense Warne’s performance at Edgbaston was more remarkable than Strauss’s, though not Lara’s.

    Warne’s one of six players to do the 10wkt/50run double in a loss. Statsguru. Wasim Akram’s also came in a very tight match, which the Windies won by one wicket. I remember that game – Courtney Walsh should have been given out bat-pad near the end, but he didn’t walk and managed to stick with Adams till the end.

    Trumble’s was also in a one-wicket loss, the last Test of the 1902 Ashes series, one of the greatest ever.

  5. Nesta,

    A proper web site would be very nice. Will send my suggestions, if any.


    Regarding the Chennai test, I have been reading the reports, opinions, and blog posts since yesterday.

    – Mike Selvey’s piece in the Guardian was very good;Silverflash’s comment there was excellent
    – JRod and Suave had me in splits :-)

    I felt there were many positives for England even from a purely cricketing perspective.But couldn’t help feeling that the players themselves were a bit surprised by India’s lack of intensity during the first 3 days.And they failed to take real advantage of the opportunity.

    1.After a big opening partnership in the 1st innings, England ended up with just 316.This score may have looked good considering India made just 241, but ideally, England should have made atleast 425-450 in the 1st innings, and taken defeat out of the equation.

    2.The debate on the declaration was pointless.Eng had a 387 lead and at best the last wicket would have added another 15-20 runs, which Sachin/Yuvi would have knocked off any way.

    3.Where Eng lost the match was in her bowlers losing the nerve during Sehwag’s massacre. Hayden tried a similar thing against India in the recent series, and almost pulled it off.

    So, I expect test teams to resort to this model of the final day chase soon.SCore at 6-7 an over for 10-15 overs, bring the asking rate to 3 or thereabouts, and knock off the remaining runs by playing in ODI style.

    I expect more number of successful chases of 350+ in the next few years by teams such as Oz, SA, and SL, and of course India can do it again.

    For Eng to do it, they need a Tresco type opener, and another world class batsman to play alongside KP.If they do find such an opener, I would have Strauss bat at No.3, and do the sheet anchor.

    England’s bowlers may have lost this test for them, but I feel the bowling is still okay.They have only 1 world class batsman in KP, and they need at least 3.Therein lies the problem.

    Current world class test batsmen:

    SL- Sangakkara, Mahela

    SA – Smith, Kallis, AB Devilliers

    Aus – Hayden, Ponting, Hussey (Pup, I feel, is like Ian Bell at times; he needs to step up now)

    Ind – Sehwag, Sachin, VVS (Dravid is not in form)

    WI – Gayle (?), Sarwan, Shiv C

    Pak – Younis Khan, Mohd.Yusuf

    Eng – only KP is in the above bracket

    For Mohali, Eng would do well to drop Panesar and bring Broad in his place; Swann deserves to retain his place.

    However, this Indian team is increasingly looking like Taylor’s Aussies or Waugh’s Aussies, in their confidence/ability to come back from the dead.

    Btw, who’s gonna do the posts on the SA-Oz series?Nesta?

  6. Kumar, the idea of chasing big totals by going berserk at the start of the innings is unlikely to succeed often. Not that any strategy will succeed often when you’re chasing nearly 400, but still. Australia’s had some massive losses because of the top-order being reckless – against disciplined bowling high scoring rates are unsustainable, you lose wickets and it becomes difficult to even save the draw.

  7. Thanks guys.

    In the context of what had gone before, in the light of no preparation and against the attack that had just beaten Aus 2-0 and England 5-0, Strauss’ performance was utterly awesome. Lara, in that SL series, was incredible – a one man batting order – but because of the context, I’d place Strauss above his efforts (Warne’s too, as his bowling was brilliant at Edgbaston, but his batting was a bit of slapping around in a lost cause, until the win was on and then he made a schoolboy error. Despite my admiration of Warne, he did crack then and in dropping KP at The Oval – although he was the only reason Aus were in with a shout of squaring the series).

  8. Dave,

    I agree with you partly.It is true that sustaining a high scoring rate is not possible against disciplined attacks.

    But we are talking of a 10-15 over period where a naturally agressive batsman (Hayden/Sehwag/Smith) scores at least 1 boundary an over, and a few singles and twos.

    Even in Chennai, Sehwag seemed to have gone berserk, but in reality he just played his shots, and that too for 10 over or so. After his 50 off 32 balls, he scored the next 33 runs in 36 balls.People know that Sehwag bats like this – they just didn’t expect it to happen on a 4th day pitch in a test match.

    My theory is that test teams, especially ones lucky to have a blaster or two at the top, can now expect to succeed more often than not with this approach. Of course, it all depends on the nature of the pitch and the quality of the bowling.

    Typical scenario for a 4th innings chase is around 350-400 runs in roughly 100 overs (90-120 actually). If the dashers at the top play for 20 overs and take 100 runs off the target, the remaining batsmen will be left with 250-300 in 80 overs. If batsmen decide to play in ODI middle overs fashion (keep the score board ticking with singles, and get a 4 every other over), they will come close.

    Lets hope we see 1 or 2 such scenarios in the SA-Oz series :-) Neither side has champion bowlers like Warne/McGrath, and I would back the batsmen of either side to do it.

  9. Toots,

    “In the 1,897 Test matches played before this one, nobody can have played better and lost.”

    I agree Strauss played two outstanding innings, but surely there would have been many such occassions in the long history of test cricket?

    Off-the-bat, I can think of two outstanding batting performances that ended up on the losing side:

    Ponting at Adelaide 2003-04

    Sangakkara@Hobart 2007-08

  10. Kumar – I agree with your analysis of how to chase 400 and I see that happening a lot with these big bats of today.

    I may be wrong, but I think Punter and Sanga got big knocks in one innings. Twin centuries, especially opening, is a huge performance. I saw Sanga’s knock and it was wonderful, but the pressure was off – at no time was an SL win likely.

  11. Toots, Lara vs Murali – 200 and 100 against MURALI. Surely that counts for much more. And he was entertaining too unlike Strauss here. Let’s see, Lara’s performance had
    1) Valour 2) Lone hand 3) Style 4) substance 5) Grit against Murali(as opposed to 95kmph Harbhajan with his clueless short pitchers) 6) Sheer entertainment value

    Yet West Indies lost. If Strauss scores 2 double centuries in a test, he can still not match that.

  12. Thanks again to the lovely David Barry! I’ve been getting plenty of hits today, because of your whoring, and it’s much appreciated!

  13. Thanks for the English for coming to India and thanks again for managing to lose.

    For all the analyzing I personally do not think that Eng. did much wrong. Heck only 3 times in the history of the game has a higher score been chased. Sure some things could have been better but show me a perfect test!

  14. That was actually Moses linking to you in this thread, Suave.

  15. I think that people saying that opening batsmen should score at 7+ an over when chasing large targets are severely over-estimating the quality of the English bowling in that fourth innings.

    Sehwag is easily the fastest-scoring opening batsman in history, far and away quicker than anyone with an average near his (bit of an exception for Trumper, but that’s going back a bit).

    So in this run chase, you had a couple of key elements – a freakishly fast-scoring opening batsman, and bowlers willing to feed him short wide balls, and full tosses on the pads.

    It’s not a formula that will work in most cases, and indeed it will usually consign the chasing team to a loss.

    “But we are talking of a 10-15 over period where a naturally agressive batsman (Hayden/Sehwag/Smith) scores at least 1 boundary an over, and a few singles and twos.”

    This is a LOT harder than it sounds. That sort of scoring wouldn’t be out of place in T20, where it is very common to be a couple of wickets down after 10 overs.

  16. Dave – Chasing 350+ is always going to be hard (as it should be) but there’s a few openers can attack the new, hard, ball with the field up and (a) race to fifty; (b) see off the opening bowlers and (c) change the balance of the match. Smith can do it for SA and Gayle for WI. I think we’ll see captains reluctant to set 350 and put the opposition in for an hour before stumps as the target the next day could easily be 270 and that’s a 50:50 call with 9 wickets left on the sort of non-disintegrating pitches we have now.

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