Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 13, 2011

England vs India – The Final Over of the Third Test

The Trumpet is away from Edgbaston and television screens, so there’s no report card, but there are six deliveries.

English bully

Ball One – Test cricket is a bullies’ game. Get on top, then stay on top by making life as uncomfortable as possible for the opposition through accurate bowling, good fielding and relentless batting. Do that, and most opponents will cower to some extent – misfielding, giving away extras, playing rash strokes. More than any England team I can recall, this one bullies the opposition, pressing harder and harder on the throat, session after session. It’ll get ugly soon, but it’s too new a sight for anyone to complain about it just yet.

Ball Two – As in the extraordinary start of the Test at Adelaide, England have regularly taken wickets at the start of innings or at the resumption of play. This harrying of the batsman at a vulnerable time is an example of what Steve Waugh would refer to as the “one percenters”, the small differences that matter. Such attention to detail is a mark of the two Andies’ regime and the discipline of players totally committed to their leadership.

Ball Three – By the end of Test phase of this tour, India will have batted just 148 overs away from the intensity of England’s best, most balanced attack in living memory. That would never be enough to get batsmen, even great batsmen, into the kind of form in which scoring comes easily, the feet, head and hands moving into position naturally. If preparation is interrupted by rain, then that’s the challenge of touring – that somebody, somewhere decided that 148 overs was about right to face this England team, is criminally negligent.

Ball Four – While heavy bats and innovative play are all the rage in the limited overs formats, England pack their batting with deeply orthodox players. Cook, Strauss, Trott, Bell, Morgan (in Test match mode), Prior, Bresnan and Broad all favour straight bats, driving the fuller ball and cutting and pulling the shorter ones. KP is the grit in the oyster ploughing his own furrow, one reason why his is still the most prized wicket, but batting pearl after batting pearl walk out of the pavilion for England, scoring at a 21st century rate, but playing with 20th century techniques. As careers develop, quirks may be introduced (Trott”s bottom hand is getting a bit dominant) but 710-7 was accumulated using many of the shots that piled up 903-7 in 1938.

Ball Five – A lot of proud men will be hurting in the Indian dressing room and many more will be hurting back home. A reaction is expected at The Oval – easier said than done – but if India fail to stand up and show some heart, then the selectors may have some tough choices to make next time the five day game hoves into view. Rescue something from the tour with a win or a fighting draw, and there’s enough credit in the bank for many of this XI to be given another chance – even Suresh Raina!

Ball Six – England cricket fans should sit back and enjoy this – we might not see the like again.

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Responses

  1. Seems fitting that England land on No. 1 at this point. No offense to India, but the fact that they were No. 1 just shows up the ICC’s stupidity in organizing a ranking system that makes one team “champions” by default. No surprise that the title didn’t seem to mean anything to them, nor that they were especially worthy of it.

    The ICC should have made some extra rule that a team needs to stay on top for a set time, or with a particular point difference. Of course that would risk having no champion team for some periods, but that would add status to the title.

    Excellent point, Toots, about the test-cricket-like nature of England’s success.

    • Maybe the Number One should be announced at the end of the year as in tennis – not sure if that would work either really.

  2. The Indians have won a lot of matches and gone without a series loss in the past couple of years till now. Sure the ranking system might be a bit duff but it is what it is and in those lights, they were rightfully ranked no 1. As England is now.

    • England are worthy for sure… for now.

  3. It’s pity the series was so lopsided that the one percenters, however accumulative their effect, ultimately weren’t decisive in any Test. I’m struggling to cope with this dominance. I’m still not attuned to it. I can’t forgive England for what they reduced VVS to in Brum.

    • It’s a strangely empty feeling for sure – many of the Indians feel a bit like The Wizard of Oz.


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