India v England – Series Preview

First up, if you haven’t already read them, please look at the efforts of the seven respondents to the Panel questions below. They gave some thoughtful responses, some excellent points and food for thought. Thanks to all of them.

So what are my answers to my own questions:

1. How do you think England sit as an international team after the 1-1 draw in Bangladesh? Glass half-full or half-empty?

I have a lot of problems with the acceptance of the second test defeat as if this would have just happened regardless what team we put out. Each series and each dynamic is different. We decided to not give 100% in the second test, resting players and giving the impression it was a practice match. And then our batting subsided. The blame went on the spin bowling, and the batting was largely ignored, save for the savaging of Ballance. We’ve been banging on about the batting for a while now, and the chairs have been shifted around again. Haseeb Hameed is opening, Duckett is at 4. This doesn’t bring me much in the way of comfort. Cook has 4 tons in 43 tests, Root’s conversion of 50s to tons remains a concern (and one of the better ones to have), while Moeen doesn’t have a long-term future at five, in my view. Stokes and Bairstow are solid citizens in the middle order, but we need big hundreds from somewhere. So, unsurprisingly, after two drawn series, my glass is half empty.

2. Ravichandran Ashwin? All time great, or product of the current environment?

He’s the premier spin bowler of his era, so doesn’t that make him an all-time great? His average is pretty damn good, he takes a ton of wickets at home and he’s a pretty decent batsman to boot. He’s a very fine bowler. A couple more of years of this and he’s destined for the stars. But our generation bestows greatness much easier these days. The need to be out in front is paramount. Greatness is sustained high level of performance over many many years, or a brief period of such electric high standard that few in the world will ever match it. I pose this question, is Mitchell Johnson an all-time great?

3. Three seamers or three spinners for England? How would you go?

Sick and tired of the debate, to be honest, because it is shrouded in forgetting the past and also wishful thinking. Stuart Broad does not average 143 runs per wicket in India by accident. Chris Woakes has a ton to learn in these conditions. Ben Stokes was very good in Bangladesh, but to me there’s that question of workload with him, and he’s had injuries very recently. India could break his back if wickets aren’t falling. The fact we are wishing for a rapid James Anderson recovery speaks volumes. As for the spinners, well we have what we have. I think we need to focus on players who take wickets on turning pitches rather than “stock bowling” but that’s what it’s all about now. I don’t know if it matters to be honest. With Stokes and Moeen being all-rounders, then the other balance doesn’t matter so much. What I do know, is if you want bowling dry, then Rashid isn’t your man. If you want bowling dry, why would you even pick him?

4. Do you think Ben Duckett has a future as a test match opener / middle order or no long-term future at all?

Simple answer? No idea. I’m not sold on him at all at this time, but then I have been wrong many times before (see, up until now, Jos Buttler). He’d be another Alex Hales as an opener. He’ll have good series, and he’ll be undressed by the new ball a lot of times. In the middle order, if we can solidify the top order, and he comes in at 100 for 2 on quite a few occasions, he could be a major asset. I think his long-term future is as a high order ODI batsman (possibly a number 3 after Hales and Roy). Duckett has a lot of goodwill within the media set-up, and not without reason. But I don’t see him as “our David Warner”.

5. Finally, what do you think the series score will be and why?

I don’t think we will lose 5-0. If we do, that should not be allowed to stick. Things would need to be looked at. Coaches, captain, players etc. The English team is not one that should be beaten 5-0. Setting ourselves up, mentally, for it, is more media management, more softening us up, and turning defeats into triumphs. The same media that had us winning all seven tests last summer, and still struggling to comprehend how we drew at home with Pakistan. I think there will be at least one draw, and I think we can get into some decent positions and turn them into win(s). Winning the series might be out of the question. Remember how decent spinners like Shaun Udal have had their day in India. 3-1 would be the worst I’d expect if we were being honest with ourselves. Let’s hope they can do better than that. Cook and Root need to make key runs, but others need to make tons.

Good luck to Haseeb on his debut. Good luck to Rajkot on its test debut, and let’s hope for some exciting cricket and some surprise performances.

Comments on Day 1 below….



34 thoughts on “India v England – Series Preview

  1. Clivejw Nov 8, 2016 / 8:01 pm

    Well, the silver lining is that Cook is hinting that he will resign after this tour, especially if he loses.


    • Mark Nov 8, 2016 / 8:20 pm

      I think you will find Clive he has already retracted that possibility. See previous article.


  2. nonoxcol Nov 8, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    On so many levels, the cricket-related tweet of the day surely belongs to Giles Coren.

    I don’t wish to sully the site and spoil our host’s mood by linking to it.


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 8, 2016 / 8:12 pm

      Almost totally immune to the casual anti-Americanism in this country’s print and TV media. Another muppet with his stupidity is par for the course.


    • Clivejw Nov 8, 2016 / 8:14 pm

      All Alan Coren’s wit and charm passed to Victoria.


      • Escort Nov 9, 2016 / 3:58 pm

        Don’t you agree with Giles then?
        Back to the cricket, didn’t England do well today.


  3. Sean B Nov 8, 2016 / 9:31 pm

    My short answers to the questions (if anyone cares):

    1. It’s the same meh as always. We’ve a batting line up that has more holes than a colander and a bowling unit that struggles away from home. We’re a mid table team that’s fairly effective in conditions that suit and not great in those that don’t. The defeat to Bangladesh was not a massive surprise.
    2. He’s good, in fact very good in the subcontinent, but his record away from these conditions isn’t great. He’ll be mightily effective this series and will likely spin us out at least twice. Decent batting record too, but he will never be a Murali or a Warne.
    3. Depends how sporting the pitches are. If they are a replica of the pitches in Bangladesh then there’s little point playing 4 seamers as they’ll just be ground into long term injury. If they’re not dustbowls (which I think the majority will be) then 4-2 just about makes a little more sense.
    4. Yes I rate the guy, but not as a settled opener. Looks more a number 5 or 6 to me that can counter attack. There are undoubted flaws in his game, but he looks the type that can potentially make adjustments. I don’t think he’ll be the next Warner. The only issue is the captain refusing to amend his game will lead to pressure on Hameed (who looks more like Sheep’s replacement than partner) and we’ll be hunting another opener to hide the captain’s shortcomings come the summer.
    5. 5-0 unless weather intervenes. This is a horribly unbalanced squad, with holes everywhere. Can already see a 2013/14 meltdown in the offing if they lose the first two Tests. Expecting Andy Flower to return as coach (and saviour) in time for the summer.

    Tin Hat on….


    • jennyah46 Nov 8, 2016 / 10:33 pm

      4. This is very unfair of you Sean. Cook was batting like a rocket ship in its way to Mars when he had Compton at the other end. He is bound to lose his wicket even more early than usual if he tries to protect Haseef. Best for him to keep on nudging it to square leg for 1. Every little counts.


      • Sean B Nov 8, 2016 / 10:35 pm

        I’m not sure scratching around for 15 is much better than scratching around for 30 if I’m honest.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Benny Nov 9, 2016 / 12:07 am

    I’m going to try for glass half full. With this fragile team, I don’t expect much other than a pounding but if two or more of Hameed, Duckett, Ball and Ansari have decent series then I’ll be pleased. On top, if Cook reconsiders his position, it will have been a useful tour.


  5. man in a barrel Nov 9, 2016 / 12:13 am

    If Cook reconsiders his position….. Wow. I am not convinced that Cook has a mind. If Alice says yes then he will do what she says.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. man in a barrel Nov 9, 2016 / 1:41 am

    Simonh that is the most nauseating article I have read. Nasser has gone fulll bore moron


  7. man in a barrel Nov 9, 2016 / 1:45 am

    What makes it even more nauseating is the idea that the 3rd world chappies can’t read English.


    • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 9, 2016 / 5:31 am

      Are you suggesting that the DM usual readers are 3rd world folk who can’t read English? Would make more sense.


  8. SimonH Nov 9, 2016 / 3:43 am

    England won toss and batting. No serious discussion about doing anything else.

    Ansari instead of Batty the surprise for England. India gone for a seamer/batsman rather than Mishra.

    Rock solid weather forecast (hot but low humidity, little wind, unchanging over the five days).


    • d'Arthez Nov 9, 2016 / 4:02 am

      India have gone Mishra, Jadeja and Ashwin. Rashid, Moeen and Ansari for England. Ansari the real surprise here. From India the surprise might be that Ishant Sharma is not playing, and that the pace options are Yadav and Shami.

      Based on the team selections alone, I doubt England would have had a real chance if they lost the toss. But we’ll see.


      • SimonH Nov 9, 2016 / 4:25 am

        Sky had Pandya on the Indian team sheet at the start but they’ve now changed it.


  9. d'Arthez Nov 9, 2016 / 4:05 am

    Three balls in, and Cook is already on his second life.


    • SimonH Nov 9, 2016 / 4:08 am

      Chance not unlike Jadeja drop at Southampton.

      Pitch has more bounce than one might expect. Crowd looks quite small.


  10. d'Arthez Nov 9, 2016 / 4:28 am

    Now Hameed is being dropped, this time by Vijay. Really simple chance too.


  11. thebogfather Nov 9, 2016 / 5:13 am

    Oh my… Hameed’s Test career already at an end after not telling Cookie to review…. 🙂


  12. Keeper99 Nov 9, 2016 / 6:35 am

    Re Duckett I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a batsman, outside of junior or village cricket, play off-spin by backing off to leg.

    Poor shot by Cook but worse that he didn’t seem to know where his leg stump was and how the ball was spinning.

    Not what we expected at all today and the feeling that England are missing a massive chance with a pitch and attack that have been far from unplayable.

    Hameed’s cover drive giving a glimpse of future joys though…


  13. d'Arthez Nov 9, 2016 / 9:23 am

    The pitch is quite decent. Funny how climate change is suddenly not responsible for it, like it was last year when South Africa toured.


  14. pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 9, 2016 / 9:24 am

    So the much discussed conversion rate of Root is improved on by him becoming the first foreign batsman to score a test ton in India since Michael Clarke back in early 2013.


  15. northernlight71 Nov 9, 2016 / 10:20 am

    Cricket? There’s actually cricket going on at the moment? I’ve been up[ all night, but I was kind of focussed on something else. And now I’m exhausted as well as depressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • "IronBalls" McGinty Nov 9, 2016 / 11:38 am

      311-4 at the close…that should cheer you up a bit? 🙂


      • northernlight71 Nov 9, 2016 / 12:16 pm

        Only a bit. And some of that is because Cook didn’t get many.
        I know schadenfreude is an ugly emotion, but sometimes it’s all that keeps me going!


  16. nonoxcol Nov 9, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    Shiny f***ing Toy just introduced me to a new feeling:

    Almost wishing England lost in 2005.


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