Unless something very, very odd happens tomorrow, this test match is destined to be filed under “bore draw” along with Nagpur 2012 and Trent Bridge 2014; the last two tests to go the full distance between these two teams. That it doesn’t quite feel like that is because of the debacle in Dhaka. We would, according to the scribes and the pundits, have bitten your hands off for this result. England’s batting looking stronger than it has in the last few seasons. England’s spinners outbowling the Indian spin attack we were supposed to be terrified of. It has been a very good England performance on a surface that has not deteriorated noticeably over the first four days.
Yet again I have a confession to make. I saw the last hours play only. Blame Australia. Watching their collapse in Hobart last night was car crash TV. They not only capitulated to some excellent seam bowling, there was a comedy run out (which prompted the debutant’s brother to storm out in disgust) and Steve Smith assaulting Vernon Philander. Add to that Michael Clarke appearing to be under the apprehension that Philander being off the field meant the visitors had to field with 10 men (the sub fielder I think executed the run out) and Mark Taylor admonishing Paf du Plessis for running towards the umpire on an LBW shout (while sitting next to his co-commentator, that ultimate respecter of umpires, Shane Warne) and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. This meant bed time at 2 am, and waking up late. So sorry, I hope you enjoyed more of the play than I did.
Of course, we are seeing that age old English media trait of appointing someone as the saviour on the basis of first evidence. Take it away Scyld:
and if that wasn’t enough:
Now let me say this before you tear into me. I’m thrilled he looks the part, and he does. But he’s playing on a placid surface, against bowlers neutered by the pitch and in a 500 plays 500 test, more or less. What he has shown his temperament and class. Of course he has, but because he’s 19 we’re touting him as some child prodigy. “Touched by genius” in my view is a bit strong. Let’s see a big ton in the 1st innings of a match, or a pressure-filled hundred on a bunsen before we go the whole hog. This is a hugely impressive debut, but it’s not Trott at The Oval in 2009, it’s not KP at Lord’s (coming in at 20/3, soon to be 20/5) and it’s note even Cook at Nagpur in 2006 which was in the balance when he made it. This test was there to be made safe and Hameed has. There’s plenty to get excited about before we make Hall of Fame plans. Scyld can be a bit of an outlier, and in this case, I think the heat might have got to him.
He’s not alone, though. Plenty will follow, marvelling at the talent and temperament of a mere 19 year old. I’m sure I saw someone suggest he make our T20 team (because he hit a six). I’m here to be the grump. Let him play five/ten tests, playing on surfaces more testing than this, to see if he truly is the messiah, or merely a young talented boy.
Adil Rashid. Luxury bowler. Discuss media. Discuss.
The match appears headed for a draw. England’s 114 for 0 put them 163 in front, and a brisk pre-lunch session may tempt the visitors to try to set up a three to three and a half hour exercise in survival. England have worked very hard and will not give the hosts a sniff, so a lead of 270-280 with 45 overs left may be something like a target to go for. There is a school of thought that we should bat out time and let the hosts fry. I hope not, but also strongly believe a big marker has been laid down here by England. We aren’t going to be outmatched so horrendously that 5-0 was on the cards. It’s not the time to gamble, and we have a captain who won’t. If we are back here tomorrow talking about anything other than a routine draw, we are in for a hell of a day.
Some Statto Tweets for reference:
Which includes Mark Ealham and Ed Smith…..