Maybe we’ll do a more considered piece later, but some immediate reactions are always worthwhile:
- The declaration – I hate declaration speculation and pretty much always side with the skipper when it comes to them. For example, in the West Indies in 2009, I could understand both Andrew Strauss’s declarations where the opposition were left 8 or 9 down at the end. So, unlike others, I’m not going to lambast Cook over the timing of the declaration. I also have to say that I was asleep until the Indian innings had begun, and with those wickets in hand we might have scored a little more quickly but that is easier said than done. There is no way our media is going to say we didn’t score quickly enough because that would be to criticise our captain, and we aren’t having that. That one member of the media felt it necessary to retweet Alison Mitchell’s pro-Cook piece in TCP immediately after the game finished speaks volumes. As does someone tweeting that this was one of Cook’s best tests as captain (er, really? On what basis?), the message requirement speaks more than the words they contain. Cook did what 95% of international captains would do. Maybe that’ll stop one former correspondent for saying how influential BMac has been on our game after 2015. In summary, we might have batted more quickly, but it’s at the margins.
- Hameed’s 82 is a really promising start, but just that. Gary Ballance made test hundreds in his second, fifth and sixth tests, with a 71 in the fourth and 74 in the third. I am not doing this to be a killjoy, a malcontent, a churl. I’m doing this to inject some realism. We need a new opener in the worst way. We love the fact the kid is 19. Brilliant. Young talent, temperament to die for, a great story. But he couldn’t get a game in Bangladesh and so there were obviously doubts. He has a career best of 122, so he’s not pummeling in massive hundreds yet. So let’s wait before we anoint him the king of the hill. Why rush to excitement when we’ve been disappointed before after great starts. The other day marked the birthday of Ben Hollioake. Remember how he looked to the manor born on his international debut? Remember how difficult it was to establish yourself in the game once people have seen you play? Remember how Joe Root had a horrible time, and was dropped? Let’s be measured here.
- Adil Rashid did not win man of the match (but someone tweeted he did – sorry) but had a top match. I could laugh my head off. In fact I will. Stack that fragile, luxury, card marked agenda away for a couple more tests, pundits. He is an attack weapon, not a stock bowler. If he can be our Stuart MacGill, an attacking expensive bowler who took wickets at a rare old click, we should be delighted. Anyone watching notice how Nasser did a complete “Shiny Toy” on Rashid saying we had found a wicket-taking spinner (then qualifying it by saying for one test). We don’t have memories of goldfish Nasser. He was fragile a few days ago. Well bowled Adil, you did your fans proud. I’m sure Bob Willis will be gracious enough to admit his error on The Verdict.
- Overall – a really good England performance. Four centuries and a good debut by HH. A couple of “what ifs” but none we should really dwell upon. This blogger never thought we’d lose 5-0. One of the reasons is that the Indian batting “ain’t all that” despite the hype. Gambhir opening was a joke. Ashwin at six is at least one place too high on wickets like these. It just takes a little weakness and the chasm could open. Of course, that goes for us too, but this team, as it stands, looks balanced. Of course, there are vacancies in the bowling, despite in the same circumstances as Anderson finds himself now, KP had “no vacancies in the middle order” (don’t laugh). They’ll find a way in for Jimmy, and the rumours are it will probably be Ansari now (as the bigging up of Joe Root’s spin seemed to hint at in the evening session comms). In a test where three spinners seemed to be confirmed as the right way to go, it now appears as though we’ll think of four seamers instead. I do hope they are wrong.
- For information, Stuart Broad now averages 125.6 with the ball in India after his match figures of 1 for 80-odd.
I enjoyed the bits of the Rajkot test I saw, and it reaffirmed five day tests brilliance in my eyes. Reaction and all the other stuff to follow. Comment away….
UPDATE – On the man of the match thing…
I love you India….