India vs England: 3rd Test review

As it turned out, England probably did a little better than some might have expected, but the end result was entirely predictable.  To have made the game interesting, another hundred runs or so were needed, and that was would have required something spectacular.  Even then it probably wouldn’t have been enough on a surface that didn’t especially deteriorate, and with a bowling attack that have at no time looked like skittling India.

There was the odd bright spot, Joe Root batted well, although he once again fell between 50 and 100, a habit he needs to break sooner rather than later if he really is going to be as good as he has threatened to be, while Haseeb Hameed scored an enterprising unbeaten 50 from number 8, batting that low due to a finger so badly broken he is to return home to have an operation and a plate put into the bone.  There has been much discussion around the decision of England not to send him for a scan immediately, but to wait.  It’s one of those where the logic behind it – to not make it clear to India that it was badly broken in advance of him batting – is open to question in terms of the player’s welfare, but the rationale can be partly understood, and it mattered little in the wider picture.  The team medics would have had a pretty good idea how badly it was hurt, and it’s a side issue to the bigger problems England have – except in the sense that he is unquestionably a loss to the team.

What it did explain was the three net sessions yesterday; Hameed attempting to amend his technique to find a way to bat with the injury.  He emerges with nothing but credit, for he appeared in little discomfort in the middle and did a fine job in trying to drag England up to a total that with a very fair wind they might have defended.  Indeed, he apparently had to be persuaded to return home to have it treated, insisting that he wanted to play the last two Tests.  In a series where the collective batting has been little short of dismal much of the time, he’s an unquestioned bright spot – even if some of the praise has gone beyond reasonable and into the hyperbolic.

Aside from that Woakes scored runs, but it was never likely to be enough.  Any highly optimistic hopes of an extraordinary win were heightened when Woakes himself dismissed Murali Vijay with seven on the board, but it was plain sailing thereafter, with Pujara’s late dismissal allowing national hero Virat Kohli to come in for the denouement.  Parthiv Patel completed a fine comeback match with an unbeaten and rapid fifty.

For India, the series is going swimmingly, only the form of Rahane offering up succour for England.  In itself, that is a lesson for those picking on the latest England victim, for Rahane has had a miserable time, but the rest of the team have performed more than well enough.  Blaming one player for all the woes of the batting is ridiculous, as many did when Duckett was dropped, for most teams have one player out of form at any given time.  It doesn’t for a second mean that changes shouldn’t be made, but it does mean that focusing on one doesn’t excuse the others when the side fails to make runs.

If it is little surprise that India have the superior spin attack, it is more of one that their seamers have consistently outbowled England’s.  Only Ben Stokes can be considered to have bowled well, although his five wickets in the first innings comprise all but two of those he has taken in the three Tests to date, so he has hardly been exceptional throughout.  Woakes was below par here, though doubtless playing, being dropped, then playing again does little for his consistency, while James Anderson looked entirely innocuous.  This may well have something to do with only bowling six balls in the entire match that would have hit the stumps, for nothing reassures a batsman so much as knowing that he only needs to play at the ball when he wants to score runs.  Anderson was economical alright, as is often the case when players leave the ball alone most of the time, but did not threaten a wicket.  Whether this is a deliberate tactic on his part is impossible to know, but it needs to be addressed urgently.  Mistakes are created when the batsman is unsure what to expect, at the moment they know all too well.

Stuart Broad may well return for the next Test, and at the moment it should probably be Anderson who makes way based on this match, though that is unlikely to be how it pans out, and given his record, probably rightly.  England need to work out how to take wickets, and Anderson is obviously more than capable.  But if he persists in a safe line outside off stump then it’s nothing other than a waste of a seam spot.  Harsh indeed, for whatever the criticism that can be levelled here, Anderson is and has been an outstanding bowler for England.  Which is exactly the reason for the frustration.

Cook and Bayliss were honest enough to say afterwards that they had misread the pitch, with nothing like the amount of turn on offer late on that they had expected.  With all mistakes, it is a matter of whether it could have been foreseen in advance, and few criticised the three spinner approach based on it not turning enough before the match started.  The lack of assistance meant that England had one spinner too many, with Batty and Moeen sharing light duties.  However, Mumbai is much hotter, and the pitch there expected to be more conducive to spin – it would be a serious mistake for England to replay this match and drop one of them on the basis of what happened here.  Conditions may well be different, though whether two or three is best is open to debate.  If one does go, it will probably be Batty.  His return to Test colours hasn’t been an unqualified success by any stretch, but he is what he’s always been, a solid pro who doesn’t let anyone down.

There is latitude however, simply because England have a six man attack.  In itself, this is a good thing, made possible by Stokes and Ali being frontline batsmen and Woakes and Rashid not too far off the all rounder category either, in other words, England aren’t specifically picking six bowlers as such.  Rashid has been excellent all series, and has taken two thirds of all the wickets to fall to bowlers.  Moeen has been adequate as back up but no more.  Rashid is a match winning bowler, Moeen is a useful converted part-timer who has at least done better than either of the other specialist England finger spinners on this tour, and is probably the best England have.  But while Rashid has more than contributed his fair share, for the spinners to really have a chance to impact a match, they require runs on the board to defend.  Which brings us neatly on to the batsmen.

In England’s two defeats this series, they have failed to reach 300 on any occasion.  While last time around they certainly had the worst of the conditions after losing the toss, the same can certainly not be said for Mohali. They won the toss, the pitch was good, and everything was in their favour.  The match was lost in the first innings, indeed was lost on the first morning, with a collection of poor shots aiding India in dismissing England for a woefully sub-par 283.  From there, even with a spirited fightback on day two, the match had a sense of inevitability about its ultimate conclusion.

It is the failure to be disciplined, and the failure to build partnerships that is the major problem.  Jonny Bairstow is top of the batting averages this series, but on each occasion he has come in with a rescue job to do.  That he has managed to do so on a couple of occasions is to his credit, but it doesn’t change the course of the game, it merely keeps England in the match.  Some batsmen have made a big score and done little of note apart from that – Cook and Moeen in particular.  In the latter case, his tendency towards feast or famine is well known, though it’s an especially fine effort this time around, in the former, without him having a strong series England were always going to be in trouble.  Cook’s record this series aside from the hundred is not materially worse than anyone else’s, the difference is in how critical his role is to England being competitive, and in the first innings as well.  In this match, appearing totally at sea to the spinners was a startling sight – he always has been a fine player of slow bowling.

And yet none of the batting order as constituted in this game are having a terrible time of things.  The left handers are struggling against Ashwin, which may cause some cogitation when considering Hameed’s replacement, but all in all they are scoring runs to a reasonable degree.  What they are not doing is putting it together at the same time.  Cricket is a mental game, and in many ways batting is about mentality more than any other discipline.  The problem of not building partnerships is not a new one, the same problem has been apparent over the last couple of years.  For whatever reason, England seem unable to consistently build totals, even if the individuals themselves are making scores.

What should be a major worry, with England needing to win both remaining matches to share the series is that no pitch so far has been a raging turner of the type they struggled on in Bangladesh.  Indeed, given how the tracks have played, England ought to have been comfortable with them, for India’s groundsmen have been exceptionally fair.  It’s a psychological issue rather than a technical one, for apart from the unfortunate Duckett, no player has looked out of their depth on this tour, they merely keep finding often daft or lazy ways to get out.  In some ways that’s a good thing, for the claim from Cook that England are not that far away from India is not completely unreasonable, but the margin of defeat in the last two games is so large there’s only a so long before such a claim becomes absurd rather than hopeful, and it’s pushing it now.

There are two spare batsmen on this tour, Duckett and Ballance.  It appears neither of them is selectable, which begs the question as to what the point of them staying on the tour is.  There is the possibility one of the batsmen from the Lions in the UAE could be called up, with the debate centring around whether that should be an opener.  Joe Root could move up to open with Cook for example, and with England so often being 20-2 the appeal of putting the two senior players out at the start and getting them to take responsibility for the innings is clear.  If England went down that path, then Sam Billings may be the favoured option to slot into the middle order.  If so, at least there would be no concerns about Bairstow hurting himself keeping wicket – there’d be two other players who could take over, quite possibly for the first time in Test history.

Over the three Tests to date, it’s not impossible to see England winning the next match if they get it right, but the trouble is that over the last two games, they’ve not shown that much evidence that they can. India is not an easy place to tour, as the repeated wallopings handed out to visitors have tended to show.  England might play well and still lose, such is the challenge in front of them.  But it would be nice if they did, they’d then at least have given themselves a chance.



105 thoughts on “India vs England: 3rd Test review

  1. ABAB Nov 29, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    The young man appears to have a level head, a good attitude, and, on initial impressions, a decent defensive technique. Time will tell whether he has the complete game required of a test quality opening batsman, capable of kicking on as well as digging in, and how he will fare in different conditions against different bowling attacks.


  2. AB Nov 29, 2016 / 5:31 pm

    I haven’t been overly impressed by India’s spinners – Ashwin is certainly massively overhyped – yes he is reasonably accurate, but he is hardly bowling a series of unplayable deliveries. Most of the batsmen seem to be getting themselves out either by playing for turn that isn’t there (and hasn’t been there at any point) or playing daft shots and popping up easy catches.


    • Mark Nov 29, 2016 / 7:19 pm

      I think the England batting line up of the 1990s with players like Atherton, Hussien, Thorpe, Stewart, and Hick would have made big runs against this attack.

      We will never know for sure, but I think they would. But then I have never bought the line that Cook is Englamds greatest ever Cricketer.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. man in a barrel Nov 29, 2016 / 6:28 pm

    AB – it’s the subtlety of his flight and pace variations that makes Ashwin special. He reminds me of a bowler such as Prasanna or John Mortimore of Glos and England, although his Test record is far superior to either of those fine bowlers.


  4. man in a barrel Nov 29, 2016 / 6:30 pm

    In particular, it is clear that Cook prefers to play spin off the back foot and yet Ashwin was continually dragging him forward, out of his comfort zone, where he could not play the ball off the pitch. The flight was perfect.


  5. SimonH Nov 29, 2016 / 7:17 pm

    Ashwin’s average will go up a little when he plays outside Asia and the West Indies – but he is a seriously good bowler.

    He dismissed Sangakkara in five out of six innings he bowled at him. I don’t think anyone could argue Sanga was some big-bat T20 slogger who couldn’t play spin.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. man in a barrel Nov 29, 2016 / 7:26 pm

    Len Hutton used to say that the art of a spin bowler was to draw the batsman forwards rather than let him lurk on the back foot and pick off the bowling. One day, he was batting in the Yorkshire nets and an old man turned up, watched him for a few minutes, then took off his coat and asked to bowl. The deliveries were slow and enticing and, try as he might to step back and play them in comfort on the back foot, he was compelled to stride forward to get to the pitch of the ball but he never quite got to the ball on the half volley. The old man was Wilfred Rhodes (4000+ wickets). It strikes me that Ashwin was working on Cook and co in just that way

    Liked by 2 people

  7. AB Nov 29, 2016 / 8:29 pm

    Bowling a length is clearly a useful skill, but most club level batsman are able to play 46mph length balls from spinners, especially ones that don’t really turn. “Subtle variations” in flight are only really valuable when batsmen are trying to hit the ball out of the park and all you need to do is induce a slight mis-hit. They shouldn’t EVER beat a defensive shot.

    If Cook can genuinely only play spin off the back foot and all you have to do is bowl on a full length, that is pathetic.


    • man in a barrel Nov 29, 2016 / 9:29 pm

      So explain Underwood’s 297 Test wickets. Very few of them taken on sticky or dusty wickets.


      • AB Nov 29, 2016 / 11:17 pm

        Underwood was 10 times the bowler Ashwin is. He got big revs on the ball at effectively medium pace.

        Bigger revs, greater pace, greater accuracy.

        Ashwin is a decent bowler in spin-friendly conditions and when batsmen try to go after him. Other than that, he really shouldn’t be a threat to a competent test batsman. Its not like he’s getting wickets with his carrom ball.

        Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel Nov 29, 2016 / 11:22 pm

        Are you saying that Cook is pathetic? Good luck with that stance.


      • amit garg Nov 30, 2016 / 2:16 am

        While one can’t take anything away from Underwood, he probably bowled a lot faster than a conventional left armer, with a much longer run up. More medium pace I suppose than is usual. In terms of pace, more Kumble than Bedi.
        And, he did excel on sticky wickets.
        He also played plenty in India (16 games) during a time when the pitches used to be a lot worse and yes, he did pick a lot of wickets (54) in those dust bowls. He was apparently a difficult bowler to face – as many a batsmen have said it in their books before – the pace of his bowling certainly had a lot to contribute to that i suppose.

        I am not going to compare him to Ashwin, who hasn’t had a great record overseas but then Ashwin hasn’t played enough in those conditions. 2 in England, 1 in South Africa, none in NZ and 6 in Australia in early stages of his career are hardly a representative sample of his skill. He is a different bowler now than he was 3 years ago, even in Indian conditions.
        Ashwin 2.0 bowls with a lot more loop, slower and unlike Ashvin 1.0, doesn’t use Carrom ball as often. He beats people in flight, with dip and turns on most wickets.

        He will probably take a lot many wickets than Underwood managed even though he is unlikely to ever be a Warne or Murali in terms of sheer spin. But then, those two were freaks of nature.


    • SimonH Nov 29, 2016 / 9:06 pm

      “England’s spinners have rarely won Tests on their own in India. Usually, the most they have been able to give their captain is control while the seamers and swingers have done the telling damage. Only in Mumbai four years ago, on a red soil pitch that turned from the outset, have a pair of English spinners, Graham Swann and Monty Panesar, completely outperformed their Indian counterparts”.

      Pringle was post-truth before it was fashionable. England spinners obviously out-bowled their Indian counter-parts here:

      And in the second innings here:

      And here:

      And here:

      Spin also played a significant role in the wins in Kolkata in 2012, Mumbai in 2006 and Chennai in 1977 (where Derek Underwood dismissed four of India’s top five while giving the seamers a rest).

      England have won only 13 Tests in India so that’s well over half of them. Willis/Lever twice in 76/77, Botham in 1980 and Foster in 84/85 are the only matches where England seamers have won Tests in India without significant help from spin.

      Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Nov 29, 2016 / 9:32 pm

      He definitely got the memo from his mate though:

      “So far, though, he has yet to threaten with a match-turning performance, the main reason being he cannot bowl it quickly enough”

      Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH Nov 29, 2016 / 9:48 pm

        NOC, you can’t expect him to have second thoughts on what F***** told him about Rashid c.2011 – he still believes what Keith Fletcher said in ’92/93 about Kumble not turning it and no brownwashing nor two-and-a-half decades are going to make him rethink that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Nov 29, 2016 / 10:53 pm

        I think Pringle used to work at the Indie many moons ago before he left to go to the Telegraph. Angus Fraser was his replacement at the indie I believe. So he had a connection to the paper.

        I wonder if he thinks ENGLAND should bring back Ian Bell.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B Nov 29, 2016 / 9:37 pm

      Classic Pringle. Why let facts get in the way of your own prejudice? Can’t work out which is sadder, the fact that Pringle has taken a job at the Indy or the fact they’ve offered him one in the first place? One thing I know is that he’ll be earning a pittance there…

      Liked by 1 person

    • amit garg Nov 30, 2016 / 2:35 am

      People keep missing the fact that one bowler alone can’t exert pressure from both ends. India have done well because 3 spinners (including the debutant Jayant) have kept up the pressure. Jayant has 8 wickets in 2 games against Moeen’s 7 in 3 games. Their economy rates are better and they bowl more maiden overs – jadeja alone has 45 maidens in 3 games. More importantly, they’ve done it from both ends simultaneously.

      Rashid is a quality spinner (most of us knew that before the tour) but as well as he has bowled, he can’t be the guy doing all the work from both ends. He has 18 wickets – most from either side but the gulf between him and the next English bowler is huge. Stokes’s 7 look a lot better with 5 in the first innings. Woakes has 2, Jimmy has 4. So, right now, Rashid has as many as Mo, Stokes and Jimmy put together, who are a certainty in any English squad! And Mo is not even a specialist spinner like Rashid though he gets treated as such and may be a competent bowler.

      Without the bowlers producing results together, this is not going to work.

      In the next game, I would expect to see 4 pacers, 2 spinners including Mo and that’s not going to work either because it is quality not just quantity that works in a test match. 2 Indian pacers have outbowled the 4 pacers that England have used.
      This tour is just exposing the uncomfortable truth that the English bowlers are probably not as good (in these conditions) as they are perceived to be, despite their experience (2 with over 100 games).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. man in a barrel Nov 29, 2016 / 11:28 pm

    I haven’t checked the stats but I think that Monty out bowled Swann in 2012. In hindsight that was a warning. I would check in at 10am and Monty would have bowled 20overs for 20 runs and Swann would have bowled 15 overs for 50 runs. No clue why from the commentators


  9. man in a barrel Nov 29, 2016 / 11:39 pm

    I know that the guys here do not rate Robert Key as a pundit but last night he analysed Cook and… How many trigger movements he has… So unless he gets them all in synch….. The Indian fielders have allowed him to prosper. Shami and smaller Jadav have had him on toast already, but the catches were dropped.


    • Mark Nov 30, 2016 / 1:09 pm

      I have no problem with Robert Key. I always feel as though he is saying it as he sees it and there is no agenda. It’s the frigging agendas and conflict of interests of some of the pundits I can’t stand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Nov 30, 2016 / 1:31 pm

        I was critical of Key recently – so to be clear, I’m quite happy with him talking about batting technique and I don’t particularly think he’s a stooge.

        Most former cricketers can talk reasonably about their facet of the game. Warne and Swann are excellent on spin-bowling. What I look for is overall appreciation of the game. I’m not saying Key is the worst in that regard by any means – it was just that many BTL in other places seem to adore him and that I can’t relate to.

        The real problem with ‘The Verdict’ for me is that they are all from the closed world of English cricket. The panel desperately needs someone with a more international perspective ready to challenge the cliches of English cricket (like the unquestioned brilliance of our seamers). Aamir Sohail was good at that in the summer.


  10. BoredInAustria Nov 30, 2016 / 6:03 am

    I just feel frustrated. This England certainly has some great potential, and could have been in a far more competative position after 3 games. And I think they know it.

    But it seems the inconsistencies between the ECB (selectors, Lions coaches and Strauss with their conservative and political “face fit” approach), Bayliss (with his looser and fresher proactivee style), and Cook (with a uninspired and attritional captaining) leads to these results on the field.

    A strange squad to choose from (“unselectable players”), still no clarity who is the best 11 or where they should bat (Mo?) and in my opinion no clear game plan going into the matches (attack, or defend).

    Against this Indian team in obviously unfamiliar conditions this will quickly lead to losing the inititiative and then merely chasing the game.

    It will be interesting to see where this dynamic goes now. Cook looking in all sorts at the crease does not bode well. As we know from Australia 2013/14 a losing / underperforming dressing room can become a very uncomfortable place. Now leadership is needed. India seem to have found a strong one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • "IronBalls" McGinty Nov 30, 2016 / 8:11 am

      Anyone looking “disengaged” during the final test may cop some flak?

      Liked by 1 person

      • simplyshirah Nov 30, 2016 / 6:31 pm

        Moi is most definitely “disengaged” with same old, same old from pundits. Are they blind as well as stupid? Gee whizz.

        Liked by 1 person

    • northernlight71 Nov 30, 2016 / 10:44 am

      You don’t get “leadership” from Cook except when it comes to stepping forwards to take the plaudits after a good performance. He’s more of a General Melchett kind of figure.
      Bring together a battered and confused team? I’m not holding my breath.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Nov 30, 2016 / 11:10 am

        When he suggests some 10km runs, let’s hope nobody mentions maybe it’s batting technique that needs attention…..


    • man in a barrel Nov 30, 2016 / 12:22 pm

      Ballance and Duckett unselectable, Hameed and Ansari flying home injured, Broad on his last legs, Finn not trusted even if not officially deemed unselectable, Anderson either unfit or unable to bowl in attacking mode…. There do seem to be parallels to 2013-14.


      • SimonH Nov 30, 2016 / 12:34 pm

        Reading round the press, there are plenty of hints Woakes wasn’t fully fit in the last Test as well (and I don’t think they mean only his thumb injury from the Shami bouncer).


      • man in a barrel Nov 30, 2016 / 3:42 pm

        I have seen comments about Woakes having an ongoing problem with a sore knee. It’s probably the term used by the England setup to refer to a stress fracture or shin splints.


  11. SimonH Nov 30, 2016 / 9:51 am

    Jennings and Dawson called up to replace Hameed and Ansari:

    Yeah, but Flower rates Dawson….

    Liked by 1 person

      • oreston Nov 30, 2016 / 10:51 am

        “Liam Dawson relishing chance to be England’s mystery spinner…” Well I suppose the fact that he’s been selected constitutes something of a mystery…

        Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH Nov 30, 2016 / 11:08 am

        Of course Bayliss was all gushing about him after that T20 win.

        So another possibility is that it’s another Test-team selection based on white-ball performances which is all Bayliss has seen.


      • SimonH Nov 30, 2016 / 11:17 am

        “The Johannesburg-born Jennings, whose mother is from Sunderland, captained South Africa’s Under 19s five years ago”.


        Liked by 3 people

    • nonoxcol Nov 30, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      Fuck’s SAKE. Tell us again, wise men of the press box, how he as no influence any more.

      Liked by 2 people

      • BoredInAustria Nov 30, 2016 / 1:19 pm

        “He was very self-sufficient, low maintenance and a very good competitor in the middle.”

        The captain does not need to do much
        He does not complain when he is not used, or have to bat out of position
        He will try regardless of which field placing he is given


      • RufusSG Nov 30, 2016 / 7:09 pm

        Eh, I still think in general those can be very good qualities for an international cricketer to have, especially a bowler – it kinda depends how you spin them (pun unintended). It could alternatively mean that a player is good at setting his own fields, able to offer useful tactical input into proceedings and can disagree with the captain if they deem it necessary – all in all, to me a low-maintenance cricketer is simply one who is strong-minded enough to take an active tactical role but able to think for themselves in the heat of the moment.

        Not that I don’t deny that Dawson’s selection has Flower written all over it, whatever its merits or otherwise (I’m certainly unconvinced it’s the right one and would have gone for Leach). I think we should be careful not to take our frustrations out on Dawson whatever gripes we may have with Flower, he’s not asking to get picked nor saying he’s the best spinner in the land.


    • dlpthomas Nov 30, 2016 / 12:42 pm

      I’ve never seen Dawson play so I don’t want to bag the guy out but are England starting to go back to the policy of picking “bits and pieces” that was so successful in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s?


  12. rpoultz Nov 30, 2016 / 12:58 pm

    Dawson is just another pick in a long line of recent selections that are selected due to the fact they might be able to bail out the team with either bat or ball on occasion. Due to the inconsistencies of the whole team over a long period we have to select players such as Dawson to cover a multitude of flaws.


    • Sean B Nov 30, 2016 / 1:57 pm

      Yeah but it’s Liam bloody Dawson. Is that seriously the best the selectors can come up with? Do any of them actually watch County Cricket or is Andy Flower now simply ‘Selector in Chief?’

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rpoultz Nov 30, 2016 / 3:55 pm

        I am in total agreement with you. He is a flower guy through and through. The thing is you think does bayliss even care who turns up?? He must have seen the ECB history, realises he will get the blame ultimately and is probably waiting for a pay off if sacked or enjoying it while it lasts

        Liked by 1 person

      • BoredInAustria Nov 30, 2016 / 4:18 pm

        With a straight face:

        “You only have to look at what’s happened to Ben Duckett over the last few months to see what can happen if you do well with the Lions. We are only one step away.”

        Published 26 November 2016


      • SimonH Nov 30, 2016 / 5:27 pm

        Dawson’s one of those players who always seemed to make runs when I went to watch Hampshire. I went hoping to see James Vince and ended up watching Liam Dawson (which also happened in the late ’70s when I hoped to see Trevor Jesty and David Turner would invariably top-score). I saw this one:

        I haven’t seen him in the last two years but he used to be vulnerable to short stuff – not in the sense of being hit but he used to try to hook off the front foot and get caught. I’ve seen him bowl some good containing one-day spells but he hardly bowled in the f/c matches I saw. The one thing about him that is international class is his catching at second slip – but I’d give it a 1% chance if he’s picked that they’ll field him there (the three certainties of life – death, taxes and the debutant under the lid. He’ll probably drop a catch after I’ve said what a good fielder he is).

        He’s a good county cricketer but I’ve never seen anything more. I don’t think he’ll play unless one of the last two pitches is a rank bunsen (most predictions think they won’t be although one has been relaid so nobody quite knows). Whether Jennings should play is perhaps more interesting. Not only a LHB (Ashwin averages 19 against LHBs and 31 against RHBs) but a career average of 35 and plays at a ground not exactly renowned for spin….


      • Ian Nov 30, 2016 / 6:03 pm

        He has barely fielded at slip the last two seasons. He broke a finger and has stayed out the cordon to protect it for bowling.


  13. Mark Nov 30, 2016 / 1:32 pm

    Very little has been mentioned about Cooks over cautious approach in the first test match. England got themselves into a position where they could try and make something happen on the final day. The pitch was not that bad for Englands batting, and with more difficult venues to come in the series surely they needed to take advantage of any possibility? Instead, Cook dallied along at 2 an over for the morning session and then into the afternoon. I’m not saying they would definitely have won the test match, but they made no effort to take any risk at all. Instead we got the usual guff about……. ” not losing the first test and going behind.” Well, they’re two down now so it was a good chance wasted.

    I don’t really see what difference it makes if we lose 5-0 or 4-0 or even 3-0. It would be nice to see this side (which does have ability) be more attacking and adventurous. Try and make something happen. It’s a sad indictment if TINA is still in force. Surely someone in the team could have a go at leading. Some new ideas?

    It seems all the 3 main fast bowlers have got issues. Broad missed this test, Woakes the last, and Anderson was flown out at the last minute with questions over his fitness. Add to that what has happened to Wood, and Englands scheldule looks very questionable. Gawd knows what is going to happen to Stokes in the future. And he is expected to go out and make hundreds. Who would want to be a fast bowler for England these days? Particularly in your 30s.


    • BoredInAustria Nov 30, 2016 / 4:13 pm

      … but they have data now: “…Thanks to the Catapult data, we have a comprehensive picture now of combined workload and training and we are establishing that joined-up picture for the best England bowlers, whether they are on contract or on the international pathway.”


  14. Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) Nov 30, 2016 / 4:36 pm

    The selection of Dawson is of such extreme ridiculousness that I don’t even know where to start in discussing it.


  15. RufusSG Nov 30, 2016 / 7:13 pm

    On less controversial matters, I think the selection of Keaton Jennings in replacement for the injured Hameed is a very good, and well deserved, choice indeed. Doesn’t say a lot about their faith in Duckett considering he was opening four games ago (although I think he’ll be back in the future, if he can rectify that flaw there’s a perfectly good batsman in there somewhere).


    • Sean B Nov 30, 2016 / 7:23 pm

      It will be interesting if Jennings does get a game and then scores big. What does that mean for Cook with HH a near shoo in when fit? I guess desperately holding onto the captaincy so he can’t be dropped…


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 30, 2016 / 7:55 pm

        Back from being offline all day and this gem is on my time line.

        ICC stitch ups weren’t investigated by highly paid cricket correspondents in hock to the ECB were they? Spare me the tears.

        Feel for Tim Abraham. But really, he always appeared a luxury. Sky are not having it all their own way and more heads will roll.

        Liked by 4 people

      • nonoxcol Nov 30, 2016 / 8:38 pm

        I for one am gutted by the absence of verbatim regurgitation of Giles Clarke, calling people fruitflies and pests, ultimatums that weren’t, excellent appointments that certainly weren’t, cases that go way beyond dossiers, innuendo revealing nothing, indifference to DOAG, valid questions dismissed as impertinence, 43s worth 100s and unreserved approbation for posh men who call foreign born ex colleagues cunts.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Deep Purple Fred Nov 30, 2016 / 10:12 pm

        Selvey approaching Trumpian levels of lack of self awareness and hypocrisy with this comment. “Quality journalism”? The cricketing correspondent for Englands leading broadsheet, who ignored the big three heist, and provided cover for the ECB when they papered over the 0-5 Ashes debacle, has the gall to talk about quality journalism? Sometimes I’m envious of people with such lack of shame, their life must be simpler.

        I’m sure if cricket was suffering the same abuse problems that are emerging in football, Selvey would be on the case, legend that he is at digging and revealing, despite any embarrassment to the establishment. Thank god he’s retired.

        Good to see Bull keeping up the hard hitting journalism though. Just as the wheels are about to fall off Englands tour to India, he asks the tough questions that need to be asked…could Fidel Castro have played cricket?

        I guess in about 50 years time, in his dotage, he’ll be writing about the strange case of Alistair Cook.

        Liked by 3 people

      • SimonH Dec 1, 2016 / 10:34 am

        Selvey seems to have a real thing about “celeb ghosted columns”. It’s at least the third time he’s Tweeted about them recently.

        They aren’t exactly a major feature of either the Guardian or UK cricket coverage. How many UK papers have them for cricket? Two? The DM has Broad and the DT has a couple. Pietersen has one at the DT – funny how I read a better analysis there of England’s ODI team than I would ever read from Selvey or one of the hacks. I don’t really care if Pietersen typed it himself or someone else wrote his ideas up into nice sentences.

        The big issues are the declining visibility of cricket and the preference for blogs (and other sources) over MSM coverage. Selvey doesn’t want to think about either of them and you don’t exactly have to be Dr Freud to see why.

        Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Dec 1, 2016 / 7:17 am

      Slightly more controversial: Let’s make players of Durham unselectable, courtesy of the ECB approved destruction of competitive cricket there (the bail out conditions), and the quality of spinners they will be facing in the second division. You’re holding back talented youth, if they never get to play good opposition in red ball cricket. The kind of problem highlighted by the struggles of Duckett.

      If Jennings does not establish himself in the next two Tests, he needs to get out of Durham as soon as possible.


  16. thebogfather Nov 30, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    LCL – Those ‘good journalism’ senseless celibacy SellEcb ghosted columns by his Lordship obviously non-applicable… Oh Selfry, just imagine if you’d had the balls to be investigative rather than submissive and dismissive, you could have been the G front page latest rage… instead you leave us still waiting for the’ money-making blog’… 🙂


  17. SimonH Nov 30, 2016 / 8:13 pm

    Few points of interest from new Switch Hit:

    1) Ian Bell rates Dawson and would’ve had him as one of the three tour spinners.
    2) Broad looks like he’ll be fit for the 4th Test.
    3) Moeen Ali was deliberately given very short spells because they’ve seen some data that he takes wickets at the start of a spell (!).
    4) Dobell said it was the first time he’d seen England look at the opposition and conclude they were simply better than them since Adelaide ’13/14. UAE?
    5) He didn’t really develop the point much but Dobell sounded like he’s rapidly falling out of love with Bayliss.


    • oreston Nov 30, 2016 / 8:30 pm

      So the laptop says that Moeen takes more wickets earlier in a spell, but how to get him to take MORE wickets? Simples! Give him more spells to take wickets early in and fit them in by making them shorter!

      Jeez… If that’s a true reflection of Bayliss’s level of insight then they might just as well have retained Peter Moores.


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 30, 2016 / 9:14 pm

          You are Charles Hughes and I claim my £5.

          Remember his training programme when I was a youngster. FACTS. Football Association Coaching Tactics and Skills. Made football boring.


  18. Deep Purple Fred Nov 30, 2016 / 10:20 pm

    Hey Quebecer, I see you lot are about to select a former South African cricketer to represent England. Again. Fancy that. Gotta love empire hey?


    • quebecer Dec 1, 2016 / 12:48 am

      Yes. Yes, one does.


    • quebecer Dec 1, 2016 / 1:03 am

      I dunno, Fred. I’m actually very down about what’s happening right now, how we’ve ballsed up this tour, and this latest round of non-acceptance of that and continuing with our policy of failing to give ourselves the best chance to win (or be our most competitive).

      Jennings? He’s got an English Mum, has done his four years of qualification, so, well, it’s his right to be selected.

      There’s way bigger fish to fry right now for us, unfortunately, and I’m pretty deeply depressed about it. Jennings? Yes, I take your point and it’s fairly made. It just comes about 12th on my list of things to think about. This does, however, give you your best shot at me agreeing with you.


      • Deep Purple Fred Dec 1, 2016 / 11:23 am

        Yes, bigger fish to fry, but to be honest I’m just catching up with events and none of them provided me the same opportunity to have another poke at you.

        You do seem to be getting yourselves into a mess don’t you? Nothing wrong with losing in India to a pretty decent Indian team, (and winning last time doesn’t mean you should this time), but it’s a question of how you lose.

        Selection confusion can often just be a result of not having any stand out candidates. Although I’m wondering why it took so long to select Hameed, given he seems to be so exceptional. Didn’t anyone notice? Ponting was selected very young, because everyone just knew, same with Tendulkar. I’m not putting him in that category just yet, but he does seem pretty comfortable for a young kid. And he can score 68 runs with a broken finger.

        This is providing a preview of life without Anderson and Broad too.

        The good thing about crashing and burning, as Australia has just done, is that it forces an renewal. Now we’ve got three new young batsmen to check out. I know England hasn’t always done the renewal thing very well, and Darth Flower still seems to be lurking, but change might be forced upon the team if the next two games go badly enough.

        Don’t be depressed, only two more games and it will all be over. Won’t be long before you’re down to have a pop at a very young Australia, might be more fun. As long as you pick the right guys to come down. How about four tall fast bowlers (all unselectable), a spinner with a dodgy elbow, a #3 on the edge of burnout…


  19. Deep Purple Fred Nov 30, 2016 / 10:35 pm

    Interesting to see the contrast between England and Pakistan in respect to attacking cricket. PAK had a bad result yesterday, having lost 9 wickets in the final session to lose the match, and so the series 0-2. How pathetic, right? But reading the background and the comments from the key players, the reason they lost is that those magnificent bastards were actually contemplating chasing down 367 on the final day to win the test match! They let the required rate get up to 6 before they decided it was time to make their move! Their only regret was that their tactic didn’t quite work out, not at all that they put the match at risk by trying to win.

    Pakistan are just insane, no one else in their right mind would contemplate that. They may have lost the match, and well done to NZ for doing what needed to be done, but the attitude is utterly inspiring, and they didn’t lose any respect.

    They tour Australia next. It may well be a competition to see who can collapse the quickest, but it could also produce some exciting test cricket.


    • quebecer Dec 1, 2016 / 12:50 am

      I watched some of that, and until the last session, the thing was, it was on! The Kiwis were genuinely worried. Pakistan batted brilliantly. Then hopelessly. It was a heckuva game. And as you say, respect.


      • nonoxcol Dec 2, 2016 / 8:23 pm


        Re the wctt smackdown. It was a bit like watching this:


    • "IronBalls" McGinty Dec 1, 2016 / 5:15 pm

      Yes, the ECB edifice could be slowly starting to be unpicked by the media.
      Cook’s memoirs could be a belter and blow the lid on the lot of em should the final coup de grace be unceremoniously delivered by some empty suit at the ECB?
      I live in hope!


      • Mark Dec 1, 2016 / 5:42 pm

        I can’t see Cook writing a tell all book to be honest , because it will not reflect well on him.

        As to Flower…I’m shocked, SHOCKED!


      • oreston Dec 1, 2016 / 6:29 pm

        Unfortunately, anything he wrote would probably be imbued with a sense of entitlement that would make KP look like Mother Theresa.

        Still, he might have in him a very slim volume on The Art Of Craptaincy…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Dec 2, 2016 / 12:02 am

        Cook’s previous book (an autobiography published when he was about 24) is probably the dullest thing I’ve ever read. The ghost writer must have sunk deep into depression just trying to link one lifeless account of an innings to another. Don’t expect any exciting revelations from that quarter.


      • Tuffers86 Dec 2, 2016 / 7:10 am

        The ghost writer was our friend Chris “laughing” Stocks!


  20. thebogfather Dec 1, 2016 / 6:07 pm

    Sheep will still graze
    Nail-biting, unfazed
    At stump shattering daisy cutters
    A weed still, as Flower, silently nattering, utters
    His readiness to give a Glaswegian kiss
    To that Australian outsider, Bayliss
    And, Comma, his comments recede
    Thus the Lions ‘King’ will re-succeed
    Still bowling dry amid a powder-keg of lies
    Oh dear, I fear regression, no Cookie confessions…’sighs’


    • oreston Dec 1, 2016 / 6:31 pm

      You, Sir, are our very own resident Nostradamus 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. MM Dec 1, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    I’m looking forward to Flower picking up the reins once more when Bayliss goes the way of all coaches. Because then I can dislike Flower all over again.


  22. SimonH Dec 1, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    Joe Root been pushed out the door to shore up the captain…..

    See Ali Martin and Lawrence Booth.

    Curiously, both have the same stat – that if England lose the next two Tests it will equal the highest number of losses in a year (eight – achieved twice in the 1980s and in 1993).


    • d'Arthez Dec 2, 2016 / 10:58 am

      England will have played more Tests in 2016 than in those years. But as far as I can determine, in all those previous record years, England changed captains (eg. Stewart captained in the one-off against Sri Lanka in 1993).

      In fact, 6 losses for any particular England captain in a year is the record for England (overall record is 9, held by Khaled Mahmud). Cook has two entries with 6 losses (along with Gower twice, MacLaren, Atherton, Hussain, Flintoff, and Strauss). So another not so stellar performance, and Cook can claim another record.

      Also also having the highest run aggregate in lost Tests in 2015 for England (only Lara has scored more runs in lost Tests in a calendar year, in 2003). Also with a minimum of three lost Tests in a calendar year, the highest average in lost causes for an England captain 641 runs at 53.41 in 2015, strange enough with just one ton).

      Curiously, no England captain has made more than 1 ton in lost Tests in a calendar year. The overall record is 3 (shared by Lara (2003) and Mathews (2015)). A mention should go to Virat Kohli, who has made 2 tons in just one lost Test in 2014 (the Adelaide Test).

      Anyway, that is it for me playing with Statsguru.


  23. Miami Dad's Six Dec 1, 2016 / 11:05 pm

    One of the big statistical notables about the next Test is that it gives Captain Cook the chance to equal another important record-the most losses by an England Test captain. Of course, Atherton had no central contracts, his teammates were rubbish, and he played in an era where the weakest sides in international cricket could still boast the likes of Heath Streak and, ahem, Andy Flower…

    Incidentally I was googling something else irrelevant (ish) the other day and came across this analysis of the England set up. I cannot believe how cricket journalism has regressed. If someone wrote a piece fisking an ECB statement like that now they’d be sent to work in a salt mine. (4a) Indian skipper to be in Welsh labour camp? (7)

    Liked by 1 person

  24. "IronBalls" McGinty Dec 2, 2016 / 9:54 am

    Questions are being asked in Parliament about the ECB’s conduct in the sordid Durham affair.
    The slow unravelling of that nest of weasels appears to be gathering pace?
    God, I hope they can stick it to ’em!!


  25. SimonH Dec 2, 2016 / 10:53 am

    The Guardian thread under the Ali Martin article about Cook’s captaincy is one for the ages…..


    • SimonH Dec 2, 2016 / 1:05 pm

      Possible change of captain BTL bingo:

      1) Captain doesn’t make any difference.
      2) Players aren’t good enough.
      3) Root doesn’t seem to want it (WTF is he supposed to say? Even P*****man called BS on that one).
      4) Root is too young.
      5) Best batsmen in teams don’t make best captains (where has this idea come from?)
      6) Admits change is necessary – but then wants Anderson or Broad.
      7) Admits change is necessary – but then wants someone not, or hardly in, the team.
      8) Never going to win this series.
      9) Done very well just to be competitive.
      10) Inexperienced team.
      11) Impossible job
      12) Jam tomorrow.

      (I’m not saying there isn’t an inkling of truth in some of these, obviously).


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 2, 2016 / 1:21 pm

        Wctt v Quebecer and Northern Light caught my eye. So much I could say but you know. ….


  26. SimonH Dec 2, 2016 / 11:03 am

    “Pope questions God’s methods” would be slightly less surprising:

    Although I am wondering what sorts of questions Pringle is asking (is Chef just too handsome? does his alpha maleness intimidate his teammates? etc)


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 2, 2016 / 11:40 am

        Thinking of breaking up the Adelaide stuff with the first 2017 Dmitri, or the poll result for the press. Day 3 will still follow.


      • Mark Dec 2, 2016 / 1:35 pm

        Stocks…”Cook still the right man to lead us……”

        Who is us? And where exactly is he leading US? …..Over a cliff?

        Root says ……..”I think he is pretty set on captaining for a few years to come.” See, that is exactly what is wrong with England. It shouldn’t be up to Cook.

        Aren’t they a touch embarrassed having that “ECB National Newspaper of the year” heading?


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 2, 2016 / 1:05 pm

      He lays into him. Has Cook not been paying sufficient homage?


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 2, 2016 / 6:40 pm

      Interesting from Dobell when the press are focusing on Cook. There’s something afoot. We’ve been here too long to think there isn’t.

      On your splitting of the roles? I think it might happen. One thing I don’t get a feel for is the Farbrace / Bayliss dynamic.

      Post going up later on Cook.


      • SimonH Dec 2, 2016 / 6:49 pm

        I’m not necessarily against the idea – as long as it isn’t a Trojan Horse for the return of You-Know-Who.


      • amit garg Dec 7, 2016 / 10:20 am

        Well, this is going to be some story going forward. I can’t remember GD’s views around Flower back when KP issue was going strong. I know he was reporting on stuff but i can’t remember any opinion pieces like this one on Bayliss. Any threads to old articles?


      • SimonH Dec 7, 2016 / 12:32 pm

        The absence of any articles even slightly critical of Andy Flower was one of the wonders of English journalism.


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