India vs England: Fourth Test, day four

One of the tricks of politics – spin as we call it – is to predict complete catastrophe and then talk up the subsequent normal disaster as being a positive result, better than expected, and evidence that the cause is making progress. A succession of party spin doctors are wheeled out to say the leader is having the desired effect, because they never expected to win anyway, and thus they are very satisfied.

Of course, this is invariably in complete contradiction of everything visible, and the interviewer usually points that out, but it’s a game, a routine to be followed, and at least normally they’ve been clever enough to have set out the predicted calamity in advance. The one group of people thoroughly ignored are all those watching, who roll their eyes at such a transparent fabrication but then they aren’t important anyway, it’s merely a routine to be followed and wilful defiance of the bleeding obvious and living in a fantasy world is considered an entirely normal response in that bizarre world.

Naturally, any statements to the contrary previously are ignored in the hope that anyone watching is so stupid they won’t even realise. This tends not to work.

Now, all of this plays out with the media being the ones making it clear on behalf of the public that this is pure nonsense, but just imagine for a moment that instead, they were to raise the very point of expected flop to the lying bastard…sorry politician offering them a free get out and a nice excuse for failure. And then doing it again. And again. Each time it happens.

England were not expected to win this series, in fact not even the most ardent cheerleaders who usually come up with preposterous predictions of certain victory suggested that. But there’s the realism about what England could have been expected to achieve, and then there’s Agnew claiming England have done well not to lose this winter 7-0. This includes the tour of Bangladesh remember, the team who have never before beaten anyone other than Zimbabwe and the West Indies fourth team.

Now that first series was great, and credit to Bangladesh for how they played. But to attempt to paint the 1-1 draw as being an England triumph is spin doctoring of a level that the West Wing writers would have rejected as unrealistic. Likewise, as this series unfolded England apparently only lost the second Test because they lost the toss, and with a little luck they would bat first in the third and all would be well. And then they did. And got hammered.  Oh and the fourth. And they’re getting hammered.

But then after three matches India really weren’t all that good and England were quite capable of winning and getting back in the series. Which with a fair wind was just about possible, and a reasonable supposition. Except that now it was never possible in the first place and who could ever have suggested such a thing?

Let’s get something clear here, India is a very difficult place to tour, and they’ve not lost at home since England beat them four years ago. So losing this tour is not in itself the problem, for most observers would have thought that was the most likely outcome all along.

But would the England side of four years ago have done better? Almost certainly. They had better spinners, and they had better batsmen. That’s not a lament to a lost side, for time moves on, but it is a recognition that those who said India are good but not unbeatable were right. But to win England would have to play exceptionally well, be led exceptionally well and had their key players perform superbly.

That hasn’t happened.

C’est la vie, for this too is the nature of sport. There’s little point getting too down on an England side who have been outplayed at the key moments in all the matches bar the first one. But it has been remarkable to see an entirely new replacement for the Kubler-Ross model involving some of the fifth estate blaming absolutely everyone possible for wrong reasons at the wrong time. Except one.

Again, to simply point the finger at the captain would be equally wrong, for this is a complex set of circumstances and he has been having a progressively more difficult time of it on the field. But, and this is the constant frustration with his coverage, the endless attempts to excuse the golden boy while lashing out at others is shameful. The cricket press have been supine and by turns spiteful over the last four years. It’s by no means all of them, and of those that do, they seem to be as on the long goodbye as much as Cook now is.  But it remains a grotesque sight, and one that must cause frustration for the more rational objective journalists. They end up guilty by association.

The nub of it is that cricket tragics are well aware that this is a tough tour, they are equally aware that India have better spin bowlers, for the only time they didn’t in recent years was four years ago. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the game also knows that Virat Kohli is a damn fine player, and that he’s anything but alone in that team.

Furthermore, in all team sports the wheels can come off, and on a long tour small margins can become gaping chasms. England really haven’t been completely adrift in this series, they have competed and they have had moments where the opportunity to do something was there. But ultimately the margins of defeat have been large, and they are getting larger. The prospects for the fifth Test are, well let’s just say unpropitious.

But the blame game has another angle to it, the notable whispers about Cook departing as captain. There is an irony that he is now victim of a whispering campaign in the press, for those who objected in the past to the ECB methodology also object now; he may have been a beneficiary in the past, what goes around may come around, but it’s still leaking, and it’s still underhand, and it’s still wrong. Which means that while Cook doesn’t directly get blamed for anything – for that would be to undermine the previous line that he is an outstanding leader who cuddles little lambs – there is an almost pitying theme running through the narrative that he now doesn’t know where to turn when things go wrong.

As if this has only just been noticed.

This morning was an omnishambles, seam bowlers utterly innocuous – and the silence about the way India’s seamers have utterly outbowled England’s is another notable refusal to face the truth – a captain bereft of ideas, catches dropped and a sense of resignation right across the field. Naturally, this is turned into a complaint that the spinners (who suffered from dropped catches, idiotic reviews that subsequently cost wickets and the usual unhelpful field settings) aren’t doing their jobs. As if them not being as good as their counterparts is a major shock.

Adil Rashid in particular continues to be criticised, despite being far and away England’s most successful bowler on the tour. One of a limited number of positive points. It’s not that he can’t do better, it’s that the desire to bully a player in print exceeds the obligation to be objective. It is not the first time it’s happened, and it isn’t going to be the last. The only shock is that it hasn’t happened to Ben Stokes yet.

With such a huge deficit, this match was only going to go one way, and as it turned out England batted reasonably well second time around. When one side is being ground into the dust, it invariably appears the sides are playing on different pitches. And there’s no doubt at all this is now a difficult surface on which to bat, no matter how easy India made it look against a beaten England team. Taken in isolation the approach was a good one, to take some risks, to score some runs and to be positive with footwork and in defence. Root batted well but yet again failed to go on to a really big score, while Bairstow once more did his impression of Horatio on the bridge.

None of it matters. England are gone in this series, and while raging against the dying of the light is meritorious in itself, it doesn’t change anything except to indicate that there are players in this team with the degree of relish for the fight that will serve them well in future years.

A realistic assessment of where they are doesn’t mean focusing on fripperies like Bruce Oxenford making a couple of errors, nor suggesting a game is lost because the current whipping boy dropped a catch and thus the match. It’s an excuse and a pathetic one at that, an attempt to avoid considering the bigger picture, lest the sight of tusks and a trunk be spotted by all and sundry.

Barring the kind of miracle that would genuinely be rather special, India will win the series tomorrow. And they deserve it, for they are a good team, and a very good one at home. There’s no shame in losing to them, there’s not even shame in not playing well. But there is in doing everything possible to avoid facing the facts. The irony is that it may not be the England team on this tour who should be feeling it.

Day Five Comments below


136 thoughts on “India vs England: Fourth Test, day four

  1. LordCanisLupus Dec 11, 2016 / 12:41 pm

    I wish I had written this. I don’t say this lightly, because it comes over as self-serving, but this is excellent.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. nonoxcol Dec 11, 2016 / 12:58 pm

    *stands up, cheers, applauds, throws flowers, etc*

    Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel Dec 11, 2016 / 7:20 pm

      George Gunn wasn’t in the original touring party . He was in Australia to rest and recover from suspected TB . He top scored in the first Test and this match . He might not have passed the bleep test.


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 11, 2016 / 7:24 pm

        A bit like Gus Fraser playing grade cricket, and soon as McCague dropped out, lawks a mercy, there he was to come in to the team.

        Or is my memory playing tricks?


  3. Mark Dec 11, 2016 / 2:09 pm

    This is exactly the kind of writing I come on here to read. And I can’t get in the MSM. Shame. And talking about the MSM brings us to the idiotic Agnew. Isn’t it about time he followed Selvey out of the door? He could go and spend more time with his new love, Equestrian pursuits. 7-0 I ask you?

    The question is why do the media continue this nonsense! We all know they picked Cook over KP. That was their choice, and they had a right to do it. But time has moved on, and they are still fighting that battle. They resemeble those Japanese soldiers who came out of the jungle 25 years after the war had ended. So why do they carry it on?

    Either there are so many fringe benefits to being stenographers for the ECB. Nice hospitality, some free tickets for the Brother in law. (Keeps the wife off their backs) Or they just can’t face the fact that we were right all along. And rather than admitting that truth they would prefer to double down again and again like some crazed gambler in the casino as he loses his savings, his house, and his car. They would rather piss away their reputation than admit we were better judges then themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Dec 11, 2016 / 4:41 pm

      To be fair, Agnew’s 7-0 was just an opening gambit in a conversation with Vaughan. Shiny Toy gave it short shrift and managed not to splutter in disbelief.


  4. SimonH Dec 11, 2016 / 3:50 pm

    Mutiny on the Berry-boat!

    “[Cook] could do nothing about the inadequacy of his two main spinners, but his captaincy failed to make the most of his resources”.

    At last, some MSM analysis! Hang on though, what exactly has he got wrong?

    “As one of the two selectors on tour, with Trevor Bayliss, Cook picked four seamers – but he is allowed to read a pitch wrong occasionally as it is such an imprecise science”.

    Yes, he is allowed to read the pitch wrongly sometimes – but it’s not like it’s the first time and it’s not like this pitch doesn’t have a well-known track-record. (It’s good to have it confirmed that only captain/coach select the team – when was the old touring panel of three/four scrapped? So Root as v/c doesn’t have any formal say at all?).

    So what was it then? “it made no sense to given the [seamers] the first new ball for only seven overs, and the second for 4.4, when there was some swing to be had, and also some decent bounce”. Not by England’s seamers there wasn’t. ” Jayant Yadav was most troubled when Chris Woakes hit him on the helmet. Root was most troubled, not by Ravis Ashwin and Jadeja, but when Umesh Yadav hit him on the gloves”. Woakes has hit a few helmets this tour – but it doesn’t get people out. And what Yadav could do isn’t very relevant. “Ben Stokes may have been injured, bowling only 10 overs, but giving Woakes six of the first 129 overs was not maximisation of resources”. What injury to Stokes? But it comes down to…. Cook under-bowled Woakes.

    There’s another one when England batted. “A miracle was more likely to stem from being flexible and promoting Jos Buttler to number four – to counterattack with Root – than to make Moeen Ali pad up after bowling 53 overs”. Jeez, what is it about Buttler? It’s a nonsense he’s going to come in at No.8 and there was a case to demote Ali – but promote Buttler to No.4?

    So that’s it – Cook’s mistake were under-bowling Woakes and not promoting Buttler to No.4. FFS.


    • Mark Dec 11, 2016 / 4:01 pm

      Yes Simon, but between the lines he is saying there is no flexibility, and Cook is failing to make the most of his resources. He of course try’s to narrow it down to just Woakes and Butler, but the whole Cook captaincy lacks flexibility, and he has not made the most of the talent he has been given.

      So Cook should be sacked if he won’t walk at the end of this tour. Berry will not go so far, but that is the logical outcome if the captain is neither flexible or keeps pissing away young talent.


      • SimonH Dec 11, 2016 / 5:03 pm

        Yes, I guess even some mention of inflexibility is to be welcomed given what we’ve had served up as analysis for the last couple of years.

        It’s just all the dumb things Cook has presided over in this match, this series, this career that have passed without MSM comment and Berry fixating on those two things that got me.


      • SimonH Dec 11, 2016 / 7:39 pm

        Gluck’s description BTL at the Guardian of Scyld Berry as “kpatel with a syndicated column” is still making me smile two hours after reading it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus Dec 11, 2016 / 7:59 pm

          In an otherwise worthy article from George, this straw man isn’t needed….

          But we’re fooling ourselves if we think that replacing Cook would have led to England winning in India.

          Not really sure any of us are saying that?


    • man in a barrel Dec 11, 2016 / 7:24 pm

      To be honest, I would have sent in Woakes today rather than Moeen. He is a sensible, organised bat and had not bowled 50 overs while being ridiculed by the press


  5. Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) Dec 11, 2016 / 4:45 pm

    Cricket is exquisite torture when a game moves from competitive to one-sided and then to the slow-motion car smash that has been this Test since the last session yesterday. All the failings (and they are in every single compartment of the game) have come together in this Test and it shines a harsh light on the side.

    For all of Cook’s mediocrity as a captain there is a bigger problem I think in that we don’t seem to have the type of coach-captain partnership that has characterised many of our best moments of the past 20 years or so. This may be due to the individuals involved but may also be because they are (or feel they are) part of a larger management structure with Strauss et al. Either way we are not seeing the coherence or purpose that comes from a strongly led side. It doesn’t help of course that English cricket is driving a priority for white ball cricket, whatever they say to the contrary.

    Once the dust settles we may have found ourselves a pair of top order batsmen if Hameed can develop against pace and Jennings doesn’t become the new Frank Hayes, but plenty of other questions remain. With good seamers and depth in batting we will still be competitive in any sort of seam friendly conditions of course. However, it is a bigger problem for Test cricket that too many teams are decent at home and hapless away from it. I wonder if India can buck this trend the way Pakistan have managed to?

    Of some frustration is that we were not expected to do well here, but that was based in large part on the assumption of the series having the same sort of wickets that South Africa and NZ faced. I haven’t seen any explanation of why India seemingly changed strategy but they will maybe take some satisfaction from giving England a theoretical way into the series before ruthlessly snatching it away in some fine style.

    England’s faults? Too numerous to analyse but cover selection, pitch reading, fielding, seam bowling and batting. Only spin bowling and wicket keeping have maybe surpassed expectations but then these expectations were at a low base.

    Overall, I can be relaxed about this series and excited about some of the talent available to England. I worry though about whether we will waste this talent and I am desperately concerned about the strategic direction of the game in this country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Dec 11, 2016 / 5:11 pm

      There does seem to be a top heavy managememt structure with Strauss seeming to have a more hands on approach to team issues. He has veto on certain players even being selected. (Cough cough) and I believe he wants to change the selectors. Add in the dark shadow of Flower in an as yet defined role. (Officialy he has no role in the test team….cough cough) We have a coach who appears to be limited in what power he has, and a captain who seems to bypass all of the above, and go straight to the media to get his way.

      I maintain we don’t make the most of what we have. Management by leak and character assassination is not a great way to encourage confidence and reduce fragilty of mind.


      • Rohan Dec 11, 2016 / 5:20 pm

        Mark spot on “I maintain we don’t make the most of what we have.” So simple and so true. Different captain and we would…..


      • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) Dec 11, 2016 / 9:23 pm

        Bigger and more remote management structure = less trust. Hussain/Fletcher (to take an example) may have been tough but I suspect the players knew they had their backs. On your other point, I think our all-round depth is used as a bail-out rather than as a tactical advantage (if that makes sense).


  6. Cricketjon Dec 11, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    If you are going to pick four seamers then use them. I heard Boycott yesterday after 120 overs of the “old ball” discussing with Agnew, “take a calculated risk ! That’s what being captain is all about “. Agnew then says “ah but they might get smashed around with a new ball” Boycs ” well why did he pick em?”

    In Mumbai, honestly. Mohali, Bangalore, maybe but not likely. But Mumbai?


    • Mark Dec 11, 2016 / 5:25 pm

      If they smash the new ball around, it won’t stay new for very long Mr Agnew. After 120 overs a calculated risk is better than nothing.


  7. nonoxcol Dec 11, 2016 / 5:01 pm

    If I find myself feeling guilty about no longer supporting England, I can always read Anderson’s remarks about Kohli today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus Dec 11, 2016 / 5:18 pm

      Not seen them. I suppose I better find out what they were….


      • SimonH Dec 11, 2016 / 5:21 pm

        “I am not sure if he (Kohli) has changed. I just think any technical deficiencies he has got are not in play out here. The wickets just take that out of the equation. There is not that pace in the wicket to get the nicks, like we did against him in England – with a bit more movement”.
        “When that (pace and movement) is not there, he (Kohli) is very much suited to playing in these conditions. He is a very good player of spin – and if you are not bang on the money and don’t take your chances, he will punish you,”

        Liked by 1 person

      • fred Dec 11, 2016 / 5:42 pm

        He’s just witnessed one of the best innings of the year, and that’s his response?
        He’s just an unpleasant prick, there’s no other way to say it.
        It’s why I get a little annoyed sometimes when people point the finger at Australia, as if they have a monopoly on pricks.

        Liked by 3 people

      • nonoxcol Dec 11, 2016 / 5:54 pm

        It’s the self-awareness that truly boggles the mind. His quotient must be in the negative based on those comments.

        Liked by 1 person

      • fred Dec 11, 2016 / 6:19 pm

        “The wickets just take that out of the equation. There is not that pace in the wicket to get the nicks, like we did against him in England – with a bit more movement”.

        Hey Jimmy, does the WACA have that pace in the wicket to get nicks? You remember the WACA don’t you? Remember George Bailey?

        Maybe if you can’t get the nicks bowling at the fifth stump, you could try actually knocking the stumps over.

        A certain lack of self awareness might be a prerequisite for elites, they just can’t afford to contemplate the fact thet they’ve been bettered, that’s what’s helped make them elite. But a lack of perspctive and lack of graciousness is not a prerequisite. Ponting is a useful contrast to illustrate the point. He could be a bit rabid on the field, but he always gave credit where it was due.

        “Like we did against him in England” – tosser.

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol Dec 11, 2016 / 7:13 pm

        Anderson’s record in 2016 – excluding those favourable home conditions at Leeds and Durham in May if that’s the way he wants to play it – is as follows:

        Matches 10
        Wickets 23
        Runs 834
        Average 36.26
        Overs 329.3 (1977 balls)
        Strike rate 85.96 (sic)

        His away record is 11 wickets for 515 runs in 5 matches plus the current one.
        Average 46.82
        Strike rate 107.64 (yes, really)

        But obviously it helps if he actually bowls, apparently.


      • Rohan Dec 11, 2016 / 7:34 pm

        Wow great stats there for Anderson, those strike rates are atrocious! Why do our MSM rarely, if ever, use SR when discussing bowlers. I can’t remember anyone on Sky using SR. I think Benaud use to talk about them a lot on commentary and perhaps Boycott. They tell you much more than average and wickets taken….


      • SimonH Dec 11, 2016 / 7:53 pm

        I’m looking forward to hearing as much about those comments during the inevitable drubbing in Chennai as we heard about “mediocre” in 2015….

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Dec 11, 2016 / 8:02 pm

          Not that bothered about a player giving a truthful response. If that’s what he thinks, fine.

          But again, he’s another who has been Mills and Booned by the press – see the rapidity in sides taken over the Jadeja spat at Trent Bridge – and hence the understandable ire this sort of thing brings.


    • oreston Dec 11, 2016 / 6:09 pm

      I don’t know. I think perhaps the circumstances make it seem a little ungracious and make Anderson come over as a bad loser, but he’s an experienced bowler giving his informed assessment of a batsman’s technique and performance in different playing environments. It’s not impossible that there’s some truth in it. I suppose we’ll know by whether or not Kohli’s record away from the subcontinent now improves.


      • oreston Dec 11, 2016 / 6:14 pm

        Oh, and for the avoidance of doubt I am fully aware of Anderson’s tendency to be a Class A prick on occasion, and of just how good Kohli’s innings was.


      • fred Dec 11, 2016 / 6:30 pm

        “Anderson took a similarly unflattering view of India’s spinners. While R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have 39 wickets between them in the series, Anderson said: “I’m not sure they’re too difficult to handle.”

        And is this an informed assessment, given the results so far?

        Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH Dec 11, 2016 / 6:40 pm

        Oreston, Kohli averages 70+ in NZ, 60+ in Australia and SA and 39 in SL – so it isn’t his record away from the subcontinent that is in question but his record in England.


      • oreston Dec 11, 2016 / 9:05 pm

        Fred, I didn’t say anything about Anderson’s remarks re. the Indian spinners so don’t play to the gallery and quote me out of context. For what it’s worth, no of course they weren’t reasonable comments. (It’s not like Jimmy’s got any “history” with any of those bowlers, right?)

        SimonH, fair enough – the stats don’t lie. I hadn’t realised Kohli had been quite so prolific abroad in the last couple of years.


      • fred Dec 12, 2016 / 6:36 pm

        sorry I didn’t mean to quote you out of context, but I guess I did. I wasn’t intending to play to any gallery either. My comment was a bit short so the context was lost, what I meant to say was that, going beyond what has been said, here’s something else that he said and it certainly isn’t an informed opinion, regardless of how you interpret his previous comment. If I’d taken the time to write that properly I wouldn’t have annoyed you.


    • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 2:29 am

      Most players have a difference in their home/away statistics. Kohli is no different. In his case, the difference has also been noticeable.

      However, Kohli of 2016 is as different from Kohli in 2014 as chalk and cheese.
      Kohli’s resurgence as a test match batsman has only begun after taking over as the captain. Responsibility has got the best out of him right from his first series as skipper in Australia. in fact, he has scored as many runs as a skipper in 20 games as he did in 30+ games before. The batting average that had dipped to below 40 after the England series in 2014, has steadily gone up and is above 50 now. Yes, he’s scored some good runs this year and a lot of them have come at home but his game has also improved dramatically. He is a more complete batsman, more in control of his game now than a few years ago when he was still finding his feet in test match cricket. His fitness is a big factor, determination in the long format is another.

      As some have pointed out, there’s a similar noticeable difference between Jimmy’s records in England vs. his record in a few countries. He has been a heavyweight in England, where he plays a bulk of games but extremely poor in some countries. No 5 wicket hauls in India, Australia and UAE just expose his own limitations in some conditions. There’s a massive difference in his strike rates in England and in Australia or India which doesn’t take away anything from his overall record. One could’ve expected him to be a bit more gracious today.

      If Jimmy thinks he is bowling to the same batsman, then he is either a fool or not a smart thinker of the game.
      Sour grapes may be?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Rohan Dec 11, 2016 / 5:17 pm

    TLG – “But to win England would have to play exceptionally well, be led exceptionally well and had their key players perform superbly.”

    The above ^^ from TLG is spot on, however, I have to disagree when you later say that you can’t just blame the captain. I can and I do. Because ultimately all of this can be traced back to ‘the difficult winter’ and the decisions that captain lamb cuddler played a huge (perhaps most critical) part in. From the team making these decisions he is the only one left and I believe it has stayed with him and affected him ever since. Allied to this, as you so rightly state, there are players up for the fight and with the right leadership they could have played exceptionally well and matched India. Cook should have gone 3 years ago, he didn’t, he must go soon…….to watch such an insipid performance from England is not what I want to see. Away with him.


  9. fred Dec 11, 2016 / 5:37 pm

    With all the other stuff around this it’s odd no one has mentioned Anderson. He was the guy who had a bad first half of a career, but then apparently learnt, and became more skilled. If you couldn’t accept that he was the best bowler in the world, then he was the most skillful. Those who claimed he was a green home track bully were told he had other tricks. Lots of other baggage around him too, I won’t rehash that here, but generally he’s a foundation stone for England. Why has no one noticed that he’s been pretty much absent in this Indian tour?

    Why did his old mate Cook not call on him more in his hour of desperation? It seems odd.

    Liked by 2 people

    • fred Dec 11, 2016 / 5:45 pm

      Just read the comment above regarding his reaction to the Kholi innings.
      We’ve had one retirement this year which has given great relief to many people, not too late for a second.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. metatone Dec 11, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    I said it in reply to Zeph, but Rashid’s figures for the series suggest that if any of the more senior bowlers had come to the party we’d have been competitive. The fact they didn’t suggests to me we need to be pointing the finger at them…


    • Rohan Dec 11, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      Broad being injured has not helped. Out of all the senior bowlers he has the best record over the past few years and bowls the best in these type of conditions. Broad on song and Rashid’s wickets then yes, this series could well have been different.


  11. Mark Dec 11, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    Watching the verdict is depressing. Apparently India are “invincible” according to Bob Willis in their home conditions. While I agree they are good at home, are they really Invincible? All the talk is about the second innings. Poor old England players must have been very tired going in to bat second innings.

    This test match was lost in the first innings. They won the toss and batted first on a good pitch, but they failed to put 550 on the board. Too many people gave their wickets away. No guarantee India would not have matched them, but it would at least secure the draw.

    I wish the media could make up there minds. One minute we are the greatest, with a great captain of steely core, and the best cricketer to ever play for England. Then, next minute, when it’s convenient, losing 4-0 is not a problem. Which is it?

    As I write Bob Willis has pointed out we won 3 tosses so far on this tour. But overall it looks like protect Cook at all cost is back on. Sigh. England need new leadership, and if they don’t change captain after this tour then Cook will lead against SA and if he loses that series they are bound to give him the Ashes because it would mean blooding a new captain for the Aussie tour.


    • SimonH Dec 11, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      It was worth watching for Mark Butcher’s analysis of Cook’s batting against Jadeja.

      The rest, meh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan Dec 11, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      Now Key saying on the verdict that Joe Root’s knock is as good as you will see. There all waxing lyrical about it. Hmmmm didn’t Kohli get a double hundred earlier in the day, yet suddenly 77 is amazing. Yes it was very good, but really someone of Root’s ability should have turned it into a century. I am sure, however, that Root is all to aware of that even if the verdict is happy with 77. Just to throw in as well 186 last time we played at Mumbai, just saying, that’s all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Escort Dec 11, 2016 / 9:31 pm

        In those conditions against that attack I would say it was a very good effort. I’ve heard more praise for a very scratchy 95 against India😉


      • Rohan Dec 11, 2016 / 10:31 pm

        Escort, I agree a very good effort, against a rather good attack, but as good a knock as you will see?


    • Ian Dec 11, 2016 / 9:20 pm

      Normally SA in England sees a change of captain. If he does carry on what price SA claiming another England captaincy?


      • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) Dec 11, 2016 / 9:26 pm

        Ha, if I were them I would select Graeme Smith. Not to play him, just so he can stare at the England skipper 🙂


      • Rohan Dec 11, 2016 / 10:33 pm

        Or get he who must not be named to text his SA mates how to get Cook out…

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Miami Dad's Six Dec 12, 2016 / 3:39 am

    I personally don’t think this India side are that great. They certainly ought not be as comfortable as they are, and it is a reflection on quite how far England have fallen since the last time they toured. Of course, it all stems from the Flower legacy, and the inability to get the most out of the overall talent pool;

    – The best spin bowler in the country at this point should be Monty Panesar, and it is a telling indictment that he has been allowed to drift away from cricket to the point that I don’t even know if he has a county any more.

    – The best bet for match winning middle order runs in India should still be Kevin Pietersen. Somehow it seems to have been forgotten, whilst we’ve been drawing series we should have won and getting thumped where we ought to have competed, when we’ve been pissing around with Gary Ballance, Vince, Duckett et al, that the reason why we have such a gaping hole in the middle of the team is a petty personality clash – the likes of which you will see across every workplace in the world.

    – Cook. I actually feel bad for him now, he’s so laughably out of his depth.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. quebecer Dec 12, 2016 / 4:33 am

    If this isn’t the best article anywhere written on the day’s play, I’d appreciate someone pointing to what is.

    Excellent work. Thank you.

    Lordy, this site helps with one’s sanity.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Rooto Dec 12, 2016 / 4:35 am



    • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 6:42 am

      England have had collapses before… Australia though, seem to be specializing it them these days.


  15. amit Dec 12, 2016 / 4:54 am

    Game over in a jiffy. Didn’t take long. That Ashwin, not a good bowler. Is he?


  16. BoredInAustria Dec 12, 2016 / 5:24 am

    Alastair Cook on Cricinfo

    “I thought 400 was a pretty good score on that wicket. Keaton played really well, at 230 for 2 maybe should have got 450. Historically, 400 is a good score on this ground.

    In the second innings we had our chances. We aren’t taking those chances at the moment. Virat played an extraordinary innings but we had a chance on 60-odd to get him. Those are things that the game changes on. We are in it for three days but not good enough to stay in it. We haven’t been good enough to match India.

    We wanted to see what four seamers would look like because on the tour they have given us control and our two best spinners have been Mo and Rash. When you batted first you didn’t need that extra seamer, so that was a mistake. We had a chance to restrict the lead. We would have been in the game. But that isn’t really good enough. To me, we batted better in this game than the previous two.

    I go back to the chances we missed, we could have bowled India out for 400. Virat is in incredible form, having one of the series you dream of. Clearly one of the great batsmen of our generation.”


    • metatone Dec 12, 2016 / 7:52 am

      What? We didn’t need control after winning the toss? India’s 1st innings total says different. Reality is our seamers weren’t up to the job.


      • metatone Dec 12, 2016 / 7:52 am

        (And yes I know arguing with Cook is pointless.)


      • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 8:23 am

        So England’s game plan is never to drop a catch?

        When one of the England comms tried this line on TV, one of the Indian comms (think it was Manjrekar) just started listing all their dropped catches.


  17. amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 5:57 am

    Just looked up some numbers for Ashwin. What a tremendous run he seems to be having.

    1. He is already among top 5 list of people with most 10 wicket hauls in a game. Murali has an incredible 22 while Steyn has 5.

    2. He has 24 5 wicket hauls in just 43 games – already closing in to top 10 of all times in that list. To put it in perspective, Jimmy has 21 such hauls in over 120 games and is number 20 on that list.

    3. Of people who’ve taken 150 wickets or more in test cricket, his strike rate places him in top 10 of all time with a sub 50 strike rate. Dale Steyn is top of that list with 41. With a strike rate of over 57, Jimmy comes in at about 35, below Barnes, Truman, Willis, Broad, Botham. Even Hoggard had a better strike rate at 56.

    4. In terms of averages, Ashwin takes his wickets at just over 24 – which is quite incredible. He makes the top 25 of that list headed by the freak Syd Barnes (unbelievable at just over 16). Broad and Jimmy are both outside the top 50. Even the wild thing Mitch J makes it ahead of these 2.

    These numbers are of a serious operator. Say what you will of his home vs away record, but if he continues in this manner, he will be breaking a lot more records.


  18. nonoxcol Dec 12, 2016 / 6:08 am

    Gutsy effort today then. Verbals from Jimmy. And Cook making specific mention of someone else’s dropped catch, but not the brain-dead management of bowlers and reviews.

    Must have been magnificent in the dressing room again.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Rpoultz Dec 12, 2016 / 6:42 am

    Again it was very poor in the sky studio this morning. The ‘what can we do, India are too good in these conditions’ line has worn very thin recently. If this is the case then why did we even go on this tour?? Could have had December off and given India a 3-0 win. As Ian Ward pointed out they have had the resources and opportunities to play against spin. These are professional sportsman who need to start being made accountable for their performances which are not in the comfort of England.

    Also Gower again leading the cook cheerleading. Still ‘improving’ as captain is again trotted out right on queue. He without a doubt will be getting his shot at another redemption in Australia next winter. Drew level with atherton as the captain with most test losses which was glossed over. Sure, if he does break the record wins, this will be lauded to the heavens

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Dec 12, 2016 / 7:10 am

      Also glossed over, losingest captain in any calendar year for England. No other England captain lost more than 6 in a year. In some of those disastrous years where England lost more than 6 Tests, the captaincy changed hands.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rpoultz Dec 12, 2016 / 7:42 am

        He is absolute Teflon.

        I knew the media would be bad this series if England did badly to cover up certain ‘favourites’ but it just gets worse. I think when India won the second test by 260 odd runs everyone in the OC list lauded it as a great effort and that England only lost because of the toss we should have known what was coming.

        Now the ‘no guarantee of change’ and ‘just let root bat’ noises are being made in many quarters. Okay, lets just carry on the way we are until we can guarantee success as that is how it works….

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Dec 12, 2016 / 7:50 am

      Improving? Literally: fuck off.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. d'Arthez Dec 12, 2016 / 7:09 am

    I suppose this was also a “noble” effort to keep the Indians as long in the field as possible today.

    If anything, the margins of victory are widening, and England seem increasingly clueless how to bat on proper Indian wickets – these have been the easiest that have been served up in the last 4 years (maybe with the exception of when the West Indies have toured).


  21. Deep Purple fred Dec 12, 2016 / 7:14 am

    Permission to guffaw?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Tom Dec 12, 2016 / 7:25 am

    Damn. I was out this evening but got back home in time to watch the afternoon session. I knew there was a chance it might be over by lunch but at least hoped England would get a small lead and I could watch a few overs.

    Oh well, back to the grindstone…


  23. Tom Dec 12, 2016 / 8:05 am



    Trevor Bayliss on Alastair Cook: “No-one else is considering it. From my point of view, he has the job for as long as he wants it. At the end of the last 12, 18 months we’ve seen improvement on how he captains the team.

    “When the team loses matches the captain takes a lot of the blame, but he’s got broad shoulders.

    “We’ve shown improvement in every Test. If we do that over four or five days, there’s no reason why we can’t win.”


    My first thoughts:

    1) Cook has been a captain for much longer than 18 months, but this is an improvement?

    2) I don’t think it should be Cook’s decision to be captain. I’ve been against this for so long, but it’s time for Root with Bairstow as vice-captain. I have been against Root being captain this early in his career, but having now watched a few tests I think he’ll do alright and I don’t see a better option.

    3) My impression is the exact opposite of Bayliss. I think we’ve become worse as the series progressed, or perhaps he’s talking about other test matches?


    • rpoultz Dec 12, 2016 / 8:12 am

      I had to laugh when I heard Bayliss say those things. If anyone thinks we are a better side or have put in better performances as we have gone on this winter then they are wrong. We drew the first test, and could’ve won it not for some negative captaincy, and then have subsequently been battered in the next 3? Maybe, I don’t understand the word improvement?


    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 8:14 am

      “He has the job for as long as he wants it.”

      Right there, in that one statement is everything that is wrong with English cricket.

      Liked by 2 people

    • THA Dec 12, 2016 / 8:59 am

      In fairness, there’s not a lot else he can say. A post-match interview is not the place to discuss the future of the captaincy and it would have been completely inappropriate to have even opened the door

      Bit like if a chap’s about to leave his wife. Probably best he discuss it with her before announcing it to the public..


      • Tom Dec 12, 2016 / 9:20 am

        I understand what you are saying, but Bayliss could have said something like “we are not considering a change in captaincy”. To effectively say it’s up to the captain as to who’ll be captain troubles me no end.


      • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 9:46 am

        India ” the best ever?”

        The BBC just love to keep pissing away their reputation. Instead, they are reduced to platitudes, endless lists, and constant games of “the best ever…..”

        “Text us, email us, tweet us at hashtag best ever, we really want to hear from you, especially if you are a vacuous moron.”

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol Dec 12, 2016 / 9:51 am

        The best Test team ever?

        I think my head will fall off in a minute. They are not even the best *Indian* team of this century. They might not even be the second best. Honest to God, this shouldn’t even be a matter for debate. It’s completely bloody deranged.


      • d'Arthez Dec 12, 2016 / 10:44 am

        India the “Best ever”? With just two series wins on the road (in Sri Lanka and West Indies), 1 drawn series (in Bangladesh, albeit just one Test), and lost series in England, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand as their most recent efforts on the road. Very good at home, but they need to get some wins under the belt while on the road to those places.

        It is not like West Indies and Sri Lanka have performed that well at home. I think the two teams have just one won series between them (Sri Lanka blanking Australia at home).

        As for Cook’s arguments with regards to four seamers: if you pick the seamers to exert control, by keeping the scoring down, it really helps if they actually, you know, let them have a bowl, to actually have a chance to exert control.


      • d'Arthez Dec 12, 2016 / 10:49 am

        Oh, and I forgot to mention that Sri Lanka also beat West Indies in Sri Lanka. You know, those great travellers, with a monstrous 2 wins in away Tests to teams other than Zimbabwe and Bangladesh since 2001.


      • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 12:51 pm

        The “best ever” seems to have gotten to everyone. Quite unnecessarily I would think.

        Kumble was asked by Manjrekar how he felt being part of this setup, having been a player in the earlier era. Kumble’s response included (something to the effect of) that he didnt really like to compare eras but given the work ethic and skill and fitness and determination but if they did continue in the same vein, they might evolve into the best team in terms of results. Now i understood that to be Best “indian” team but clearly, people have a different perspective.

        With the inclusion of Bhuvi, this team had first class centurians till number 11, so yes they had some depth in batting. We’ve seen Jayant Yadav apply himself and score a century at number 9. We’ve seen Jadeja and Ashwin come good and i can’t remember any indian team of the past that could’ve come close to this. Of course we’ve had better batsmen and better bowlers as individual players in the past but this team as a whole entity in itself, does give you some confidence that it can handle itself in tough situations. So the question to Kumble wasn’t as far fetched in my view in that context but it has certainly been amusing to watch the way it has been played up.


      • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 2:06 pm

        West Indies’ home record in the 1980s:


        About half the draws were substantially rain-affected; the one defeat was to a Pakistan side containing three all-time greats (Imran, Javed, Wasim) and without Viv nor Macca playing.

        West Indies’ away record in the 1980s:


        Six away defeats in the entire decade (consisting of two defeats to GOAT bowlers Lillee and Hadlee, two defeats to new spinners on bunsens, one defeat in Pakistan and one loss in a dead rubber).


    • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 9:10 am

      In the same thread,

      “Alastair Cook on the structure of the England side: “Our seamers have given us great control in this series in general. You watch how India’s spinners bowl sometimes, they bowl defensively and keep the score down. Our seamers can do that.

      “We wanted to try four seamers and two spinners to see how it played to our strengths.This looked a pretty same wicket to the one we played in Mumbai last time, but I think it spun more.”

      Now I did watch a lot of this test match and I can’t remember any Indian bowler that was defensive. Not one of them bowled 4th 5th stump in the hope of keeping the runs down.
      Everyone bowled at the wickets – including the seamers. That’s how Jennings was out LBW.
      The pressure that builds when people can’t defend properly on a turning pitch is bound to be immense.

      So what’s Cook talking about here?

      Liked by 1 person

  24. metatone Dec 12, 2016 / 8:06 am


    – I’m not that fussed about the collapse today, this is what scoreboard pressure looks like – once Bairstow went cheaply, morale would have gone through the floor for Woakes, Rashid. If England were going to save this match, they needed not to lose 6 wickets yesterday. The inevitability of the loss always made a collapse today likely.

    – The performances of the Indian seamers should put a lot of questions over our seam bowlers. Of course some bad shots from our batsmen made the Indian seamers’ figures better, but still from what little I saw, the Indian seamers got more out of the pitch. And if we’re going to bring up Broad’s injury we better be ready to forfeit the wins over South Africa…

    – Key here is that of course the Indian spinners were better, but 90 years out of every 100, that is going to be the case, just because of the climactic differences – they produce spinners in the numbers we produce medium pacers. We have to find ways to compete, bowling strategies to at least make the game hard for the opposition. Kohli will always be special, but the Indian no.9 getting a century should not be something we just accept.


    • metatone Dec 12, 2016 / 8:16 am

      Finally of course, all this has to be filtered through the reality that we didn’t bat well enough. Par in India is just higher than it in England on average and I’m not sure we took that on board.

      There’s hope for the future and one can imagine that if Jennings and Hameed follow through on early promise it could fix a lot of problems as Buttler/Bairstow/Mo/Stokes have all looked at least a place too high in the order at various points. At the same time, knowing all this you wonder if the batting orders picked were thought through properly at all.


  25. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 8:37 am

    England’s seamers: 21 wickets at 45.

    India’s seamers: 16 wickets at 42.


    • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 10:11 am

      This makes the point I was trying to make rather better:

      He’s Tweeted some other mendacious bollocks though.


  26. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 8:46 am

    Bayliss also blamed inexperience.

    Knight’s saying Cook’s captaincy didn’t cost the series. Gower’s saying some people expected 5-0 so 3-0’s an improvement.

    It’s a just a tidal wave of BS. This is the poison legacy of 2013/14 – no honesty in defeat.

    Liked by 3 people

    • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 8:58 am

      Hussain and Atherton have been a bit better – until they get to the captaincy and it’s like a switch has been flicked and the BS starts.

      Atherton said it should be his decision. Hussain said Root might not be a “genius” and there’s no “guarantee” that his form wouldn’t collapse. If those are the standards needed to change captain, England would still be led by W.G.Grace.

      I’d start off with the question, “how could Root be worse”?

      Liked by 1 person

      • rpoultz Dec 12, 2016 / 9:07 am

        Hussain quickly glossed over what’s happened to Kohli with the captaincy though.


    • Rooto Dec 12, 2016 / 9:06 am

      A team that doesn’t want to look closely at itself is a team that doesn’t want to improve. The word that comes to mind (though I’ll need to look it up to check) is ‘sinecure’.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tom Dec 12, 2016 / 9:31 am


        I looked it up. What a wonderful word. Thank you!


    • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 10:08 am

      Takes the management talk to a new level (of BS).
      No one stays still, people are always learning and evolution is a constant process.
      BUT, you can’t hide behind this all your life. The core of the English team has played a lot of games.
      Root has over 50, Bairstow, Stokes, Mo have played over 30 games each. Cook, Jimmy, Broad have all played over 100. After all these games, one shouldn’t have to hide behind inexperience as an excuse.
      Yes, some of them have not played in India and this is a different challenge, but 2 debutants (Jennings, Hameed) got runs. Stokes too hasn’t player here before but has done reasonably well.

      It’s the experienced folks that haven’t always put their hands up in tough situations.
      Cook still maintaining that 400 was sufficient and that the game was lost due to missed opportunities, conveniently deflects blame to others. Bottom line is, he hasn’t been good enough to make it count for the team despite all his experience and reputation. Neither has Root, for all the flamboyance, he hasn’t made tough runs. Seems harsh criticism, but these have all contributed.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 9:31 am

    The media are having to perform intellectual gymnastics to sqaure their two contrasting talking points……

    1 India are too good. Invincible according to Bob Willis. &
    2 England played really well and had losts of chances.

    If number 2 is correct. and England had loads of chances, then India are not fucking invincible. England proved that in the first test match. So stop all the stuff about how unplayable the pitches have been. And stop all this 5-0 was expected. Was 2-2 at home against Pakistan expected? Or 1-1 against Bangladesh? We can all play that game.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Cricketjon Dec 12, 2016 / 9:58 am

    I always enjoy your comments Mark thank you.

    As for the BBC doing the “best team ever ” thing I actually thought it was a push at those that had said England were the best team ever not long ago. Then the reality set in.


    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 12:51 pm



  29. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 10:24 am

    “I will sit down with Straussy at the end of the year like we have made the pact to do to talk honestly and openly about stuff. My position would not have not changed if we had won this game or lost this game”.

    “The pact”?

    Winning or losing the series-deciding Test match “would not have changed” his position? That says it all. They’ll probably say he didn’t mean it to sound like that. How often doesn’t he mean to sound like he does? Never has so much media-training been for so little.

    Try to catch the full Ian Ward post-match interview with Cook – the leading questions to “help” him give the right answer and having to finish off his ideas because he couldn’t are just all over the place (and edited out of the reduced version they’ve mostly been showing). Cook’s attempt to explain why he bowled Root so little are just incomprehensible.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 10:34 am

    Et tu Stocksy?

    Not really – I read this as disappointment Cook has opened even the slight possibility of change and in that praising Root’s readiness he’s spiked the job undermining Root;’s case that Stocks was ready and willing to make.

    And there’s this from Cook (not quoted anywhere else):

    “You make decisions on the spot on what you think is right at the time. As always in these decisions there is hindsight. You guys are the best captains you can ever be sat 150 yards away with cups of tea, biscuits, computers, Twitter, you name it you are the best captains there”.

    Stocks sees that as a “light-hearted dig” – how about petulant and entitled?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 11:11 am

      What is ridiculous about that statement is the guys 150 yards away with the tea and biscuits, and the computers never criticise him at all. According to them….. he is improving.


    • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 12:29 pm

      The Captain has to take ownership of the decisions made on the ground. Any praise or criticism is fair game. That comes with the territory.
      So, when people criticize team selection, just cop it on the chin, because you got the team you wanted.
      When people question why a new ball hasn’t been taken for 40 overs after being due, just cop it because you did get it wrong.
      When people see you under utilizing your bowling resources and criticize, cop it on the chin because you got that wrong too.
      And when people routinely see you waste reviews for mates and their strong opinion and wonder why you never stand up to them, cop it on the chin as you got that wrong as well and probably cost the team a game.

      The sense of entitlement that Cook tends to portray can often grate on nerves but then he probably knows there won’t be a downside for him. Not after the pedestal he’s been put on by ECB. Just imagine the stink if he is forced out and does a “tell it as it really was” in a book (the book is a certainty, even with some portions missing).

      Liked by 2 people

    • thebogfather Dec 12, 2016 / 12:34 pm

      Well, if ever there was confirmation of his ‘me,me, poor me’ self centred attitude then that last tea,biscuits, twitter (how does he know, he’s not on it?) etc quote sends him down to be slaughtered like one of his doe-eyes deer – GO, NOW, you pathetic excuse for a leader – not in hindsight either, and if you ever had any foresight or truly cared about team ECB, you’d have gone after 5-0…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 12:55 pm

        It’s pathetic isn’t it? Shades of Nasser pointing to the number 3 on his back. But then the media really were on his case.

        Those were they days of normal cricket journalism. Cooks good fortune is to captain at a time of no serious media. It’s the age of “best ever.”


  31. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 10:42 am

    Hussain puts the selectors up against the wall and reaches for his machine-gun:

    He mentions the mistaken team selections by Bayliss and Cook at the end – but do they have to go? No, they can stay on if they have “energy” and “passion” apparently. Does he mention Strauss, either as a selector or as selector of the selectors? Of course not.


    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 11:01 am

      I wish he would form a circular firing squad.


    • Julie Dec 12, 2016 / 11:35 am

      He doesn’t mention the flowerpot man either. His fingers are all over the selections.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 12:11 pm

        Comma has also been conspicuously absent both in his person and in any of the discussions about who’s to blame.

        Liked by 1 person

    • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 12:10 pm

      His ratings on the dailymail are an interesting mix. When you see that the lowest he’s given to any player is 5 (cook gets it), I suppose it is hard to really question Hussain’s real feelings. He knows the performance has been absolutely crap but chooses not to write even if he lets it shows in the rating. I wonder if it’s an editorial pressure, or if he just feels sympathy for the position Cook has been put into by the ECB.


      • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 12:59 pm

        Berry’s player ratings contain more egregious Rashid-bashing (“novelty”, twice) and the most absurd special-pleading for Moeen Ali (“develop gradually… contained nicely…. England’s first-choice spinner”).

        Liked by 1 person

      • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 4:01 pm

        Berry’s comments are funny! He does seem to concur on Cook though.


  32. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 10:56 am

    Update on that superb record:


    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 11:07 am

      Yea, we noticed Peter. Not giving a shit is the current default position of team ECB. So you are in good company. You should work for them, oh wait…..

      Liked by 1 person

    • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 12:06 pm

      Unfortunately, numbers don’t quite support the assertion that his record in Asia is superb. 59 wickets in 20 games (including UAE) at 30, striking 67 balls for each wicket is not superlative performance. His sole focus in the region has been to bowl dry and not ruin his figures. He has one 5 wicket haul and gone wicketless 8 times in 37 innings. one wicket hauls in 13 innings.
      How that translates into a superb record is beyond me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan Dec 12, 2016 / 8:06 pm

      “The bottom line is that he probably has not decided himself and it would be wise for him to take his time over the biggest decision of his career rather than rush into it with so long to go before England next play Test cricket.”

      Biggest decision of his career, wrong, that was staying on after 5-0 and choosing to sack KP. Anyway doesn’t Alice make his decisions?

      “It was just a shame that he spoilt a precious moment for his nation with a totally unnecessary show of aggression towards Jimmy Anderson when he came into bat over his innocuous remarks about Virat Kohli.”

      Ah I see, all Ashwin’s fault according to Newman, nothing to do with the great Jimmy. No provocation from Jimmy, of course not.

      “That outburst should lead to disciplinary action for Ashwin but that will depend on whether the International Cricket Council are prepared to stand up to India or turn a blind eye. It was a shabby end to a great performance by India and in particular Ashwin and his triumphant captain Kohli.”

      What you mean like the disciplinary action Jimmy has been subject to every time he behaves like this, like the incident with Jadeja way back. I think I have only ever seen Jimmy swear on the field….

      Just a few snippets, the article starts okayish but then falls apart rapidly!


  33. pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 12, 2016 / 1:12 pm

    Hi guys, I’m sorry that I haven’t had the chance for a detaileld response/musings since I’ve been out in India, but real life, a number of people to catch up with including family and a mate from my cricket club who decided to come out here from my cricket club have meant I’ve been far busier than I might have otherwise been. I also tried posting a detailed piece last night but unfortunately my internet connecion in more rural Maharasthra let me down! Oh well.

    Can I congratulate Leg Glance on a wonderful summing up of the game situation? Such is the way that he’s summed up the game that i am not going to attempt to do much of the same as I would only be repeating what he said and therefore all I will do is shoot from the hip and discuss my experiences. I arrived in Mumbai very early on Thursday morning and luckily the place where some of my family live (my dad was from here) is not too far from the airport. I am a seasoned traveller to these parts so it didn’t take me very long, though I was of course ripped off! Not nearly the first time and it almost certainly won’t be the last. Anyway an early start and I headed down to the game. Although I had tickets sorted for the 5 days for me and my mate, the tickets would not arrive until the afternoon session so there was a lot of mucking about to do. You may have noticed that the ground was far from full on the first day. However that is down to ground mismanagement. There are not enough offices or staff behind desks to accomodate the demand. Very sad really. I will also admit to leaving early due to my intense tiredness. Perhaps 10 years ago I’d have seen it out, but I have my health and sanity so I left about 45 minutes early to have a mid afternoon kip!

    The second day was far more easy to deal with. I headed down on an organised taxi across town and would get in with about 15 minutes gone of play. England had done decently to get up to 400 and the crowd appreciated ‘local boy’ Jos Buttler’s knock. Perhaps they were extra happy for him not to get too many runs because it might have affected India’s chances, but also because uberfurher Strauss might block him from playing for their side in the IPL next year and play in the county championship instead? I jest but you know what I mean! Anyway as you might recall things looked a little too easy for India in reply and I’m starting to think that a score of 650 plus is in the offing and a likely innings defeat (I’m not claiming to be a clairvoyant but they were my pessimistic thoughts at the time!)

    On to the third day and hope sprang eternal after the early dismissal of Pujara. I was perplexed at the use of Moeen for such long spells. The guy toiled manfully but just didn’t pose much of a threat. It is all very well moaning about the lack of threat from the spinners, but the problem is that India have rediscovered how to play them and even a much improved performance on the 3rd day from Rashid didn’t really threaten an Indian implosion although we may wonder about the scale of lead that India might have got should Rashid have held that caught and bowled and Root held that pretty simple slip chance. However I was completely bemused by the lack of use of Woakes as a short sharp shock merchant with a few short deliveries to break up the load of the spinners and Stokes too being the quickest of the reverse swingers. By the end of day 3 they had bowled 8 overs each. All of that spoke of frazzled players and a frazzled captain.

    The 4th day was just painful, it was just too easy and the wheels had fallen off. There was no planning, just going through the motions as it became clear that Kohli, who was showing off his party tricks, and the capable Jayant, were grinding England into the dirt. Finally salvation for England came in the afternoon session when they could get out of the harsh Mumbai sun. However that only meant the trial by spin. Jennings found that test cricket wasn’t quite so easy as the nigh on forgotten man Bhuvaneshwar pinned him to the first ball he faced and then Cook then stupidly tried to review his lbw. It spoke of a man crying out for help like he did after the Sri Lanka debacle at Headingley back in 2014. Root rallied the situation to an extent, as did Bairstow but it was merely window dressing. I wasn’t surprised that the game didn’t last too long into today but I was a bit cheesed off by the lack of fight shown by a few of the lower order. It seemed as though they wanted to get back to the pool of the Taj (I assume that’s where they are staying).

    Anyway I had a bit of a walk around with my cricket club mate before we ended up taking a light lunch at Leopold’s cafe before I caught the ferry back across the bay to where I am now and I’ve just got up after an afternoon snooze.

    I’ve probably said this before and I’ll say again, I’ve given up on having a real go at Cook because the real issues for this tour with the selection and planning go a fair bit above him, from the selectors themselves for picking an unbalanced squad. However, my guns are aimed at two worthy (well for me anyway) targets, in the Lions coach and unofficial selector and his behind the scened hand-picking of some rather dubious choices and his erstwhile protegy now cum manager, the Director (comma) who had the chance to ensure that the back up players had some meaningful games over the last year or so in Asia but didn’t do so. It is off his shoulders that I want to burden this with. England have around 7 or so good players to build around but they are chronically lacking with the rest of the squad for this challenge. Part of this is of course down to the personnel available, but part of this is about ensuring that the right personnel are available and equipped. The Director (comma) was lucky that he had a squad full of highly capable players for much of his tenure with the exception of his failing self and the inability to find a successor to even a worthy but limited Collingwood. It was hardly down to his own tactical briliance. I don’t blame Cook entirely for not being able to deal with a limited hand, especially when his mentors have not helped him here.

    Over and out for now and a couple of days of lounging!

    Liked by 4 people

    • LordCanisLupus Dec 12, 2016 / 2:29 pm

      Thanks pk. Cheers for checking in. Might give this wider exposure later…


  34. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 2:15 pm

    GD coming up on the Geek&Friend podcast…..


    • rpoultz Dec 12, 2016 / 2:51 pm

      I am sure we will have the usual tone of Miller saying he cant believe he gets paid to be a cricket journalist etc and whimsical chats about people on twitter expressing an opinion that is wrong.


      • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 7:23 pm

        Listened to it now – it starts well with a good Paul Downton anecdote but goes downhill rapidly thereafter. The post-WC podcast by the same two, it isn’t (it isn’t even close – that was the one where GD revealed that the ECB press office leaked untrue stories about their own players. This one has things like how much Tom Harrison “gets it”).

        GD seems to have fallen into the misapprehension that those (like me) who go on about Cook’s captaincy think that’s all that’s wrong with the England team – or English cricket generally. FTR, of course it isn’t – there are problems in most areas and some problems are more medium- and long-term than changing the captain. I, and I think most people, “get” that.

        GD also says most captains are quite conservative at the moment. Kohli has been accused of the opposite and he’s led his team to No.1 – so I guess he’s thinking of Misbah and the departure of McCullum and Clarke. But really it isn’t that anyone’s saying Cook has to go because he isn’t as funky as Funkadelic. It’s that he should go because he can’t post a gully to Ravi Ashwin in Visag or not bowl Rashid for 28 consecutive overs when he has a six-man attack. It’s the absolute bleedin’ basics that he still can’t do after 50 Tests.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rpoultz Dec 13, 2016 / 7:54 am

        I also have tried to listen to the Podcast and it is very bad. I really enjoyed Miller’s early podcasts as they were before he became a more prominent cricket writer. The ones now are self-indulgent and rarely get beyond him gushing about how good someone is or how much people annoy him on twitter.

        GD almost commended England for losing 3 tests and I think, as I believe I turned off at this bit, he said that Englands batting line up has come together??? I really enjoy GD’s writing but this comment was nonsensical at best.


      • SimonH Dec 13, 2016 / 9:54 am

        Rpoultz, agreed – both on those podcasts generally and on this one in particular.

        GD hits the nail on the head when he said that maybe writing the Trott book has made him too mindful of the players and their sensitivities. GD at least has the self-awareness to see that in himself and his concerns make him an admirable person in many ways – but they are also getting in the way of him doing his job. (I don’t like writing that – but I’m afraid a journalist probably has to be a bit of a bastard sometimes).

        Really, there is some nonsense that he spouts that if it were Selvey or Newman we’d be all over it. People who call “Jimmy” a “green-track bully” are “buffoons”? It’s the classic overstated straw-man argument and then he based his counter-argument on two tours (out of 17 he’s been on) from about five years ago and UAE which, as we keep arguing, does not stack up when you look at it closely. No-one’s arguing he’s not a very good bowler – it’s the repeated use of “superb” or GOAT that’s being got at. Don’t get me started on his claim that this tour “wasn’t England’s priority”….

        GD’s position has a fundamental contradiction at its core – he keeps saying this group of players are “so talented” (with that slightly hushed voice he uses sometimes) and then he says that nobody expected them to win on this tour (presumably even a match?). Which is it? It can’t be both. If a group of players have talent levels that are so impressive, they can go on the hardest tours and challenge the best teams away – that’s what defines top talent!

        Liked by 1 person

      • rpoultz Dec 13, 2016 / 12:01 pm

        I am with you on this one. GD is not the same style of writer he was 2/3 years ago when the whole Ashes debacle unfolded. This is not to necessarily say he isn’t a good writer but the tone and nature of his work has changed enormously. This, for me at least, has everything to do with him touring with and interacting more with the players. I can’t say that I would be totally objective in his shoes if I were doing the same job but as you say this is getting in the way of him doing his job.

        We have given him a bit of a free pass due to his sterling work over the years but more and more little comments and articles are becoming more ‘ECB-centric’ if I can use that term. At the moment it’s the continual line that well it’s not cook’s fault for this, that and the other. However, he has missed the point slightly is what cook can control is how he captains and how he bats. He is doing both poorly at the moment which cannot, well shouldn’t, be ignored. I was also annoyed at his suggestion that because there isn’t a BMac or Michael Clarke captaining today and other captains are not as funky or charismatic as them then it is okay that Cook isn’t. Is that what it has come to?? We keep Cook because other sides don’t have funky captains too?? Forgive me but I look at that as where we can gain an edge over sides and have a tactically good captain and someone who can get the best from the players…but that is just me.

        I think it was mentioned in this or an earlier article that the press are having it both ways on this tour. That England have missed lots of chances and that India are invincible at home….well which is it? This group of players are talented but England keep pulling selections out of their arse, tinkering with batting order, playing injured players and dropping ones who do not deserve to be. Are they being given the best chance to be the best that they can be? I would argue no in this current regime of Strauss, Cook and Flower, with Bayliss as the coach.


  35. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 2:25 pm

    “Congrats”? He means that most sincerely, folks….

    “Face high quality spin”? They’ve beaten Herath and Lyon – are they not high quality? SA drew several series in India on the performance of their seamers and batsmen.

    “Flatten pitches”? These were flat pitches.

    “Take a chance”? Anyone have any idea what that means…. anyone… ?

    The opposition play to their strengths and pick four seamers….. hang on, where’s that gone…. ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • amit garg Dec 12, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      What he means, is play home games in England. tosser.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 4:42 pm

      He really is a horrible man.

      As you say, the pitches were fine to bat on. Especially if you won the toss and batted first. Which England did. There is always this undercurrent of snarling distsainn for all oppositions from people like him. I don’t believe his congratulations. There is always a million caveats.

      Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel Dec 12, 2016 / 8:15 pm

        To be fair, after a promising debut on a seaming pitch at Old Trafford, Selvey found it very hard to get the ball to move in India, before Gower and Co recognised his lack of threat on a flat wicket. His pace was probably mid 70s mph with an outie that went from the hand… Collingwood on steroids, and yet he opened the bowling for Middlesex, until Wayne Daniel arrived. Then this wonderful, omniscient, cosmopolitan genius moved to… I am going to say Glamorgan. Can’t be arsed to look it up.


    • nonoxcol Dec 13, 2016 / 8:18 am

      Replace ‘spin’ with ‘seam’, and ‘take a chance’ with ‘have a useless captain who allows Angelo Mathews to get a big century while bowling at a number nine for hours on end’, and replace one other word. Could that one other word begin with a capital I……?

      The lack of self-awareness of some English people never ceases to appal me. I think we’re world leaders.


  36. man in a barrel Dec 12, 2016 / 8:20 pm

    Wondering if Selvey’s Test figures match up to Anderson genius’s figures this series. If so, I’m sure Mike would relish the comparison

    Liked by 1 person

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