1st Test Intro – England v India: “Some Writers I Know Are Damn Devils”

England v India

Two of cricket’s “Big Three” meet in a five test series played over six weeks to determine who holds the Pataudi Trophy.

This is what the pinnacle of the game should look like. World Ranked number 1, against the sleeping giant waiting to give the top team a bloody nose. A contest in the offing.

There are many sub-plots to the ensuing drama, tempting, tantalising, invigorating and fascinating.

  • How will Virat Kohli cope after the failure in the tests of 2014 when one could be forgiven for thinking that he was out of his depth?
  • How will the old stagers of Anderson and Broad cope with the furious pace of this series with tests coming on top of each other with little chance of recuperation?
  • How will England’s batting cope with the Indian spin bowling, and seam too, after years of low output?
  • How will India’s batting cope with alien conditions, but potentially less alien given the summer we’ve had?

It should be great. Not only for the ECB coffers, for which this is a bumper year with the Indian TV money, but for the fans. They should be lapping it up.

But yet again there is a hollow feeling. A feeling that it might not just be the players going through the motions at the end of this series. A feeling that test cricket, shunted, like the county championship, to the end of the summer (and May), is going through the motions. And as I’ve said many times on this blog, a sense I am going through the motions too. There is only so much anger left to give. This series might epitomise all that is great in test cricket, but we’ve been let down before. This series might garner huge support for the game, but this is the ECB we are talking about, and while they say test cricket is the pinnacle and the long-form fans are their lifeblood, this doesn’t look like it to me. It’s August before this starts.

In their critique of the US emergency services, Public Enemy could well have been talking of the upper echelons of the England and Wales Cricket Board in this part of 911 is a Joke (which, believe it or not, was once covered by Duran Duran);

They don’t care cause they stay paid anyway
They treat you like an ace they can’t be betrayed


Well, the morgue truck, to quote the same song, is getting ready to “embalm the goner” if the stories emanating from the ticket sales outside London are to be believed. It appears as though the English cricket public is not exactly enthused with the test match upcoming and is voting with its feet. It may be prices, it may be an England team that appears in the doldrums, it may be the customer experience isn’t what they want, it may be the barmy scheduling, but there appears to be a serious issue if the world’s best test team, and a home team with a decent chance of beating them, can’t draw in the crowds. Remember when appointment to view was an important concept, you know with certainty of start dates? Good luck Edgbaston, with Days 4 and 5 at the weekend. Good luck all. Edgbaston on Wednesday, Lord’s on Thursday, Trent Bridge on Saturday, Southampton on Thursday, The Oval on Friday. These are your Day 1s. The Oval starts when the kids are back at school, which is terrific (I know it is not unprecedented). It’s little wonder the cricket fan is confused. We know who this schedule caters for, and it isn’t the punter at the gate.

But then, how can I exhort the punter to turn up and keep test cricket alive and so on, when I’ve not been myself. Well, after six years away from the Oval Test, which I attended every year for 15 years, many for multiple days (but not Day 5 in 2005), I am due to be attending the first day of the game, weather permitting, on 7 September. Any BOC’ers there that day, please let me know. This is a decision I’ve made because I’ve just not had the chance to see much cricket this year, and I need to stock up on my photo pool! That I’ve not gone has been due to the lack of comfort at The Oval, the exorbitant prices for food and drink, the increase in test prices (and restrictions on how many can be bought) and that instead of enjoyment, it became an ordeal. The ECB and the hosting grounds would do well to pay attention. Sure, you’ll sell out the Ashes if you held it in a car park, but you are seeing what happens with the other teams. Even India.

But that’s enough of that. You’ll probably get more when I can be bothered with my India series memories.

(Please note that piece was written before the team was announced. The perils of being a blogger writ large)

Focusing on tomorrow and the rest of the summer, this series is, as many are, key for a number of reasons. India do not look like a team that needs the endorsement of others to keep it’s inner assurance, and even a defeat here in England will not shake that. There’s a swagger they have which is in many ways something we should aspire to. There’s too much being the “nice guy” which the English media and many who watch want us to be while still winning.  To me this most manifested itself in the disparaging of the 2013 Ashes performance. Australia, if genuine, are going to find it tough balancing these two objectives.

The swagger, for want of a better word (confidence?), is embodied by Virat Kohli, their captain, but others have it too – Ashwin, Rahane, Dhawan, Rahul, Vijay and even Ishant. This is a really good team playing, possibly, in really alien circumstances. Pitted against English seam they will soon prove if they are the 1986 model, that came here in early summer and tore us apart, or the 2011 model, that disintegrated once the first test was concluded (Rahul Dravid magnificently excepted). The most recent series in England promised much after India’s sensational Lord’s win, but petered out in exhaustion and possibly lack of commitment. India are driven so hard internationally, that it really can’t be reasonable to expect them to have unbridled enthusiasm and unlimited energy for every series. This is what is holding test cricket back. Fresh teams bring fresh cricket. But it’s pile ’em high for boards around the world and damn the quality. The mug punters will still pay.

Back to the contest itself. From England’s standpoint it’s the batting. The bowling will have its question marks, of course, but it’s the batting that worries me. Starting with the captain. Joe Root is now in the land of needing to score centuries, and big centuries, to ward off the critics. We’ve been waiting quite a while, but then you look at Cricinfo and it was the first test of last summer’s series when he made 190. It was two years ago he made 254. There was a 136 in the West Indies series in 2017. Prior to that he made a 124 in India. He’s making a century in nearly every series, just going a couple without one over the winter, and never going more than three innings without making a 50, dating back to the end of the Pakistan series in 2016 and the start of the Bangladesh one that Autumn. Root knows and the pressure is on. But should it be?

England welcome back Ben Stokes for this test match having missed the Pakistan series, but, of course, he’s not going to be around next week for other reasons. Stokes is a key component in this team and will be welcomed back for cricketing needs, but his role also matters in that he will influence both ends of the card in terms of team make-up. Could he be the trusted third seamer to allow England to play two spinners, or do we need to add another seam bowler, possibly at the expense of a batsman.

Keaton Jennings, after the magic beans of the last test where all the pundits sagely nodded to confirm that his technical difficulties were a thing of the past, is the second opener, aka, The Hot Seat. Jennings has good memories of India, where he made a hundred on debut replacing Hameed, but has done precious little since. Another run of failures, and a few more scores for Burns if he gets a chance to play any cricket, might ramp up the pressure some more. I wish him well, if only so that Rory gets to lead Surrey to the championship!

Dawid Malan is the subject of whispers, as he’s not had a prolific summer. It would seem harsh to jettison him but I can’t help get the feeling is that he’s not quite up to it. I’d love to be proved wrong, because Perth didn’t appear a fluke, but there’s the cloud over him. Another century would be welcome.

Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler give the team exciting potential. It’s nice to have some buzz. Buttler was the star of the first series this summer, but he still has a lot to prove in the test game. Bairstow is about as near a thing there is to being a nailed on selection.

Which brings me to Alastair Cook. Now I have to admit, the reaction to anything this guy does now is one of the reasons I have gone off blogging. Cook is the sort of individual player that attracts a reaction far beyond what he manages on the field. Cook should be opening the batting for England until he’s not the best opener there. Be it through bad form, or two others make a compelling case to leave him out, a la KP and Bell forcing out Thorpe. Anything I say on Cook now that isn’t part of the party line is jumped on. There is the Anti-Cook blog nonsense, the failure to recognise that 244 in a less than live rubber isn’t anywhere near the achievement of a 235* in the first test of the series, the back to his best when he isn’t. Cook needs to have a series where he makes more than one century, and the rest aren’t below 40. Cook and Root have a similar hundred problem, remember the former going the best part of two years without one, but Root strings scores together. Cook is still England’s number one opening bat. But me saying that will never be good enough because of how I reacted after Kevin Pietersen. Because I pointed out how long he was going without scores. That he wasn’t back to his best. That he wasn’t a terrific captain. It’s wearing on the soul, but I’m not going to back down.

I have no real comments on the bowling. Anderson and Broad are permanent fixtures until they either get injured or retire, and a third seamer in the absence of Woakes until he’s fit (certainly in England) has hardly put their hand up. Sam Curran might play, but I think it’s too soon. Jamie Porter might play, but isn’t he just another fast-medium home team bowler? If the wickets do something, or we revert to a proper English summer again, then all might be dandy. That’s to be seen.

So what do I want from the five tests? A really competitive series would be great. If this was 2-2 going into the Oval it would be brilliant. India can win overseas against teams stacking pitches in their favour, and Kohli seems right up for this one. Pujara has to have a decent series, and he’s in horrendous form. Dhawan might be too flaky for tests, while it would be great to see what Rahul can do. Then there is my main man, Mr 303, MTTTT (more test triples than Tendulkar), Karun Nair waiting in the wings. Love to see him get a game. The Indian bowlers need to stay fit and bowl well, something they haven’t done on the previous two tours for the duration. Then again, England’s rickety batting may keep India in all the games, and if it comes down to a battle on good surfaces, I think India are well in it. Last time we met at Edgbaston in a test, England posted 700, Sehwag got a king pair, and Pringle criticised Cook for being too slow in his 294, even though we won with a day to spare. We’ve moved on, but we haven’t.

England v India – Symbolised by The Wall

Comments on Day 1 and the test preview below but for some fun, perhaps you’d like to respond to a few questions below in the comments to get your views. I’m not saying “Have Your Say” because I hate that.

  1. Who wins the series, what score (and why)?
  2. How many hundreds for Virat Kohli?
  3. How many hundreds for Joe Root?
  4. Key player for each team
  5. How many total centuries for England over the five tests?

Finally, Adil Rashid. He may not even play. I have been utterly appalled by the treatment of Rashid this last week. As I see it Ed Smith took the leap, asked Rashid if he wanted to play test matches, Adil said yes and Smith picked him. The county cricket impacts are on Smith, not Rashid. The moaning about Yorkshire is on Smith, not Rashid. The whingeing about stabbing county cricket in the heart are about Ed Smith, not Adil Rashid. You could have fucking fooled me.

The one thing that gets me with our media and pundits is that they never learn. The one thing that riles me is that they bully players, they have their favourites (not many pieces calling for Cook to be sacked, were there, yet Cook believes the media is against him), yet this is following yet another line. Look at who has been sorted out recently – Nick Compton for one. Kevin Pietersen polarised opinion but the media had made up their mind. Now Rashid, who has been in the cross-hairs for two years at least. This has been turned from Rashid picked by a selection committee to play for England when perhaps they shouldn’t have to Adil being a mouthy, mercenary, not all that cricketer who needs to shut up and know his place. By people in houses made very much of glass. I don’t absolve those now who latch on to the Fitzwilliam Foghorn’s piece and say that’s not what THEY mean. Leave off. It’s precisely what you mean, and you know it. Ed Smith has gone out of his way for Adil Rashid. Not good enough to do that, not respectful enough, speaks out when mouth on legs have a go at him, and worst of all, disrespects Yorkshire. It seems strange for Adil to be the hill that Ed Smith dies on, so let’s pick on Adil for a change. 

And he might not even play. (STOP PRESS – HE IS. AS THE ONLY SPINNER)

Comments below.


71 thoughts on “1st Test Intro – England v India: “Some Writers I Know Are Damn Devils”

  1. Miami Dad's 6 Jul 31, 2018 / 1:52 pm

    Both teams are flaky once things go against them.

    1. I really can’t pick it. England are flaky as hell. So are India, or at least they usually are away from home. 3-2 England. I can’t see any draws unless serious rain falls at some point, no one seems able to bat out a final day any more since DRS/T20 etc.

    2. 2 tons for Virat. Good player, pumped up for it, should be a good batting pitch or two somewhere in the 5 Tests.

    3. 2. See above. Good player.

    4. 5. There’ll be a Test where we have 3 in an innings, then the returns will be nothing more than ok after that..!


  2. quebecer Jul 31, 2018 / 1:52 pm

    Looking forward to the series very much, obviously, and have no idea what the score will be. I can see it going in lots of different directions. There are way too many variables in terms of player availability and the state of the pitches. Similarly, Virat could get four tons or none. It’s a real Schrödinger of a series, this one.

    Joe, I recon, will get two. With the confidence of runs in the limited overs stuff, he’s too good not to. I must admit though, I’m still not feeling too great about some of the technical things that have crept in to his game. His head falls over a lot to off these days, and he kind of ‘cheats’ a bit when playing to leg (deliveries on off/middles and off), which KP or Trott could get away with because they’re technique was so solid on the leg side. Root falls over a bit when he does it so has been getting caught LBW too often. He’s also gone from still at the crease, to more dynamic, to busy, but then crossed over in to jumpy. If he just drives straight a bit more and calms down a bit in general remembering he can bat for two days if he wants, then he’ll do well.

    Most important players? England’s third seamer(s), and Indias’s top 3.

    No way I’m jinxing England with the how many tons question.


  3. man in a barrel Jul 31, 2018 / 2:36 pm

    Rashid as the only spinner, presumably on the basis of bowling Kohli in an ODI. Was nobody watching the series in India 2 winters ago? Unless someone is taking wickets by the hatfull, you don’t go in with one spinner who goes at >4 per over, do you ?


    • Mark Jul 31, 2018 / 3:06 pm

      To be fair he got 23 wickets in that series. Leading wicket taker. Can you name a better option?

      Mason Crane had taken precisely zero wickets for England when he was picked for the Ashes. On the grounds that Shane Warne saw him bowling in Aus once in a blue moon.

      Before all this stuff with Yorkshire, and no red ball cricket we were told by St Selvey that his “card has been marked.” That is all you need to know. That is the real back story. All this guff about principle is hot air. They had no problem bringing back Josh Butler just three months ago, in fact Ed Smith was carried shoulder high for his selection.

      Can you imagine if Rashid had declined the offer to play for England? Heads would have exploded in the media peanut gallery. Still, by all accounts they have been soaking the pitch for days so it will probably be a green seamer. It is forecast to get hot again by the weekend, but England tend to like seaming three day wickets.

      What the pundits should be more angry about is how bare the cupboard is for a good spinner. Perhaps they could address that issue. But that means attacking the ECB for the way they have marginalised county cricket. No freebies available if you do that.


  4. Sri.grins Jul 31, 2018 / 3:06 pm

    1)India to win 5-0. Why? Because i am optimistic and indua are due a good series away every thirty years. 😀
    2) virat to get two
    3) joe to get 1
    4)umesh Yadav for india st lesst 50 wickets .Jimmy for England will be the leading wicket taker
    5) three centuries for england
    6) six centuries for India at least

    Q should be happy 😉


    • quebecer Jul 31, 2018 / 3:14 pm

      Yes, I particularly like 50 wickets for Yadav. That’s on a par with some of my ‘optimism’ when England were down under.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. thebogfather Jul 31, 2018 / 3:47 pm

    Hey, who we may be outside of ECB moneyed monkeys are the fools those left bereft that do care?
    It’s only us, the MSM cussed Test Cricket curmudgeons who truly heartfelt are buried and bared
    Naked as OUR game is stripped of any reality
    So FAKE… there is no continuity nor parirty


  6. metatone Jul 31, 2018 / 3:58 pm

    1) I can’t pick a winner, b/c I think it hinges on the fitness of Bumrah and Kumar (both currently injured) – I think at the moment India’s bowling lineup looks a little thin, esp. given the pace of the series. If they both are unlucky with recovery, India will just run out of bowling and lose the way teams always do in Test cricket when they run out of bowling.

    2) 3 centuries for Kohli I think. The weather forecast seems to favour batting over swing bowling overall, so I think he’ll be able to find his feet and perform well.

    3) 1 for Joe, in the first game. He usually manages one before the sheer weariness of putting up with Broad and Anderson bowling for their averages grinds him down.

    4) Key players for India? Vijay – they need some good starts, else despite Kohli’s form, it’ll be firefighting all the way. And.. assuming pitches are dry, Ashwin – if England can get on top of him (and he has the “away form” monkey on his back) then India can struggle.

    Key players for England? Cook – for similar reasons to Vijay. Rashid and Curran, b/c looking at the weather I can’t see Broad/Anderson being able to take enough wickets without backup.

    5) Total centuries for England? Again, if the weather holds (i.e. batting weather) I’d say 6. Cook, Root, Stokes, Bairstow (2) and Buttler.


    • metatone Jul 31, 2018 / 3:59 pm

      I should emphasise again, this is me pulling stuff out of thin air, I simply haven’t seen enough of the teams to really tell, wasn’t able to see much of the ODI series.


    • d'Arthez Jul 31, 2018 / 5:26 pm

      Ashwin has terrible away figures. Outside of Asia, he has two five wicket hauls in the West Indies (and outside of India, 1 in Bangladesh, 3 in Sri Lanka, with best figures of 10/160 in the latter). Mind you he has only bowled in 25 innings outside of Asia, and another 2 and 12 in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka respectively. So we’re not looking at a huge number of innings for Ashwin here.

      The only away series in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England he completed (playing all the games) was the 2011/2012 tour of Australia. Mostly because he was the second best batsman then. So if Ashwin comes good in England it will be a breakthrough tour for him.

      So, honestly don’t be surprised if Ashwin just plays 2 Tests out of 5, before being replaced by say Kuldeep.

      Mind you, I’d really like Kuldeep to play.

      Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Aug 1, 2018 / 10:40 am

        Worth picking just for that wicket… 😉


  7. thebogfather Jul 31, 2018 / 4:46 pm

    And hey… isn’t the return of LCL on his (nearly but not quite) long run, the most important non EdSmith delectation for us ‘Outside’ of this late Summer?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. northernlight71 Jul 31, 2018 / 7:08 pm

    Can I be the first to suggest that this might be the last Test, or indeed cricket match generally, that Stokes plays for a while? Let’s hope he isn’t an integral part of England’s success . . .


    • Mark Jul 31, 2018 / 7:34 pm

      Careful, that could be construed as prejudicial.


      • thelegglance Jul 31, 2018 / 8:39 pm

        Nah. If someone is on trial, then there clearly is a “might” involved.

        People on here have been generally careful – it is appreciated.


      • dannycricket Aug 1, 2018 / 6:08 am

        Haven’t the ECB held off their disciplinary procedures until after the trial? Even though he was left out of the Ashes tour, there’s a good chance he will miss a few games whichever way the court case goes.


    • OscarDaBosca Jul 31, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      Hadn’t thought of that, very good point. Sure if he doesn’t play for a while Vaughan will feel doubly stabbed.


  9. veturisarma Jul 31, 2018 / 7:40 pm

    1. I can’t say neither of the teams could win it for sure, since both have the capability to lose. 2-1 England, though I won’t be surprised if it’s 2-1 India. I don’t think either of the teams can win 3 test matches on this tour.
    2. Hundreds for Virat Kohli: 1
    3. Hundreds for Joe Root : 1
    4. Pujara, Anderson
    5. Total centuries for England? That’s a tough one. Cook 1(2), Root 2(1), Bairstow 2, Buttler 1. Total 6.


  10. Riverman21 Jul 31, 2018 / 7:59 pm

    911 is a joke by Duran Duran. Choosing totally the wrong song to cover. Very apt for the ECB.


  11. OscarDaBosca Jul 31, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    Going to Birmingham tomorrow to watch days 2 and 3, however given the lack of crowd may turn up after tea to see if we can get cheap entry.

    1) India 3-2. Bloody Oval groundsman 😉 . England win at Edgbaston in 3.5 days as they get the better of the toss and the weather creates muggy days on a cracked turning pitch. Rashid 5 for.
    Lose at Lords on the usual road where they bat for 2.5 days and don’t bat again. Rashid 7 for 165
    Trent Bridge muggy weather and Broad goes through them day 1. (Rashid 0 wickets)
    Southampton they reap revenge for a 95 that was worth 100 and win in 4 days (Rashid 3 wickets first innings, 6 wickets second innings).
    Oval – Another bunsen, Rashid gets 13 wickets, but India win due to England losing 20 wickets all to spin bowling.
    2) Double hundred at Lords, 95 at Southampton (worth at least 100), plus winning 100 at Oval – 3
    3) Hundred at Edgbaston, Hundred losing at Oval – 2
    4) Rashid, Rashid
    5) 6, 2 to Root, 1 to Stokes, 1 to Buttler and 2 Bairstow

    At the end of the series Vaughan will tell everybody that as Rashid is Englands man of the series he was always behind him and it was just a way to get him going.

    I am going to bed, I am clearly up way to late and being facetious for the sake of it.

    (I stand by Rashid having a great series though, the weather should make perfect leg spinning wickets if the groundsmen let it)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jomesy Jul 31, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    The link (to cricinfo to update on team announcement) has a video at the top of Root talking about Rashid.

    I feel sorry for Root.

    I’ve said before I would not have made him captain (I was for YJB). Root now is just a Cook replacement (looks nice, sounds nice, won’t cause trouble…last requirement: hopefully he’ll keep scoring) and I feel very sorry for him.

    He looks like shit in that video….which obviously isn’t great before the start of a series.

    Worse: he’s not very good at lying. He comes out with a load of ECB crap about Rashid. Christ he even says he’s “matured”. One of the things I liked about old J Root was that he took the piss/enjoyed life and was brilliant at cricket. Watch the nose wipe. Biggest single indicator of a lie.

    Root doesn’t want Rashid in the team (we probably knew that – that’s the nose wipe btw) but it’s going to be interesting to watch what happens over the series as I suspect Ed Smith is gambling on a take over at ecb HQ as I cannot believe the ecb approved this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nicholas Jul 31, 2018 / 10:35 pm

      I went along to The Times preview event of this test series at Lord’s tonight and Steve James was saying that it was a trying press conference for Root, as lots of Indian ‘journalists’ turned up and asked a number of what he termed ‘stupid’ questions on the subject of Virat Kohli which is why Root looks wound up in the videos.

      I’m with you, though, in wanting Bairstow as captain. I think he has it.


      • jomesy Aug 1, 2018 / 11:52 am

        Thanks for the context Nicholas and understand now why he might have been wound up. That said, he still looks knackered and that can’t be just because of a tough press conference. Not good.


      • dlpthomas Aug 2, 2018 / 2:29 am

        If Bairstow was captain, I’d worry he’d headbutt someone at the toss.


    • Zephirine Jul 31, 2018 / 10:40 pm

      I don’t think Root’s got anything personal against Rashid, or anything cricket-wise, it’s Yorkshire politics.

      Totally agree about Root though, he doesn’t look happy. I don’t like his posture, he’s become slightly hunched over all the time, which looks to me like tension in his shoulders from stress. Or it may be his long-standing back problem. Nothing abnormal in a regular bloke but you don’t expect to see a top athlete standing like that.

      My prediction is that we will finally see Broad reach the end of the road, he and Anderson are both ‘managing injuries’ but Anderson is always a bit fitter. Similarly Cook. I think they’ll play OK and Cook may even make a century or two, but they’ll get very tired and will privately reach some decisions about retiring. Buttler will continue to emerge as a leader. YJB will be good value. Rashid will be fine.

      India will win the series, but not without a struggle. It’ll be a good series. There will be tickets available for every day of every match.


  13. Rohan Jul 31, 2018 / 10:18 pm

    Who wins the series, what score (and why)? India 2-1, Kohli’s batting to be the difference

    How many hundreds for Virat Kohli? 2, but lots of 70s and 80s as well

    How many hundreds for Joe Root? 1 and quite a few 50s

    Key player for each team? England – Anderson and India – Kohli

    How many total centuries for England over the five tests? 3

    NB: the above be is complete guesswork/expert deduction, please delete/choose as appropriate


  14. pktroll (@pktroll) Aug 1, 2018 / 7:45 am

    Hi all.
    Been pretty busy so not had the chance to really do much here.

    I too feel more than a little bit meh over this series. Even if England do as I predict below and win the series, it won’t be because of their brilliance but more that India have too many flaws.

    LCL I am going to the Friday at the Oval. I knew I had booked one day for it but it was so long ago I forgot which day it was! It is Friday after all, so perhaps see you there?

    1.Who wins the series, what score (and why)? 3-1 England. India has too many holes in its batting away from home for me and there will be enough in the pitches for England to exploit this.

    2.How many hundreds for Virat Kohli? 1 Think he will break his duck but will have some rum days too.

    3.How many hundreds for Joe Root? Think he will get 2 to partially make up for what is a very lean spell. We criticise Cook and rightly but since start of the UAE Pakistan series in 2015 it is 5 tons in 37 tests.

    4.Key player for each team: Eng Anderson Ind Shami

    5.How many total centuries for England over the five tests? I’m going to go 5. 2 Root, 1 Cook, 1 Bairstow 1 Stokes


  15. nonoxcol Aug 1, 2018 / 8:27 am

    I haven’t been engaged anywhere near enough to provide answers to the questions. As indicated by the fact that my first draft comment was nothing to do with cricket, just a reference to Duran Duran ruining another great rap song (White Lines). The week in which the Hundred was announced, Ed Smith announced as national selector, and best of all the rest of the shortlist justified everything we’d said about the ECB for years, absolutely destroyed the last bit of shit I gave.

    All that happens is: something like Rashid comes up, we’re vindicated once again, and nothing whatsoever changes. Rinse and repeat from here to eternity.

    I might pop in now and again, but bloody hell it’s hard work even trying to care. When I look at my record, this blog is all that’s left really: last day of live Test cricket summer 2011, last day of Sky March 2014, last edition of The Cricketer September 2014, last series as a regular Guardian BTLer was Ashes 2015, last home England series I followed closely throughout was Pakistan 2016.


    Liked by 1 person

  16. Nicholas Aug 1, 2018 / 8:57 am

    I’ll do a last-minute reply to these questions, then.

    1. As an eternal pessimist, I can’t see England winning this one, home advantage or not. 3-1 India
    2. Kohli to have a Smith-like series – three tons, one of them big
    3. Root to get one ton but otherwise be below his best
    4. Key for England is Anderson – if he manages to stay fit over the course of the series and gets movement from the pitch, then England might just get 20 wickets in a test match. For India, it’s Kohli – the man leads from the front and he needs to keep his side on the straight and narrow through weight of runs
    5. I don’t want to put a number on it, but not as many as we would like. It’s amazing thinking back to that 2011 side how dominant we were with the bat. Batsmen just can’t churn out the centuries anymore, so it seems, and I can’t see Malan (for example) having a Trott or Bell-like series, sadly.


  17. LordCanisLupus Aug 1, 2018 / 9:45 am

    From Cricinfo…

    Right, Dobell tells me a presentation was being made to Colin Graves for England’s 1000th Test…but he has dropped the trophy…it’s broken in two…



    • Zephirine Aug 1, 2018 / 10:07 am

      England’s cricket administration has become one of those Tom Sharpe novels in which an ancient institution is populated by grotesques.
      As a climax they’ll accidentally set fire to the Long Room at Lord’s. Alastair Cook will continue serenely batting as the fire brigade struggle to contain the blaze.


  18. d'Arthez Aug 1, 2018 / 10:42 am

    Unplayable. But only because Cook was facing it.


    • nonoxcol Aug 1, 2018 / 10:52 am

      That’s an illustration of my apathy – it’s taken me 50 minutes even to check the score, and no “Cook gone, oh dear what a shame” post.


      • dlpthomas Aug 1, 2018 / 10:56 am

        I thought it was a beauty. Maybe he can bowl outside of India. (He’s a very good cricketer.)


        • LordCanisLupus Aug 1, 2018 / 10:58 am

          It was a good ball and good balls are allowed to get you out.

          I will caveat this with Alastair Cook seems to be getting out to a lot of “good balls” or “jaffas”. This courtesy is not extended to others, more out of form, who find top deliveries are met with “not got the technique” or “didn’t go on again” or “temperamentally unsound”. It’s a careful line that needs to be drawn.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 11:09 am

            Throughout his entire career he only ever gets out to good balls or sometimes great balls…….(according to the peanut gallery)

            Which is why I regard the opinion of said gallery as a bunch of clowns.

            What is bizarre is the means of his dismissals are completely irrelevant…… because his place in the team is never under threat. It doesn’t actually matter how he gets out.


          • d'Arthez Aug 1, 2018 / 11:12 am

            Exactly, that was my implied point. Of course it was a good ball, but it will be written up as ‘unplayable’ because Cook was facing it.

            Had it been Jennings, well, we know the coverage would have been markedly different, and all and sundry would be pushing for their favourites to get a (re)call. This also does not do the bowler(s) justice. As if they can only bowl magic balls to Cook, and otherwise only serve up filth to get the rest of the batting lineup out. It also implies that the bowler is always lucky to dismiss Cook. We all know of course, that in reality things are a bit more nuanced than that.

            45/1 after the first hour, and both sides won’t be too unhappy with that.

            Liked by 1 person

          • quebecer Aug 1, 2018 / 2:56 pm

            And, of course, had it been Rashid who’d bowled it, it would merely have been good.


          • quebecer Aug 1, 2018 / 3:23 pm

            I think you see this with many batsmen as they enter the final stage of their career. Suddenly players like Ponting, Dravid, even Vaughen if you remember, start getting bowled far more often than they used to. The deliveries must be good ones, certainly, but they are made to look like real jaffas as much as anything by the perceived quality of the player who is missing them. And sometimes the look of puzzlement on the batsman’s face, as they think, how the hell did that happen?


  19. "IronBalls" McGinty Aug 1, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    80/1..dear old Cooky….. as I listen with only half an ear. Years back it would have had my full attention, sadly no more. However, this thought caused me to ponder the day when good old Giles sold our game to Sky and immediately disenfranchised huge swathes of cricket lovers. What were those quotes again? Time and age, seems to have dulled my memory. Wasn’t it something about grow the game, kids, participation, and all of those wonderful things that were “essential to survival” of our glorious game? I wonder if any of that comes to haunt them from time to time?
    As Scyld gives them a bit of a gentle shellacking in the Telegraph today, it seems even the fourth estate are beginning to wail against the governance and general bullshittery it passes for nowadays? Oh! It’s lunch! I listened to that bit.


  20. oreston Aug 1, 2018 / 12:25 pm

    Does anyone know why Cook didn’t play for Essex against India last week? Surely that would’ve been the ideal opportunity to get those creaky old limbs moving and get his eye in. Or do GOATs not need to practice? Has he played any cricket since the Pakistan series? Is it blasphemy even to ask?


    • LordCanisLupus Aug 1, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      He did play for England Lions against India A and made a big hundred.


      • Miami Dad's Six Aug 1, 2018 / 12:30 pm

        More mental was not giving Jamie Porter the opportunity to have a go at them.


      • oreston Aug 1, 2018 / 12:53 pm

        So he did… I’d forgotten about that (you can see how much of an impression it made on me). Credit where it’s due though. However (being extra pernickety) I’m guessing that not many of those India A bowlers are likely to be making appearances during the present series.


        • Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 12:59 pm

          Also I would question if it’s the role of the England Lions to give England’s leading run scorer some much needed practice. Shouldn’t it be a platform for up and coming youngsters?

          But when you screw up the county championship so on the eve of the major summers test series there is no red ball cricket what do you expect?


  21. Miami Dad's Six Aug 1, 2018 / 1:40 pm

    Jennings out. I think he looked ok, and his dismissal was probably unlucky, but really it’s a failed attempt to get a big score, on a decent pitch with moderate bowling opposition. Since his first ever innings in Test cricket, he’s averaged 19. In his defence, he was persevered with for far too long against South Africa last summer when he was clearly rank out of form – it’s better to take young/new players out the firing line, especially when they’ve not got a weight of runs behind them.


  22. d'Arthez Aug 1, 2018 / 1:45 pm

    112/3 does not look that great on this wicket to be honest. Root and Bairstow in now, so if one falls shortly after this, England could be left struggling to get to a par score.


    • oreston Aug 1, 2018 / 1:55 pm

      Yep, a decent stand is needed from these two you would feel. It would be a good time for Root to get that conversion monkey off his back.


  23. thebogfather Aug 1, 2018 / 2:38 pm


    • Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 2:59 pm

      Perhaps he should open then! We could do with a good start. Only joking!


    • oreston Aug 1, 2018 / 3:09 pm

      So true, but unfortunately he all too often bats when England really need a big score from him because of failures elsewhere in the top order and I think that’s a factor. You look to your best players for big performances (a colossus surrounded by pygmies and all that). Still, it’s also a compliment of sorts that he’s expected to make more centuries – and he probably should be making more – but Liew is right inasmuch as there are worse problems than having the ability to consistently and dependably score Test match fifties.


  24. Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 3:42 pm

    Schoolboy stuff! Root run out for 80.


    • oreston Aug 1, 2018 / 3:50 pm

      This is the first innings of a Test match, not the business end of an ODI run chase. What were they thinking going for the second run?


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 1, 2018 / 3:59 pm

        And now Bairstow has gone.

        This has the potential to go pear shaped.


      • Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 4:00 pm

        Unbelievable. I like J Bairstow, but sometimes he has brain farts. As you say, this is the first day of a test at home. England are recovering from the loss of 3 wickets, and building a partnership.

        Very unprofessional. I know, it happens, but not very often to great teams. Bairstow out now as well.


        • Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 4:01 pm

          Butler gone now as well. Shinny toys favourite out for 0.


  25. d'Arthez Aug 1, 2018 / 4:00 pm

    Only made worse by Bairstow chopping on, and 216/3 has suddenly become a troubling 223/5, with both set batsmen gone. Will be interesting to see how Buttler plays this, as a specialist #7 …


    • d'Arthez Aug 1, 2018 / 4:01 pm

      Let’s just say, not too great.


  26. oreston Aug 1, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    224/6 It took a while, but the inevitable England batting collapse now seems to be underway.


    • Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 4:16 pm

      England probably score 400 more often in 50 overs than in test matches these days.


        • Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 6:08 pm

          The media’s obsession about Root while giving Cook a pass for two years shows why they are not taken seriously.


  27. Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 4:10 pm

    Nasser really does talk some utter, utter shite sometimes. He adds 1+1 and makes 5.

    He is now going into raptures about Kohli and him deciding to change the course of events by fielding. He makes it sound as if there is no responsibility on the England batsman. He is banging on about some celebration Root did when he made a hundred and it upset Kohli or something.

    Nasser seems to think sport is PlayStation. You just press a button. Good luck to Kohli on his accurate throw, but England handed it to them on a silver plate. Root was run out by yards.


  28. Mark Farmer Aug 1, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    just praying for a Rashid 100. Would love to see the press write it up.


    • Mark Farmer Aug 1, 2018 / 5:22 pm

      Guess not. They really have made a hash of this. Going to be interesting to see how India fair.


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 1, 2018 / 5:27 pm

        Indeed. Not seen any of the play, work frowns on that sort of thing, but seemed typical England. Could be in “blame top scorers ” mode.


        • Sophie Aug 1, 2018 / 5:33 pm

          You’ve got to feel for Stokes and Buttler, robbed of double hundreds by Bairstow running out Root.


  29. Nicholas Aug 1, 2018 / 5:18 pm

    There we are. This is the standard of this side. They just can’t make big scores anymore, individually and collectively. I was just thinking that they were proving me wrong, as Root and Bairstow made their partnership, but what do you know, a silly run-out and then a big collapse. Hopeless.


    • dlpthomas Aug 2, 2018 / 2:43 am

      Hopeless and predictable. However, I am going to try and be optimistic (which will be a first and I suspect I will not like it) and say there’s a long way to go in the match, let alone in the series.


  30. Mark Aug 1, 2018 / 5:32 pm

    And they still can’t bowl 90 overs in a day in six and a half hours. And without even an innings change.


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