England vs India: 2nd Test, Day Three

One of the particular joys of putting out a blog and having opinions is the spectacular way to they can come back and bite you on the arse. Thus it is with some amusement that the description of Chris Woakes as “Mr Mediocre” in the preview has to be mentioned here after today, following a quite exceptional maiden Test century to follow up a rather good bowling performance.

Naturally, given that we’re close knit, supportive team on here, who always agree with each other, I shouldn’t remotely mention that. Nor should I mention that personally I’ve always quite liked Chris Woakes, and that when we’ve bickered long into the night about the merits of various players, this has always been a bone of contention. Thus under no circumstances would I have repeatedly texted Sean gleefully reminding him of his comments over the last few years, and he absolutely hasn’t expressed relief he’s not doing tonight because it would mean he had to be nice to Woakes. So I shall be.

Apart from the delicious schadenfreude of this innings, Woakes batted beautifully today, and he bowled beautifully yesterday too. This really says the obvious, at least thus far in his career – that he’s highly effective in England, and less so overseas. The question at hand is how much this matters, given that Woakes is hardly alone in this, and even the likes of Broad and Anderson are criticised for it often enough. Perhaps the problem is that it applies across the bowling line up rather than just with one of them – the ineffectiveness of many of those chosen in foreign conditions being a regular feature of England sides in recent times, and exacerbating the problem. Woakes has bowled well (without quite getting the rewards) in South Africa, certainly. But he’s not the first English fast medium bowler to struggle in Asia or Australia.

Woakes does have talent, of that there’s no question. He moves the (Duke) ball in the air and off the pitch, while his batting has always looked of greater capability than perhaps the results have demonstrated. To put it another way, no one should be that surprised he’s scored a Test century, he’s always looked sufficiently able.

England are now in an impregnable position, the loss of the first day’s play meaning that India are playing purely for the draw given the forecast. Indeed, with tomorrow’s weather now moving from the iffy to the grim with every passing hour, it could be that they escape with that draw, in what has been a curiously unsatisfying Test to date. Certainly India have had the worst of the conditions, being put in to bat with England’s pacemen salivating at the prospect. However, while Anderson, Broad et al are supremely skilful at exploiting such circumstances, it can’t be denied that India batted horribly. They are, at least partially, the architects of their own downfall here.

If climatic conditions may now save them, they’ll still need to play far better in what remains than they have done so far, for otherwise England may not need that much more than a session over the next two days to bowl them out, such was the dominance they exerted with the ball. And it’s not unreasonable to expect some play, whatever the forecast.

Woakes indicated after play that England may bat on, but there is surely a degree of kidology involved there, for 250 runs behind requires India to bat for a day even to get level. It’s arguable that England could have declared earlier, but given the early curtailment of proceedings due to bad light, batting on probably made sense. It should be noted though that this means England were taking the weather into account. Something teams always deny that they do, despite it being entirely obvious that it is always a factor.

India had their chances today. They took early wickets, and at one stage had half the England team out with the scores more or less level. A sliding doors moment in this Test, for from that point on, Woakes and Bairstow first eased away, and then dominated.

Even without Stokes, England’s middle order does look strong, but the troubles at the top continue. Jennings has looked reasonable since his return, but whoever the incumbent, England’s top order looks brittle. Cook started brightly, and even unveiled a couple of off drives, which is usually a sign of his technique being in decent shape. But Ishant Sharma got one to move off the seam, and that was that. It was a good ball, but not an unplayable one. Cook was caught on the crease and squared up. It happens. Lateral movement plays havoc with all batsmen, and it’s not a matter of Cook having done anything radically wrong, but three times this series he has supposedly been out to fantastic deliveries. Is it so hard to say that they were decent nuts, but that Cook at his best would have played them better?

Ollie Pope looked bright in his first Test innings, and certainly not lacking in confidence. No judgement can or should be made of him at this stage, except to say it is a pleasure to see a young player revelling in the excitement of playing Test cricket.

Root failed. This is rather noteworthy actually, because despite the comment about his conversion rate from 50 to 100, his ability to reach 50 in Tests is remarkably high, up there with Bradman. Thus his failure today gets a mention, not as criticism, but as a reminder to us all that Root is a very fine player indeed whatever his own frustrations.

Mohammed Shami was probably the pick of the Indian attack, troubling most of the England line up even as his colleagues wilted somewhat in the second half of the day. Perhaps they could have done with another seamer, for the spinners were ineffective, but conditions have made this look a worse decision than it probably was, given how Lord’s is often unresponsive to seam and swing for the first few days. A couple of recent Tests suggest this may be changing a bit, perhaps in line with English home Tests generally.

After little more than a day in this match, England are completely dominant. Whether they go on to win seems more a matter of the elements than the play, for if the meteorologists are wrong, it is hard to see how India get out of this one. They need some luck, for otherwise this whole series starts to look one sided, as much as the last one in India. For the sake of interest in the remainder of the Test summer, a downpour or three may not be the worst thing.

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35 thoughts on “England vs India: 2nd Test, Day Three

  1. Sean August 11, 2018 / 6:24 pm

    Chris Woakes average away from England:

    Batting: 20.25
    Bowling: 61.77

    Home track bully when the ball is swinging, absolutely innocuous when it’s not.

    I rest my case m’lord 😎

    Like

      • Sean August 11, 2018 / 6:28 pm

        Watch him bomb in Sri Lanka, just watch it!

        Like

  2. dannycricket August 11, 2018 / 6:32 pm

    Whatever you do Chris, don’t mention to Sean how “Mr. Mediocre” has scored more runs today than Middlesex ‘batsman’ Dawid Malan managed in his last 6 Test innings. That would wind him up no end, and no one wants that…

    Like

    • Sean August 11, 2018 / 6:37 pm

      Not really, I said myself that Malan didn’t look good enough for Test Cricket in the preview. Nice try though…😎

      Like

      • dannycricket August 11, 2018 / 6:44 pm

        If Malan had been born 30 years earlier, he might have had 30+ Tests as the archetypal English allrounder: Can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field.

        Like

        • Sean August 11, 2018 / 6:47 pm

          Genuinely can’t be arsed to bite 😂

          Like

          • dannycricket August 11, 2018 / 6:57 pm

            In fact, now I come to think of it, I can’t remember any positive contributions for English cricket from Middlesex in my lifetime. Paul Downton, John Emburey, Tom Harrison, Simon Hughes, Mike Selvey, Andrew Strauss and Phil Tufnell. Someone should shut them down for good before they finish the job and destroy cricket around the world…

            Like

  3. Mark August 11, 2018 / 6:47 pm

    I like Woakes, however in Sean’s defence if a certain all rounder currently involved in matters in Bristol becomes available for the next match who do you think England will select? Therein lies your answer.

    Where I live it has pissed down all day, and frankly it looks like summer is over. Next week the forecast is for very changeable weather. Now I don’t expect the ECB to be weather mind readers, but the intrigue of this series is already lost on me. We have sat here waiting during six glorious weeks of weather with no cricket. Then, we get this. Assuming England wrap this up on Monday the series is effectively done and dusted. (Not withstanding three complete England disasters.) no point this now extending into September.

    India are I believe held up as number 1 in the world. Yet their batting has been woeful, and their team selection amateurish to say the least. How can they seriously pick two spinners in these conditions? Add this to their ludicrous preparation at Essex and they have got what they deserve. What I find deeply depressing is this is now the model for the ECB going forward, essentially writing off overseas tours, and then making up for them in nice helpful late summer home conditions,

    Finally I hear that Mick Hunt has been elevated to an MCC member for services to cricket. Or is that services to the ECB and their preferred conditions? To paraphrase the Rolling Stones I can’t get no satisfaction from this circus.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus August 11, 2018 / 7:55 pm

      Mick Hunt has been fearlessly independent and worked his socks off at Lord’s.

      But he can’t come in here dressed like that. What would the posh fuckers think?

      Like

      • Sean August 11, 2018 / 8:00 pm

        Fiercely independent????

        Like

  4. Mark August 11, 2018 / 7:29 pm

    Just seen Cooks dismissal. Would it be impolite to say that yet again he played down the wrong line. Seems to happen quite a lot these days.

    I know others have mentioned this but I think he should get his eyes tested.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennyah46 August 11, 2018 / 7:49 pm

      The same was said of Bell towards the end. It could well be a factor.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus August 11, 2018 / 7:54 pm

        Cook is 2 weeks older than Bell when the latter played his last test.

        Like

      • Sean August 11, 2018 / 7:59 pm

        Cook is now older than Bell was when he was dropped. Still no media whispering, which is odd..

        Like

        • Mark August 11, 2018 / 9:08 pm

          There will never be any whispering even if he is still opening at 80 years old.

          Liked by 2 people

          • oreston August 11, 2018 / 10:31 pm

            Elephant. Room. Nuff said…

            Like

          • OscarDaBosca August 12, 2018 / 8:25 am

            Simon Hughes in the times
            ‘Before departing, for the ninth time in tests, to a good ball from Ishant Sharma’
            It’s just habit now, Cook always gets out to a great delivery.

            Like

  5. LordCanisLupus August 11, 2018 / 7:53 pm

    On a day like today I look back wistfully at the time Stuart Broad made 169 at Lord’s.

    But at least that game was [allegedly] bent.

    On a day like today I look back wistfully at the time Chris Lewis made a lovely ton in a losing cause at Madras, before it was called Chennai.

    But that game was over.

    Easy match report tomorrow.

    Like

    • Rob August 11, 2018 / 8:03 pm

      But you do not look wistfully on Ajit Agarkar getting a hundred at Lords?

      (Some would say that he is better than Woakes, having won at least one Test Match abroad on the strength of his bowling)

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus August 11, 2018 / 8:15 pm

        Agarkar is not wistful.

        It is hilarity.

        He’s on the Honours Board. Lara isn’t. Tendulkar isn’t. Ponting isn’t. (Tests).

        Like

    • Sean August 11, 2018 / 8:06 pm

      Nicely volunteered Dmitri, already looking forward to it 👍

      Like

  6. thelegglance August 12, 2018 / 9:59 am

    I like to try to be fair. Can anyone tell me why the hell England are still batting?

    Like

    • dannycricket August 12, 2018 / 10:06 am

      The latest forecasts have the weather much better for today, it seems.

      Like

    • Mark August 12, 2018 / 10:35 am

      England want to score 400 because they so rarely do so these days.

      Like

      • Mark August 12, 2018 / 10:37 am

        They still didn’t manage it!

        Like

        • oreston August 12, 2018 / 10:53 am

          A teensy bit harsh, given the declaration and the over all match situation!
          This is Root’s way of saying he’s not going to get hung up on reaching artificial landmarks just for the sake of it 😉
          Still, declaring when he did suggests that he was waiting to give Curran a chance to get another 50. Clearly young Sam is the anointed one…

          Like

          • Mark August 12, 2018 / 11:08 am

            They always say they are not governed by personal landmarks, but had he not got out there, would Root have declared after that ball?

            In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. I will be surprised if India are still batting at the close tonight (assuming a full days play.) never mind at the close tomorrow.

            Like

  7. d'Arthez August 12, 2018 / 10:39 am

    Last Test was the exception, this one is the rule. As pretty much 90% of all the Tests are these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol August 12, 2018 / 1:03 pm

      I don’t care if India are no.1 (whatever that means in this era).

      Facts are:

      – they have won one of their last 11 (soon to be 12) Tests in England
      – they have won two of the eight series they’ve played here in my 37 years as a cricket fan. Both were three-Test series, and one of them relied on a crap umpiring decision in a game drawn with 9 Indian second innings wickets down.
      – they have won a grand total of three of their 17 (soon to be 18) Tests in England this century.

      Their matches over here are grotesquely over-hyped, their current big-draw status in England is down to money not performance, and this will be yet another pisspoor excuse for a Test series.

      Like

      • d'Arthez August 12, 2018 / 2:18 pm

        What #1 basically means is who can string the most home series together (in a row).

        Like

  8. oreston August 12, 2018 / 11:38 am

    With the benefit of extremely helpful home conditions, a deeply flawed England will make far too much of inflicting an innings defeat – as seems likely – on the supposedly mighty India (who it seems still don’t travel well). You’re right: quite predictable if you look at it dispassionately. Probably not terribly interesting for neutrals.

    Like

  9. d'Arthez August 12, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    Exactly. This was quite predictable from the moment the toss happened, given the weather. The highest score for an Indian batsmen, not named Kohli is an astonishing 31 (from Pandya), and more than half the batsmen average less than 10 (at the moment). Such figures only warrant interest when 200 is par wickets are being used. And that clearly is not the case.
    This Test itself could hardly have been less interesting if India had won the toss (that would have required extremely inept bowling from India) – we saw what can happen if England lose the toss in such conditions in New Zealand,so it would have been interesting to see how good India would have been bowling in such conditions, and whether that 57 was a once-off, or a reflection of England’s struggles to play in such conditions as well.
    Let’s just hope the charade ends today, and the series ends in a complete whitewash, so that in 2021, they can have a six-Test series against the BCCI XI based on merit.

    Like

  10. d'Arthez August 12, 2018 / 4:43 pm

    Looks like Ashwin may play the entire series (second outside of Asia and West Indies, after Australia 2011/2012). In Australia, because he was the second best performing batsmen now. Now, he is probably the second best as well (although it might be close with Pandya).

    If that is not damning, I don’t know what is.

    Like

  11. Sagar Neupane August 14, 2018 / 9:41 am

    Sometimes we win and other times we learn. You never give up on us and we promise to never give up on you either. Onwards and upwards.

    Like

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