England vs India: 3rd Test, Day Three – The Calm Before the Storm

The worst part about one sided Test matches is that long periods of play can amount to going through the motions, at least for the team that is adrift in the match.  Today was certainly in that category, for it wasn’t until the last 9 overs of play that the match perked up somewhat, as we arrived at the business end of events.

Not that any of this is remotely India’s fault, if fault is even the right word.  From the beginning of play it was clear that India’s lead of approaching 300 was already likely to be enough, but with three days of the match to go, they could afford a leisurely day of run building, whilst needing to take few risks in doing so.  The morning was largely soporific, India adding just 72 to their overnight score, whilst England were content enough after the initial burst to opt largely for containment.  Pujara and Kohli accumulated nicely, with the latter much the more fluent, which perhaps surprises no one.  All in all, it was that rarest of beasts in recent times – Test match batting.

Had the outcome of the match been in question, it would have been far more interesting to observe, for certainly England got some life in the air and off the surface, and even created the odd chance, though Buttler dropped one and Jennings another before the innings was done.  It’s not been a happy time of it in the slip cordon, and most have been culpable at one time or another.  A catching success rate against the seamers that amounts to roughly  one in two is going to make life harder than it need be, if nothing else, but it also indicated that a team less generous than England were going to take wickets.

That there was movement in the air was indicated by how one that moved after passing the bat caught Jonny Bairstow on the end of the finger.  It’s always worth finding an old wicketkeeper and asking them what that’s like – the wincing and head shaking rather gives it away.  Little concentrates the mind about catching technique quite as much as being entirely aware of how much it hurts when you get it wrong.  With Bairstow off to hospital for an X-ray that would reveal a fracture, Buttler took over behind the stumps – perhaps the one bright spot of the day being that England at least do have more than one wicketkeeper in the side

The dismissal of Pujara came as something of a surprise, not least to him, but given it was his first fifty in 16 first-class innings, he can be forgiven for taking his time over it, and the extended net that this second innings had become was ideal for playing himself back into form, which may yet be pivotal in the series.  England didn’t give up, they kept at him, and certainly didn’t offer up many freebies, which is probably as much as anyone could ask for in the circumstances.  What is notable is how few commentators were kidding themselves before the start of play that one fantastic session would get England back into the game.  There’s an air of resignation about this match.

Kohli’s dismissal for 103 brought a nice statistical quirk, acutely observed in the comments here by Arron (nonoxcol), that he now has match totals of 200 runs in two Tests this series.  A rarity indeed, and nearly enough to cause people to pay attention to what was going on.

Post tea, the urgency began to increase somewhat, at least in the mind of Hardik Pandya, while Rahane at the other stirred himself once in a while to score a run or two.  India have entirely earned this right, and keeping the England bowlers out there while the pitch wears and the bowlers tire is as much a part of the game as anything else.  But it lacks jeopardy, perhaps the most important element of a game of cricket and the reason to keep watching.  For there was simply no need for India to worry about it; the runs were coming freely enough, and there was no time constraint to cause calculations to be made about time remaining.   Nevertheless, a half hearted effort at a late injection of pace allowed Hardik to complete an enjoyable run a ball half century, and that was that, time for the declaration.

What invariably happens when a team is faced with a preposterous target is that various lists are put up about the highest run chases in history, and when the required runs are vastly in excess of the world record, the timeless Test between South Africa and England is mentioned.  It’s a rite of passage for any cricket fan to be educated on what has happened nigh on a century ago to allow them to pretend that a given Test is not going in one direction only.  Still, it passes the time.

A short session to bat isn’t easy, and Cook and Jennings did well to survive it, albeit with an element of fortune from time to time.  But such circumstances often occur with a day remaining, as one side fights desperately to keep their wickets intact to have a chance of salvaging a draw on the last day.

There are two days to go.

They’re stuffed.

OK, it’s theoretically possible that England could offer some decent resistance, but the problem is twofold:  It’s not just that the player-who-might-conjure-up-a-brilliant-rearguard-in-the-fourth-innings-but-hardly-ever-does looks either hideously out of form or in terminal decline depending on whether someone is an (extreme) optimist or otherwise, it’s that the rest of the batting line up have no sense of permanence about them whatever.  Even if they score runs, they do so quickly.  This is a team without the slightest prospect of hoping to bat 150 overs (let’s be generous and assume some rain).  Indeed, the absurdity of England’s position is such that they probably have a better chance of winning the game than they do of drawing it, and probably in about 120 overs too.  Clearly this is pure whimsy, for there’s not a cat in hell’s chance of that happening, but it’s illustrative of an England side for whom the art of batting in a Test appears to be a receding memory.

The expectation must be that this is done tomorrow.  And then the inquest can begin, with particular prizes on offer to all those in the media expressing surprise that this has happened again.


99 thoughts on “England vs India: 3rd Test, Day Three – The Calm Before the Storm

  1. Rohan Aug 20, 2018 / 7:23 pm

    Have to say, possibly contrary to general opinion, I enjoyed today’s play. I had the radio or TV on most of the day, admittedly the TV was in the background at times, but I still watched and enjoyed good chunks.

    I hope England learnt something today/took something from what they saw and, therefore, put it into practice tomorrow to lose valiantly, rather than collapsing and rolling over for below 200. Although I don’t hold out much hope, but would love to be proved wrong!


    • thelegglance Aug 20, 2018 / 7:25 pm

      Hmm. I hope I’ve not given you the wrong impression. My annoyance is at the match being so one sided, not anything at all that India did today.


      • Rohan Aug 20, 2018 / 7:53 pm

        No you haven’t at all, I just got the feeling that generally people (I may be completely off here), found it boring. I understand not liking the way the match has become one sided, although it does keep the series interesting!


        • Elaine Simpson-Long Aug 20, 2018 / 9:42 pm

          I found it engrossing. I rather like Test cricket when it almost becomes becalmed. Has a zen like quality to it I find rather soothing


    • metatone Aug 21, 2018 / 6:18 am

      I’ve enjoyed similar days in the past, but this time around I couldn’t get into it. Probably more about the chaos I was dealing with at my desk than anything…


  2. oreston Aug 20, 2018 / 7:50 pm

    Cook won’t fail tomorrow through want of trying, but making a real fight of a situation like this (let alone turning it around) is a feat which I fear is now far beyond his waning powers. I mention him specifically because he’s about the only player England have who at least possesses the batting mindset for the desperate scenario they find themselves in. Nonetheless, I expect there to be some resistance down as far as (say) Root and Pope – after which the usual brief and pointless exhibition of suicide batting with everything done and dusted by tea. I’d love to be proved wrong though.


    • dlpthomas Aug 21, 2018 / 2:24 am

      Some-one posted some stats on Cook’s 4th innings performances a while back. I can’t remember the exact details but basically his record in batting last to save a game is not very good. Hopefully he can change that today.


      • metatone Aug 21, 2018 / 6:19 am

        I’m fully expecting a career saving big daddy hundred from Cook, in a match which is already gone, just to spike any thoughts that we might look seriously at our opening problems.


      • d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 10:02 am

        He averages about 36.5 in the fourth innings now. Which is fairly decent. Not earth shatteringly good, not terribly bad either.
        He is also currently third on the all time 4th-innings runscorer lists, so if he adds 23 more runs to that tally, we’ll be hearing endlessly how he has the most runs of any batsman in the fourth innings Bruce Mitchell (89.85) and Basil d’Oliveira (86.66) have the standout averages there (minimum of 10 Tests), even ahead of Bradman (73.40). So curiously, that is one record Bradman does not hold. Mitchell was also an opener (his career spanned 1929-1949).
        Among openers not listed, Stollmeyer, Stackpole, Hunte, Gavaskar, Boycott, Greenidge, Sutcliffe, Hobbs, Graeme Smith and Pankaj Roy sport 50+ averages in the fourth innings. Gooch, Atherton, Stewart and Hutton are also ahead by a significant number of runs / innings compared to Cook.
        Highest average of openers in losing causes in the fourth innings (minimum of 10 matches) belongs to David Warner (56.46), followed by Hobbs at 41.16.
        He has two tons in the 4th innings. Way back in 2006 against Australia (lost cause), and 109* against Bangladesh in 2010 (the target was just 209, and Bangladesh were not that good in home conditions then).
        The only times he made a fifty in a winning or drawing cause against a team other than Bangladesh or West Indies came in 2010 against South Africa (Cape Town), and before that against the same opposition at the Oval in 2008.
        Needless to say, those stats should not inspire too much hope.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Silk Aug 20, 2018 / 8:25 pm

    Fight tomorrow and take the game into Wednesday, and it at least gives England a bit of momentum going into the 4th Test.

    Crumple, and they are in for a very hard time in the rest of the series, particularly if India bat first at the Ageas.


    • BoredInAustria Aug 20, 2018 / 8:34 pm

      “Fight tomorrow…”
      Time for Stokes?


      • Sherwick Aug 20, 2018 / 10:43 pm

        No that’s fight tonight.

        Liked by 2 people

    • metatone Aug 21, 2018 / 6:21 am

      Really not convinced of this. For as long as there is moonlight (clouds) and music (swing) then England will be at the races in the next match. If there isn’t things start to get more worrying (although the injury to Ashwin might be a problem for India too.)


  4. Rohan Aug 20, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    Something that seems to have gone unnoticed (maybe it has been, but if so I missed it), Jimmy’s average is really dropping, it’s very impressive! It now stands at 26.83, I’m sure not long ago it was circa 29, I wonder where it will end up. Reach 25 and to my mind he’s getting into absolute world all time great territory, not just one of England’s best. Although I appreciate just looking at his average is a simplistic measure…..


    • mdpayne87 Aug 20, 2018 / 9:15 pm

      Since the start of 2015 his average is 20.58.

      His last 400 wickets at under 24.

      Pretty extraordinary stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Silk Aug 20, 2018 / 9:24 pm

    Incidentally, I don’t see how losing YJB for two Tests helps England. Losing one of the better batsmen hardly helps the balance of the side.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Aug 20, 2018 / 9:45 pm

      Let Jos keep the gloves for the rest of the series and recall Bell? Just a thought, mentioned only in the vague hope that Ed Smith might plagiarise me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Aug 21, 2018 / 6:24 am

        I’d go for Burns at 3, it gets him in, possibly with a view to opening in the future if necessary, and gets Root back in his comfort zone.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Miami Dad's Six Aug 21, 2018 / 7:25 am

          I guess the thought is that Buttler does well with the gloves in the next Test and catches everything that comes his way. Then he’s suddenly the incumbent, and we can bring Bairstow back in at 4 or 5 as a permanent batsman, which he is good enough to do. There’s no ceremonial stripping of the wicket keeper gloves from Bairstow so he doesn’t lose face, and we get the chance for a good batsman who may/may not be over-encumbered with current responsibilities, to turn into a really good one middle order bat, able to concentrate on just that. I don’t know how long someone is likely to be out for with a broken finger?


          • Miami Dad's Six Aug 21, 2018 / 7:38 am

            I also wonder if they might plump for Moeen again, given his batting form for Wooster. I struggle to see him as a front-line spinner, still, but there have been times where he’s looked a classy enough bat, particularly at home and when he’s in been in form.


          • dlpthomas Aug 21, 2018 / 10:52 am

            It depends how bad the break is (does he need surgery or just a cast etc) but, even with the England medical team, he’s unlikely to play again this series.


  6. Mark Aug 20, 2018 / 9:46 pm

    The point about one sided Tests is I’m afraid been a growing problem. There has been a tendency when one side gets on top in the modern era for the other team, if not to give up, but crumble pretty easily.

    Without doing a Monty Python Yorkshireman routine about “we had it much tougher than you in our day,” it seems the art of rear guard actions is not in modern vogue. Probably has a lot to do with 20/20 and just going all out for the win.

    I would like to see England at least bat the day tomorrow without getting bowled out. Take the game into the final day, and make India bowl a lot of overs. Can’t really expect anything more than that. If England bat five sessions they will probably win.


    • metatone Aug 21, 2018 / 6:27 am

      Back to back Tests are a big culprit. Not long for scrambled batsmen to get themselves together, or work on a new found weakness – and – (perhaps more crucially) fatigue for bowlers under the cosh becomes more and more of a factor… Irony here in that it might have done Curran the world of good to miss this grindfest. (Although I doubt England will see that Stokes is looking physically below par and could use a break.)


  7. dlpthomas Aug 21, 2018 / 2:38 am

    A slightly off topic whinge. Bumble et al were commenting with some surprise that the Indian pace bowlers were quicker than the English bowler. They clearly hadn’t bothered to do any preparation prior to the series because India had 3 guys consistently touching 90 miles an hour in the series against South Africa.


    • metatone Aug 21, 2018 / 6:28 am

      Big agreement. Bumrah has also made a big difference in this match, IMO.
      A few England fans in various comment sections were calling Pandya “military medium” without noticing he was bowling faster than Broad…


      • man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 7:46 am

        If Pandya is military medium, what does that make Woakes? Yesterday he was bowling in the high 70s for the most part


  8. man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 7:56 am

    If you compare this England side to the one at the Gabba in 2010, what has changed? That team had real backbone: Strauss was resolute, Collingwood would never give anything away, KP and Prior were so proud that they would at least try to make a game of it, Trott just wanted to bat for ever, and Cook was not overwhelmed by technical problems. In that early period of Strauss’s captaincy, around 2009-11,it sometimes seemed that he could score centuries at will, or at least when it was really important. He set the tone for the rest of the team. It all seems very long ago now. Who would have thought when Cook and Strauss walked out for the second innings at the Gabba that England stood any chance of escaping with a draw? I certainly didn’t.

    Of the current bunch, only Stokes seems to show any fight 😉


    • Zephirine Aug 21, 2018 / 10:28 am

      Very true, MAIB. Are there no gritty ones left out there or are they just not being picked?


  9. d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 10:18 am

    Jennings gone in the first over of the day. Not exactly brilliant batting from the man. But undoubtedly the ball would be described as unplayable if his partner had done the same thing …


    • d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 10:19 am

      And just as I write that, Cook perishes to the second best ever fast bowler in the history of the game, Ishant Sharma.
      32/2, and this looks like it might well be over before tea.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Miami Dad's Six Aug 21, 2018 / 10:24 am

        Both of them out within 20 minutes. Fight chaps, fight! lol.

        Odds on Bairstow bravely/foolishly batting at 11 this afternoon with a day and a half to see out with a broken finger?


      • man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 10:28 am

        Pope doesn’t seem to want to block. Why drive at a wide one like that? That would be foolish even if you didn’t have 2 days to bat


  10. Sherwick Aug 21, 2018 / 10:32 am

    “Stephan Shemilt, BBC Sport at Trent Bridge

    It probably has nothing to do with anything but, 25 minutes before starting an attempt to bat to save a Test, Keaton Jennings and Alastair Cook were still playing football.”

    Hmmm, didn’t KP also mention something about proper preparation?


    • man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 10:52 am

      When did cricketers start to warm up by playing football and why? Playing with a rugby ball scuppered Mcgrath in 2005 and probably had an effect on the result of that match. I wonder how many injuries have been caused playing football


      • Miami Dad's 6 Aug 21, 2018 / 11:21 am

        At risk of sounding like the company Health and Safety bore, the football “warm up” is surely more perilous to ankles and knees than anything cricket can throw at a batsman.


    • northernlight71 Aug 21, 2018 / 12:24 pm

      To be honest, that BBC comment irked me, and I’m no great fan of Cook or Jennings. But I assume it was just a casual kick about and not a full-throated, studs up tackling kind of football?! In which case – the best preparation for that pair might well be something that just relaxes the mind or helps take the focus off what they’re about to do.
      As I said, no great fan of Cook, but I assume he knows himself better and prepares himself more professionally than Stephan Shemilt might do.


      • man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 1:03 pm

        Viv Richards, Gary Sobers, and Colin Cowdrey would normally be flat on their backs during that time and, so say the rumours, Cowdrey would often actually be asleep. I don’t think Botham and Holding are keen on the idea of pre-match football either


      • thelegglance Aug 21, 2018 / 1:10 pm

        Agree, I don’t really see there’s an issue with it. The idea that if only they were in the nets instead things would be better is mad.

        Football is just a way of getting loose and relaxing before play. The only thing that surprises me a little would be if it was true it was as late as 25 minutes before play. I’m sceptical about that.


        • man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 4:29 pm

          Wouldn’t it be better if they did a bit of catching practice? But seriously, it just seems an odd thing to do. I have heard they play 5-a-side every day, which raises the question of what does the 11th player do? They even had Bumble refereeing one day. But, if the side is batting, what is the point of everyone playing football to loosen up? It might be hours until you get to the middle.

          Surely it would be more beneficial to go through some rehearsal of something you are actually going to do in the middle. Violinists and opera singers run through a few scales to loosen up; golfers go on the range and rehearse their swings with various clubs; tennis players play a few strokes and do some serves. I would think, especially so close to the start, you should be in a chair imagining yourself playing some solid defensive strokes, even standing in front of a mirror and checking that there is nothing wrong with your pick-up etc. Also, I have heard they play 5-a-side every day, which raises the question of what does the 11th player do? They even had Bumble refereeing one day. Also, if the side is batting, what is the point of everyone playing football to loosen up. It might be hours until you get to the middle.


          • thelegglance Aug 21, 2018 / 4:33 pm

            They’ll do endless practice. There’s nothing that you can improve an hour before the start, it’s all about getting mentally ready, and physically loose.

            A game of football is as good as anything else for that. I can’t say that throwing a cricket ball at each remotely did anything for me at any point just before the start. More than anything I always wanted everyone to bugger off and leave me alone.


  11. nonoxcol Aug 21, 2018 / 10:58 am

    Cook averages 45.11 now.

    Lovejoy quit before his bowling average went over 30.

    Not sure what made me think of that.

    But anyway, reverse cumulative average tells us that he sits at 19.21 since Melbourne, 36.00 since the other double v WI, and 35.74 since his third last century (Rajkot, India).

    Overall he has 32 hundreds and 56 fifties in 287 innings. A hundred every nine innings and a fifty ever five innings, rounded.

    He has 3 hundreds and 4 fifties in 44 innings since and including Rajkot (24 Tests). A hundred every fifteen innings and a fifty every eleven innings, rounded. That record over his entire career would give him 19 hundreds and 26 fifties, compared to 32 and 56.

    You have to go back to the second Test v SL in 2016, 32 Tests ago, before his cumulative average creeps over 40 (40.08). It then dips below 40 again. You have to go back to the Abu Dhabi 263, 40 Tests ago, before it *stays* over 40. That’s almost exactly quarter of his Test career.

    Now: this is still nothing like as bad as Ian Bell, where you had to go back a scarcely credible 56 Tests (almost half his entire career) before his RCA topped 40 – and yes, that includes the 2013 Ashes.

    And: Kevin Pietersen only averaged 38.72 in the final quarter of his Test career (26 Tests), although in his final 40 Tests he did average 44.67.

    In his last 24 Tests though? Pietersen had 4 hundreds – three of them outstanding – and 10 fifties and averaged 41.93.


    • Mark Aug 21, 2018 / 11:06 am



  12. man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 11:20 am

    Root really wanted to tough it out, didn’t he! /sarc

    This could be over before lunch


  13. dlpthomas Aug 21, 2018 / 11:22 am

    Out bowled and now out fielded.


    • dlpthomas Aug 21, 2018 / 11:29 am

      Ha! Jinxed ’em.


  14. man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 11:28 am

    This is abject stuff. Jennings, Root and Pope had no need to play those balls. Only Cook has an excuse. He really had to play that ball but he wasn’t really in line.


  15. Sherwick Aug 21, 2018 / 11:28 am

    Oh dear…


  16. LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2018 / 11:36 am

    In a meeting from 11 am until now. Fight = 40 or so for 4 this morning.

    We were doing it all wrong.


  17. man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 11:39 am

    Wow, Nasser was critical of Cook’s dismissal there! If Cook finds out, then that’s another Christmas card that he can save on


  18. LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Here’s one. Remember that time when the “experts” , on the back of 30 minutes batting, told the great unwashed, the great unknowing, the great people out there, that Keaton Jennings had appeared to solve all his issues and looks a much different player than the one that was dropped?

    Changed their tune pretty quickly.


  19. LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2018 / 11:44 am

    Feared it was too soon for Pope. Now in a difficult situation. Drop him and wait for him to bat time higher up the order for Surrey, or keep him in and possibly ruin him for a number of years.

    Did a thing a while back about England’s top run scorers and getting their first 50. Very few above 5000 runs, if I recall, failed to make a 50 in their first four innings. It’s not perfect, but it is instructive. After all Keaton Jennings, Sam Robson, Adam Lyth…


    • dlpthomas Aug 21, 2018 / 11:55 am

      How many changes are England prepared to make? Bairstow is unlikely to play so that might save one of Jennings or Pope because I can’t see them making 3 changes. (unless Smith wants to get really funky.)


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2018 / 12:28 pm

        Changing a lot is seen as panic. And you can’t panic. England are 2-1 up.

        There has to be a bit of a 1999 moment coming up. You aren’t going to identify talent by interviewing them in a Barbados Hotel Room about a player’s aspirations, especially if Flower and Strauss are in the room. It’s about getting out and about to check on players. Who is this scouting network looking at? Shouldn’t Bayliss and Farbrace have some input and go out and look too?

        There is a line that you can’t drop Cook unless you have a proven alternative. As you won’t drop him, how are you going to find out if Cook isn’t in some, weird, effed up way the problem, and two openers without him at the other end might flourish. England sacked KP for less.

        Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 12:39 pm

      There might also be a bit of selectorial bias in that statistic. More batsmen who don’t make a fifty in their first 4 or 6 innings will be dropped than those who do. And you can’t score runs for England if you’re not in the side.
      England now have had 687 Test players, who have played collectively 1002 matches, so that means the average player gets to play about 15 matches over the course of his career. The number of players who pass 5000 runs can’t be that high. In the past (late 1800s, early 1900s) there were simply not enough games to amass those stats. Jack Hobbs must have passed 5000 runs in the mid 1930s, and he debuted in 1908.
      There are 22 England cricketers who have scored more than 5000 runs. Hobbs played the fewest matches with 61 (and he had to play the better part of three decades for those). Of those 22 players, 11 finished their playing career before 2000 (Gower was the last). One of them is Botham, who was not exactly in the side for his batting alone.
      So of the 11 most recent England players to make 5000+ runs, Atherton did not manage a fifty in his first four innings, neither did Hussain, Stewart, and Vaughan. So that is four out of 11. So this need to get a fifty in the first four innings stat is a bit more nuanced than that in my opinion.
      It also has to be balanced out by considering the number of players who did make a 50 in their first four innings but then fell short. For some that may be because their playing careers were cut short / interrupted by events (WWs), for others there might simply not have been enough games to play.


      • d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 12:48 pm

        I just noticed, all those 4 batsmen who did not make 50s in their first four innings would go on and be decent / good England captains.
        Uh, what will Ed Smith do with that statistical quirk? Appoint Bairstow as captain (another candidate to make it to the 5k club without a fifty in his first four innings)? The alternatives are Pope and the bowlers, among the players who are playing this Test.


      • man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 1:11 pm

        Atherton didn’t get 50 but he got pretty close with 47 in that match of horrible memory. Didn’t Australia get 300-0 on day 1, after all the journalists had written off Mark Taylor?


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2018 / 1:44 pm

        All of that rings true, and I did some of the research a couple of years ago. Given I’m not at home I didn’t have the time to bring the work up.

        It’s a trend, it’s down to selection bias and it’s also very subjective who you pick. I picked our successful test team of 2010-11 etc. and some other added ones. When I get five minutes I’ll try to find it.


  20. dlpthomas Aug 21, 2018 / 11:51 am

    The Sky boys are gently criticizing the selectors – is Smith’s honeymoon period over?


    • Silk Aug 21, 2018 / 11:57 am

      I think Smith is a berk (to put it politely) but blaming him for this is bonkers.

      England can’t produce 6 good quality batsmen. If I were going to point the finger, it would be at Flower, who’s meant to be producing the goods. Rob Andrew got all this ‘jiffy’ stuff thrown at him, but when he was ‘Director of Elite Rugby’ or whatever it was, England were churning out top class Test rugby players. Flower is churning our dross.

      But it’s probably not down to one man. The whole system is bust.


      • oreston Aug 21, 2018 / 12:38 pm

        (Trigger warning! The following comment may contain a tin foil hat conspiracy theory…)

        It should all be so abundantly obvious, shouldn’t it? I know group think can be a potent drug but surely Strauss, Harrison, Graves et al can’t be so utterly deluded that they don’t recognise the massive systemic failure they’re presiding over in their stewardship of the game’s elite and defining format? It just doesn’t seem conceivable to me that they can’t recognise what’s happening and how injurious their chosen trajectory is to the future of that format.
        In which case the only other possible conclusion would have to be be that it’s all quite deliberate and that they’re in fact actively working to debase Test (and first class) cricket in order to justify and expedite their relentless pursuit of limited overs formats – which they view as more commercially lucrative. With friends like these, English cricket has little need of enemies.


      • jomesy Aug 21, 2018 / 12:56 pm

        @ Silk – berk is pretty rude. It’s an abbreviation of the rhyming slang Berkshire Hunt


        • Silk Aug 21, 2018 / 1:02 pm

          No comment.


    • LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2018 / 12:24 pm

      The Sky boys anointed Keaton Jennings a changed batsman at Headingley. Funny how some errors are recalled and others not, eh?


      • man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 12:59 pm

        I don’t see what he is doing differently. There have been left-handers who looked a bit awkward and didn’t move their feet much – eg John Edrich, Chris Broad, even Tres – but at least they judged the line and bounce very well. Jennings keeps being caught by surprise. Maybe his reactions are not very sharp. After all he keeps grassing the slip chances


  21. man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 12:02 pm

    I don’t think Smith has anything to be sorry about. Who else could he have picked? The obvious ones are Moeen and Vince, on current form, and I don’t think you would back either of them to bat for your life. I wouldn’t even back them for a pint of Carling


    • Mark Aug 21, 2018 / 12:07 pm


      Smiths card has been marked because he had the temerity to pick Rashid. Until he drops the leg spinner they will niggle away at him for everything under the sun.

      The bigger question is are the media working hand in glove with the captain and the coach to undermine the selectors?


      • Silk Aug 21, 2018 / 12:25 pm

        I’ve not been following. Is it really obvious that Root doesn’t want Rashid there?


        • Mark Aug 21, 2018 / 12:29 pm

          The media have been questioning who picks the final eleven. Is it Smith or Root and the coach? The implication is that the captain is not picking the final team, and so he is not taking on to the field his chosen team.

          They have no evidence to back this up unless they are being whispered to by go betweens. It also pits all the blame on Smith for Rashids selection.


        • Zephirine Aug 21, 2018 / 2:09 pm

          I don’t think it’s obvious that Root doesn’t want him, more that he doesn’t know how to use him as a bowler in Tests.


    • Silk Aug 21, 2018 / 12:23 pm

      To be fair to Moeen, he’s got Test centuries (5 of ’em!) and has looked the part to me. I can certainly see him scoring runs at 5 perhaps even at 4. His bowling was always a distraction (yes, he had the odd good match, but selectors are meant to be able to look at a player, and if you watch him bowl you know he’s not good enough to be your first choice spinner).

      I think he’s been previous hindered by not knowing what his role was. England could do worse than giving him a run at 5 and telling him to focus on batting, with any wickets he picks up a bonus.

      Cook, Burns, Denley, Root, Ali, Buttler/YJH (not both!), Stokes, Woakes, Curran, Rashid, Anderson

      looks like a better balanced side. You could argue we should drop one of the quicks and keep Pope, given that Ali and Rashid could easily bowl 30 overs a day.


  22. LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2018 / 12:23 pm

    There’s a comment on Cricinfo’s live coverage that I had to have a retort to:

    “Cricket (perhaps all sports) fans are so fickle. When India got destroyed in the second Test, they were all rubbish. Now the whole England team is rubbish, and half the team needs to retire. The absolutism of fans and pundits alike is embarrassing. This has been a great test series between 2 great teams, and I’m really looking forward to the remainder.

    NO NO NO NO.

    I hated the second test match because it wasn’t a contest. I hate this match because it isn’t a contest. India had a four and a half test track record in England of failing to make 200. It wasn’t fickle, it was evidence based. I try to bring evidence into matters. Just as England’s paucity of centuries, especially from our top order, is borderline frightening now. There’s evidence for it. Which means if one team plays well, it’s bloody unlikely the other one does. We got saved at Lord’s by a century from a number 7, and we got saved at Edgbaston from a 50 by a 20 year old batting at 8. Foundations for improvement don’t get more solid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aug 21, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      These are not two great teams. The writer of that opinion is an idiot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Aug 21, 2018 / 12:30 pm

        There was that bit, but the crux of that argument needs disabusing. This isn’t us being fickle. If anything it is us being too stubborn in the face of counter-arguments. Until England stick a 500+ score with most of the top order contributing, I will continue to say that if you continue with this line-up the same things are going to happen. Win, Lose or rain-affected draw.


      • Silk Aug 21, 2018 / 1:02 pm

        If India fight back from 2-0 down to not lose the series, I think they can reasonably claim this is one of the greatest Indian Test sides.

        Obviously this is a great England side. Didn’t no lesser man than Michael Vaughan point out, before the Ashes, that 7 or so of the side had a decent shout for the all time England XI, and it was one of (if not the) strongest touring sides to leave these shores?


  23. Silk Aug 21, 2018 / 12:25 pm

    Incidentally, and totally out of context, I was right about Mason Crane, wasn’t I? He’ll never play another Test.


  24. northernlight71 Aug 21, 2018 / 12:28 pm

    Can I be the first person to say – for the love of all that’s sane, England, don’t make Jonny Bairstow bat again.
    Oh, I know he’ll *really* want to, to show how committed he is and how tough he is. But really, why risk even more damage in a hopeless cause? Tell him to go home and rest. Now.


    • oreston Aug 21, 2018 / 12:47 pm

      You’re of course absolutely right about this. He should’ve come out ahead of Stokes, and I really don’t see how it would benefit England’s ludicrously hopeless match situation to send him out later, so maybe they’ve seen sense?


      • d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 12:50 pm

        I am sure he’ll bat at ten or eleven. Broad should be batting at 10 (if Bairstow does not come out). Anderson has a decent defensive technique.


    • OscarDaBosca Aug 21, 2018 / 12:51 pm

      The only reason for Jonny to bat would be if he is coming out this time tomorrow. As that’s not going to happen I agree, he should just go home


    • man in a barrel Aug 21, 2018 / 12:51 pm

      Agreed. Only if England somehow make it to tea tomorrow should they even think about letting him bat.

      However it is awkward that he is the only one of the English batsmen to make 200 runs after 5 innings in this series.


      • d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 4:38 pm

        He batted at 7. Luckily (or unluckily) he was dismissed bowled first ball, so he won’t have aggravated the injury too much.

        Really senseless to send him out like that.


        • thelegglance Aug 21, 2018 / 4:44 pm

          Sending him out to bat says to me he’s out of the next Test for sure (which isn’t surprising). If he wasn’t, I can’t believe they’d have let him.


  25. oreston Aug 21, 2018 / 1:15 pm

    Shiny Toy on TMS: “What would you be gaining from bringing Ian Bell back? Maybe a year?

    We have had lots of swaps and changes in the team. Ian Bell was part of a team that was collapsing.”

    Eh… funnily enough so were Cook Broad and Anderson – and they’re all still in the team. So was IRB the cause of the collapse? Can it be reasonably claimed that the England test team in the brave, new post-Bell era has recovered from this decline ? Isn’t its continuing collapse precisely why there are calls from some quarters for his return, now that he’s in decent nick again? Are you even capable of making a coherent statement characterised by internal logical consistency, Michael?

    Liked by 1 person

    • BoredInAustria Aug 21, 2018 / 2:12 pm

      I take IRB is not being managed by Shiny Toy.


      • oreston Aug 21, 2018 / 5:54 pm

        No. IRB probably has more sense than that (along with 7,727 Test runs, including 22 centuries and 46 fifties and the experience of 118 Tests). It’s all very well saying bringing him back would only be a short term measure, but given the paucity of genuine Test match batting talent coming through I don’t think that argument stands. The top order is a disaster area at the moment. England would be fools not to make proper use of such resources as they have at their disposal for as long as they’re available. As an old pro who’s been there, seen it, done it and bought the proverbial T shirt he might even teach some of the young guns a thing or two about mindset (assuming they’re willing to learn). This is a valid consideration if the GOAT really is on his way out and considering Ramps as a Test batting coach is clearly about as much use as a chocolate teapot.


  26. Rohan Aug 21, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    I see Moeen has made a double century batting at 3, just saying that’s all.


    • d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 4:49 pm

      Also, taken the first four wickets in Yorkshire’s third innings. Could pick a worse time for such an allround performance …


      • oreston Aug 21, 2018 / 6:11 pm

        Sod the allrounder thing. If he comes back at all it should be as a middle order batsman. Any bowling he does should be considered a strictly part time avocation.


        • d'Arthez Aug 22, 2018 / 6:49 am

          True. But Moeen is a viable bowling option. That could also mean that the quicks can go for shorter, more menacing spells, rather than the standard ploy of Anderson 9 overs upfront.


    • dlpthomas Aug 22, 2018 / 3:16 am

      My problem with Moen is that he is another guy who can bat 5 or 6 but not 3 or 4. I worry that the Indian bowlers are quick enough to get him into trouble with the short ball.


      • Silk Aug 22, 2018 / 9:09 am

        I think Mo could bat at 4. But frankly, Mo at 5 would be wonderful.

        Burns, Cook (for now), Denley, Root, Mo, Stokes, Buttler, Rashid, Anderson and pick 2 from Curran, Woakes and Broad

        looks much stronger, and more balanced than what we have at present. Tough on Pope, but if he’s good enough he’ll come again.


        • thelegglance Aug 22, 2018 / 9:12 am

          Not Denly. Never Denly for anything. I have a totally unreasonable dislike for him – not because of anything he’s ever done, but because I used to play league cricket against his Dad (who was a bloody good bat).

          It makes me feel old.

          Liked by 1 person

  27. Mark Aug 21, 2018 / 4:15 pm

    Less than 300 needed. Plenty of time left! Don’t think this match will be a draw.

    Lot of empty seats. The genius of having day four on a Tuesday! I guess we are used to mainly three day test matches these days.


    • Mark Aug 21, 2018 / 4:44 pm

      Then he goes and plays no shot. Could be over tonight now.


  28. d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 4:36 pm

    Buttler made the first fourth innings ton for England since Moeen Ali against Sri Lanka in 2014.

    Admittedly, there was not a lot of pressure (England probably needed to reach lunch tomorrow four or five down for a bit of pressure, given the scoring rate), but still. Good knock from Buttler.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. thelegglance Aug 21, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    Having passed 3,000 runs, Stuart Broad now ranks 43rd on the all time Test run scoring list for England.

    No comment.


  30. d'Arthez Aug 21, 2018 / 6:09 pm

    England live to fight another day. Albeit with just one wicket left.


    • oreston Aug 21, 2018 / 6:20 pm

      Good work too. Problem is, this will be portrayed as some some sort of dogged, Dunkirk spirit rearguard action that magically transforms a heavy loss into a glorious defeat. They’re still more than 200 runs adrift. England’s first innings can’t be un-FUBAR’d. The top order still failed. Again.


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