England vs. India: Fourth Test Preview

The question all week for England has been whether Bairstow can bat with a broken finger, and whether he can keep wicket. According to Joe Root’s pre-game press conference, the answers are “yes” and “no” respectively. Bairstow’s inclusion in the team was a relief to most English cricket fans, since the alternative would presumably have been James Vince having yet another attempt at being a Test batsman. No one (apart from James Vince, Michael Vaughan, and people supporting India) wants that.

The fact that Bairstow will play tomorrow puts into stark relief the lack of depth in English batting right now. That a serious hand injury (which the Indians have declared they will target) isn’t enough to force a player out of the team shows a massive lack of confidence in the people England could call in to replace him. That lack of confidence is fully justified, unfortunately. Haseeb Hameed is the only batsman who has debuted since Bayliss became coach in 2015 and averaged over 30. 30. The gap in quality between Bairstow batting one-handed and his potential replacement James Vince is vast.

In other injury news, Chris Woakes is ruled out with an issue with his quadriceps whilst Ben Stokes was apparently bowling with heavy strapping on his knee in training. With this in mind, it isn’t surprising that England have elected to bring Sam Curran and Moeen Ali in to replace Woakes and Ollie Pope. Whilst it might be a little harsh on Pope, who only had two games to try to cement his place in the team, his low average of 18.00 means that England could justify his replacement with an allrounder as improving the team’s batting overall.

The fact that England have replaced a specialist batsman with a bowling allrounder means that England will have 6 bowlers tomorrow (although Stokes may be used sparingly), which I suspect will test Joe Root’s captaincy in the field somewhat. It also probably suggests that Stokes and Buttler will both bat a place higher than normal, which could be a problem if England’s top order collapses.

Speaking of top order collapses, many people will be watching Alastair Cook closely in the next game after he sustained what was (for him at least) an unprecedented number of questions about his position in the team. His supporters have pointed to his strong record at the Rose Bowl, where he currently averages 110.00 in Test matches, as cause for optimism. I think it is worth pointing out that he has only played three innings there which means it is a very small sample, and his last Test in Southampton was four years ago. He has arguably declined significantly as a batsman since then.

England’s opposition have no such problems. With no reported injuries or selection headaches, it seems likely that India will name the same XI. The only surprise in this is that it would apparently be the first time in Virat Kohli’s tenure as Test captain that India have picked an unchanged team. The tourists have a great opportunity to claim a second win in England, which they haven’t managed in a Test series since 1986.

In lighter news, the ECB are apparently looking for a new President to take over the ceremonial duties from CEO Tom Harrison (who dislikes the spotlight) and Chairman Colin Graves (who seems to cause problems every time he speaks in public). The position is unpaid, and the ECB have made it clear that the new President won’t be allowed to make any public statements without the express consent of the board. Personally I’m hoping Graeme Swann gets the job. Or Michael Vaughan. Or Geoffrey Boycott. Or David Lloyd. Or…

As always, feel free to comment about the game (or anything else) below.


96 thoughts on “England vs. India: Fourth Test Preview

  1. metatone Aug 29, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    It’s hard to comment on Bairstow & Stokes. I’d like to be able to say “if the medical staff have ok’d it, then fine” but the England medical staff setup as regards selection has such a poor record (we don’t know if it’s the med staff at fault, or selectors not listening to them) you fear this is going to be one more instance of players being picked and ending up more seriously injured. Not to mention the danger that any intensification to the injuries may affect their performance in this match.

    Picking 6 bowlers really seemed odd, but if Stokes is struggling then it makes more sense. Will be interesting to see if conditions give Mo & Adil a chance to bowl a lot or not.

    Long term, I’m not sure that picking Mo to bat down the order really helps us with our big problems, rather would have seen them try out someone high up, eg Burns at 3 or something.

    I haven’t any idea how the pitch in the Ageas Bowl is this season, but looking at the weather forecast I suspect this will be a higher scoring game than previous games in this series and that might give India a slight edge. But if I’m honest, I wouldn’t put money on it.


  2. Silk Aug 29, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    I’d rather see Vince @ 3 than an injured Bairstow in the side at all.

    Woakes is a worry, in that he seems to be injured an awful lot. That said, I don’t see any evidence he has a future for England as an overseas bowler, so perhaps – while it’s an obvious loss for him – it’s not such a big loss for England in the long run.

    The England batting lineup looks exceptionally strong, with Curran @ 8 (presumably) and Rashid at 9.

    I still think the selectors don’t have the first clue what their best XI is, if everyone is fit.


    • dannycricket Aug 29, 2018 / 4:49 pm

      I would absolutely pick anyone ahead of a batsman with a broken finger, but at the same time I think an injured Bairstow would score more than a fit Vince. It’s just that I’d prioritise Bairstow’s long term career and fitness over increasing the chances of winning this series.


      • Sophie Aug 29, 2018 / 6:47 pm

        It’s interesting that none of the journalists seems in any way critical of this. They’re all just, “yay, Bairstow is batting up the order and can’t keep wicket!”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark Aug 29, 2018 / 7:05 pm

          They had exactly the same attitude to Mo playing in the Ashes with a damaged finger. Nobody questioned it until we were 3-0 down and the Ashes gone.

          Liked by 3 people

          • thelegglance Aug 30, 2018 / 9:14 am

            At which point it was all about him not being good enough. Which is an argument alright, but failing to take into account that the bloke wasn’t remotely fit was piss poor.


  3. Miami Dad's Six Aug 29, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    Cook. Rose Bowl. Flat deck. India. Ashwin injured.

    All the ingredients for a standing ovulation whilst Nasser screams “REDEMPTION FOR COOK!”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jennyah46 Aug 29, 2018 / 4:47 pm

      I’m leaving for Athens tomorrow morning. If we bat first I’m sorrowfully expecting Cook to be out before I get there.

      Bairstow should not be playing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • dannycricket Aug 29, 2018 / 4:50 pm

        Your reverse psychology isn’t going to work on Cook, I reckon…


        • jennyah46 Aug 29, 2018 / 8:36 pm

          I can’t say I have much hope. Maybe I’ll have the good fortune to miss him dropping catches in the slips. Poor dear Cookie.


    • nonoxcol Aug 29, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      Doctors do say women are more likely to swoon when ovulating.

      (Source: Dr Pringle)


  4. psoans Aug 29, 2018 / 5:11 pm

    Other problems aside; I doubt whether Root knows how to captain spinners. When England bowl he will probably give one or both an over or two each just before lunch. There is no use of having Rashid and Moeen there unless Root will be aggressive with them.


    • dannycricket Aug 29, 2018 / 5:19 pm

      I literally couldn’t believe it when Root took Rashid out of the attack when Kohli came to the crease in the last match. Well I could, I suppose, if only because he’s so bad at captaining spinners.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Aug 29, 2018 / 5:53 pm

        Root is not a very good captain is he? but neither was Cook. We don’t pick captains on ability now. It’s all about image. To be fair there are very few natural leaders, and captains in a lot of modern sport. Lots of Premiership teams have no leaders.

        May have something to do with the all powerful coach, and modern society. I blame the school run. Many Modern kids aren’t trusted to get themselves to school these days.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. thebogfather Aug 29, 2018 / 5:41 pm

    Guilty confession…

    I’ve just bought tickets for day 4 (cheapest – £35),
    I’ve never been to a day of Test Cricket in my life, despite it being my one true love.
    I’m going with a non-cricket loving friend (she has transport). It costs an extra £10 to park. Plus £4.50 in booking fees.
    I shall report back, not just on the cricket, but on the full spectator experience, in prose and rhyme, and with pics… if the game lasts that long…

    ECB… be afraid, be very afraid – hehe


    • Mark Aug 29, 2018 / 5:45 pm

      I really hope that the match gets to day four, and you have a great time. Hope you enjoy yourself!

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Aug 29, 2018 / 5:52 pm

        Thanks Mark, whatever happens, I will strive to enjoy the ‘customer experience’


    • Miami Dad's Six Aug 30, 2018 / 9:29 am

      Advice is to get there early, Boggers – the Ageas Bowl is something of a ballache transport wise. I’m eyeing up coming off the junction before M27 and parking in Harefield. Although I’ve admittedly never stooped to actually paying for parking…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mark Aug 29, 2018 / 5:42 pm

    England played Mo in the Ashes with a damaged finger, that went well!

    If Bairstow gets hit on that finger and screws it up who takes the blame?

    Strauss…..trust is important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebogfather Aug 29, 2018 / 6:27 pm

      Trussed up in bandages and comical medical injections
      Trust is an ECB badinage of self love with flaccid erection
      A cluster-fuck of bad image in wealth fed without viewing reflection
      We must muster to, non-suck, their ‘smell the glove’ with true insurrection… #FTECB


    • oreston Aug 30, 2018 / 9:19 am

      Mohammed Shami has said, obligingly, that the Indian bowlers will be targeting Bairstow’s fractured finger. So if worst comes to worst the ECB hacks might already have a ready-made unsporting foreign bogeyman to pin the blame on – rather than on whoever it was who decided it made sense to play a batsman with a damaged digit.


  7. northernlight71 Aug 29, 2018 / 6:12 pm

    If Bairstow gets any kind of impact on his injured finger (wouldn’t be unheard of….) and then isn’t able to field, am I right in thinking that England won;t be allowed a sub fielder since it’s an injury he already had when the game started? Or is there some clause whereby the exacerbation of a pre-existing problem counts as a new problem for the purposes of a sub fielder?
    Genuinely curious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 29, 2018 / 6:19 pm

      Under Selvey we would have had one bit of consistency in selection.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Aug 29, 2018 / 6:49 pm

        They do love Mo in a way that they don’t love Rashid.

        And we all know it has nothing to do with ability. It’s pure politics. Rashid doesn’t play by the bizarre antiquated rules and cliques of the 1970s county trundlers club, and the upity pundits.

        Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Aug 29, 2018 / 6:51 pm

        Just how many of Selvey’s dogs did Rashid run over?

        Liked by 2 people

    • dannycricket Aug 29, 2018 / 7:08 pm

      I’m not 100% sure, but I think it doesn’t matter so long as the opposing captain says it’s ok. I would guess that Kohli wouldn’t want to get into a Spirit Of Cricket situation like Dhoni did in 2014 with Bell’s run out, so he’d just allow a sub fieldr regardless.


    • thelegglance Aug 30, 2018 / 9:19 am

      Correct. Pre-existing injuries prevent the use of a substitute. In the same way, in club cricket a batsman who came in with a thigh strain shouldn’t be allowed a runner – not that anyone would know in all likelihood.

      India may not object to a sub, but the umpires should, and probably would.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. quebecer Aug 29, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    I do wonder if any other team in world cricket, when taking a couple of years to try to work out what their best team is, would not only fail to make progress, but actually regress.

    No, only England, surely.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pontiac Aug 29, 2018 / 11:47 pm

    I’m surprised Mo and Rashid are both selected.

    I am sure that it will be made up for by neither of them bowling much.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Silk Aug 30, 2018 / 9:48 am

    I genuinely believe that they don’t have any clue whatsoever, if that batting lineup is correct.

    Ali at 7, behind Bairstow (injured), Stokes and Buttler?

    And if England have enough batting to let Ali bat at 7, why wasn’t Pope allowed to bat at 5 or 6?

    File Pope alongside Crane and Bess perhaps? (I reckon we’ve seen the last of Leach and TRJ, as well)

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Aug 30, 2018 / 10:22 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Rashid will be dropped for Leach sometime soon.


  11. Miami Dad's Six Aug 30, 2018 / 10:21 am

    Jennings out LBW, a jaffa that pitched on leg, and went…straight on, not deviating in the slightest, crashing into all three.

    Cut him loose.


  12. thelegglance Aug 30, 2018 / 10:26 am

    I’m really not happy about this ridiculous no ball thing. It’s a plumb lbw, reviewed, and cancelled out because it’s a no ball. India lose their review because the umpire didn’t call the no ball when he should have done.

    This constant issue where the first time the bowler finds out he’s overstepping is when there’s a “wicket”. FFS. No, I have limited sympathy for a bowler who gets that close in general terms, but for God’s sake, call the sodding no ball umpire. That’s your job. Umpires have managed it with the front foot rule for 60 years, why can’t you?

    Liked by 3 people

    • northernlight71 Aug 30, 2018 / 10:42 am

      I agree with your whole comment, though I believe India get to keep their review since if the umpire HAD noticed the no ball when he should, they wouldn’t have bothered to use it if you see what I mean?

      Didn’t cost them much as it turns out…..


      • thelegglance Aug 30, 2018 / 10:46 am

        Aha! Yep, showing two remaining. They’ve obviously changed that from a few years ago. Good, at least. Even so, it may well have cost them a wicket had he known beforehand.


          • Mark Aug 30, 2018 / 11:04 am

            The Judith Chalmers of sports reporting.

            Wish you were here! But unfortunately plebs, you have to pay to get in, I don’t.


          • thelegglance Aug 30, 2018 / 11:05 am

            To be fair, that doesn’t look to me like a press position. He’s probably paid for a ticket.


          • dannycricket Aug 30, 2018 / 11:08 am

            I’d assume he gets it back from his employer as expenses though?


          • thelegglance Aug 30, 2018 / 11:13 am

            Doubt it. I wouldn’t allow anyone to do that in my line of work.


          • Mark Aug 30, 2018 / 11:20 am

            Let’s see if he writes a piece in the Mail tomorrow. Or The Mail on Sunday. His twitter account is like a postcard album. A bucket list of sports venues he’s been to.

            Judith at the cricket, Judith in Bangladesh, Judith at Wembley, Judith at the World Cup, Judith at the Ryder cup, Judith at he boxing, Judith at the Olympics, Judith at Twickenham, Judith at the NFL, Judith at the World Series,Judith at the Masters…….


          • Sherwick Aug 30, 2018 / 12:06 pm

            Wish you were there, Mark? 🙂


          • LordCanisLupus Aug 30, 2018 / 11:45 am

            He frequently does the roving reporter role at sporting events as he doesn’t submit posts / articles until Sunday, by and large. We’ll see.


    • d'Arthez Aug 30, 2018 / 10:47 am

      They don’t lose the review upon discovery of a no-ball. Still they get penalised a run for the review (otherwise it would not have been detected). So still a freebie for the batting side.


  13. d'Arthez Aug 30, 2018 / 10:41 am

    When will England lose a toss?

    15/2, is not exactly a great start upon winning the toss.Let’s see how long Bairstow / his fingers last …


  14. Deep Purple Fred Aug 30, 2018 / 10:43 am

    Looks like that question of Root converting 50’s is not an issue anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. metatone Aug 30, 2018 / 10:49 am

    Atherton talking up the “Cook Redemption” narrative already…


    • d'Arthez Aug 30, 2018 / 11:34 am

      17 is just a fifth of 95, and gone …

      36/4, showcasing again, that 57 all out in New Zealand was not really an aberration.

      Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Aug 30, 2018 / 11:35 am

        Weird shot there…


        • Silk Aug 30, 2018 / 3:02 pm

          Very un-Cook like.

          Worrying, as a Cook fan, that he got out needlessly when set. Getting set was meant to be the issue.


  16. metatone Aug 30, 2018 / 11:14 am

    Feeling a bit like Bairstow was set up to fail there. I don’t know that 4 is normally too high for him to bat, but it certainly is when 2 wickets fall in the first hour…


    • dannycricket Aug 30, 2018 / 11:23 am

      Well England normally lose at least two wickets in the first hour, so that logically means that 4 is too high for Bairstow. The problem is that it’s too high for anyone else as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. metatone Aug 30, 2018 / 11:35 am

    What happened to Cook there?
    Another one bites the dust…


  18. Mark Aug 30, 2018 / 11:41 am

    Why don’t England just reverse their batting order? (I’m deadly serious)

    It’s not as if their top order ever protects their middle order these days.


    • dannycricket Aug 30, 2018 / 11:44 am

      It’s not ridiculous at all. Right now, England’s bottom 6 average 27.40 overall whilst the top 5 average 24.20!


      • Mark Aug 30, 2018 / 11:53 am

        No wonder they were so desperate to get Mo into the team. We might as well just pick eleven all rounders. Specialist batsman are a luxury now!


  19. mdpayne87 Aug 30, 2018 / 11:43 am

    The weighted averages of the top order must be something special.


  20. oreston Aug 30, 2018 / 11:51 am

    Another top order collapse. Yawn. Giving a shot is an increasingly tough ask.


    • oreston Aug 30, 2018 / 11:54 am

      …or even giving a “shit.” (Curses! Foiled by autocorrect…)


      • oreston Aug 30, 2018 / 12:27 pm

        …and when they do it’s loose and leaves a bad smell. Still, we can’t accuse them of having the runs (!)

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Stevet Aug 30, 2018 / 11:56 am

    Anyone notice the deafening silence from the Sky commentary team about Cook’s shot? Just an indeterminate dab at a wide delivery, should he have left it?. Gritted out the first hour and gave it away as far as I’m concerned. But not a single word about it. They all went on about the catch (good though it was).

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 30, 2018 / 12:01 pm

      Naughty George….

      For those of you keeping count, the average is now down to 45. That is now a whole 2.28 runs per innings below a man ejected from the team, who you remember, they tried to justify with “he’s past his best” “his good innings are fewer and further between” and “he’s inconsistent”.

      All good “cricketing reasons”.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Stevet Aug 30, 2018 / 12:08 pm

        Ooh the wee scamp!


        • LordCanisLupus Aug 30, 2018 / 12:09 pm

          Even the defences of that record are less “vociferous” in replies to George. As if his fans have given up as well.

          Liked by 2 people

          • mdpayne87 Aug 30, 2018 / 12:14 pm

            I suspect he’ll be retiring at the end of the series. Can’t see England having two new openers for what is likely to be the series decider.


          • oreston Aug 30, 2018 / 12:35 pm

            Playing Devil’s Advocate, with things as they are what would be the practical downside of having two new openers for a series decider? Would they contribute fewer runs than the incumbents? Whether there’s anybody credible waiting in the wings is another matter – and there lies the true problem.


          • mdpayne87 Aug 30, 2018 / 12:38 pm

            Well if both Cook and Jennings were dropped and England went on to lose the series I don’t think Smith and co would be getting lots of praise, let’s put it that way.


          • oreston Aug 30, 2018 / 12:51 pm

            Equally, persevering with a failing combination and losing a home series with a procession of abject top order batting display might not reflect well either (now that it’s becoming untenable even for the most rabid cultists to deny Cook’s decline). Feeling sorry for Ed Smith isn’t something that comes easily but it’s quite possible that he’s screwed either way, stick or twist, because it’s difficult to envisage a new opening pair doing any better than what we currently have. I wonder if this is how it felt to be a Windies fan about 15 years ago.


          • oreston Aug 30, 2018 / 12:56 pm

            Oh, I suppose we might win at the Oval despite a top order collapse with the aid of the usual bail-out from the lower middle order and the tail. That could be portrayed as a triumph against adversity and a terrific team effort. Of course it wouldn’t resolve anything, but what’s new?


          • LordCanisLupus Aug 30, 2018 / 12:59 pm

            Remember the scenes from one individual who took huge exception to lines like this….

            “Jennings, a debutant centurion, has been cleared better now by the doctors on Sky, until he fails to go on and make the big hundreds he failed to last time.

            I won’t comment on Cook.”

            You don’t have to be Einstein to work this out fellas.

            Other objectionable passages…

            “The second day’s play shows why. With a chance to bury the opposition we get flowery 40s, teasing twenties, and a nightwatchman really showing top order batsmen what to do. I’m not buying the “there’s one with your name on it” twaddle Sky Pravda puts out, but there’s some rubbish dismissals out there. Bairstow, let off an appalling leave which was going over nicks off to the last ball before the new ball is due. Root nicks off early on. Malan gets in, gets out. Bess got one that did something out of the ordinary. Botham tells Bess to enjoy the reaction he gets, while I sit there going “good on him for looking cheesed off for getting out for 49”.”


            I still want my batsmen to destroy opposition, but those days seem a long long time ago now. Unless something odd happens, we’ll be nine completed test innings with just one individual century, and that was a 101. That’s not a recipe for success. One other score of 80+ and two more of 70+.

            I was doing it all wrong.


          • mdpayne87 Aug 30, 2018 / 1:07 pm

            Indeed. He’s in an impossible situation really. Even if Cook and Jennings were dropped and we won the series it doesn’t answer any long-term questions.


          • metatone Aug 30, 2018 / 12:17 pm

            Trouble is we’ll hear all the blah about how he’s perfect for the SL series… so he’ll be there if he wants to be.


          • Mark Aug 30, 2018 / 12:20 pm

            They will have to drop him for his own good. To protect his average.

            “You’ll thank us in forty years time when you are replaying back your Melbourne knock to your grandchildren.”

            I still bet Jennings gets the blame on the Verdict later. Send for Vince will be the cry……….

            Liked by 1 person

          • d'Arthez Aug 30, 2018 / 12:50 pm

            I can’t be bothered to check, but I honestly would not be surprised if England were 4 down for 100 or less in roughly 80% of the innings they have batted in this year.

            The top order barely takes off the shine of the ball these days. Even slow 20s from 80 balls would be more valuable than what the opening pair serve up, almost without exception.

            Anything but dropping the openers will simply amount to rearranging the chairs on a sinking ship. And that sense gets heightened by the continuous selections of the tried and failed, when those who have failed have done nothing about their technical issues that led to the axe in the first place.

            Liked by 1 person

      • amit Aug 30, 2018 / 1:55 pm

        That was when the hope was that chef would go on to replace SRT as the top test scorer. He can still do it – though on his current form it would mean that a few players would have retired from the current team before he does.

        The cook project has been cooked….


    • metatone Aug 30, 2018 / 12:29 pm

      I think we’re rapidly approaching the time where we are that desperate. But watching Bairstow confronted with the new ball bowlers did highlight some of the pitfalls I think.


    • Pontiac Aug 30, 2018 / 12:44 pm

      They can open it when play begins or they can open it an hour after play begins but either way they will be opening.


  22. metatone Aug 30, 2018 / 1:02 pm

    Buttler didn’t repeat his performance. Not sure if it’s fair for me to feel disappointed, but in the match situation, it’s not great…


    • nonoxcol Aug 30, 2018 / 2:45 pm

      2 doubles in a year though!

      Not that 186, 151 and 149 in eight months mattered much to some of the same people, but there you go.


  23. thebogfather Aug 30, 2018 / 1:37 pm

    WTF has WordPress done with the replies! It’ll soon be
    a line


    • thelegglance Aug 30, 2018 / 2:11 pm

      You can either have the ability to reply, or not! It’s set at 10 currently. We can reduce it if you wish Trev… 😉


    • Deep Purple Fred Aug 30, 2018 / 2:33 pm

      If everyone replied to the original post instead of replying to replies, it wouldn’t be a problem.
      Or you could get one that goes up to 11…


  24. Deep Purple Fred Aug 30, 2018 / 2:40 pm

    England clearly doesn’t have any batting problem. Lower middle order is there to save the day, any time it’s required. Ali will score a ton and as long as conditions are good for swing, England will be right back in this.


  25. Mark Aug 30, 2018 / 2:44 pm

    I know nobody cares about these things anymore, but they have only just managed to bowl the 50th over.


  26. ArushaTZ Aug 30, 2018 / 4:19 pm

    Looked at the stats for England’s top order vs lower order.

    Since the start of the 2016 summer:

    For numbers 1-4 England average 33.52 (6th in the world) with 10 centuries.

    For numbers 5-8 England average 35.97 (1st in the world) with 13 centuries.

    Kohli on his own has scored more centuries in the period, than England’s top order.

    England’s top four have more ducks than centuries.


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