After what can be described as a fairly comfortable yet nonetheless satisfactory series win away in Sri Lanka, now comes the real test – India in their home conditions. It’s pretty much safe to say that this Indian team have pretty much put all comers to the sword at home over the past 7 years having lost only in that period and having won 29 out of the last 35 Tests during that period too. This will not be lost on an English team who were trounced 4-0 on their last visit to India.
If England are to have any chance in this series, then their batsmen are going to need to fire in the first innings and their bowlers are going to have create pressure on the Indian batsmen by not giving away silly runs. For the former, it’s obvious that Joe Root will need to score the bulk of the runs much like he did in Sri Lanka. Root is a brilliant player of spin, who is able to rotate the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking which is vital in the subcontinent where it is all too easy to get stuck in a quagmire. Naturally England can’t just rely on their Captain and it will be vital for the likes of Stokes, Pope and the two English openers to try and take some of the pressure off Roots shoulders; however this will easier said than done as this Indian attack not only has great spinners but some rather handy seamers, who showed their skills and worth in Australia. Of course, losing Zak Crawley to a freak wrist injury on the eve of the Test is hardly ideal, but at least we can be thankful it didn’t happen to Root or Stokes.
As for the latter, it will imperative that the English spinners exert some control and limit the scoring, something which they were unable to do in Sri Lanka. It’s not that Leach and Bess bowled awfully, as some social media pundits insisted as they ‘crowned them as the worst English spinners of all time’, at times they bowled well in Sri Lanka. However there were plenty of times when they were pretty innocuous and the inconsistencies were there for all to see. This is an area the Indian batsmen will likely target and punish if we don’t see an improvement in this department, after all we can’t just rely on Jimmy Anderson and Broad to be the only bowlers that can give England any control on the field.
It will also be interesting to see what the pitches are like, especially as India have introduced a new cricket ball with a more pronounced seam. Now whether this means the ball will more beneficial for the seam bowlers is something we don’t know yet, but it is at least something to think about when thinking about the make-up of the English team. All too often in the last Indian series, England were guilty of picking the team they wished they’d picked for the previous Test rather than on the merits of the pitch in front of them. If England continue to do this, then it could be a long series in the field for Joe Root’s men.
As for India, they’ve probably got one of the strongest lines ups I’ve seen for an Indian side in quite a while. The top 5 of Rohit, Gill, Pujara, Kohli and Rahane is up there in Test cricket as one of the most powerful top 5, that alongside a bowling attack of Bumrah, Shami and Ashwin, who is finally showing that he can has all the skills to be effective both at home and away from home, is going to be a real challenge for any touring team. India will be disappointed that Jadeja has been ruled out of the series as he adds much to this team with ball and bat; however in Thakur, Sundar and Axar Patel, India have plenty of other spin options to give the English batsmen nightmares.
On a last note, it is wonderful to see cricket being shown on an FTA platform after 16 years locked behind a paywall and Channel 4 deserve a lot of credit for making it happen, especially as negotiating with Star Sports is akin to pulling teeth. It did make me smile yesterday when I saw people complaining on Twitter that it won’t be able to match the coverage of Sky’s production, which to me is like winning £10 million on the lottery and then complaining it wasn’t £12 million. Naturally the commentary feed will be taken from Star Sports who will do anything not to upset the BCCI in any way, shape or manner and naturally the in studio analysis won’t be able to match that of the well oiled Sky machine, but to have cricket on a free to air platform that anyone who is either a fan or just curious about the game can access, far outweighs any negatives.
Of course the view at the ECB might be a little different to the fans, with a prime series going for pretty much peanuts with neither Sky nor BT being inclined to bid for it, might indicate a switch in priorities for both broadcasters moving forward. What is certain is that the next TV deal is not going to look anything like the current one and the ECB are going to need to quicky realise that they’ve been to the well one too many times and plan accordingly. That conversation is for a different time and I for one am looking forward to seeing cricket back on a free to air, with hopefully the viewing figures to match Channel 4’s investment.
As ever feel free to comment on anything about the game below:
Finally a use for Channel 4!
Seriously though, good on them.
Good article apart from the bit about our spinners being good in Sri Lanka. Sorry they weren’t!
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I am thrilled that Channel 4 got the rights but don’t you think it is time that we talked about the concept of FTA? A TV license costs double of a prime subscription. I don’t think I will be buying a TV license just to watch the series. Bess shouldn’t be in the side. He is lucky and somehow he is able to produce with the ball or bat when his place is under threat.
It’s a fair point, although I don’t think it’ll be long until one of the big players (Amazon being my guess) makes a play for UK sports rights like cricket.
Right now, more people have a TV license than currently have any of the streaming services. There are 27m households with a TV license, and 13m households using a streaming service. So TV is still the biggest available market, and should be the primary way of attracting new fans to the sport. That might change, although when it does it’s possible that streaming services will face some kind of license fee or tax to cover the BBC or other public service content.
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The problem though is that we have allowed ourselves to accept the TV license.
Yeah. It is essentially a fixed tax which places a disproportionately large burden on the poor. I’m not a fan.
As for the next two months, as far as I’m aware there’s no check for the license fee on watching via the Channel 4 website, although from a legal perspective you would still need it. You can also get a TV license cancel after two months, and claim a refund for the unpaid months, which would cost around £27.
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I went through the process of declaring that I don’t need a TV license and I felt as if I was being interrogated for a crime. I kept repeating “I do not watch Live TV and do not use BBC iplayer.” The person who you speak to has the right not to issue a refund and I don’t think you can appeal that decision. My guess is that if your cancellation is successful then it is likely that you will be charged for three months.
Well, given that the ECB are likely to have to cut their coat according to their cloth–and the peak in TV rights in this cycle is something I remember reading about in 2017 or 2018, so they should have had plenty of time to contemplate it–it’s just lucky that their current budgeting includes an item which is projected to lose £60m over the next five years which they could save by binning it.
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Always give the public what they don’t want..
Axar Patel also ruled out for India, so England “only” have to contend with Nadeem and Ashwin. Great first 100 minutes for England, then Burns has an absolute brainfade, and Kohli was smart enough to send Bumrah on to deal with Lawrence.
So 63/0 has become 67/2 by lunch. With Root almost run out, due to a bit of hesitation. India won’t be too dissatisfied with that start (probably other than losing the toss), given the lack of success they had in the first 100 minutes or so.
England under a fair bit of pressure since lunch.
Nick Knight seems amazed that Sibley manages to score runs having never been on an “England Lions” tour.
One wonders if perhaps the reason he scores runs is that he’s never been on an “England Lions” tour.
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If you’re quoting verbatim what Knight said, then he’s showing his factual ignorance too. It’s all of twelve months since Sibley went on a Lions tour….and he scored a 277-ball hundred in the only “Test”!
He was raised by wolves or heathens or something, well outside the England bubble in a weird, lesser known world apparently called First Class County Cricket. He’s learning to play spin as he’s never faced anyone not trundling a ball down at 78mph, nipping it around on a green seamer.
I wouldn’t be able to quote Knight verbatim, thankfully – but that’s the gist of what he said.
Well done Joe Root. A fantastic knock!
And well played Dom Sibley, he held the innings together. It was a shame he got out to the last ball of the day but hope he realises how important his innings was. A very good day for England.
Excellent day for England.
Meanwhile, whoever posted here recently that Faf is one of the best middle order players in the world: hahahahahhahahahahaha
It might have been me.
From a distance, a middle order player averaging in excess of 40 makes him pretty a pretty good asset these days*, although as you mentioned he has rather fallen off a cliff in the last couple of years.
*It’s why England’s good start is still far from a dominant position. Stokes, Pope and Buttler have superb potential as a lower middle order, but ultimately they all average in the 30s.
He is only averaging 40+ because he cashed in against Sri Lanka, when they were playing with half a bowling attack in the first Test a month ago, i.e. when they could hardly muster any threat.
And it has been like that for years. I think in 2018 he made all of 1 hundred and 2 fifties from 20 innings, to average 24. I know South Africa don’t play that much, but making 2 fifties on the road in the last years is not exactly a contribution you expect from a middle order bat.
Oh and look, Quinton de Kock out for yet another ODI 29 from 20 balls.
*last 3 years