India vs England: 1st Test, Day Four

At around this time, there’s a decent chance my fellow writers on here will be waking up, having spent the early hours of the morning watching the Superbowl. Since this passes right over my head, to the point that not only do I not know who won as I write this, I don’t even know who was in the final. If it’s called a final. And that’s before I try and get my head around play-offs that aren’t play-offs. Or something. I could be wrong, and probably am, but if there’s something that both amuses and irritates them, it’s that I don’t care if I am. Still, they think it’s my loss. Anyway, it meant that I was duly elected as the one to say something today, and I can assure everyone that the others were unanimous in this view.

Back to the cricket, which is why we’re all here. England will go into the final day needing 9 wickets from 90 overs, and it’s something they ought to achieve. The pitch is still good for a fourth day surface, but it’s also showing disconcerting bounce from time to time, both low and high, and it only takes that to happen a few times to make all the difference. But if India were 8 wickets down and escaping with a draw, there will undoubtedly be fingers pointed at the approach England took in the final session, not being especially aggressive with the bat, and not declaring either.

It is forever the case that armchair observers, whether former players or the wider public, are much more aggressive in their thinking than captain and coach ever are. Alastair Cook did his best to try to explain what England might be thinking about (to have two goes with a fairly new ball both this evening and tomorrow morning) but it was fairly clear he didn’t entirely agree. Yet his own captaincy was littered with extremely conservative declarations, and few would deny that on balance Joe Root is much less so – not least given he had his fingers burned once with a bold declaration. That’s not a criticism of Cook in this instance, but it is to note that his evident frustration watching on was very different from his approach as captain. He was self-aware enough to acknowledge the contradiction, but also correctly pointed out that it was less about the specific timing as much as the very curious negativity in the batting.

India will overall be comparatively pleased – their position at the start of play was far enough behind that they could have ended up with a lot longer to bat than they will. That was down almost entirely to Washington Sundar, who batted with controlled aggression to narrow the gap somewhat. But 241 remained a huge lead for England, and meant that even losing early wickets didn’t materially affect that position. In such circumstances, it’s often most helpful to be bowled out in reasonable time while scoring quickly, and for much of their 2nd innings it was exactly how it seemed to be unfolding. Root and Pope in particular took chances and went along at not far short of a run a ball. With both their dismissals, that suddenly changed.

There have been some quite exceptional run chases in recent times, and perhaps that is more in the minds of captains than it has been, but 381 more runs to set a world record on a day five pitch seems an absurd prospect. Yes, the likes of Rishabh Pant are aggressive players, but to worry about a world record chase at four an over would be to take caution to the most extreme of levels. If they were to pull off a miracle like that, there’s no point in factoring it in, it would be the freak of all freaks.

Having taken one wicket this evening, the draw is by far the bigger risk and it is that that would represent grounds for criticism. It seems likely the thinking was to preserve the freshness of the bowlers, and it’s a view. The outcome this time tomorrow will dictate the wisdom of it.

32 thoughts on “India vs England: 1st Test, Day Four

  1. nonoxcol Feb 8, 2021 / 12:52 pm

    I may be wrong (my memory of the First Moores Empire is hazy) but I tend to feel that the really conservative England declarations started with Strauss in the West Indies in 08/09. Where, you could argue, it cost them at least a drawn series. St. John’s especially remains the insurmountable benchmark of WTF. And England have had only two F/T captains since Strauss retired, of course.

    Certainly I don’t associate them with Vaughan during that blissful age when we didn’t know what a bellend he was. Old Trafford 2005 was perfect. Durban 04/05 was as perfect as you can get when you were facing down a deficit of nearly 200. Lord’s 2004 v WI was spot on. I don’t accept the argument that he had more help setting them up: surely Stokes and Buttler are as capable as Trescothick and Flintoff.

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    • thelegglance Feb 8, 2021 / 1:02 pm

      Yes, the Strauss ones cost England that series. Doing it twice was pretty unforgivable. I guess we will know tomorrow, but it was a curious lack of intensity today after tea.

      Like

    • Marek Feb 8, 2021 / 2:30 pm

      Do you think that maybe Root still remembers that he was the captain who once lost a f-c match by conceding almost 500?

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      • thelegglance Feb 8, 2021 / 2:33 pm

        Headingley 2017 v the West Indies might be the one. He’d be less than human not to think about it sometimes, even though it was the right call. England just played poorly.

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        • Miami Dad's Six Feb 8, 2021 / 4:25 pm

          I am sure there was one where he captained Yorkshire that Marek’s on about, Chris Rogers got an unbeaten double ton for Middlesex and they chased a fraction under 500.

          I don’t know why I know that.

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          • Sean Feb 8, 2021 / 10:36 pm

            Yep, Chris Rodgers made an unbeaten double hundred from memory. I think they were chasing 470 odd too.

            TBF to Root it was his first game as captain I believe and the pitch absolutely flattened out. Still it was an amazing innings from Rodgers

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          • Marek Feb 8, 2021 / 11:35 pm

            Ouch–I’d forgotten that they only lost three wickets and scored at getting on for five an over.

            Still, could be worse: he could have been part of the Lions team that lost a game by conceding over 500 at four an over (hello, esteemed National Selector…although he wasn’t the captain) or (the shellacking that sticks in my mind) the England team that set Australia A 376 to win and lost in 55 overs.

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          • dlpthomas Feb 9, 2021 / 4:54 am

            Didn’t he get the nick name “craptain” for a while afterwards?

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        • Marek Feb 8, 2021 / 9:14 pm

          Yes, that was the one I was thinking of, MD6!

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  2. Mark Feb 8, 2021 / 1:15 pm

    It’s funny how the follow on is now almost completely off the table for any lead less than 300. The modern position is always bat again. Give the bowlers a rest, and don’t ever have to bat on the final day.

    Yet it does seem rather contradictory to at the same time believe that on the one hand batting the last fifty overs on the final day is such a high risk…….. while simultaneously thinking we have to worry that the opposition could easily chase down over 400 on said minefield. I think it’s completely phycological. It’s a fear of losing, rather than embracing a win.

    Dare one say it, but it’s the bowlers who are regularly asked to perform under pressure to win a game not the batsman. It’s a batsman’s game as they say.

    Whatever, if England get the ten wickets it will be taken to be the right decision. If they don’t, people may ask why England were not really scoring very fast at the end of their innings? They were just taking time out of the game. If India do chase the runs then good luck to them. Perhaps England will then wonder if they should have made them follow on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Feb 8, 2021 / 2:35 pm

      I guess the very short gaps between Tests may be behind that.

      Though I have to say, I usually think batting again is the right call – unless there’s a serious time pressure.

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  3. man in a barrel Feb 8, 2021 / 3:46 pm

    Now that the pitch and run-ups are covered, even in England, it takes a lot of the threat of rain out of the equation, so teams will always be reluctant to enforce the follow on. You would only do it if it were the only conceivable way you could achieve a win and you fancied a bit of a gamble. That rules out most international captains

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  4. Tom Kerr Feb 9, 2021 / 4:58 am

    This is a fairly decent first over from Anderson this morning…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dArthez Feb 9, 2021 / 6:10 am

    Luckily for England, India’s batting was quite poor in the morning.

    Like

    • dlpthomas Feb 9, 2021 / 6:39 am

      To be fair, that Anderson fellow did bowl quite well

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tom Kerr Feb 9, 2021 / 7:03 am

      So was some of the bowling from England’s spinners. To be fair, the wickets were taken with some very good balls, even Pant’s wicket came about from a cutter by Anderson. Gill and Rahane’s wickets came about from two brilliant reverse-swinging ripsnorters from Anderson, and Rahane was lucky not to be given out LBW before he was bowled.

      I’ve wanted to use the word ripsnorter for a long time now! 😉

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  6. Tom Kerr Feb 9, 2021 / 7:53 am

    The end is nigh. I was glad to see Stokes get a wicket as he bowled pretty well and getting Kohli out was a bonus. It was pretty much a seamer’s wicket on a 5th day pitch but he bowled it in the right place and was rewarded. Leach gets another and now wicket left to take.

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    • Tom Kerr Feb 9, 2021 / 7:54 am

      …one wicket…

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  7. Tom Kerr Feb 9, 2021 / 8:00 am

    WTF just happened regarding the hit wicket? I don’t think I’ve seen that before? The batsman was nowhere near the wicket, the stumps were askew and a bail dropped off.

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      • Tom Kerr Feb 9, 2021 / 10:11 am

        I think I can rule that out, a powerful space laser would just set the stumps on fire. The DRS review would be interesting though.

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        • dlpthomas Feb 9, 2021 / 10:31 am

          Good point. Maybe Stokes has telekinetic powers – he seems to be able to do everything else.

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  8. Miami Dad's Six Feb 9, 2021 / 9:28 am

    That’s about as good a win as you can hope for away from home against a “good” side. Batting first hit 550, weasle them out across a couple of hard days for a decent lead, kill the chance of an India victory on Day 4, before rolling them over before tea on Day 5.

    A few notable performances:

    * Joe Root – give him Cook’s knighthood because he’s the “BEST EV0R”.
    * Sibley – batting through Day One eased any nerves.
    * Buttler – kept really well, and has done all winter – odd now to be sending him home.
    * Jimmy and Archer – Broad was v unlucky to miss out, but they were both great.
    * Leach – after 8 overs went for 8, his figures were 6 – 100 from 42 overs. Got his 50th Test wicket today, and is averaging 30. That’s under the category of “good” for an English spinner.

    The “Miami Dad’s Six Jury” is still out on:

    * Burns
    * Pope
    * Lawrence
    * Bess (very harsh as he did well, and I’m well aware of that)

    Finally… the home umpires were great – certainly better than the equivalent’s during the last English summer. I can remember Pope being given caught off his fore arm sweeping, but even that wasn’t a shocker tbh – and very few other errors.

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    • dlpthomas Feb 9, 2021 / 10:39 am

      That’s a good summary – especially about Buttler. Just as I am starting to admit I was wrong about picking him, they send him home.

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      • Miami Dad's Six Feb 9, 2021 / 10:49 am

        Yeah he’s just about my 3rd choice keeper behind Foakes and Bairstow in red ball cricket, but he’s been a really good tourist this winter, and I would have picked him if he was available for the next 3 Tests. Now it shoves Foakes straight into a Test match in Chennai when he last played a match probably 8 months ago (someone might come at me with some of those inconvenient facts that prove that statement horribly wrong, but if he’s undercooked and drops a couple then who can we really blame?).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Mark Feb 9, 2021 / 10:08 am

    In the end as we said yesterday……if ten wickets were taken today everything else else would be irrelevant.

    From the first day of this test when they lost a couple of early wickets England have been under little pressure all match. They have been in total control. Bat first, score big, and then control the game.

    When you see them like this you do wonder sometimes why they often fail to win so many series against lesser opposition.

    As to India, a poor performance. So much was expected on the back of Australia, and maybe that series has blunted them a little in this match. They have a huge amount of improvement needed if they are to be competitive in this series. But we know they have the ability.

    Once again Channel 4 manages to broadcast a good England win to the masses free to air. From 2005s Ashes to the 20/20 final, and now this match. I wonder if the Sky puritans in our self satisfied media think that is quite a good thing? Or do they not care as long as they can pay the subscription charges? If people wanted to sample a bit of test cricket they have had a chance the last few days which has to be a good thing surely? Even rather pompous Times journalists should agree about that???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tom Kerr Feb 9, 2021 / 10:24 am

      I didn’t realize the series was being shown by channel 4 in the UK – I’m in the US and had to pay to watch via Hotstar, but it’s not a lot of money for a year’s cricket. I’m so pleased to see cricket is back on free-to-air TV in the UK.

      Was the service made available because of the pandemic? If so, I’m worried it won’t last very long. Even in the US we get to see free-to-air live American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. Not that I watch much of it, but it’s there if I want to. Can anyone point me to something in the press I can read or, if you’re up to it, explain the current situation in the UK?

      Thanks!

      Like

      • Miami Dad's Six Feb 9, 2021 / 10:29 am

        No, sinisterly the “partner of cricket” called SKY didn’t see fit to even bid for the rights. It was only a couple of days before the Test that C4 stepped in.

        Like

        • Mark Feb 9, 2021 / 11:06 am

          Exactly! Sky, the home of English cricket apparently didn’t want the series. Or at least didn’t want to pay the money for it. That alone seems to have passed the Sky loyalists in the media by. Still, it gave a chance for a bit of free to air coverage for people who wanted to watch.

          The criticism of the Sky deal from the outset was not that the ECB sold the rights to Sky. Everyone understands they needed the revenue. But it was they sold the whole shebang. All formats and every competition, domestic and international. So cricket just disappeared over night off most people’s TVs.

          Image in the US if over night all football, baseball and Basketball just disappeared in a flash? That’s what happened to cricket in England.

          Like

          • Miami Dad's Six Feb 9, 2021 / 1:46 pm

            I got some stick in the Graun comments not that long ago for stating that SKY hate cricket. My argument was that holding the rights to the Bob Willis Trophy final wasn’t actually being enough of a partner to the sport as it should be – and perhaps, as the rightsholder, they should actually show the bloody thing on their supposedly dedicated channel.

            Channel 4’s coverage was absolutely fine, in fact the commentary teams were better than SKY and even Cook was ok in his role. I don’t actually give that much of a toss about anything other than, ya know, watching the sport. The fact I didn’t have to stream it on a tablet and was available for free on TV meant that I probably watched about 3 times as much of it as I would have otherwise done.

            Like

  10. Rob Feb 9, 2021 / 3:26 pm

    Glad to see MDS – this site’s MBS – takes a similar line to Merv Hughes – the same Australian who refused to pay for a Foxtel subscription.

    Shame he is not a selector as Merv was. Or has his own consulate….

    Like

    • Miami Dad's Six Feb 12, 2021 / 11:16 am

      Missed this – MBS..?

      Yeah I just don’t want to pay for it, mainly. I would consider if it was a one off subscription solely for cricket, but…it isn’t. Even then I’d be wondering if perhaps, actually, the money could be better spent on something useful for the kids.

      If I were a selector Samit Patel would have coasted past 100 caps batting at 6. So probably for the best that we forget that.

      Like

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