India vs. England, 4th Test, Day 2 – I Closed My Eyes and I Slipped Away

When I wrote the preview for this series back in early Feb, one of the key things I highlighted as a concern for England was their habit of picking a team that they wished they’d picked for the previous Test like they did when they last toured India. Sadly those that ignore history are doomed to make the same mistakes time and time again as Rishabh Pant piled into a tiring England attack who were a bowler short with their selection for this Test.

Whilst Pant took away this game and the Test series in the last session on Day 2, it must have been extremely galling for Stokes and Anderson, the former suffering with a stomach upset, who had bowled quite gallantly in difficult conditions earlier in the day. The lack of quick bowling options forced Stokes into a frontline bowling position, which is not exactly ideal as he is one of England’s best batsmen, yet he bowled with heart and no little skill to get England into a position where a first innings lead was a possibility before the Pant pyrotechnics. The wickets of Kohli to a sharp riser and then a wonderful inswinger to beat the defences of Rohit were a fast bowler’s dream scenario and with Anderson at the other end bowling miserly, the thought of a Mark Wood backing them up would have been the absolute ideal on this pitch. It was only when a clearly exhausted Stokes returned for his final spell that the wheels came off, though that was hardly unexpected due to the heat and workload put upon Stokes. Put it this way, I really don’t want to see our best all-rounder having to bowl 20 overs in a day anytime soon.

Of course at the heart of this was England’s nonsensical decision to go in with only 4 front line bowlers and Joe Root, who was never going to repeat his bowling heroics of the third Test. The recall of Dom Bess in essence gave England 3 front line bowlers as once again he struggled with rhythm, bowled too many full tosses and gave the Indian batsmen easy runs to relieve the pressure. This isn’t me having a go at Bess mind, being an international spin bowler is one of the hardest jobs in cricket and asking a young lad, who has never been first choice at his county, to learn on the job against one of the best attacks against spin bowling was always going to be an incredibly tough ask. I said during the Sri Lanka tour that Bess really looks like he needs a couple of seasons of county cricket to hone his skills before he should be playing for England on a regular basis. Don’t forget Graeme Swann, probably England’s finest proponent of spin in the modern ages was a bit rubbish when he first came onto the international scene but was a different player when he returned to the international side after honing his skills at Northants first and then latterly Nottinghamshire. Of course the ECB’s decision to push 4 day cricket to the outer extremes of the cricket season is not going to help the development of any young spinner coming through, but I would like to see Bess bowling regularly for Yorkshire this summer.

As for Rishabh Pant’s innings, well what can you say that others have not said? His positive approach whatever the scoreboard shows is absolutely refreshing and whilst it might not come off all the time, he has undoubtedly been a big reason why India will compete for the World Test Championship in England later on this year. The two shots that will live in memory for a long time were the sight of him charging down the wicket against Anderson with a new ball in hand and thumping it over mid-off and then the most audacious reverse paddle sweep over the slips from the same bowler. Even though the pitch wasn’t the most conducive to fast bowling, to do that against a guy with over 600 wickets is something else. The look Anderson gave when returning to his mark said everything that needed to be said.

We at BOC don’t like the current culture of besteveritis or comparing young players to past greats, but there are certainly shades of Adam Gilchrist in the way Pant bats and his ability to take the game away from you in a session. Of course, there will be tougher times ahead for Pant on pitches that offer more lateral movement, but I do hope he continues with his approach as it’s wonderful to watch as long as you’re not on the end of it. It would also be churlish not to mention the contribution of Washington Sundar, who looked at ease at the crease and played a gem of an innings as second fiddle to the fireworks going off at the other end.

Whilst it may not be over yet, with England having a squeak of a chance if they can take the final wickets with a lead under 100, it would be a very brave or foolish person to wager on England winning from here. A poor first session tomorrow morning and it may well be start the car time.

As ever thoughts on the game appreciated below.

31 thoughts on “India vs. England, 4th Test, Day 2 – I Closed My Eyes and I Slipped Away

  1. Aden Biddle Mar 5, 2021 / 6:55 pm

    Many people has written tonight about Bess all of them on a similar vein. One things that strikes me is the shorter tours and currently the bio bubble reduces game time even more there is just nowhere for these players to play currently. I hope the ECB when permitted find places for young bowlers not just spinner to spend time in different environments. Not a slight at all but in ECB club premier leagues there as just as good spinners mainly because they are so unwanted by county sides also club pitches favour spinners much more they are a key part of the amateur and semi pro cricket world. It seems so specialist that the ECB could look for raw talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Mar 5, 2021 / 8:31 pm

    Good points made Sean. How can an England spin bowler learn his trade when cricket is played mainly in May, late August, and early September so as to accommodate the short form stuff? We have seen a revolution in the way cricket is delivered in this country and not for the better.

    And the knock on is how will any England. Batsman learn to play spin when there are no helpful spin conditions to bat in? Tours of India will become rather predictable.

    Perhaps a better pick would not have been Dom Bess but Monty Don seeing as they seem completely unable to read 22 yards of soil. Perhaps a team horticulturalist should be now added to the back room staff?

    I wish it wasn’t the case but I really don’t think the ECB give a stuff about this tour. Or any other for that matter. Everything is now focused on the 16.4. If that comes off they won’t car a jot about Test cricket.

    What type of pitch should we prepare for The Test match championship final? Lush green seamers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean Mar 5, 2021 / 8:47 pm

      My thoughts exactly Mark. I think the ECB would like a competitive Test side, but it’s a ‘nice to have’ for the ECB but not a ‘must have’.

      They’ve wedded themselves to the white ball game and the 16.4 if you can call that cricket..

      I’d suggest my 11 old nephew who isn’t all that into cricket could read a pitch better than the English think tank..

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  3. dlpthomas Mar 6, 2021 / 5:21 am

    After yesterdays efforts, I’m not sure how Stokes managed to get out of bed let alone bowl. India now lead by 150 with 3 wickets in hand making it a real possibility that we will loose by an innings despite picking an extra batsmen.

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  4. dlpthomas Mar 6, 2021 / 5:39 am

    India promptly loose 3 wickets in 5 balls and Sundar is stranded on 96 not out. It’s a cruel game.

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    • Ddarthez Mar 6, 2021 / 6:37 am

      Sundar really deserved a ton. Great batting innings.

      I think India suffered 4 ducks, and England none. Still ended up with a rather useful 160-run lead. In the Moores era that might have led someone to say that scoring ducks is a good strategy to score runs.

      The injury to siraj may prove to be important.

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      • Ddarthez Mar 6, 2021 / 6:59 am

        It is thus far. But that is because Ashwin is a pretty decent new ball bowler.

        10/2 is not the start England needed. Oh and can anyone think of a worse number 3 England have ever played than bairstow? From a technical perspective.

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        • dlpthomas Mar 6, 2021 / 7:04 am

          I see I’m not the only one who doesn’t think Bairstow is a number 3. Its not just technique, he also doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes.

          I agree about Sundar – really good innings. I’m off to see Russel Howard – this could be over by the time I get home.

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          • dlpthomas Mar 6, 2021 / 7:05 am

            “Russell” – my spelling really is shit.

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  5. dlpthomas Mar 6, 2021 / 7:10 am

    Sibley a bit unlucky by why on earth did they need the third umpire for that decision?

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    • Miami Dad's Six Mar 6, 2021 / 7:28 am

      Stokes out paddle sweeping when there’s a leg slip in place. I’ll give him the benefit of his brain being completely fried from his bowling exertions.

      Like

      • Statman Tom Mar 6, 2021 / 1:52 pm

        Surely the smart thing to do would be to drop him down the order given his efforts in the field and the 10overs rest the top 3 gave him?

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  6. Mark Mar 6, 2021 / 9:17 am

    This has been a shockingly inept performance. From the strange selection to the hopeless batting.

    Bairstow looks like a novice. I remember when he made runs against SA at Lords in 2012. 95 in the first innings and 50 odd in the second chasing a score of over 300. I thought he would really go on to have a good test career. He averages around 35. Six centuries, and 20 fifties. Not top notch but he obviously can play. His propensity to be out either bowled or LBW is a major problem. I wonder if he is a player who’s technique has been compromised by the onset of 20/ 20 cricket?

    As others have said, he is not really a number 3. A bit like like Ravi Bopara. A decent player, but never a Test match number 3. Ravi used to get out LBW a lot as well hitting across the line.

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    • Statman Tom Mar 6, 2021 / 2:00 pm

      Bairstow’s technique has 100% been compromised by white ball cricket. If you look back at those innings you mentioned he’s much more closed off in his stance and a leg side dominant player. His desire to get into the white ball set-up has seen him open up his stance to access the offside but it leaves his stumps very exposed. Even in T20 cricket he is prone to being bowled. 7 of his 19 innings in the IPL have ended in him being bowled that’s the 3rd worst record (% wise) in the competition’s history

      Like

  7. dArthez Mar 6, 2021 / 10:24 am

    Chances are high of course that Lawrence will be dropped as Johnny Duckshow has to retain his spot …

    Note that the seventh and 8th partnership for India were 113 and 106 runs. Sure pitch will have deteriorated a bit after that, but not to the extent of it being a 135 all out pitch (or if it was, what the hell were England bowling in the last 2 sessions of India’s batting?).

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    • Marek Mar 6, 2021 / 1:57 pm

      That seems pretty unlikely to me. If Lawrence is dropped, it would be to accommodate Buttler as well as Foakes. I suspect it’s more likely that Foakes will be dropped. I would be quite surprised if Bairstow wasn’t dropped–he hasn’t exactly been an integral part of England’s batting for the last three years.

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  8. Amit Garg Mar 6, 2021 / 10:39 am

    England batsmen didn’t really show up today for work. No heart. Soft wickets for most. That alone will hurt them if they introspect. This was not a wicket where they should’ve lost 10 wickets to 2 spinners on day 3.

    Plenty of plaudits for the young guns in the Indian team who played hard cricket.
    Ashwin should be the man of series for me. Either him or Pant for his batting, improved keeping or funny comments behind the stump.

    Like

    • Mark Mar 6, 2021 / 11:22 am

      I agree with this. England’s batsman didn’t show up. The pitch was not to blame. This was an abject batting performance in both innings. They deserve what they got. Nothing.

      Unfortunately it’s only going to get worse as English cricket is now totally organised for 20/20 and 16.4 cricket. Spinners can’t learn their trade, and neither can batsman learn to play spin. The selectors have made weird selections but the truth is the cupboard is bare.

      Also the governing body has decided that one day cricket is where the money is. So players will understandably learn how to play improvised attacking shots on flatter wickets that take little spin. The only saving grace for England is that a lot of other test playing countries are in the same situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. man in a barrel Mar 6, 2021 / 10:41 am

    To be fair, yesterday evening, both Stokes and Anderson were shot and Leach could hardly be expected to turn the screw by himself. It still took 20 overs this morning to winkle them out. Sundar is a good batsman. His last first class innings before this set of Tests was 2 years ago, a not out 150! Still, it suggested that this was not a minefield. It helps if you play the ball that is bowled rather than the one that you are imagining. The ball that turns occasionally rather than the ball that is always turning square. The slightly inconsistent bounce might lead you to consider that the sweep is not a percentage shot. But then again, I am not a man highly paid to make runs. Bairstow and Co could have watched Sundar and Patel play orthodox, sensible cricket and think that perhaps they could play like that. But they are not noted for their powers of thought and perception. Bring back the amateurs!

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  10. Amit Garg Mar 6, 2021 / 10:59 am

    Who will pick up run scoring from the likes of Cook, KP, Trott and Bell?
    The talent seemed thin on the evidence presented.
    Lawrence scored some runs but I am not sure if that’s him applying himself or just trying to get runs with nothing left to lose. Only he came out with some credit in this match.

    Sibley / Burns don’t cut it for me in Asia. Pope looked unsure of his footwork against spin. Bairstow endured a miserable 2 games but stats suggest that he was in a rut against India leading up to this game.

    These guys might be on top of their game at home but I would like to see someone step up and take over run making from Root.

    God forbid Root needs to be rested or gets injured. England won’t have a test standard batsman averaging above 40 to bat for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Mar 6, 2021 / 11:10 am

      To be fair to Bairstow, who I think has been thoroughly mismanaged by England over the last 4 years, and who has played way too little red-ball cricket for a very long time, he did well against India in 2018 until he broke a finger, and that was when he lost all form. He was 7 runs short of a hundred in the game before that, and he was looking back to his best for the first time since that enforced stint of almost half a year of not playing any cricket in early 2017. It’s been going downhill from there. I think they’ve just been taking him for granted and never considered that he might need looking after. And before this test, Root got out the old ‘he’s at his best when he has a point to prove’, which is of course bullshit, but if the management thinks like that, what do you expect?

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      • Amit Garg Mar 6, 2021 / 11:22 am

        In 10 innings since that 93, he has 3 double digit scores with a top score of 28 and 6 ducks. That record does not inspire confidence. Why was he picked? Did they run out of other options on the tour?

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        • Sophie Mar 6, 2021 / 11:33 am

          I suspect they picked him because he did well in Sri Lanka the last time, and they think all he needs is constantly getting told he has to prove himself. He has had no chance whatsoever to sort his game out since they dropped him after the Ashes. And they never should have made him bat on 3.

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      • Marek Mar 6, 2021 / 2:19 pm

        Well, if Bairstow’s broken finger impacted his batting badly enough to turn him from a player who was averaging 50 in the series into one who scored 6 in four innings, then he should have declared himself unfit–and my memory is that he was picked because he insisted on being picked rather than because the selectors or management insisted on it.

        I don’t understand this “Bairstow’s been badly treated” argument. To me, he’s the most indulged player of the last few years, and the management seem permanently in fear of his tantrums. He’s had every opportunity, starting from a base at the start of 2017 where he was one of England’s most valued players, and he simply hasn’t delivered.

        In 2017, he was solid but not spectacular; in 2018 overall he had a poor summer, following which another player came in when he was injured and simply did better than he had done…which is a risk of being injured when you’re not playing especially well. Despite that, he was immediately given a role as a specialist batsman–which some people had been calling for already–did reasonably well, but then (stupidly, in my view) the management gave in to his demands to be keeper (if you’re looking for someone treated badly, that was terrible treatment of Foakes)…so he went back to being keeper and then had an even worse summer, so unsurprisingly he was dropped.

        After that, he’s been recalled twice despite there being no evidence on which to do so (almost literally: he’s played two county games in which he’s scored 102 in three innings)–in which he’s been out in single figures five times out of ten and hasn’t scored a half-century.

        He’s only ever batted at no. 3 or in the lower middle order. If he’s been shunted around, what does that make Moeen Ali, who’s been played in literally every position from opener to no. 8 and as first, second or third spinner?!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sophie Mar 6, 2021 / 4:45 pm

          Just because I think Bairstow has been managed badly, doesn’t mean I think everyone else has been handled well, far from it. I mean, look at how Dan Lawrence has been thrown in at 3 just because Root, who was in top form back then and scoring one run after the other, can’t be arsed. And Moeen Ali certainly hasn’t been, of course.

          And I disagree with your comment about indulging. I don’t think putting a player in a position where he probably wouldn’t look solid in the best of form, or picking him, as you rightly said, with literally no evidence that he is in any sort of form and has the confidence and the judgement to play well, I think far from indulging, that’s screwing him over.

          Also, you seem to have a very cartoon villain picture of him, and as to Foakes getting dropped, I don’t think he had any say in that, and I base that on Dobell saying, to a similar statement, “I don’t think that’s what happened at all.” Also, if the management really was in constant fear of his tantrums, he wouldn’t have been batting at 3. But seriously, it’s a silly idea, and I suspect it untimately comes from Michael Vaughan claiming he sulked when he didn’t get to keep wicket with a broken finger, which probably sprang directly from Vaughan’s massive brain.

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        • Marek Mar 6, 2021 / 7:39 pm

          I can’t see where you get the cartoon villain idea from–actually, I suspect he’s pretty complicated psychologically, in part for some very understandable reasons–just because I’m saying that he has one specific attitudinal issue which has created problems. (He’s hardly the first international player to seem a bit entitled either…)

          I’m a Dobell fan, but if he said that (did he really? I can’t find it in any of the articles he wrote about that selection) then I think he’s wrong. Bairstow gave a number of interviews in the weeks after Foakes had been preferred to him where he sounded absolutely desperate to get his place back from Foakes and that he wasn’t happy to be a specialist batsman–which I remember thinking at the time wasn’t helpful even if it was honest.

          As for playing in SL showing that the management weren’t giving in to his demandingness–I’m not at all sure of that. There seemed to be plenty coming out between the lines before the tour to suggest that the only way to get him on the tour at all was to offer him a guaranteed starting position–which was probably a considerable issue since one of England’s top six was going to be on paternity leave, they knew a second might by injured and it was less than a month after the premature death of a father to whom a third was very close.

          I think it’s harsh on Root–who has many responsibilities–to say he can’t be arsed to bat at 3. But it’s true it’s caused an additional complication, given that (as Dobell points out today) he’s the last successful top-order player to have come intoi the England team, and the one place they need more players is the top three.

          The real issue is that county cricket isn’t producing enough test-standard batsmen and specifically enough test-standard top-order batsmen–so I can see why the selectors have tried to shoehorn the best available batsmen into the top seven slots regardless. I mean, would Burns (test average lower than Bairstow in the top three), Duckett (pretty inconsistent in the last few years and at sea against spin on the last India tour) or Bracey (f-c average less than 35 in Div 2) have scored many more?

          But I agree with Dobell today to say that blaming Bairstow

          Like

  11. Statman Tom Mar 6, 2021 / 2:07 pm

    The ECB will be thrilled. The last 2 matches didn’t even constitute a full Test in length. Everyone well rested for the games that matter?

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    • Marek Mar 6, 2021 / 2:21 pm

      No, in a word. Suspect Stokes isn’t….

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      • Statman Tom Mar 6, 2021 / 2:57 pm

        Oh yes poor old Ben Stokes.
        Surely it’s a human rights violation to make a man of such fair complexion run around in 40 degree heat?
        Still given he’d only bowled 16 overs prior to this Test and batted less than 3 hours since the 82 he made on the first day of the series, he was probably keen to play some cricket

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      • Marek Mar 6, 2021 / 9:59 pm

        “Stokes is back. No rest for the wicked. At least he’s mellowed in hue, from a shade of beetroot to a slightly warm kitchen hob”, to quote Cricinfo’s commentary.

        Talking about well rested and rotated, respect to the unsung man who for the second year in a row has been the only player to feature in every England squad of the winter, this time literally not playing a competitive game so far: Matt Parkinson.

        Like

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