Cricket is a bloody weird game. Virat Kohli couldn’t win a toss, India’s tail-enders were smashing the England bowlers around the park, England (bar the captain) were unable to determine which end of the bat is which, and more of the same was due today. Except it didn’t happen. None of it happened. Instead we got a day of total English domination, and an India team in need of a something approaching a sporting miracle to get away with anything other than a defeat. After one day. The usual rules about not tempting fate applied to the eternally pessimistic England fans, but more than anything, as many were quick to note, this was most similar to the opening day of the Melbourne 2010 Test match, with the difference that here India chose to bat.
India’s batting hasn’t looked that hot in the series so far, but crumbling to 78 all out wasn’t on the agenda. Cue lots of complaining from the sub-continent about the pitch, which would have been a fair point had England not coasted past their total in the evening sunshine with all wickets standing. It was cloudy, there was some swing and some seam, but hardly excessive, and by Headingley standards, relatively tame. Though the injured Stuart Broad was quick to point out in the morning that it tends to get better for batting and that choosing to bat was a brave call. There’s a fair degree of mind-games in that of course, and it seems unlikely that Root would have sent India in had he called correctly. Cliches always abound in such circumstances, but “a good toss to lose” may well be a reasonable assessment.
In the morning session Anderson operated on that serene higher level that he can sometimes reach, especially at home. There are endless banal superlatives that can be applied to him, but at 39 years old and still able to crank it up to the mid eighties miles per hour (this perhaps is the most remarkable thing about him – his skill won’t wane, but his athleticism will) and with all the nous of a 20 year career, he was far above the level of any of his team-mates, and ripped out the heart of the India batting. He’s just someone to be enjoyed.
Four down at lunch, India had the chance to recover if they batted well, but if the morning had been about an exceptional Anderson, the afternoon was about some pretty ropey batting. Rishab Pant played a really poor shot, and then four wickets in six balls destroyed the innings entirely, kicked off by a shocker from Rohit Sharma.
Nothing gives a batting order quite so much confidence as knowing you’ve skittled the opposition for peanuts; nothing makes a bowling attack less incisive than knowing you’ve barely any runs to defend. Ishant Sharma hardly helped things with a dire first over of no balls, wides and boundaries, and the tone was set. Burns and Hameed batted with confidence and some panache at times, but you could almost see the hope draining out of the Indian team, as fielding errors were made and catches dropped. In the time honoured style of a side in trouble, India tried to get the ball changed, and eventually succeeded, only for Burns to pull it into the stands for a rare six. If ever a metaphor for how bad a day India have had was needed, there it was. Both Burns and Hameed passed fifty, in the case of the latter in particular, a welcome return to Test runs. Few will be anything other than delighted for him.
Oh yes. Over-rate. Again. It’s doubtful many of the crowd felt shortchanged by once again falling far short of the required 90 overs, and equally India are hardly going to hurry given the match position. But it’s now routine not to bowl the minimum mandated overs and nothing is ever done about it. Today won’t matter, hell, it probably won’t matter in this match, but it’s situation normal these days.
India need to have an exceptional morning tomorrow just to recover the situation to one of being in deep trouble. If they could bowl England out for another hundred or so, then just maybe they could turn it around. But that would still require an exceptional 2nd innings on their part. India might win every remaining day and still lose the game heavily. One day into this match, and England are closing on a win. Final point: The Hundred wasn’t the reason for England’s capitulation in the 2nd Test, and today doesn’t mean that the structure of the domestic game isn’t damaging the Test side. It’s not that hard to avoid kneejerk reactions, but too hard for some even so.
I am off to Leeds today so I am excited. The test is pretty dead but hopefully I’ll get to see Root bat. I’ve never had that privilege.
Having said all that I’ve just read Dmitri’s take and it is so spot on that I am regretting my day trip from Brighton (cheaper than going to the tests in London or would have been if I had booked the train tickets way back when)
Sport only makes sense when it is part of the community. Às a product or entertainment it is spectacular but it lacks meaning. It is not that you need culture and history, but those things are what follow from sport being part of the life of the masses.
The real sin of putting cricket on sky was not that it made it a subscription only sport. It is that sky was not part of life and had no intention of making itself such. It wants sport to be a package it can sell. That’s symbiotic with the ecb’s and other establishment cultural institutions’ focus on elite sport. In the end the racism that Rafeeq endured is precisely the result of making cricket an exclusive product. There is no space for those who are outside cricket, the parks league, the pub side, the urban youth. It’s all public school with an imagined hinterland of village greens.
Still, I hope to see Root bat
I’m not sure the Rafiq case arose from the predominance of ex-public school players in the game–although other forms of discrimination, notably around class, might be.
After all, there are plenty of racists who didn’t go to public schools as well as plenty who did…including some who’ve been suspended from palying professional cricket for racist language. And one of the people singled out by Rafiq as NOT being a problem at Yorks went to a public school at one point.
Malan can score runs here, but since there is no pressure, that does not mean much. Likewise in a case of failure. The only ones who will be happy either way are the Australians.
Seriously, unless India can bat for close to 200 overs, there is only one way this Test is going. And I really don’t see them bat for close to 200 overs.
BTW, Bangladesh were banished from the English shores for less poor cricket.
Pity Hameed didn’t kick on. I think Malan is doing OK
Hameed (68 from 195) got bogged down this morning. He got to 51 from 110 balls last night, then scored just 17 from his next 85 balls. I got the impression that he struggled to tick over the strike, he scored 12 fours (twelve 4s?) in his innings, meaning from the other 183 balls he scored just 20. I know, ultimately, it’s how many rather than how, especially with the best part of 4 days left in the Test, but it’s interesting that no-one has mentioned it in commentary. They’d be slaughtering Sibley.
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What on earth is this Indian performance – complacency?
The effort with the bat was seriously sub-par, but the bowlers have also had no intensity, no rhythm, no plan – I can’t remember the last time I saw as many overthrows, misfields – it’s been grotty.
If they were any other sub-continental side it’d not only be a rank performance, it’d smell dodgy as well.
It is pathetic. But as I said the game was pretty much over at Tea on Day 1.
England learn pretty much nothing about their batting as a result. Malan is not suddenly a good player when he scores runs when there is no pressure whatsoever.
I guess it’s often the case that the bowlers lose all intensity after the side has been skittled. We’ve seen it often enough from England. But yeah, it’s not great at all.
Whisper is softly, but I don’t actually rate this Indian team as highly as the so called experts do. They are not terrible, but they are not as great as is made out. It’s a mark of how poor England have become that that they are 1-0 down in this series.
The 2005 and 2013 England sides would I think beat this lot comfortably. Certainly at home.
eh, those who have seen a lot of matches at Headingley know that games like this happen. England were on the wrong side of one against Australia in 2009 and it has happened in a number of county games over the years.
It’s basically a high scoring pitch, but for some reason on Day 1 it swings and zips a bit – but it settles down by lunch time. If you’re lucky you don’t get a number of edges, but if you’re not (see England in 2009) it’s game over and everyone knows it. (Barring rain to spice up the pitch again.) You can’t blame the groundsman as no-one knows why it does this, it’s swing not seam so not inherently about the pitch, but it happens to Yorkshire more now the CC games are squashed up in the Spring so I recognise the pattern – and if we’re honest it doesn’t really make for a good game.
Of course, in theory the Indian bowlers should be more professional and keep up the charade in a loss, but frankly I’m not sure it’s psychologically that easy to do. It’s also actually not smart in the context of the series.
Maybe they’re playing to a venue-specific plan and they’ve decided to show as much respect to a Headingley test as Headingley’s county club shows to people with ancestors from the Indian subcontinent….
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Normally 303/8 on Day 2 of a Test is underwhelming for the batting side. Then again, that implies an actual contest. No such thing is actually transpiring in Leeds.
I’d be surprised if Day 4 tickets will not be fully refunded.
It was not long ago that scoring 408 on the first day of the 2005 Edgbaston Test was considered much.
Going back to Dmitri’s favourite 1989 Test at Headingly, a rampant Australia were 196 for 3.
Clearly things have changed
Cricinfo says 207 for 3, and I think it was a shorter day due to weather?
Point remains, of course! 🙂
For me the issue is not the 300 runs, but the 8 wickets. Mind you, the first two sessions were excellent for the batting side.