England vs. India, 3rd Test, Day 4 – Hold The Line

After what can only be described as a hard fought and gritty day of cricket yesterday, did anyone really believe England would roll over in India in a session this morning? I certainly didn’t when I volunteered /told it was my bloody turn to write today’s match report despite knowing that I was due to meet a friend for lunch. Still, I thought it would be easy to catch up on things especially as it was a bright sunny day in Headingley. Oh, how I was wrong.

So, I’m in the situation of having to write up the report despite only seeing the first half hour of play and consequently one wicket to fall, that of Pujara who misjudged a seaming delivery from Robinson and was given out LBW on review. From there it was a procession of Indian wickets many of which were casual wafts outside the off stump, which never ends well in English conditions. Naturally the most concerning for India, aside from Pant’s dreadful form, is the continued struggles of Virat Kohli who once edged a ball to the slips on a 4th stump line. It is somewhat reminiscent of when Kohli first toured England and whilst no doubt he remains one of the world’s premier batsmen, there is obviously a technical flaw in his game as all six of his dismissals have been pretty much the same. I have no doubt he’ll be working hard to address it, but fast bowlers from every cricketing nation will all have a keen eye on his form in the rest of the series.

Naturally, the English bowlers couldn’t have cared less if they tried. Robinson was once again the pick of the bowlers with a nagging off stump line and length that Josh Hazelwood has earnt his living from. I thought he bowled well yesterday without much luck, so a Michelle was fully deserved. Robinson was ably assisted by Craig Overton, who despite seeming to be the odd one out in most squads, bowled with good control and Moeen who as he often does, bowls some outstanding wicket taking deliveries but can also mix it up with some dross.

The best thing about the Test (no it’s not Jarvo) is the sheer turn around in fortunes from the result at Lords. Many, myself included, pretty much wrote England off after the calamitous defeat at Lords, so to go to Headingley and then thrash India by an innings and 76 runs shows how Test cricket is still the greatest format. The ECB’s treatment of their Test squad is nothing short of shoddy, but for the players and coaching staff to rally round after the Lord’s disaster and to then produce a performance like the one we saw, shows that we should give them some great credit as a squad. Of course, they won’t be able to claim any of the £2.1million bonus on offer, that’s only available to those who are trying to kill our county game. Plus ca change!

On a final note, now the Headingley Test match is consigned to the books, it must be time for the ECB to grow a backbone and pressure Yorkshire County Cricket Club to release the Azeem Rafiq report. I find it incredulous that no-one from the top echelons has realised the damage this is doing not just to Azeem but to the wider game with rumours and counter rumours abound. My guess is that no-one from Yorkshire will come out looking good from it, hence the delay, but if we’re serious about trying to promote equality and eradicate racism from our game, then the release of this report can’t come soon enough.

As always, any thoughts on the game are gratefully received below.