India suckered us in the warm ups. I, along with countless others could see this from my abode here in Hertfordshire, so why couldn't Flower, Gooch, Miller and Co.? It was the equivalent of playing Leicestershire, who then put out a second eleven, before facing the likes of Anderson on a green top at Trent Bridge. India gave us some extremely average spin to face on decent tracks, before unleashing their cobras Ojha and Ashwin, on a spitting snakepit. Even our friends at Matchpint told us the way to beat India before the series, by playing eleven spinners. England played one, along with Samit Patel who averages nearly 40 in first class cricket with the ball.
Picking the likes of Bresnan in the subcontinent on turning tracks, was possibly the worst decision since John F Kennedy said to his chauffeur that day in Dallas, "Seeing as it is a nice sunny day, how about we drive with the top down"? England meanwhile, kept Monty Panesar in the proverbial garage.
|Panesar has to play in the next Test|
In truth, India and Sehwag in particular took the game away from us in the first few hours, and I would also like to point out that they played by far the better cricket, and fully deserved their win. On a flat track faced with a diet of seam, Virender vandalised the bowling and looked a very different player to the prodding poker we saw on seaming decks in England. Pujara also looked decent and England need to come up with a plan to dismiss him, and quickly. He scored close on 250 runs in this game without us getting him out. Swanny toiled and tried his best but seeing as only Jim Laker has nearly bowled a side out twice in Test cricket history, the chances of the Nottinghamshire offie doing the same were slimmer than Posh Spice, Karen Carpenter and Lena Zavaroni all rolled into one.
As for our batting, where do I start? Already under huge pressure after the hosts compiled a mammoth score, only Cook and Prior showed any pride in either innings. The decision of Ian Bell to charge first ball in the first innings, was akin to the judgement of the captain of the Costa Concordia, and he now abandons the England ship for paternity leave. Like the Concordia, he may find his England career on the rocks for a while. KP meanwhile was integrated back into the side, but picked the leftie about as well as David Blunkett in your average New Labour Party Conference.
This has been a long time coming, and Graham Gooch as our batting coach must be accountable surely? Last winter we batted like pea-hearts against Pakistan, whilst in the first innings we did the same against India. The most frustrating thing about it, is that Gooch and Andy Flower, were two excellent players of the turning ball. With Indian fielders circling the English batsmen like vultures waiting for dinner, the last thing you want to do is prod. Soft hands and play late, or play positively to remove them is the way forward.
One of the few positives England can take out of this game is that Alastair Cook compiled a fantastic 176 for his third century in a row whilst at the helm, and Matt Prior showed he is a streetwise fighter as they both battled to save the game. When they both departed on the final morning, the inevitable Indian victory occurred, this time by nine wickets. If the BCCI had agreed to the use of DRS, as pointed out in our excellent article by Liam over the weekend, the game would have been over sooner. On a bad weekend for England, not even the Barmy Army could drown their sorrows, as the state of Gujarat is a dry one!
Don't even get me started on the BCCI bullies. Their decision not to allow Sky into the ground, or even photographers is damaging to the game. No photographers means sponsors aren't getting their moneys worth with regards to what appears in our papers. Their greed is starting to grate on the nerves of a lot of cricket fans around the world.
As for the next game, well firstly there is uncertainty whether it will be played in Mumbai due to terrorism concerns and it may well be swapped with the test in Kolkata. Secondly, we just cannot go with what has worked for the last few years. Playing on Indian courses, needs different horses.
Rule One. Look at the pitch before blindly selecting what has worked for ages. Rule Two. Pick Monty and Swann in tandem. Rule Three. Sometimes in India you have to use negative tactics just to stay in the game - remember Giles bowling outside Tendulkar's leg stump anyone? Rule Four. Bat well against the spinners. Rule Five. Be prepared to gamble at the right times. Rule Six. Show some fucking spirit. Rule Seven. Be positive in either defence or attack. Soft hands in defence or go for it properly, don't go half hearted. Rule Eight. Play with your bat in front of your pad with close fielders around like Cook does, and the ball will not balloon up to the close catchers. Rule Nine. Kiss the surface bowlers whilst being a right handful on a green top at Headingley, are as much use as the Pope's bollocks in Ahmedabad. Rule Ten. When getting a caning from the home batsmen, don't make yourself look even more of a twat by dropping one and trying to claim it, Jonathan Trott.
|Trott...shocking claim for a catch|
In the next Test I would go for; Cook, Compton, Trott, Pietersen, Morgan or Bairstow, Patel, Prior, Swann, Panesar, Anderson, Finn, if it is a dry pitch as expected. If it looks like it will seam - unlikely but if it does, then Broad would come in for Patel. Prior is good enough to bat six, and Broad would have to bat seven. Not ideal, but it is the only way we are going to bowl India out twice. Finn gives you some raw pace and we need something different from bowlers who just kiss the pitch. Monty has to play one way or the other as even when he doesn't pick up wickets, he can keep the run rate down. He also turns the ball a different way to the off spin of Graeme Swann.
Let's put this one behind us and move on. Ahmedabad? Ahmedashocker more like.