Both sides came in unchanged and on the greenest top I have seen for many a year at Headquarters, England won the toss and bowled. I have seen bogeys less green, although I am sure Abu Hamza picking his out would get into less trouble hooking, than the Englishmen later in the game. It was on the first day that the game was lost. In conditions where the ball was nipping about like an epileptic in a strobe, England bowled poorly. Too short, too wide and Prior, who was as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike in this Test, dropped a couple before lunch.
Rahane batted brilliantly. Not the most eye catching of the Indian batsmen, he left the ball when needed and played when he had to. His knock was match winning and he fully deserves his place on the honours board at Lord's. Jimmy, who is about to go before the beak on August 1st for shoving Ravi Jadeja, picked up four wickets. He bowled well, but Broad and Co. were as toothless as the lead singer of the Pogues. Jadeja Vu. India, thanks to lower order runs from Bhuvi Kumar, yet again, scrambled to 295.
After the early loss of Cook (Jadeja Vu again), Gary Ballance showed us that he is more than a pissed bloke in a Nottingham nightclub. Having declared on Monday, "that tonight I am not a cricketer, I am just a pisshead" this knock showed that on Friday he was not a pisshead but becoming a solid and dependable number three. Having been photographed shirtless, the fat faced Ballance looks as if he would be full of puppy fat, but fairly trim was he. Whereas he may prefer to be shirtless in nightclubs, here he batted in a jumper in 32 degrees, and held the innings together. His Yorkshire colleague Plunkett, played a belligerent innings and got a fifty which meant that both sides were fairly even after round one. England should have been way ahead after winning the toss in such conditions and had let India off the proverbial Abu Hamza's hand. Kumar picked up six wickets here in NW8 and is a class act. His in swing and away swing are bowled with no discernable change in action and like the St John's Wood resident Vanessa Feltz, is a right handful.
This was a classic Test though and one which should be the blueprint for English groundsmen. It ebbed and flowed, changing direction and was a fantastic advert for the game.
India got away in their second dig and Murali Vijay underpinned the innings with a fine 95. When he was out the Indian tail wagged like an excitable puppy and Ravi and Kumar got runs again. England bowled poorly and Oxenford made some howlers. More Jadeja Vu.
India finished up setting the hosts 318.
Initially England did well, but then Cook nicked off, Bell failed again when his country needed him and the batting was poor. Still on the final morning when Root and Ali were there, England had a chance. What came next was the most brain dead batting that I have ever seen. Joe Cole reading Dostoyevsky would have made more sense, although which England batsmen would be described more as The Idiot I don't know? This was more Crime, Punishment and Demons thrown together. Good captaincy by Dhoni granted, but England should be a lot more streetwise than that. All the batsmen then fell to the short ball bar Anderson who was run out by Jadeja. Anderson may be in trouble for pushing Jadeja, but this display pushed most Englishmen to the local psychiatric unit. Of all the crap performances recently this one hurt the most, as we should have won it. To get bounced out by India is like losing to New Zealand at football, Burkino Faso at darts or debating culturalism and ideology with an Australian. It shouldn't happen. Ishant Sharma got seven wickets. Ishant it a weird game? India had won their first Test match abroad for three years. These are two mid tier sides in world cricket. One on the way up and the other on the way down. Evenly matched yes, but going in differing directions.
Cook has to go. Peter Moores, looking more like Baroness Butler-Sloss on a daily basis, should pull him out of the firing line out of kindness. If Cook was a racehorse he would be halfway to the glue factory by now. Moores was never my choice, being too much of the same old, same old that we have had before. I wanted Trevor Bayliss who would have been a revolutionary Aussie, but stuck with Moores we are and he will have a run for this series and probably the next in the West Indies this winter. Downturn, in a classic example of jobs for the boys, appointed him and so he will at least get given a few more games. Cook however, for the sake of his career needs to be pulled out of the firing line. He is capable of scoring 13,000 runs for England, but I fear the captaincy could crucify him.
|Baroness Butler Sloss|
Talking of which, Matt Prior kept like he had holes in his hands. 36 byes, a record at Lord's is not good, and he has now said he isn't fit. If this was the Surrey keeper and not the Sussex one, you'd be saying he was bye curious! Also, read our piece a month ago on glovemen and you'll note that Prior wasn't fit then. He should have said that a few Tests back instead of playing through injury. People are talking about Buttler or Bairstow but I would like to see a proper glove man in the role as opposed to batsmen who keep. Foster or Read are fine examples of their trade but in their mid thirties are they too old? John Simpson or Ben Cox are genuine examples too and in their mid twenties. Simpson's hundred against league leaders Yorkshire could not have been better timed, and adds to the one he scored against a decent Notts line up, Peter Siddle et al, earlier in the year. If England are rebuilding then why not?
Going back to jobs for the boys, Cook has seriously been let down by his senior players. England look they have backed the wrong horse after the shambles in Australia, and booting Kevin Pietersen, whilst backing the current crop. Anderson, Broad, Prior and Bell look shot. The new guys have come in and done well but change could well be enforced upon England. Broad looks as if he has been bitten by tsetse fly, Anderson is up in front of the ICC on August 1st and could be looking at a lengthy holiday, and Prior is injured.
Is it time to use this series to rebuild? We move on to the Rose Bowl next and in the city of Southampton, famed for being the port where the Titanic sailed from, the captain of this England ship is sailing dangerously close to the iceberg.
The life rafts are being inflated.