Monday, 11 August 2014

Review of the 4th Test v India

The 4th Test from Old Trafford was a bit like watching a highlights package. If Trent Bridge in the first match of this series was like watching cricket from a bygone era, the only thing remotely about the Seventies in this game was seeing a pair of grinning lips surrounded by a big bush. I will cover Moeen Ali's bowling later in the game, but this was a game on fast forward. There was nothing slow about anything in this two and a half day Test including the track, as Stuart Broad found out, much to his chagrin. England won easily and went 2-1 up in the series.

Broad...slightly less good looking
India rang the changes. Ashwin finally came in to the side, along with the speedy Varun Aaron and Gambhir. Across Europe the word for a certain type of shellfish is Gamberas, and Gambhir batted like a prawn in this match. Gambhir replaced Shikhar Dhawan, and Jimmy looking like John Travolta with his new quiff couldn't care which one was 'Dhawan that I want' as either of them give up their wicket to him pretty easily. Dhoni won the toss and batted, which was probably the worst decision made in this city since the Manchester United physio introduced his missus to Tommy Docherty.

It took Dhonut about half an hour to work this one out as his team were soon 8-4. Visions of India getting skittled for 42, as they did back in The Doc's day came to mind, but they recovered thanks to the skipper himself showing some application and scoring a battling 71. Jimmy, on home turf, bowled beautifully but Broad picked up the glory with 6-25 as the visitors were all out for a below par 152. It could have been worse. Ashwin got a forty, although he had got a couple of Test tons he never looked hugely comfortable. I thought he was a bowler who had preferred to swap his balls for time at the crease; a bit like Frank Maloney really. The thought has crossed my mind whether Maloney will be a cricket agent soon as it wouldn't be the first time he wants to swap his boxers for something else.


Maloney...getting rid of his boxers

England batted and the top order got sorted out by the pace of Varun Aaron. Cook and Ballance both fell to the speedster, before a fluent fifty from Bell gave England parity. Root, who has batted brilliantly all summer, and Buttler, having swapped Wedmore for Saddleworth Moor both scored seventies to take England way into the lead. Some strange things happened in England's innings. A puddle, the size of the EU wine lake held up most of the Friday afternoon, as the Mancs in the crowd looked about as happy as if Louis van Gaal had just re-signed Eric Djemba Djemba. Then all of a sudden on the Saturday morning something really weird happened; Pankaj Singh took a Test match wicket. Joe Root was strangled down the leg side and the apologetic looking Pankaj was on the board. Most Englishmen actually cheered. If only his country had accepted DRS, he would have had one straight away when Ian Bell was on nought at Southampton. Maybe the whole series turned on that decision?

Broad came into the game a good looking, smooth swine and after a couple of lusty blows, left the field as a slightly less good looking swine. His nose still looks better than Daniella Westbrook's. A top edge went through the grill and broke his bugle, although he is still likely to play in the finale at the Oval. Nothing can now mask England's dominance. Saying that if the afore mentioned Millwall loving Maloney invites Stuart Broad down to Cold Blow Lane, he might want to think twice. I think I'd prefer to walk Kevin Spacey's dog in that part of the world, nudge nudge, wink, wink.


Kohli hitchiking...anyone going to Mumbai?

India batted and it was shocking. Kohli and Pujara both arrived on these shores with big reputations and have failed to deliver. The openers for India have failed time and time again and exposed the middle order to the new ball, but their technique has been found wanting. Like the antithesis of Nanette Newman in the Fairy Liquid adverts, none of them have had particularly soft hands. Kumar's run out was just brain dead and none of them showed the heart required to stay out there and grind it out. The fact that they batted for a total of 89.4 overs in the whole game tells a story. And it pissed it down on Sunday when the game was over.

Ali now has nineteen wickets in the series and India read him as well as Stevie Wonder reads music. Mo is getting a better bowler with each match and is now high on confidence. However, as big as the margin of victory was, and innings and 54 runs, there were still some short comings in the English game and questions still should be asked. Why can't the top order play the short ball, as they have struggled for a number of series now? Was Buttler's keeping of the standard in the first innings of an international wicket keeper? Do Woakes and Jordan cut the mustard with the ball? Has Robson gone backwards since coming into the side? England were decent in patches, but India were seriously poor in this one. England didn't have to play that well.

For now let's bask in the glory of victory and head of to South London for the decider. England 2-1 up should win at a ground they seem to enjoy, whilst India look shot. Cricket though is a funny old game, and you never know what will happen next.

We'll soon find out.

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