Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Review of the 5th Test in India

Right, I've got the raging Ivana, as we say in North London. England finished off this shambles of a tour with a shambles of a performance. The last hour was a disgrace. It was a dereliction of duty. This Test summed up England's tour - chasing leather for much of it, clueless on how to take wickets and yet again, negative, turgid cricket from Bayliss and Cook followed by a meek surrender to a spinner. Unless your name is Karun Nair, the following will make grim reading as this was probably the most boring Test I have seen for a while on a surface that made Mother Teresa look aggressive. We still managed to get bowled out twice on it though. This is the review of the 5th Test from Chennai...

M.A Chindambaram Stadium
I'm not sure whether to just copy and paste previous reports but I will persist in fresh copy. Cook, in what may well be his last Test as skipper, won the toss on a surface that looked perfect for batting. England brought in Dawson on debut, whilst Ishant Sharma, the man who models his hairstyle on Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders, came in for India. England were in trouble at 21-2, until a lovely innings from Joe Root that fell just short of a century, got them out of it. Sound familiar? The whole match was. Jadeja Vu, as they say in India. Root has to start converting these scores in match winning ones.

Ali got a pretty 140, Bairstow chipped in as did Rashid and Dawson with sixty apiece. England got a respectable 477 but you just knew what was coming. India batted. Then batted. And batted some more. India were excellent but England's performance was reminiscent of the smell of sewage that overwhelmed the ground, having found its way into a nearby river. Like Gazza, they couldn't tempt Rahul into fishing outside his off stump and industrial strength wax wouldn't have provided Nair removal. Rahul finished just shy of his double hundred with 199 and Nair got 320 not out. India finished with 759-7. The season of goodwill had come early and Rashid, Dawson and Ali brought their very own gold, frankincense and myrrh by going for nearly 500 runs. It was more like myrrh-der, as Taggart would have said.

Ishant Sharma

Pitches like this don't make particularly great cricket to be honest. It was dull just watching England chase the ball around for three days. Sadly, this England side don't play their part in making it more attractive. From the selectors picking spinners who can bat to bolster the tail, to tactics of putting the ball outside off stump in the hope that the opposition can make a mistake, it is negative. It is a safety first approach and Cook has been lacking in his captaincy, whilst the tactics must surely come from the coaches. No one tried to bounce anyone out, no one tried to spear in yorkers - they just bowled safety first stuff in the channel. Yes they kept it tight at times, yes they even fielded well, and they did try, but it was appalling.

When England batted, like Vanessa Williams, they went and saved their best for last. 207 all out on this wicket was abysmal. Moeen Ali holing out, when you are trying to draw a game was irresponsible at best. The last six wickets fell for a miserable fifteen runs. If Pakistan had folded in such a manner, Sir Paul Condon would be looking into bookmakers accounts. India won by an innings to take the series 4-0, Jadeja with seven and ten in the match. Seeing Srini at the post match ceremony getting cheered by the crowd just poured petrol on to my rage. My ire was burning like a Chicken Madras.

Let's start with India. They have been excellent. The seamers have been top notch and in Ashwin and Jadeja, they have a couple of match winners. Kohli has led from the front and Pujara, Vijay, Rahul and Nair have all played their part. They look a decent outfit, despite dropping catches regularly. They can improve a lot more but still had way too much for a toothless England.

"There's been a myrrh-der"

England were awful. From the administrators who crammed seven Tests into not many more weeks, the selectors who picked the wrong players, to Bayliss who has taken us backwards in this form of the game, we have been woeful. As for Cook, I think this could be the end for him as skipper. He lacks imagination and has no Plan B. He should have been strong enough to stand up to the selectors and get the players that he wanted on the plane. I can't imagine Hussain or Vaughan letting the game drift in the same way. Both of those had a Freddie Flintoff or a Darren Gough up their sleeve to make things happen. Why is Stokes not used like this? Is Cook too nice to skipper? Hmmm. Someone needed a rocket up their arse.

England need to change. Someone has to pay the price for these tactics and for this shambles. Whether it is Cook, Bayliss, Whitaker or certain players, the English cricketing public were humiliated and embarrassed. This was less Uttar Pradesh. more utter rubbish. I had such high hopes for 2016 after the South Africa tour and slowly but surely we have got worse over the year. Watching Australia v Pakistan was far more interesting and both sides would beat this English team at present.

This was carnage in Chennai. And I was ashamed.


  1. A simple stat to illustrate the problem. Before this series, only twice in test history had any team posted 400+ and lost by an innings. England have just managed it twice in successive tests. Let's start with the selections. England played too many all rounders (Moeen Ali is a fine cricketer, and I want him in the England team, but not at 4). This kind of team might work in ODI's but it doesn't in test matches. We didn't take a specialist spinner. To India. The stuff about Jack Leach's action doesn't ring true to experienced observers. The ECB is claiming he underwent remedial work, which appears to be news to Leach.

    Our attack was toothless in Indian conditions. Anderson looks to be near to retirement, though his flaws will be masked by English conditions.

    For a top class batsman (which he is) Root's conversion stats are appalling. last 2 years: 6 centuries and 20 50's from about 30 tests. Kohli has 6 centuries from 21 tests, and fewer 50's in his test career.

    Cook apparently "retains the full support of the England team" (per Cricinfo). Well, he would, wouldn't he. If he continues to flirt with captaincy retirement, someone will just go "stay not on the order of your going, but go" (as Gilbert and Sullivan would have put it).

    In the absence of any overwhelming new talent, I'd bring back Ian Bell as a stop gap (I have to say this smacks of desperation on my part, because Bell is prone to stupid dismissals). A top 5 of Jennings, Hameed Cook (order to be decided) Root Bell looks more like a test top order. Then Bairstow, Moeen Stokes (again, order to be decided) Woakes and two of Rashid, Wood Broad Ball and Leach (probably 2 quicks for England).

    1. Kohli has 16 now. Hahaha. Four double hundreds in four consecutive series; thats a world record sir. He surpassed Don Bradman, and that is something.

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