After Matt Prior missed one particular catch in the second Test, a Sky commentator – possibly Mike Atherton – suggested that the wicketkeeper might be having trouble moving to his right due to all his accumulated injury problems. In his statement announcing that he was standing down for the rest of the series, Prior basically confirmed that.
“I saw the edge all the way but I couldn’t move as quick as I needed to, and that is when I knew.”
Prior is only 32. If he played for another country, you’d expect him to return following surgery, but how many recent England players can you think of who have lasted long into their thirties?
Most sides can boast of at least one, usually several. Ponting and Hussey for Australia with Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris still going. Tendulkar and Dravid for India. Sangakkara and Jayawardene for Sri Lanka. Kallis for South Africa. Chanderpaul for the West Indies. Chris Martin – a pace bowler, no less – lasted until he was 38 for New Zealand. For Pakistan, Misbah-ul-Haq’s (at least) 40.
And England? Strauss made it to 35. Collingwood and Swann were 34. Alec Stewart was the last with real longevity.
The finest batsmen and spinners frequently seem to have their best years in their mid-thirties, but many English players have succumbed to wear and tear type injuries by then. Swann’s elbow, Vaughan’s knee, Prior’s Achilles, Flintoff’s everything. Is it the way they’re managed? Do they not get enough sleep? Or is it just one of those things?10 Appeals
It’s an unlikely Cluedo solution, but it happened. We saw it with our own eyes.
Joe Root was the third caught attacking the short ball after lunch and he did a cracking Charlie Brown slope upon being dismissed. It was really, really first class. We were in awe.
We don’t know anything about rhythmic ceremonial rituals. Is there a dance called The Retreat where you take one step forwards and then two steps back? That’s the way England are operating at present.
Do The Retreat
They take a few top order wickets, then concede a bunch of runs to the tail. Alastair Cook shows signs of being a less than desperate captain, then fails to score any runs with the bat. They get within a spit of batting out the morning session without losing a wicket, then Moeen Ali is dismissed off the final ball of the session triggering alarming subsidence.
Maybe as well as taking the positives, they should also take the negatives and put them in the debit column. It’s shitty accountancy to only look at one side of the ledger.
But at the same time…
Top win by India and it’s also heart-warming to see Ishant Sharma getting the wickets. He usually draws adjectives such as ‘gangling’, ‘awkward’ and ‘hapless’ but yet there was Rahul Dravid describing his spell as being one of the greatest by an Indian fast bowler.
But as we said yesterday, this match wasn’t won on the last day. Sharma’s contribution was the final layer of gloss. The construction work has been going on throughout. This is no fluke built on foundations laid down by one individual. There’s been Ajinkya Rahane’s blinding hundred, Murali Vijay’s stout resistance, Ravindra Jadeja’s joyride and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s everything.
But it’s more than that, because India haven’t won away from home since 1912 when they beat a hungover Shropshire side by one wicket. They had to overcome that record and will themselves to kill England. Sometimes that’s the hardest bit, but they bravely grasped the pillow and put the home team out of their misery as swiftly and effectively as they could.38 Appeals
It’s okay to start headlines with ‘and’ when you’re emphasising the repetitive nature of something.
Ravindra Jadeja isn’t exactly the tail, of course. Even if you play half your domestic matches on the world’s flattest pitch, scoring three triple hundreds shifts you out of the tail-end category never to return. He bats wonkily, but with gusto and when he gets it right, it sounds less like a cricket shot and more like a gunshot.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar seems rather too skilled to be considered a tail-ender as well. He’s looked a damn sight more solid than Alastair Cook, which reflects on both of them. Don’t worry, we’ll return to Cook next week. If you’re desperate to read more about the England captain’s plight, we’re sure you can find something pretty much anywhere.
As far as this match goes, England have to score plenty of runs on a fifth day pitch where both seamers and spinners look threatening. Unless the play somehow takes on a completely different form, they will lose. The fourth innings isn’t the problem. This match will have been lost thanks to cowardly first innings bowling and an inability to polish off innings. Bowling first using tired bowlers seemed odd too, but perhaps Captain Hindsight is paying a visit there. The bowlers probably could have made it the right decision.28 Appeals
Virat Kohli’s due a score, isn’t he? And how many runs has Alastair Cook got in his bag, just waiting to be plucked out?
Or is it more that Cook’s now suffering the inevitable consequences of frittering runs away earlier in his career. There was a complete lack of rationing during the 2010-11 Ashes series, for example. Sometimes you have to save, Alastair. You should have set something aside for when you were captain as well as opener and therefore had double the opportunities to attract criticism.
Meanwhile, the match is poised, innit? We think it’s Mike Atherton who always claims that first innings scores of around 300 tend to make for the best Test matches. We know what he’s saying.16 Appeals
A lot. It seems to be his default facial expression while batting. It’s a little disconcerting.
But on the plus side, we’ve already started thinking to ourself: “At least Ballance is still in,” as if he’s the most reliable of the England batsmen. Like Jonathan Trott, you don’t really feel the need to watch him. You just check in on his score every once in a while.
A Test hundred mere days after drinking a bit too much. You wouldn’t think it possible, would you?13 Appeals
Okay, turns out we do have something else to say. It’s to do with who’s a good batsman.
We don’t want this to become a Suresh Raina bashing thing, because we’ve a certain amount of time for him. He does certain things better than almost anyone. The issue is that many people confuse ‘certain things’ with ‘everything’.
You may not remember, but Suresh Raina played each of the Test matches the last time India toured England in 2011. We have no idea how this happened. If you slaved away in a lab, you’d do well to engineer a worse Test batsman for English conditions than Suresh Raina.
Here are his scores from that 2011 series. The miracle is that he made a fifty:
0, 78, 12, 1, 4, 10, 0 and 0.
If he didn’t nick one, you just bounced him out. It was easy, as the scores suggest. There’s no shame in that, because he shouldn’t have been playing in the first place. His selection was the crime, not his batting.
So who should have been playing? Well, Rahane, obviously. He too might have been crap, but at least he had a case for being there. In the 2010-11 season, Rahane scored 1,003 first-class runs in nine matches at an average of 83.58, making five hundreds. That same season, Raina made 144 runs in five matches at 20.57. He made one fifty.
Yeah, yeah, yeah – statistics and all that. But what you have to remember is that these statistics only support what is blatantly obvious to everyone: Ajinkya Rahane is a batsman who can adapt to different situations and different conditions, whereas Suresh Raina does ‘certain things’ very well.
Last time around, India picked a load of celebrities and got the shit kicked out of them. This time they’ve picked some proper cricketers and prepared them properly too. It is already a far better series.14 Appeals
For the second time this series, we find ourself looking for an old article of ours about an Indian batsman only to find that we never actually wrote it. As far back as 2012, we were casually referring to Ajinkya Rahane in a matter of fact way, as if you all already knew our opinion – yet we never seem to have actually stated it.
Maybe we just didn’t have much to say. Often we don’t. Nothing of interest anyway. Murali Vijay struck us as a good batsman who’d probably do well in Test cricket and Rahane creates a similar impression. Those aren’t really thoughts that warrant wider exposure.
We’ve always check Rahane’s scores, as if he’s one of ‘our players’, yet we seem to have neglected to claim him. It’s too late now. He’s scored runs in a Test in England. He’s common property.
Rahane’s actually only played one of his Tests at home and yet his record, at this early juncture, stacks up well. This hundred in particular was worth several scored at a typical subcontinental ground, such as Trent Bridge.
Obligatory comment on the absence of the decision review system
India don’t want it. It isn’t being used. There’s little point bleating on and on about it. It’s just tiresome for everyone. We’re therefore going to try and restrict ourself to this one comment on the matter.
We found a speck of dust on our floor after vacuuming yesterday morning, so we immediately smashed our hoover to pieces on the grounds that it wasn’t 100 per cent effective. From now on, we will use a handful of straw tied to a stick instead.7 Appeals
Mop-up of the day was something that happened at our last office job. It involved new starters finishing each day in their first week talking with the girls in HR. The company didn’t tend to hang onto staff for more than a week or two, so mop-up of the day was a very regular thing. Most of us found the phrase funny without ever really bothering to establish quite why.
Anyway, this is of no real consequence. Mop-up of the day is just a phrase we thought we’d co-opt for when there are a few small issues that we can’t really be bothered writing more than a sentence about.
There may have been a push
Jimmy Anderson’s hands are alleged to have made contact with Ravindra Jadeja’s body. There’ll be a hearing. He might get a ban. Eight one-day internationals would be an excellent result in our eyes because he shouldn’t be wasting his time with those.
England have countered. According to the ICC:
“It is alleged that after the players left the public area and entered the pavilion, Jadeja turned suddenly and took steps towards Anderson in an aggressive and threatening manner.”
Or, for the purposes of our headline, ‘rushed’ at him.
These things always sound worse when code of conduct levels are being cited. We’d love to have seen what actually happened. But we didn’t, so we’ll never know and therefore don’t really have any sort of opinion on the matter.
There’s a Test going on in Sri Lanka
South Africa are there. Faf du Plessis is batting at three. Presumably because the new captain’s record in that position isn’t up to snuff. Quinton de Kock’s playing too.
Not quite a match report
Bert has produced a fantastic report, but due to a rather overt reference to cricket, we’ve had to publish it on our cycling site instead of here. Definitely worth a read though.11 Appeals
Most people’s knowledge of Simon Kerrigan’s bowling amounts to eight overs on his debut. That’s not a huge amount to go off and those overs too in circumstances that can be considered exceptional and therefore perhaps not properly representative of his ability. On the other hand, he still has to get past that.
Test cricket can be like a bike race that starts with a steep hill. You can have a five grand time trial bike and one of those ridiculous sperm-shaped helmets, but unless you’ve got low enough gears to start off in, you’ll never get moving in the first place. Some kid on a mountain bike will spin past you and make you look like a fool. Mountain bike kid might only do 10mph and be disqualified for getting in people’s way, but at least he got going.
If we were Simon Kerrigan, we’d want to be damn certain we had it in us to survive in Test cricket right now this minute. He is 25, he will get another chance – but he is unlikely to get two. Would you want your final chance at Test cricket to come not long after your first when you’re only 80 per cent certain you’ve overcome what went wrong first time around, or would you rather wait until some point in the future when you’re positively insulted that you’ve not yet been selected because you know – just know – that you’re the best spinner going?
We suppose that later chance might never come. Hopefully that rear sprocket’s large enough.27 Appeals
For a very short while on the final day, it seemed like things could potentially maybe be sort of in the balance a little bit if a few more things went England’s way, but then it very much wasn’t in the balance and the day climaxed with Alastair Cook’s round-arm shod.
Cook is, quite genuinely, one of our favourite bowlers – for much the sames reasons that Steve Harmison was one of our favourite batsmen. There’s a real village green quality about his efforts with the ball. Make your own jokes about his batting and captaincy there if you wish but we’re not really in the mood for catching dollies today.
For what it’s worth, Cook now boasts a Test bowling average of 7.00.17 Appeals