You wonder whether Ishant Sharma’s ‘sore leg’ might have resulted from his workload. And how did Bhuvneshwar Kumar look in the third Test, MS?
“I think Bhuvi seemed to be a bit tired.”
Maybe you shouldn’t have picked just the four bowlers then.
“In the first couple of games we played with that extra bowler, who was part of the side. But we never really used him to that extent, giving him only eight to 10 overs. That’s the reason we thought of making our batting stronger by getting Rohit in.”
If only someone, somewhere had the power to ask a fifth bowler to deliver more overs.19 Appeals
We’ve put the bad news first in the forlorn hope that you might at least finish reading today’s piece with your spirits on an upward trajectory.
The BCCI are asking the ICC to appeal the Jimmy Anderson decision
No, seriously. They are.
Does no-one in the BCCI ever feel embarrassed by their behaviour? We know that anyone who calls themselves an ‘executive’ is fundamentally an embarrassment to all humankind, but the BCCI seem to go further, acting in an utterly shameless playground kind of way. Maybe if they didn’t always, always get their way, they might be ever-so-slightly less inclined to behave like this.
Sri Lanka v Pakistan
We still get excited about any Test series involving Pakistan. It always promises so much, regardless of what is then delivered.
Take that, off stump!
We seem to have found ourself writing about hope rather a lot of late. We’ve covered Andy Caddick’s sublime spell against the West Indies in 2000 for All Out Cricket, explaining what it meant for England fans at the time. There’s also a video, which we’ve just watched twice.15 Appeals
As in ‘returned’. He hasn’t got ankylosing spondylitis or anything.
He’s also only back in the squad, not necessarily the team. Plus he hasn’t been away that long. If we’re honest, we’re only doing this joke because we know we’ll get complaints if we don’t.
But it does feel like Steven Finn’s back. He’s in ostensibly the same situation as at the end of the Ashes tour, but whereas then he was on a downward curve heading towards being considered ‘not selectable’ by Ashley Giles, it now feels like he’s on an upward curve heading towards Godfrey Evans knows where.
We’re quite happy about this because Finn does at least threaten to address the fast-mediumish qualities of the England attack. Tall and sometimes fast, he’s distinct from the others.
Liam Plunkett hasn’t had a chance to play on a non-blancmange pitch yet, but he hasn’t been as eye-wateringly quick as we’d hoped (pace isn’t everything, but it is something), while Stuart Broad really should offer something different being so tall, but somehow doesn’t. He always seems to bowl like a much smaller man.
Finn is undeniably tall and he certainly can be quick. More importantly, he seems capable of bowling those deliveries which make the batsman feel like he has no cricket bat, but additional knuckles.11 Appeals
James Anderson has his hearing about maybe having pushed someone today. There’s much talk about how he’s been singled out as result of being a persistent sledger, but his rage isn’t a patch on that of the retiring (from cricket) Steve Kirby, who was one of the subjects of last week’s Shire Horse.
At Cricinfo, our latest Twitter round-up features all sorts of bollocks from Kemar Roach and we’ve also done a serious piece about whether leading by example really amounts to much or whether it’s just doing well while you happen to be captain.36 Appeals
Might as well call for at least one of the captains to be sacked.
His batsmen have crumbled against bowling they should be comfortable against, his senior players aren’t ‘standing up’, he’s insisting on fielding a part-time spinner instead of a specialist and he hasn’t made a hundred in his last 20 Test innings. He has to take responsibility for these things.
It’s the young, inexperienced players who are showing the way. It’s time to move on.
It’s not just us saying this. Someone who once played cricket internationally has also criticised Dhoni’s captaincy for some reason – possibly to do with tactics. They said they’d have done things differently and that what they’d have done would have worked, unlike what Dhoni did. It’s hard, if not impossible, to argue with that.
When will the BCCI finally accept that this team is at a low ebb and acknowledge that it is time for change?34 Appeals
There are two types of spin bowlers:
The first kind is the attacking kind. They bat at number 11, but with the ball in their hand, they can take wickets. Early in their career, they can be a bit hit and miss, going for a few boundaries, but you try and allow for that because if they become more consistent, they’re invaluable.
The second kind is the batsman-who-bowls-spin. You’ll see them all the time in one-day cricket. They seem to have confused the batsman’s legs with the stumps and spear everything in this direction. The captain’s never scared of bringing them on because nothing bad can ever happen.
What England want
England haven’t been able to find an attacking spinner, so they’ve had to settle for a batsman-who-bowls-spin. Except they haven’t, because Moeen Ali’s actually no such thing.
Moeen Ali is a young spinner, a developing spinner, but he’s not a batsman-who-bowls-spin according to the definition above. People assume that England have selected someone to block up one end so that the seamers can take turns attacking from the other, but from what we’ve seen this isn’t the way Moeen approaches his bowling.
The poor lad’s being assessed by the wrong criteria. It’s often said of Graeme Swann that he was two bowlers in one – he could keep it tight and he could also attack. Now everyone’s wailing because we can’t even find someone to do the first of those things.
But they’re not sequential. You don’t go from trying to concede no more than two runs an over to taking eight wickets in an innings. If anything, the first approach will hamper your efforts at the second.
Moeen Ali bowls a decent number of four balls. If you’re Paul Harris, that’s criminal, but Moeen also bowls more potentially wicket-taking deliveries than Harris did. If he’s aspiring to be Paul Harris, he needs to erase both these extremes. Let’s take a vote on whether that’s the best course of action…29 Appeals
The day in summary: James Anderson earned two wickets through being James Anderson, Moeen Ali earned two wickets through not being James Anderson and Chris Jordan earned nothing. Oh, and Stuart Broad got three.
Word of the day – “displacement”
Play was reminiscent of the later days of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh when everything seemed to be defined by what happened when they weren’t bowling. There was one match going on when Broad and Anderson had the ball and then India had to work out what to do when they didn’t.
Against Chris Woakes, they took the runs and survived. Against Chris Jordan, they just sort of watched it happen – for it wasn’t Jordan’s best day. Against Moeen Ali, they hit a few easy boundaries, took a few easy singles and occasionally committed suicide.
The upshot is that Anderson and Broad have bowled more than the others, like usual. Anderson has looked far better for having had a few days off and Broad has too, so let’s now watch that slowly drip away before our eyes, like an upended jar of honey trapped behind some sort of electrified forcefield which would fry us were we to reach out to restore order.
Broad’s already showing signs of being shagged out. This is an issue because he does seem to have a bowling speed threshold below which he doesn’t take wickets.
A second word of the day – “rangly”
Andrew Strauss’s inadvertent portmanteau of ‘rangy’ and ‘gangly’ was gleefully highlighted by Mike Atherton.
Maybe you should just stick to four-letter words, Andrew.28 Appeals
Whatever his keeping’s like and no matter whether or not he’s ‘ready’ for Test cricket, we’re very pleased that Jos Buttler is now in England’s Test team. We like skittishness in a number seven batsman.
It is always worth watching Buttler at the crease and when he bats with Ian Bell, you stand a decent chance of seeing pretty much everything decent that a batsman can do. The wicketkeeper’s contribution to today’s 106-run partnership was robust, impatient and ever-so-slightly unhinged. Bell’s was sleek, but increasingly ambitious, as if he gradually came to see new possibilities which had been somehow left unheralded by the fat square cut of Gary Ballance.
It was declaration batting and clearly that is currently what Buttler is best suited to. It may only be one box ticked on the ECB quality control checklist, but surely the ‘counterattacking’ box is also awaiting ink. Those would present reasonable foundations on which a 23-year-old Test cricketer might build.16 Appeals
That is… stellar. Particularly when you consider that he made three off 58 balls in the first innings.
He wasn’t alone either. You can see the full deadbattery in scorecard format here. South Africa were playing for a draw to secure the series and succeeded in fine complete-absence-of-style. Rangana Herath opened the bowling and delivered 45 overs.
30 of them were maidens.18 Appeals
After winning the previous Test with four-and-a-bit bowlers, India could have gone either way for this one. Unsurprisingly, they went with four bowlers, not five.
Sometimes you can determine a lot from these fifty-fifty calls and MS Dhoni does seem to be a bit of a ‘pick the extra batsman’ kind of bloke. He doesn’t mind picking five bowlers every now and again (just so long as at least two of the bowlers are also credible batsmen) but you can tell he’s a lot more comfortable once the team’s back to normal, even if that means losing.
Dhoni captains his team as if runs win matches. This is all well and good in the shorter formats where runs are indeed the unit of currency, but in Test cricket runs merely prevent you from losing. To win, you need to take wickets. What message does picking six batsmen send to the opposition?
Why those five runs mattered
When you’re dismissed for 95, one crucial thing does not change. People can still say: “He hasn’t made a hundred since…”
Right now, on the day he made 95, we all know that Alastair Cook played an innings that was tantamount to a hundred. However, in about a fortnight, when it’s no longer fresh in the mind, people will say: “He hasn’t made a hundred since…” and it will seem that nothing has changed.
It’s also important to note how ludicrous it is that this innings will to some degree shore up his captaincy credentials when it had precisely ball-all to do with the aspect of captaincy he most struggles with, which is of course ‘captaincy’.
‘At least Ballance is still in’
Come on, admit it. You’re starting to think that too now. That constantly snarling facial expression is embedding itself in your brain and becoming just another part of your everyday life, like drinking tea or sighing each morning at the sheer pointlessness of it all.28 Appeals