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
This England team isn’t the most popular, but you can’t fault Jimmy Anderson for that. He’s waging a one-man willow-wielding war on unpopularity this summer. You wouldn’t think it possible to improve on his efforts against Sri Lanka, but at Trent Bridge, against India, he may well have managed it.
But there’s another story here. It’s the story of two captains who like to stick to what’s not working until they’re absolutely convinced that it will never, ever, in a million years work. And then they give it just three more overs – just in case.
When it comes to last wicket partnerships in this Test, Alastair Cook and MS Dhoni have delivered an absolute noviceclass. To sum up how resistant they are to evidence, we can easily imagine them spending long hours pushing doors marked ‘pull’, confidently thinking to themselves: “Pretty soon this is going to come good.”17 Appeals
We were at the Test yesterday. It was… steady. Or at least it was until Stuart Broad came in.
The main thing we gleaned from our side-on vantage point is that Ishant Sharma has two different running styles during his approach to the crease. First, he jogs normally. Then, halfway through his run-up, with no discernible change in speed, he suddenly starts kicking his arse with his heels. We’ve no idea why.
We did a thing for Cricinfo about Alastair Cook being a weary middle manager. We just get a sense that things are getting fractious at home.13 Appeals
This starts off as a Twitter story, but stick with it because that’s merely the setting. The point we’re about to make has nothing to do with that.
Firstly, let us just say that we don’t make predictions on Twitter. No-one really cares what we think and it’s too easy to get drawn into predicting things which are fairly likely anyway. In any given match, someone will get runs and someone will get wickets. Why name names? Keep it for your fantasy league.
However, with India 453-9 and the last pair having been together for two and a half hours, we made an exception. Moeen Ali came on to bowl and we said:
Mark my words, Moeen Ali will take this final wicket.
— King Cricket (@TheKingsTweets) July 10, 2014
That over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was dismissed.
A lot of people were impressed by this. We even got a ‘whoa man!!!’ off Pommie Mbangwa.
Pommie spoke for many and there were lottery number jokes and so forth, but to us it wasn’t a lucky guess. We thought it was highly likely to happen and that’s why we broke our own unwritten rule about making predictions.
Why was the wicket highly likely?
We play squash. Every now and again, the stars align and both ourself and our opponent have decent fitness and excellent timing and we play the sport like it’s meant to be played. At these times, the rallies drag on. When things are going really well, we middle the ball every time, play it exactly where we want to, but neither of us can engineer a winner. It becomes a strategic battle, which is very satisfying. However, these points are almost always resolved in exactly the same way: with a mishit.
It’s not that every shot in the rally’s the same. It’s that you get used to the way the ball moves, whether it’s a drive, a drop shot or something played off the side wall. You’re in rhythm. Your body’s moving into the right position long before the ball arrives and it does so with perfect timing. A mishit plays havoc with this. Your brain simply can’t get to grips with the weird, looping trajectory or the non-angle which brings the ball to the middle of the court.
Are you calling Moeen Ali a mishit?
No. It’s about bowling diversity and presenting a change of rhythm. Shami and Kumar were starting to look like unmovable top order batsmen, but they’re no such thing. It was just that England’s sterile monoculture of a bowling attack had allowed them to get into a groove. Bowling changes were no such thing from the batsmen’s perspective. They were timing everything.
This is England’s problem at the moment. It happened against Sri Lanka and it’s happened again. It’s not about the quality of the bowlers. It’s about the lack of diversity and the more tired the seamers get, the more it becomes a problem.
Here’s another prediction: it will happen again.34 Appeals
There’s been a fair amount of whinging about the slowness and lowness of the pitch – and not without cause – but it strikes us that really good bowling attacks don’t happen across dead pitches very often. England’s is not a really good bowling attack.
The point of Test cricket is that you’re presented with conditions and a particular situation and you then have to respond to them, no matter what they are. England’s bowling attack has actually performed pretty well today. It’s just that they’ve performed pretty well ‘considering’ – and therein lies the problem. They are able to respond to a relatively narrow span of circumstances and beyond that their limitations become apparent.
On the other hand, it’s a five-day Test and a five-Test series. Let’s not get too downbeat yet. There’ll be plenty of time for that from Lord’s onwards.
If there is a man who’s had a good day, it’s Murali Vijay – or ‘Myurali Vijaaaay’ as David Lloyd would have it. We had a vague notion that we’d written something insightful about Vijay once, but all that came to mind was a vague sense of approval for the straightness of his bat. A quick Google and we found the piece in question. Pretty much all we said was that we liked the straightness of his bat.22 Appeals
If you don’t already know, All Out Cricket magazine do a fantasy league thing. We’ve entered and set up a mini league. If you want to join and compete against us, it’s called The Kingdom and the not-so-secret key to gain access is ‘Rob Key’. Our team’s called The Courtiers.
The deadline for entry’s 10.30am on the morning of the first Test, which is tomorrow. Apologies if you miss out, but we only just registered ourself.
Update: It would be good if you could identify which team is yours in the comments as well. Or just pick a team name which makes it obvious. Or remain anonymous – that’s fine too.68 Appeals