Beware the melatonin coursing through England’s veins

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There is a very good chance this article about England’s day five capitulation is not biologically sound. We’re pretty sure it’s cricketally accurate however.

The second Test was won and lost at some point during a morning of pointlessly bouncing Jasprit Bumrah. It’s a hard moment to pin down precisely, but doing so is way less important than the fact that we all just intrinsically understand that it’s true.

Bumrah bounced James Anderson, you see – including with a series of no-balls. England didn’t like that, so they apparently resolved to return the favour, whether it made sense or not.

And for the avoidance of doubt – it did not. Jasprit Bumrah’s Test batting average was 3.55 before today. It has now soared to 5.

The short-pitched assault was like some weird macho obligation. It wasn’t enough to merely get Bumrah out; England needed to BLAST HIM OUT.

Maybe it was the after-effects of Cheteshwar Pujara’s double ball hundred, but they weren’t even very good bouncers for the most part.

And when England completely failed to blast Bumrah out, where were they then? What did that failure say? When you hang everything off power and fury and then power and fury doesn’t get you anywhere, that tells everyone you lack power. That’s emasculating, isn’t it?

England responded by getting even more furious, but these kinds of emotions come at a cost. Mental and physical energy inevitably dissipated and they eventually rolled to the gentlest of halts thanks to India’s declaration.

At this point, India had worked themselves to a crescendo. They came out to bowl awash with adrenaline. England meanwhile had already made their highest energy efforts, so they were subject to a very different hormone.

“Sorry,” said their bodies. “That’s your lot. Time for sleep now.”

19 comments

  1. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion…live!

    Wonderful spirit in the crowd, though. Great to see so many real people at Lord’s. The place was heaving with people who had actually come along to see the cricket.

    1. Seeing as you may have caught more of what was happening on the pitch, any chance you noticed who was dictating or discussing the field placements? Obviously captains have to captain (and a captain can just set the field and tell the bowler they have to bowl to it) but when you have a hugely experienced bowler they do tend to put a word in about what want to see. Was there nobody suggesting at some point, even after the partnership had become annoying, that a bit of a reset and rethink was required or they’d like to see a more conventional field? When things are going awry some “animated” discussion is often in order.

      1. I don’t watch with such rigorous intensity to answer your question fully, but my impressionistic sense is that, on Day Five as well as Day One, after the first hour, the intensity in the field dissipated.

        By intensity, I don’t mean “lack of effort from the bowler steaming in”. I mean intensity of thought and team spirit and body language. India are for stronger at the latter and it shows in the way they are playing at the moment.

        The second string India side did not beat the Aussies in Aussieland through the brute strength of being better/more likely to win on paper. They won to a large extent through that team intensity. And that second string side also proved that you don’t need a cartoon villain of the Kohli type as captain to achieve that intensity and those results.

  2. That was just excellent. Inexplicable bowling by England in the first session.

    About the declaration, apparently Shaun Pollock speculated that they (the Indian brains trust) did not want to give the England openers time to mentally prepare themselves, so they came back out after lunch. If India had declared going into lunch, then the openers would have had around 40 minutes vs the 10 they actually got. Don’t know how true this is, but if it is, that’s actually pretty impressive.

    Of course, after all this, as an Indian fan, we still have the problem of Root being in tremendous form. All it needs is one more person to join him and suddenly we’re looking at 500+ runs.

    1. Yeah, England fans have been saying that about Root for about four years.

      The declaration thing is one of those that looks smart when it seems like it worked. But maybe India’s bowlers are just really good and England’s batsmen are not.

      If they’d gone the other way, maybe they’d have said they gave England’s openers 40 minutes to worry and stew. And then there’s the old “awkward over to survive before lunch” declaration too. They all look good when you then immediately take wickets.

      1. Actually the thing that probably really did wind up England was a bit of gamesmanship around Mohammed Shami’s protective gear (thigh pads). Jimmy was kept waiting six minutes before he could start bowling the second over after lunch. It was to be Shami’s first ball after lunch.

        The umpires allowed those shenanigans, probably on the precautionary principle that if the batsman claims something is awry with his protective gear, he is entitled to change it. But three balls later (not even waiting until the end of the over) Kohli declared.

        On discussing declaration overnight, I had suggested to Daisy that, in the unlikely event that India got the chance sensibly to do so, they would leave themselves 60 overs to bowl at England, pretty much regardless of precisely how many they would score in their 30 and therefore how many they would set.

        I think the moment it all went properly wrong for England was after drinks in the middle of the morning session. Plan A hadn’t worked and the shit-shower that was the bouncerthon was, for want of a better phrase, Plan B.

      2. I wonder if team sports provide a more natural medium to bring out our basal nature. Perhaps I am getting old, but I am really getting tired of these “on-field aggression” nonsense. I find very little to like about Kohli as a person, really. Roger Federer won an awful lot without flinging his racket at his opponent. Kasparov could get by without poking out the other guys’ eyes with a bishop pair. These guys were certainly aggressive, but most of it was directed internally. With umpires reticent to warn players for one reason or another and players seeming to believe that the Australian model works (all that “getting into the other guy’s head” crap that Waugh spewed), a few years down the line we could have proper fisticuffs in cricket.

        Well at least that would be more entertaining than having to watch Shami’s nonsense and Root’s pensive schoolboy pose.

      3. We don’t mind a bit of on-field tension, but it seems to “boil over” into mouthing off at each other very reliably at the minute. What is this need to engineer a way to see the opponent as a bad guy? You’d think they’d pride themselves on their ability to switch on and be “up for it” without outside stimulus.

  3. Where are the yorkers? I realise it’s a risky delivery but I can’t recall the last time in Test cricket that a commentator said ‘dug out.”

    1. For what it’s worth, I think Anderson had to dig out a couple from Bumrah in that 10 ball over. One of them almost rolled onto the stumps too. But yes, you’d expect these T20 specialists to be able to bowl yorkers at will. But they’re rather rare.

    2. They say “dugout” quite often in T20s, Edwardian. Of course, if you are adamant about that little space between the two words…….

  4. English cricket has a lot of problems. But none more pressing than Ollie Robinson doing a little ‘Woo!’ every time he takes a wicket.

    1. I so agree with you on this one. I find it irritating beyond belief and so immature, perhaps betraying a hint of the stupidity of youth that he had earlier displayed when a teenager? You would have thought, with that already on his ledger, that he would adopt a low profile when playing. He needs to be reined in by Root or Silverwood as it does nothing for the public image of the England team or cricket in general. England have seemingly ditched the ‘nicest man in cricket’ – Chris Woakes – for the caveman approach of Robinson. We shall see when Woakes is fit who wins public approval. I know where my money is.

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