You’re probably wondering why there’s a photo of a load of fried fish awaiting a greedy human receptacle up there. We’ll get to that. It won’t take too long, but you’ll have to be a little bit patient. Before we get to it, we want to talk about the nature of knowledge and also 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw’s hundred on debut for India.
The way we manage knowledge over the course of our lives is that we start out with none and we build a foundation. First of all we prod things and push things and shout at things and see what they do and through this process we start to work out some of the rules of our environment. We then begin to stack up little information Lego blocks on top of these foundations, building our own personal tower of knowledge.
Some people find themselves focusing a lot on one particular area – say music or physics – and they build a big high tower that everyone else finds really impressive. Most of us take a broader approach, slapping blocks on here there and everywhere and never hitting the same heights.
At a certain point in life, we reach a critical mass where we can’t really add more blocks without compromising the integrity of the structure. At this point our compulsion to add further blocks leads to other bits falling off and there’s nothing you can do about that. The orderly acquisition of information is over. You’ve reached peak knowledge and all that changes is what that body of knowledge comprises.
Sometimes a new Lego block of information means you lose a block from somewhere else. Sometimes it’s load-bearing and you lose a wall or a whole wing of the building. By the time you’re properly old, nothing really links together any more – you’re just mounds and mounds of random facts with nothing much linking it all together. This is when people generally become most interesting to talk to.
We found out a certain amount about Prithvi Shaw yesterday and we found out a bit more today. Lord knows what we’ve sacrificed for this, but it feels like there’ll be a whole Prithvi Shaw section of Lego architecture in coming years, so we might as well go with it.
Let’s start with today because what happened today is most relevant to his cricket career. Today Prithvi Shaw scored a debut Test hundred at a run a ball.
Today’s stories are mostly about how he’s only 18 and he’s already scoring Test hundreds and isn’t he the best thing ever. Either that or they’re getting stuck into the backlash nice and early and saying it was a flat pitch and a relatively toothless attack and this doesn’t prove anything.
Our take is that Shaw’s been talked up ever since he made 546 off 330 balls in a schools match, so this innings hints that he can handle ludicrous expectations fairly well and this is very important. For obvious reasons most people don’t get a chance to prove (or fail to prove) such a thing until they’ve played a great many Test matches.
Shaw also did some good batting and very little bad batting. We’d say today’s information leaves us with a broadly positive view of his prospects as a Test cricketer. The story is very much ‘to be continued’ though. (And honestly, that is the best part of any story. That’s when you’re still intrigued and your mind’s still trying to work things out.)
The knowledge we gained yesterday was different. Yesterday Prithvi Shaw hadn’t played Test cricket so the main things we learned related to his dietary preferences.
Back when he was 12 or 13, Shaw spent a term at Cheadle Hulme School, which is two or three miles away from where we used to live. According to the Mail on Sunday, he had a decent time but didn’t much like the food. The exception was fish and chips. (This is interesting to us because when we first went to India, we thought how mushy peas with salt and vinegar could pass as an Indian dish. Criminally, the Mail on Sunday neglects to report whether ‘fish and chips’ was in fact ‘fish, chips and mushy peas’ or even ‘fish chips, mushy peas and gravy’. )
After we finished reading that article, we were very much left with the impression that fish and chips is 100 per cent Prithvi Shaw’s favourite UK meal. We were therefore utterly taken aback when cricket writer Vithushan Ehantharajah retweeted a comment from a Ben Milligan earlier today, saying: “Lived with my family for two summers about 5 years ago. Big, big fan of salt and pepper chicken wings. Decent bat too.”
So suddenly we have two Lego blocks of Prithvi Shaw dietary information to apply to our knowledge tower. This is gravely concerning because as established above, knowledge is power – and that power is the power to destroy great swathes of wholly unrelated knowledge.
The addition of two basically worthless nuggets of information (and let’s be honest here, this is the exact kind of knowledge we do actually retain) therefore presents a significant threat to our person.
Our solution is that we are going to try and consolidate the two seemingly contradictory facts “Prithvi Shaw’s favourite thing to eat in the UK is fish and chips” and “Prithvi Shaw’s favourite thing to eat in the UK is salt and pepper chicken” into “Prithvi Shaw really likes deep fried beige food.”
This is a somewhat ironic headline because as a rule we don’t remember things. Our brain long ago adopted the after-midnight-at-a-popular-nightclub policy towards nuggets of information – one in, one out.
So consider this a note to our future self that you’re all invited to read in the present. It’s not exactly the highlights of the 2018 international summer. It’s more a bunch of striking moments that may or may not create a sort of join-the-dots effect where linking them together maybe allows you to draw a vague outline of the season as a whole.
Pakistan arrived, Pakistan bowled England out easily – and lo, the theme of the summer was set.
England turned up fairly late for a one-day international against Scotland, lost it and then basically said that they didn’t care because they were only treating it as glorified practice anyway. Trevor Bayliss was so moved by what he saw that he flattened out the pocket of his hoodie.
If you’re tired of Australians being on the receiving end of world record totals, you’re tired of life. England made a still barely-believable 481-6 in a 50-over match and it was bloody hilarious.
“Oh my God, they have got to get this guy into the Test team,” said everybody (before later concluding the exact opposite once India had done precisely that).
MS Dhoni seemed poised to explode at any minute… but he never did. It was marvellous. He basically trolled the entire cricket world via some batting.
It was actually nowhere near as good a ball as everyone made out, but Kohli’s reaction to it was unparalleled.
Kohli seemed hell-bent on being dead centre of every single thing that happened when England and India finally got round to playing a Test match. After running out his opposite number, he mimed a mic drop to take the piss out of Root’s ‘bat drop’ at the end of the one-day series and then told him to fuck off.
It was bloody brilliant.
And Jennings quite miraculously failed to make any sort of contact with the ball whatsoever. This moment summed up the wonderful series-long Anderson v Kohli duel and also Keaton Jennings’ summer.
This also summed up Keaton Jennings’ summer. Poor Keaton Jennings.
Has anyone ever been more serious about anything ever than Sam Curran about everything always? He had a very successful summer and looked determined to ensure that would be the case throughout.
Rashid hitch-hiked his way through the Test series without anyone particularly noticing he was there, but then trotted in and dismissed two centurions just as everyone started to think they were maybe going to deliver a record run-chase in the final Test innings of the summer. The delivery that dismissed Rahul was everything the Kohli one pretended to be and wasn’t.
One of the great things about cricket is that a match can be unimaginably massive and yet one of the key contributions will come from someone who doesn’t even practise.
Kedar Jadhav doesn’t really bowl in the nets. He’s probably worried that any attempt to hone his craft will wash off the thick crust of filth that is his greatest weapon.
If you haven’t seen Jadhav bowl, try and imagine that your dad’s been drinking heavily and now he’s trying to do a Lasith Malinga impression for the very first time.
He pretty much just dobs it in. We believe it’s supposed to be spin.
According to Hassan Cheema, the last time a spinner took three or more wickets for fewer than 30 runs against Pakistan was in 2013.
England got to have a go at partnership-breaking when the ball wasn’t doing a right lot today. Everyone had a go and everyone failed and then Joe Root finally gave Adil Rashid a bowl and he got both lads out.
That’s a very simplistic way to describe how things went, but it’s also good to keep in mind. Partnership-breaking when the ball isn’t doing a right lot is a very important aspect of cricket outside England. From time to time it’s actually more important than the ability to concede only 2.1 runs an over.
It’s also worth bearing in mind when you look at Adil Rashid’s Test record. For most of this series, he’s been given just five, six or seven overs an innings. Today he didn’t really get a proper spell until KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant had put on 200. Imagine being a seam bowler treated like that. Imagine what you’d average. The answer is ‘even more than Adil Rashid’.
Rashid generally gets to bowl when things are going badly for England; on flat pitches when batsmen are scoring fairly easily.
There are two ways this can pan out.
Even if Rashid were the best bowler in history, the first of those would be way more likely – yet when it understandably happens he is regarded as a failure because there are almost no other circumstances on which to judge him. Perceptions of his bowling seem… unfairly weighted.
Today, KL Rahul batted brilliantly, but he fell to a delivery that appeared to bounce off an invisible side wall. Rishabh Pant batted brilliantly, but he didn’t seem to pick the wrong ‘un and played the ball more up than along.
Adil Rashid turned his arm over and dismissed two centurions. A few overs later England took the new ball and he drifted off back into the outfield.
There are two main reasons why cricketers are annoying. (1) They play for your team and they aren’t very good. (2) They play for the opposition and they are very good.
The first is self-evident. The second is rather more nuanced and deserves a little bit of elaboration. So let’s very quickly do that.
To be fully annoying, an opposition cricketer must be not just effective, but more effective than you think they deserve to be. To really put the top hat on it, they should then act like they’re even better than that.
Ravindra Jadeja meets these requirements. He is pretty annoying and we are very much relieved whenever India decide to not pick him. That is a compliment, which is very unfortunate because of course we don’t really want to pay him compliments.
First of all, Jadeja bowls like he has only just started bowling and isn’t really a bowler and doesn’t much care how things go because he’s not a bowler so do what you like, it doesn’t matter to him, he’s not a bowler. Employing this method, he is easing his way towards 200 Test wickets at an average in the low 20s.
That’s an annoyingly good record, but after learning to appreciate the subtleties of his bowling approach and slowly coming to recognise his qualities, you’ll look at it and probably still think it’s annoying and undeserved.
But Ravindra Jadeja doesn’t think that. Ravindra Jadeja generally maintains an air of having completely mastered cricket. Ravindra Jadeja celebrates a fifty – a fifty – with a twirly sword celebration.
That is disproportionate. (It is also entertaining and he should absolutely carry on doing it.)
Ravindra Jadeja swans through Test cricket like he belongs there. And he does. Which is annoying.
Depends on your perspective really. They’re a competitive and exciting side who could quite easily be 3-1 up. Their batsmen are better than England’s, their four main bowlers have been brilliant – but they’ve lost the series. From our perspective this is pretty much tourist perfection.
We absolutely do not want to see close, exciting cricket where England lose. We want to see close, exciting cricket where England win and where we still get to moan about their batting and team selection and all that.
What an excellent series. India absolutely deserve to win the final Test.
If you’re going to get out LBW, get out LBW in style.
Here’s Keaton Jennings’ four-step guide to doing so.