Eden Gardens in Kolkata for the third Test between India and England

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We are delighted that England are playing at Eden Gardens. They will almost certainly lose here, but that’s not the point. It’s simply one of the great sports grounds and to have the opportunity to play here is something in itself.

Recent Tests at Eden Gardens in Kolkata

If you’re looking for England wins, you’re almost certainly in the wrong place. India’s last defeat came against Pakistan in 1999 and since then, they have five wins and two draws. The last two victories have been by an innings and India have topped 600 in their first innings in each of the last three matches.

The 2007 Test against Pakistan was a high-scoring draw from which we learn little. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble were the only bowlers to see any real success, but that’s no great surprise.

In 2010, South Africa went from 218-1 to 296 all out in their first innings. Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dhoni then made hundreds before Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra chipped away at Hashim Amla’s batting partners to secure a massive victory. It was the archetypal Indian home Test win: stacks of patience when batting and bowling and that ability to suddenly shift into fifth gear the minute the opposition blinks (only without the stalling and complete inability to accelerate to an appropriate speed).  It also set the series up beautifully.

Last year’s innings defeat of West Indies is slightly more encouraging for England in a weird way. India made 631-7 at four runs an over, which isn’t too reassuring. However, it wasn’t all spin. Although R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha did the bulk of the bowling, Umesh Yadav managed to pick up seven wickets.


It’s notable that Yadav only bowled 24 overs in the whole of that last match (Ashwin and Ojha each bowled 54) and there’s a lesson there – fast bowlers only remain effective when fresh. It’s tempting to give them a couple more overs, but using them as the default bowling option – as a captain might in England – is counterproductive.

Even so, it takes some optimism to foresee an England win at one of cricket’s other homes. But that doesn’t matter – hopefully there’s a good crowd in, because that’s what Eden Gardens is really about. So what if it inspires India. That’s what makes the spectacle compelling and that’s what would make an unlikely away win so memorable.


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  1. England have a good chance to win/draw this series, methinks. It seems to me the crucial aspect is the absence of India’s strong batting line-up that made those high scores in the past possible. Sehwag is woefully out of form, Dravid and Laxman aren’t around. Tendulkar remains hit and miss, going by recent performances, and Dhoni cannot be relied on to score big in tests. Kohli would almost certainly do well – the Virat-Sachin partnerships would pretty much decide the tests. If England don’t follow their strategy of playing spinners with their eyes blindfolded, this could well be their series. They have the better quicks, batsmen who are in better form, and a spinner who’s as good as any. And they are better fielders as well.

    1. England’s batsmen are in better form? Cook, Trott and Bell are currently the only certainties, none of whom are really in form. Trott has also never played a Test in India.

      There are a lot of unknowns, but given both teams will have a slightly ‘fresh’ look about them, home advantage is likely to be more pronounced. That said, England’s bowlers are generally pretty organised and stand a better chance of doing a job than on pretty much any previous tour.

    2. “A lot of unknowns”, KC, true.

      But are they known unknowns or unknown unknowns? The distinction might be crucial. But then again, it might not. That’s another unknown.

      May I also take this opportunity to re-post Daisy’s picture of Eden Gardens, which contains a minuscule image of Ged, which you might see if you look closely enough.


  2. Even for an Indian fan, Eden Gardens is something else. I have never watched a test there, but back in 1996 I watched a world cup game there, and nothing since has come close to replicating that experience. At most Indian grounds the crowd is a factor, but at the Eden Gardens it is almost a participant in the match. Such is the decibel level that an inexperienced (foreign) cricketer can hardly hear himself think. Certain players – Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar for example – have the ability to channel the crowd’s energy behind them, and become unstoppable as a result. When Harbhajan roars at the Eden Gardens, the crowd roars with him – and he becomes a predator in the eyes of the opposition batsman. Add to that the claustrophobia of 6 men surrounding the bat, and you know that teams lose heart on the last day before they lose the game.

    There is a lesson for England though – from that Pakistan victory in 1999. I have never seen Eden Gardens so quiet (on TV) as when Shoaib Akhtar got Dravid and Tendulkar out on successive deliveries with sheer speed. Those two balls removed the crowd as a factor for the duration of the match, and from that point on India were swimming against the tide. Nasser Hussain spoke of “silencing the crowd” in 2001, but his weapon of choice was Matthew Hoggard, who let’s admit was the butter knife of the weapon world. Anderson and Finn have a much better chance of cutting through the Indian top order and changing the dynamics of the crowd. It will be a fascinating watch!

    1. That relates to what we wrote in the last article we linked to above. There’s a lesson there for cricket as well as for England: crowds improve the action in more than one way. Get them in.

      Also, tens of thousands of people roaring with six men round the bat is one of the great spectacles in sport. We hope it happens. It is very rare. Even if England lose, it’s fascinating to see how players cope with it. You learn a lot about them.

  3. I actually think that the key to England’s success in India will be Steve Finn. If he has a stonking good tour, England will win the series. If the Indian pitches neutralise his threat, England will struggle.

    Unfortunately, I rose early this morning and watched the news and weather on the BBC, only to uncover a greater risk to England than the KP-Twittergate saga.

    It seems that Steve Finn has been moonlighting as a BBC weatherman under the pseudonym “Chris Fawkes” (what a guy) for years:


    Weathergate, once it comes out, could rent the England squad in twain.

    Why oh why??

    1. It’s increasingly common for people to point at Finn as being the key. We move that it be reclassified a truism.

  4. In unrelated news, Matty Hayden responds to Jimmy Anderson’s “revelations” from his biography: “In reality, James Anderson was a B-grade bowler who got his arse-whipped by Australia that many times it’s not even funny.”

    Yup, still the biggest wanker on the planet by a country mile.

    1. People only ever say such stuff when they feel threatened by the other person. So I wonder by which criteria St. Matthew of Oaftown feels threatened by Jimmy:

      1. Because he feels that his record, and therefore his position in cricketing history relative to Jimmy, is not as good as the numbers make out, for reasons often stated

      2. Because Jimmy seems to be a popular cricketer who isn’t hated by any (all) of his teammates

      3. Because Jimmy is a real nickname, whereas Haydos was just created to suggest his batting is toss without him realising

      4. Because in saying what he did in a way that other people could understand, Jimmy highlighted how much of an arse Hayden sounds when he speaks

      But of course, we all know the actual answer, which is all of the above and a whole lot more. It is just gratifying to see that Hayden is finally feeling the pressure.

    2. Hayden added this weasel-like postscript – “He [Jimmy Anderson] has actually frankly improved his bowling thank goodness”. Thus proving your point Bert – big time threatened by a player who’s so much more than he is.

  5. I am conspicuously indifferent to this series. More on Matt Hayden’s opinionated rumblings, please.

    1. You waltz in here, still my name, and get allocated a cooler avatar than me. Yours has got horns and everything. That hardly seems fair.

    2. Yours kind of looks like it’s got a horn as well.

      There. In the middle of your head. It looks like a… oh.

  6. Also, Hayden appears to be on Twitter @HaydosTweets. Let’s all follow his “B-grade” feed.

  7. 31 March: “Feel very honoured to have been awared (Sic) ‘Best Team Man’ award at the Queensland Cricket Awards last night – a beauty of a night – thankyou!”


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