England hope to set up a euphemistically ‘awkward’ chase

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Get a room, Virat Kohli and everyone who’s watching the Test match. None of us are comfortable with this level of public affection.

As we’ve said before, it’s the hero worship of Kohli that’s so objectionable, not the man himself. Still, the one leads to the other, so it’s only natural to wish him ill so that you’re spared the gushing. We don’t like gushing. We’re not Daniel Plainview.

From an England perspective, a couple of rabbit-in-a-hat tricks offset otherwise playground tactics to leave the team pretty much exactly where you’d expect them to be.

Given a brief opportunity to captain, Joe Root brought himself on to bowl and took two quick wickets. Adil Rashid, meanwhile, got the ‘opportunity’ to bowl 30 overs on the bounce – and occasionally, as he tired, the double-bounce.

Neither made much difference. Root’s success was freakish and Rashid’s workload came about because he appeared as likely as anyone to take wickets. He took 2-152. A third spinner could certainly have accounted for some of those runs without necessarily having any impact on the wicket column.

Alastair Cook has, in our view, made little of a mediocre hand. We wouldn’t damn him for that. We know by now that he is not a captain who transcends his team’s apparent limitations. It would be like going to a chain pub for a two-burgers-for-a-fiver offer only to complain about the quality of the beef. Given better ingredients, the Cook is competent. England’s shortcomings aren’t overwhelmingly down to him.

Still, it was good of India to agree to a handicap match in which England batted first on a pitch liable to go all scuffy and exciting. If they can somehow minimise their first innings deficit, they can hopefully set up some sort of awkward chase for their opponents.

‘Awkward’ means ‘small and easy’ but at least we’ll all be able to pretend for a bit.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. Cook’s problem is that success in India in 2012 was based principally on 4 ingredients:

    Alastair Cook
    Graeme Swann
    Monty Panesar
    Kevin Pietersen playing one of those innings that seemingly only he can

    Sure, most of the time the rest of the team contributed in some way or another (Anderson especially) but those 4 were the serious difference. Now though only Cook is left and frankly he’s gone off a little.

    Maybe it is time for Cook to hand over the reins. As a batsman he’s still (just about) undroppable. As a captain, the only reason this tour isn’t his nadir is because he followed an Ashes whitewash with the 2014 Headingley test. Twice though in little over a year England have had the opportunity to go 1-nil up in a series in Asia and twice they failed to do so. They ended 25 runs short in the UAE and 4 wickets short in Rajkot. Maybe a less conservative captain might make a difference in similar circumstances in future.

    1. The cycles have turned this time:

      Alastair Cook = Murali Vijay
      Kevin Pieteresen = Virat Kohli
      Monty Panesar = Ravi Jadeja
      Graeme Swan = Ravi Ashwin

      1. It’s almost right. Monty Panesar is a lot less irritating than Jadeja. Although taking a cricket bat to the scrotum is a lot less irritating than Ravindra Jadeja.

    2. This tour really represents regression to the mean from an English perspective, I reckon. Last time round was so surprisingly good that the most likely way was down.

      1. We really get the sense that a lot of people didn’t – indeed don’t – realise what a monumental success that last tour was for England.

  2. It’s possible Adil Rashid is a much better bowler than today’s play suggested, but what he threw down the last seven hours was shit for the most part. Why don’t they get Swann to help them out a bit? I’m sure the ECB has a Task Engineering Section that can recommend his name to the On-Field-Play-Leverage Personnel who can set up a sub-committee to take it up with the captain.

    You’ve got to give it to VRat though.

    1. I understood that Rashid had help of Saqlain for the first 3 tests. Not here from this 4th test onwards.

  3. I understand regarding your dislike of hero worship, I’m against that too. As an aside, I am a bit annoyed by the attitude of some English pundits/commentators (not saying you’re one of them) that we should “reserve judgment” on Kohli until he performs in England. He averages 62 in Australia, 68 in South Africa and 71 in New Zealand. He’s got a double hundred in the West Indies and has scored in Sri Lanka in the recent series there as well. I’m sure he’ll improve his record in England in the future…but I want to make a general point about some English cricket fans not rating foreign players until they perform in England. By that token Indians should not rate Shane Warne or Murali since their records in India were poor. It’s a bit narrow minded, honestly.

    1. Surely we’re past that now. It’s become enough of a joke that England fans are texting ‘but how would he fare on a Derby greentop?’ type comments to show up on the big screen at the ground. That is most definitely tongue in cheek.

      There’ll always be a few resentful refuseniks, but when you reach the point where fans are joking about that kind of opinion, you can be fairly sure that Kohli’s brilliance is now just an accepted fact.

      1. There’s been people on the Verdict on Sky and now even Jimmy Anderson (although that could have been mind games). But I gladly take your point.

      2. Don’t think Jimmy’s comments were mind games, so much as an insight into the thinking of someone whose job it is to look for and exploit a batsman’s flaws. If anything, we’d say he was being complimentary.

        It seems like it’s almost become sacrilege to say that Kohli has flaws, which is a nonsense.

      3. But how WOULD he fare at the Racecourse Ground in Derby on a greentop in April or May? I think that is a perfectly valid question.

        The only way we’ll find out is if Mr Kohli signs up for a second division county instead of playing IPL. I bet Kohli won’t ever do that.

        Why not? Because he wouldn’t dare, that’s why not. Because Kohli knows that he’d struggle to get it off the square in those challenging circumstances, that’s why not.

        #scaredycatkohli #onlyonepossiblereasonwhynot #cowardofthecountycricket

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