England’s Eden Gardens Test win, four-man bowling attacks and Zaheer Khan

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We’ll be honest, we’re struggling to know what to say about England’s win at Eden Gardens. Comparing our preview to the scorecard kind of puts things in perspective.

The current fashion seems to be to denigrate India, but that’s only half the story. The other half most revolves around Alastair Cook, but England’s bowlers contributed significantly as well.

The attack’s come a long way from the first Test and it just shows that if you’re picking four bowlers, you should select four wicket-takers. Lower order runs from Bresnan and Broad would never have made up for their bowling, while Finn and Panesar are in credit despite being wazzocks of the willow.

But there is a worry here for England. Conditions weren’t helpful, but neither Bresnan nor Broad has looked like much of a bowler of late. The former’s lost pace since an elbow operation and the brutal truth is that he may never be Test standard again. Broad just looks spent.

Maybe a rest and one of those ‘strength and conditioning programmes’ will help Broad (although with him that sounds more like a description of his hair care regime). If so, could this be the modern fast-bowling cycle: ‘Build ’em up, use ’em up, repeat’.

It might be too late to rebuild Zaheer Khan. Seam bowlers who are dropped at 34 years of age are rarely seen again. We’ve a degree of sympathy for Zaheer, however. He seems to have been bowling at a decent lick in this series so talk of his lack of fitness for once seems slightly wide of the mark.

We’re also not so sure his form’s all that bad. 1-23 and 2-59 in Ahmedabad seems respectable enough and 0-37 off 15 overs in Mumbai isn’t disgraceful when you consider that England took 19 wickets with spin in that match. 1-94 in Kolkata is pretty dire, but is it damning enough that the bin bag handles should be tied with knotty finality?

Or maybe he’s just being rested. That’s the other thing they (have to) do with fast bowlers these days.



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  1. May I draw your attention to that first comment on your preview article on the Eden test? Them are sage words, I tell ya!

    Completely agree about Zaheer. It’d seem that the Indian board just wants to be seen doing something drastic. I also feel a touch sad about Yuvraj, though I understand the decision to drop him. Hopefully we’d also see Rahane in the playing XI, in place of ‘him that shall not be named’.

    1. On the other hand, in the thread for the fourth test preview you predicted at least three heavy scoring draws on flat pitches…

    2. ” Hopefully we’d also see Rahane in the playing XI, in place of ‘him that shall not be named’.

      Rahane doesnt keep wickets as far as I know!

  2. Can you write something – preferably consisting of wild speculation from a position of minimal understanding – about the theatre of New Zealand Cricket?

  3. Perhaps Duncan Fletcher was making the very same point about Zaheer Khan to induce Sandeep Patil’s finger-jabbing outburst on Sunday morning. A BCCI classic performance if ever there was one.

  4. Bresnan, like Sidebottom before him were not part of the main England fast bowler narrative. The story arc was Anderson, Broad then Finn, with Onions being unlucky to miss out. Both Bressie and Sidebottom looked like the better sort of county journeymen who should never have been as successful as they were. I’m not saying that they didn’t deserve it, they did, or that they weren’t for a time good, because they were but they were a bonus and we should be grateful for having had them for the time we did. It is a credit to the England set up that it gave them the environment to make the most of themselves, but they were Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey to the fast bowling Tudors. And of course and ex-England, even down-paced Bressie will be the perfect Yorkshire stalwart for years to come.

  5. I can’t believe you are moaning about having “only” two effective fast bowlers in unfriendly conditions! We will kill for even one world-class fast bowler. Zaheer was briefly that guy (in the middle of what has otherwise been a lacklustre career). Don’t mourn his passing too much – he has been below international standard for at least 2 years now.

    1. We do get the vibe that he’s paying the price for being below par over a prolonged period. Too little, too late maybe.

      Two effective fast bowlers is currently fine, but it won’t be next year. England need three for their first eleven and several more as back-up. Chris Tremlett might make a welcome return.

  6. Zaheer paid the price for Ishant and Ashwin being below-par.
    He has been below-average but below-average is as good as it gets with the Indian medium pace stocks these days…Ishant is diabolic; Awana is I-cant-even-think-up-a-description-for-him.

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