Fist forming and extreme hat retrieval

Posted by
2 minute read

It’s the fashion these days to look back on a losing streak and say that you were playing well in patches and that you knew all it would take would be a slight improvement and everything would be hunky-dory again. This always gets on our nerves, because of course you played well in patches. You’d be hard pressed to go through an entire Test match without having any decent patches.

But yet India seemed to just about manage it. In the third Test, they were widely considered to have lost every single session, but still they played well in patches – Ajinkya Rahane got a pair of fifties and they made over 300. Even at Old Trafford, they had one patch – MS Dhoni’s partnership with R Ashwin.

But at the Oval, there was nothing. Dhoni made more runs, but there was no good patch because his biggest partnership was with Ishant Sharma for the tenth wicket. Every run they scored merely enhanced the horror of what had preceded it.

Start by bending your fingers

We’ve thought and thought about India’s performance because we’re still not happy with the easy response that they’d simply given up. Watching their final innings of the series unfold, unravel and spontaneously combust, it seemed to us that it wasn’t so much lack of fight as having no real idea how to form a fist.

Watch the highlights again and they’re not peppering the slips cordon apathetically. They’re just displaying an almost frightening lack of adaptability; playing the same non-shots to swinging balls outside off stump as they had been doing innings after innings. It was as if they simply had no alternative.

Wicket-taking strategies in England are no great mystery and presumably India’s batsmen know what slips fielders are for, but yet most of them seemed to stick with doing exactly the things most likely to result in their dismissal.

What was it like?

It was rather like someone had said to them: “Could you retrieve my hat from this active threshing machine? You’ll just have to reach in with your hand and try and grab it.”

To which they said to themselves: “Oh well. Guess I’ll be losing my hand in the threshing machine,” rather than doing something – anything – different.


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


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. You have just invented the next BBC primetime game show – ‘Extreme Hat Retrieval!’.

    Presented by Darren Gough.

    1. I thought of it as more in the mould of ‘hole in the wall’

      ‘Bring on the threshing machine!’

  2. Was at the Oval for 2 days and it was by turns thrilling and dispiriting. You could record the moment that India just completely gave up… Root played onto his stumps, the umpire called for a no-ball referral and twenty seconds later the stands roared (apart from the poor Indian supporters, who must have wondered whether the Lord’s test had happened at all).

    After that, you could just see that all desire even to play just died away. Frankly, a score of 94 all out seemed to flatter them after their mid-morning effort in the field.

    1. In hindsight, India seemed to have lost the series, when they drew the first test match due to Binny’s batting.

      If only Bunny(Autocorrect for once picked the right word) had failed in the batting in the first test, then Dhoni might/may/hopefully have picked 5 proper bowlers from the second test onwards and then we might have made a better fight out of the last 3 tests.

    2. If Dhoni got one thing correct, it is his post match statement that picking five or four bowlers hardly matters. When your entire top-order folds for a total of ten runs, everything else is inconsequential.

  3. I still stick to the theory that they just resigned themselves to the inevitable. However, why they did so might be an interesting question.

    1. India (and many other teams these days) do not know how to bat for a draw. If they are faced with the prospect of batting for more than one day, they inevitably fold. I know someone is going to say “SA did it a couple of times”, but this is more an exception than the norm. Most teams would fail if asked to bat a prolonged period of time to save the game. That’s the consequence of too many one-dayers and T20s where a dot ball is a crime. (Having said that, India failed in the first inning as well.)

    2. There is truth to the theory that a five test match series for a sub-continent team is about as rare as a sober Laurence Elderbrook. I am willing to bet that had the recent Sri Lanka – England series been five matches, it’d have been a happy England at the end.

    3. Dhoni is a bad test captain. I have always considered him to be mediocre at the job due to lack of resources, but this series has convinced me that he is just not good at it. His method works in limited overs format where one delivery could pretty much decide the game, but his long-term vision sucks, if not totally absent. Benching the best spinner in your team is terrible, as is his consistent insistence on batsmen and all-rounders over bowlers/spinners. It seems he carries the same “we will outbat them” one-day mindset into tests. Which backfires spectacularly when you don’t have proper test batsmen.

    4. Pujara failing was a very big factor. I am tempted to say it was almost the single deciding factor for the terrible batting display. Seeing their best bat fail consistently could not have been easy for the younger team members, sapping whatever little confidence they had.

    5. Towards the end, their lack of 5 match experience, coupled with their abysmal failing, led them to believe they just do not have the resources to beat England. Perception is key, you are what you believe etc.

  4. Meanwhile, are you, KC, going to set up another mini league for us in the all out cricket fantasy league.

    All previous bets are off, by the looks of it, so we can make unlimited transfers and our precious mini league has been expunged.

    It was Deep Cower’s mention of Laurence Elderbrook that got me thinking about this subject – seeing the great man’s eleven bringing up the rear in your mini league was one of my secret pleasures of the summer…

    …as it were.

    1. I gather from the conspicuous absence of Wisdens in my incoming mail that the purported prizes described on AOC’s websites were unconnected to the conclusion of the Test series. I’m a bit miffed.

      I know just the thing to lift my spirits–“a signed, framed, limited-edition print” of Laurence Elderbrook to commemorate taking first honours in KC’s mini-league.

      I suppose the odds of that happening are as low as me having a clue whom to pick for the one-dayers–I don’t really follow them.

      “…Bopara?” I thought to myself.

      “Guess again,” replied the selectors.

    2. I have emailed All Out Cricket to ask about my prize.

      The thing is I don’t need gloves or pads, which I think I have won, so I will donate them. I’m thinking that if there are no problems with shipping I will give them to a school here in NZ. But if there is to much pissing about with getting them here, would anyone know of a club side or school that could make use of them? Preferably some mid table struggler.

  5. Help me, friends. All out Cricket won’t let me make transfers. It just keeps saying ‘You can only have a maximum of five players from each side.’ But if you have to pick 11 players that’s not possible!

    1. Given that he’s up to 97.5 percent presence among all sides I assume the number eleven slot has been permanently reserved for Jimmy.

Comments are closed.