Four bowlers, five runs and one Gary Ballance

Posted by
2 minute read

After winning the previous Test with four-and-a-bit bowlers, India could have gone either way for this one. Unsurprisingly, they went with four bowlers, not five.

Sometimes you can determine a lot from these fifty-fifty calls and MS Dhoni does seem to be a bit of a ‘pick the extra batsman’ kind of bloke. He doesn’t mind picking five bowlers every now and again (just so long as at least two of the bowlers are also credible batsmen) but you can tell he’s a lot more comfortable once the team’s back to normal, even if that means losing.

Dhoni captains his team as if runs win matches. This is all well and good in the shorter formats where runs are indeed the unit of currency, but in Test cricket runs merely prevent you from losing. To win, you need to take wickets. What message does picking six batsmen send to the opposition?

Why those five runs mattered

When you’re dismissed for 95, one crucial thing does not change. People can still say: “He hasn’t made a hundred since…”

Right now, on the day he made 95, we all know that Alastair Cook played an innings that was tantamount to a hundred. However, in about a fortnight, when it’s no longer fresh in the mind, people will say: “He hasn’t made a hundred since…” and it will seem that nothing has changed.

It’s also important to note how ludicrous it is that this innings will to some degree shore up his captaincy credentials when it had precisely ball-all to do with the aspect of captaincy he most struggles with, which is of course ‘captaincy’.

‘At least Ballance is still in’

Come on, admit it. You’re starting to think that too now. That constantly snarling facial expression is embedding itself in your brain and becoming just another part of your everyday life, like drinking tea or sighing each morning at the sheer pointlessness of it all.


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. Pankaj Singh has made it on to my favourite players list. Not sure why. He just looked delighted to be playing. And he’s very tall.

  2. And Cook went past Destabilising Traitor and Insouciant Fop into third place on the all time run list. Only So Boring I Can Barely Remember Him Batting and Christ On A Bike What’s That On Your Top Lip to go till he’s top.

    1. Er, as they say (or so I believe myself to be informed), roflmao


      Soz about caps btw, reduced to using daughter’s iPad, punched out screen of ageing laptop in a fit of caffeine-fuelled pique… Normal service will or won’t, etc…

    2. Bit harsh on the Gaffer, there, unless both of those are Gooch. Boring person, certainly, but not a boring batsman.

    3. I believe the expression you are looking for is LMFAO, Cent.

      As did I and indeed as did Daisy – LHFAO in her case, presumably, when the exact nature of her L is reported to you by me.

    1. For me it’s my mid-morning mocha, with extra sugar. I can’t think of a drink less Gary Ballance-ish, if I’m honest, unless it had marshmallows on top.

  3. Can everyone please stop using the phrase “front up”? It’s making me want to poke my own eyes out with a rusty corkscrew.

    Thanks awfully.

  4. To paraphrase Shane Warne’s evergreen comment, Dhoni is not “prepared to lose for the sake of winning”. This works in T20 and ODI where only 2 results are possible. So if you dont lose, you automatically win. Unfortunately, in Test matches this strategy has given India poor dividends in overseas Test matches under Dhoni.

    Maybe match referee should fine him for poor captaincy. He did fine the TrentBridge pitch for not producing a result. So the same criteria should be applied to Dhoni and he should be banned from captaining India for next test match.

  5. Here’s a question: would England be faring better or worse without DRS? I type this over lunch, with GB having just gone wrongly, but Ian Bell is still in and on 68 – again, wrongly. Perhaps the wrong time to ask this, and we should wait until England’s inevitable collapse after lunch, but 220/3 looks a lot worse and more collapse-precipitating than 355/3.

    1. That’s not really the right question. It’s not about the benefit for one side or the other. It’s about getting more accurate decisions.

    2. the purpose of DRS as I understood it is to avoid the Sydney type fracas, where both teams started to over-appeal to extreme, because they lost confidence in the umpire.

      India has problem mainly with the predictive aspects. The predictive behavior of Hawk-Eye seems to have almost phase-change-curve like characteristics. 99.999998% accurate within 2.5 meters but only 37% or less beyond 2.5 meters.

    3. Oh, objectively it’s all about getting it right. But the trouble is that the BCCI probably won’t see things objectively unless there’s some subjectivity in there for them as well.

    4. The more plumb LBW decisions while Bell is in 0 that get missed and can’t be appealed, the better.

      The BCCI are objectively wrong about this. Everyone should be trying to get the best decisions they can. I do wonder if umpires do their jobs differently now that they know appeals are possible/probable, and if that makes them worse when they have to go back to the old system.

    5. Don’t know if it necessarily makes them better or worse, but it surely affects their decision-making. We’d guess they now make different decisions, but are no more or less accurate overall.

    6. I did read Selvey’s piece, I respect him a lot, but he also put out ECB’s spin against KP. So it means that he is influenc-able and not 100% objective.

      The numbers I gave were 100% made-up – I guess you know that already – but the point remains that there is a boundary beyond which Hawk-Eye say that their prediction becomes unreliable.

      The problem I have here is, that this system is designed for the idiot-box, which means that even-though it is theoretically possible to get into a territory (phase) where Hawk-eye is no more reliable, it is only the umps who are aware of this and all the viewers see is a single dot, which implies 100% accuracy, but in reality it should be a fuzzy football to show that prediction system is outside its range to be reliable. The problem is exacerbated by the comms always trying to show-off themselves as superior to the umps and use Hawk-eye TV images as a stick to beat the umps. Oh I hate that.

    7. Re: Selvey. But surely even in that situation, the ECB have no motive beyond wanting to improve decision-making?

      Re: “All the viewers see is a single dot, which implies 100% accuracy”. This is what gives rise to the “umpire’s call” non-decisions. These only arise where the accuracy of Hawk-Eye brings doubt. With all other outcomes, (i.e. all definitive calls made by Hawk-Eye) the implication is that even allowing for the level of inaccuracy inherent in the system, the ball would still be hitting the stumps. And from what we’ve read recently, the system is way more accurate than they are giving it credit for with umpire’s calls even now.

    8. The thing is, as long as we use on-field umpires, Umpires’ Instinct should take precedence over the “accuracy” of Hawk-Eye.

      But it seems to me that with more and more use of DRS, umpires have started to game the system, by basing their decisions partly on what Hawk-Eye migh show on TV, instead of giving decision 100% on instinct.

      The point I am trying to say is that it is possible to have a better DRS, by actually showing a grey shadow around the red-dot which can display the field of uncertainty/probability around the prediction.

      for example 2 balls might be predicted to hit the same spot of the leg-stump, but the position of pitching will influence the uncertainty of prediction and the grey-shadow around the red-ball will be larger for the delivery which pitched away from the stumps. But this is not shown like this today because they treat the TV viewers as idiots who cannot comprehend the complexity of prediction and the pundits are also glad to paint an instant black-and-white picture instead of nuanced graph with the greys.

    9. That would be a very good way of displaying things and would really help a lot of people understand what was going on.

      We have less regard for the notion of the umpire’s instinct though.

  6. And there you go. Just turned the cricket on.

    Sorry, Joe Root. Crappy job you did opening for my team today. At least you got out to my bowler.

    1. Seconded.

      At least I’ve got Ronald in my team. But then everyone else probably has too.

Comments are closed.