So far, it’s been looking a bit Stella – stronger than most, but you’d really rather have something else if at all possible.
That said, context is everything in cricket and batting hasn’t been all that easy this summer. England’s bowling has generally been very good, but there have been helpful conditions as well. To some degree, India’s batting looks worse simply because England have scored more runs – for which the Indian bowlers have to take quite a lot of the blame.
That said, for every peachy delivery that’s got rid of Dravid, someone else has done something demented. It was VVS Laxman’s turn yesterday. He played a shot that we immediately branded as being ‘fully spasticated’. That’s just cricket though. It’s half about outplaying your opponent and half about making fewer balls-ups.
Less than stellar
The biggest culprit has been Suresh Raina, of course. If India had picked a fifth bowler instead of him, they might have fared a damn sight better. They wouldn’t have lost any runs and they might not have suffered such flagging bowlers in the second innings. England went from 62-5 to 269-6 in the first Test and the second Test saw unremitting flaggery from those running in.
To be honest, if they’d replaced Raina with no-one whatsoever – just a blank space – India’s batting would have looked better. His own bowling in England’s second innings at Trent Bridge created context – it made batting look like a piece of piss. However, when India batted, we saw that batting was actually pretty tricky.
Raina’s bowling was bad enough to take the gloss off Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar. Now that’s bad.