Mop-up of the day – chucking in the towel

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There’s quite a bit of Test cricket going on at the minute. Savour it, because it’s not long before we make a sharp turn and embark on the long, straight approach to the 50-over World Cup. After this week’s final Test, England don’t play the longest format again until the middle of April (whereupon they will play 17 Tests in the space of nine months).

The Africa derby

Zimbabwe have put up a bit of fight in the one-off Test against South Africa, but will lose.

Sri Lanka v Pakistan

First blood to the Lankans. Everyone’s going on about Kumar Sangakkara’s double hundred, but Rangana Herath took nine wickets, including six for not-very-much in the second innings. He’s a canny, doughy, squat little devil and his team are increasingly thankful to have him.

Bent elbow

Saeed Ajmal’s action has again been reported. They’ll do some tests.

We’ve mixed feelings about this. People struggle to comprehend that a bent-armed bowler can bowl legally and this is compounded by misleading photos and footage which appear to show straightening where there isn’t any. At the same time, Ajmal’s action is quite extreme. It’ll be interesting to hear the findings.

Motives and attitude

In the wake of India’s twin collapses in the fourth Test, there’s been a return to people questioning their attitude, which was a common theme last time they toured. We’re not enamoured of this.

Players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are first and foremost Test cricketers; Murali Vijay hit a hundred and two fifties in the first two Tests of the series; and Gautam Gambhir has only just got back in the side. We don’t see these as being players who don’t give a toss; who are throwing their wickets away so that they can spend more time counting their IPL rupees.

That’s most of the batting line-up. Virat Kohli was the other specialist at Old Trafford and if England fans want him to prove that he has the stomach for Test cricket, they should perhaps be careful what they wish for. After all, the series is 2-1 with one match to go. Just because you’re reading that India are a beaten side about nine times each day doesn’t make it true.


We forgot to mention the latest Shire Horse, so we’re doing that now.


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. Guilty as charged, your honour. Or guilty of commenting on other people’s comments about India’s attitude, anyway. (hangs head)

  2. Yeah, everyone, stop going on about Sankgakkara. So he’s scored 37 centuries and ten double centuries in 127 Tests at an average of 54. I could do that if I tried. I just choose not to.

  3. Sangakkara’s scored his last 9000 runs (which the numberphiles among you will know as ‘more than any England player ever managed’) at the attention-whoring average of 65.

    1. Yeah, well, if he’s going to score at that average of course he’s going to score a lot of runs. It’s a lot harder to do it at an average of 40.

  4. The thing is that India sometimes give up when they get into a position that hovers between bad and hopeless. I was in Bombay when this happened when Flintoff’s side ran through them in about ten minutes . They utterly gave up. Not one of them could be arsed playing for a draw. It was quite similar to the most recent test, especially the way Dhoni got out.

    No one is accusing the top order of not trying when the match has only just started or when there is plenty of room for personal glory by making a massive score. But they don’t bother gritting it out for a draw when they are in a bad position. As a result I definitely have a lower opinion of them as a team than I otherwise might. Yes, I question their attitude.

    England players used to excuse getting out attacking when they should have been playing for a draw with the excuse “it’s the way we play”, which is a bit like saying “I agree, we’re shit”. Trescothick especially springs to mind. Of course, you don’t want to let runs dry up altogether as that creates its own problems, but neither should you start slogging.

    1. Dhoni and arguably Rahane were the only two batsmen we can think of from the second innings at Old Trafford who fell to attacking shots. We’re not sure how people diagnose that they’ve given up in these situations. It was closer to panic from what we saw.

    2. I can’t say I completely disagree with Jeffy. In fact, I remember you wrote a piece where you claimed Dhoni, when things are not going well, doesn’t seem proactive. I also remember disagreeing at that time, but I am beginning to believe this actually is the case. Whether it comes to bowling (like against Brendom Mccullum recently) or batting in very tough situations, Indians just seem to resign themselves to the situation instead of trying to change it.

    3. We thought Dhoni, with the bat, was trying to change the situation in that second innings. It did seem a proactive innings. His dismissal looked really bad, but that was largely because most of Dhoni’s shots look pretty bad anyway.

      Generalisations like ‘Indians just seem to resign themselves to the situation’ make us wince a bit. There are always exceptions, but people seem very prone to talking about ‘India’ as a collective when they do badly, attributing all sorts of emotions and attitudes to them, as if they have a Borg-style hive mind (the Borg from Star Trek, not Bjorn).

      If there is a trend for batting poorly in tough situations, it could just be as simple as lack of experience of lower scoring pitches, whether hard, fast, seaming or swinging.

      Their batting hasn’t really got going this summer. Confidence is likely to be low. When it gets tougher and there is less to be gained, this is perhaps more likely to be exposed. This isn’t quite the same as not caring or giving up or resigning yourself to something.

    4. Dhoni is undoubtedly a fine one-day captain (20/50 overs) but there must be question marks over his ability as a test captain.

      My opinion, for what it is worth, is that good test captains are very rare.

      Really strong teams (Windies mid 1970s to 1990s, Oz from early 1990s through the McGrath/Warne era) succeed despite their captain, not because of him. Ponting in particular a case in point. (Geoffrey Boycott’s mum could have skippered those teams blah blah).

      So naming several test captains who really made a positive difference through their captaincy is quite hard. In that department, England has strangely been blessed in my cricket-following lifetime. I would list Illingworth, Brearley, Hussain, Vaughan and Strauss.

      From Oz I would name Border, Tubs and Waugh. Safferland – Cronje and Smith (both names said with a spit). Kiwiland – Fleming. Zim – Flower. Sri Lanka – Ranatunga. Pakistan – Imran.

      Dhoni continues a long tradition of India test captains who flatter to deceive, winning many tests/series at home but almost always struggling away, despite the manifest talent in the squad.

    5. OK people are making generalisations about India but I think it is right to do so because of the cultural issues at play..

      I have watched test cricket live in India and the fans appear to treat it differently to those in the rest of the world.. they are more interested in the batstman, and more interested in seeing batsman rack up massive scores. Your average England fan focuses much more on the team.

      I had a moan on here a while ago about Tendulkar in this context. I bet a sizeable majority of them would have rather watched him succeed than watch India win.

      I have a hunch that this seeps into the attitude of *some* of the Indian players *sometimes*.. generalisations, and no particular evidence offered. I am just offering some emotional tripe based on the particular cocktail of chemicals that is currently washing around my skull.

      KC I take your point completely about the Old Trafford 2nd innings being more panic than disinterest..

    6. Most of the above comment is nonsense.
      It just happens that Indian batsmen have been of much higher quality than the bowlers, at least for as long as I have watched cricket. Consequently, they are more popular and hence they get more vocal support.
      Its not a choice between batsmen scoring and a team doing well, usually batsmen racking up large scores helps a team’s cause. Same applies for Tendulkar.
      The declarations to the effect that the team has given up is probably true. It may be not the same as not giving a toss but I don’t think they believe they have a realistic chance of winning the game.

    7. We are getting slightly off the original topic but hey..

      I’ve watched the hysteria of Indian crowds when an opener is dismissed, heralding the imminent arrival of Tendulkar. I choose the word hysteria carefully – it was emotion which could not be controlled.

      I think Aks’ argument is that this would have happened somewhere else as well if there was a similar disparity in ability between batsmen and bowlers. It would not. It would only happen in India.

      I’ve watched good Indian bowlers ignored by Indian crowds also. As Aks rightly says there haven’t been that many compared to the batsmen, especially lately. Aks I don’t know how old you are but the crowds used to be indifferent to Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri – both excellent bowlers if not quite world-class.

      More widely, the crowds there are pretty indifferent to the good performers by the opposition as well. It is a bit spooky to see a batsman hit a brilliant boundary or a bowler take a wicket and for the crowd not to applaud.

      There is definitely a special way that they hero-worship the top batsman over and above the team.

    8. Kumble might be a better pick and I think he used to get a fair bit of encouragement from the crowd.
      On crowd behavior itself – that might be because, In India, cricket is a not the elite sport it is in England. A fairer comparison might be football and based on my understanding, fans there are a lot more fervorous. I am probably completely wrong, but this is the kind of generalisation that started the debate – The average Indian cricket fan is probably lot more docile than the average English football fan.

    9. We’ve always thought that cricket in India attracts a broader spread of fans because it’s the country’s main sport. The people making all the noise aren’t necessarily the biggest fans. If anything, they’re more likely to be casual fans who are just enjoying a night out. You don’t really get so many of those in England because football’s the sport that gets people’s casual interest.

    10. It is a good point and a parallel is that crowds at Somerset have sometimes been more raucous than elsewhere on the county circuit. The reason often cited is the lack of a good football team in those parts. Of course, drinking anaesthetic quantities of cider (top stereotype ahoy) and doing well in 1980s one day competitions shouldn’t be discounted.

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