One of Test cricket’s greatest strengths over the other formats is how you get to know the players better. We’d seen a great deal of Praveen Kumar before this series, but had no particular opinion about him. This has changed in the last few weeks.
First came the revelation that he didn’t have as wide an array of slower balls as we thought, he was actually just a medium-pacer. This made us happy, because it brought diversity to Test cricket.
Since then, we’ve seen his depth of character. What can you learn about someone in four overs of Twenty20? Very little. What can you learn in 158.3 overs of slog in a Test series? A hell of a lot. It is not a never-say-die attitude that he has, it is almost beyond that. Even when his team is in a position as crappy as his team mates’ fielding, Kumar gives his all.
Then there is his batting.
Praveen Kumar’s batting is simply ludicrous and is another reason why Tests are better than Twenty20s. Bowlers rarely get to the crease in Twenty20 anyway, but even if they do, they have to try and bat like Kumar does, so it’s unremarkable. In a Test match, his unique approach seems like a compulsion that has come about after being subjected to pissed-up neurosurgery. It’s amazingly entertaining, not least for the batsman himself, who spends half his team laughing even when his fingers are being mangled beyond recognition by the few deliveries he fails to pitch into the stands.
In a losing series, Kumar’s bowling figures stand up to scrutiny, but we fear there are few places in the world as well-suited to his style of bowling as England. It would be a shame if he didn’t survive in Test cricket. It really would.