Suresh Raina is getting nowhere fast

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You’d think you’d be more convinced about a player after he’d hit 80 off 62 balls in a one-day match. At worst, you’d think you’d feel the same about him. Yet somehow Suresh Raina actually managed to erode our confidence in him. This despite the fact that we said India might be better off picking 10 players during their last Test series.

Raina in one-day cricket

Before we continue, let’s be clear that we have few qualms about Raina as a one-day player. If a World XI were playing in India (and where else would it be playing) he’d be in our team were we for some inexplicable reason made chief selector.

But that’s very much our point. He’s not proving anything with innings like the one yesterday against England. Everyone knows he can play like that in that situation. That isn’t news.

Watching him in England, it seemed to us that he had Test ambitions. Although he struggled, knee-jerk England media suggestions that he ‘didn’t care’ were well wide of the mark in our eyes. Struggling for runs and losing matches, he retained his enthusiasm admirably. However, if he is bothered about Test cricket, there are some things he needs to address.

Watch them ribs

Suresh Raina has to learn to cope with deliveries aimed at his body on bouncier pitches. We’re deliberately trying to make a distinction between ‘short-pitched bowling’ and ‘deliveries that pass above the waist’ there.

To say Raina is weak against the short ball is misleading, because when it pitches short, he’s fine. It’s when the ball’s fuller yet still gets up when he looks like a member of the crowd who’s grabbed a helmet and bat and slipped onto the field of play.

He can’t really do anything to answer this question in India. Even if the pitches don’t turn as much as some people choose to imagine, they are low-bouncing. A bowler aiming at the body has to pitch the ball sufficiently short that the batsman has plenty of time to react. Trying to prove you can play the short ball in one-day matches in India is like trying to acclimatise to extreme heat by coming to England for the summer.

Keeping cool

Speaking of heat, that’s how Virat Kohli enhanced his Test case where Raina harmed his – he kept his cool. Kohli doesn’t mind trawling his vocabulary for some robust adjectives when chatting to the bowlers, but his batting is totally controlled. Raina’s isn’t.

The more England got stuck into Raina, the more frenetic he got. It was like he was careering down a steep hill on a bike with no brakes. Yes, he was gaining momentum, but there was only one way it was going to end. The fact that Steven Finn lost his cool in even more embarrassing fashion drew attention away from Raina’s own internal meltdown, but it still happened.

Raina can continue to enjoy a rather pleasant Groundhog Day in one-day cricket if he so chooses, but if he does want something more, he should look to Kohli. Raina landed a few blows, but Kohli got the job done – that’s the difference.


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. Him being in hurry-up mode was entirely predictable, due to anus rash ire. He just wanted to get back to the pavillion quick-sticks to apply some soothing cream, and you’ve written off his entire test career because of it. Well I hope you’re proud of yourself!

  2. Test Cricket requires a bit more than facing well-directed bouncers and keeping cool, IMHO. Even Sachin Tendulkar is not *that* adept when it comes to facing awkward bounce. There is nothing shameful or surprising about this – Indian batsmen are just not used to it, just like the English batsmen have a hard time reading a good spinner.

    Test Cricket requires dedication – there are days where one has to resign himself to the fact that you cannot score, but still be at the crease, fighting. That’s why the Dravids and the Laxmans are successful. Men like Richards and Lara who can dominate the opposition in any situation are few and far between. To succeed in test cricket, you have to have the humility to accept that you might not be the best after all, no matter what your mother says. It seems to me that the young Indian batsmen, pampered by fame and money and adulation, just cannot bring themselves to accept that.

    1. That is a pertinent point, particularly the ‘pampered by adulation’ element. Can young Indian batsmen see any value in sacrificing dominance, even if it means greater effectiveness overall?

    2. My mum has never stated (nor even inferred) that I am the best at cricket. Perhaps that is where it all went wrong for me.

      I’d really like to know what Suresh Raina’s mum thinks of this KC piece. And Virat Kohli’s mum.

      May we have a series of “mums’-eye-view” pieces please, KC?

    3. We once confidently asserted that even Iain Sutcliffe’s mum’s favourite cricketer wasn’t Iain Sutcliffe. It is probably about time we came clean and admitted that we did not actually have any evidence for that.

      It’s still probably true though.

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