The drab life between the leave and the lofted block

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Joe Root isn't 11 really - he's 12

On Sky, Nick Knight asked why England had been scoring at two runs an over, like it was some sort of policy. The truth is that even Kevin Pietersen couldn’t score quicker. Early wickets probably brought added caution, but the pitch seems to have dictated that there will be some drab cricket in this match. However, it will be fascinating to see how the players cope with that.

Ian Bell didn’t cope. He rummaged around for a viable run-scoring stroke and found nothing. He therefore explored some less predictable options, such as the aerial block. This didn’t prove effective. Bell will probably be fine in New Zealand, but his limitations against spin are evolving rather than receding. Monty Panesar’s inclusion in a team should perhaps automatically prompt his removal.

Jonathan Trott sort of coped, but then forgot to hit one delivery, seemingly having forgotten that he had taken a more legside stance. We can probably consider this to have been the kind of stupid thing one only does once, such as going to the Trafford Centre in December.

Matt Prior has coped, which is to be expected, because he’s magic. More impressively, Joe Root’s coped. We can’t remember what we were doing when we were 11, but we certainly wouldn’t have batted with the same solidity if we’d been asked to make our England Test debut.

It is hard to know what to make of a score like 199-5 in these circumstances. We suspect it’s not good. We suspect India’s batsmen will be better able to wait for the ball and also do something with it when it finally does reach them. On the other hand, maybe the slow speed of the pitch won’t buy enough fractions of a second to make up for the unpredictability of the bounce. So many questions. So much doubt. We guess this is why we follow amwhole Test match and not just the first day.

By the way, hats off to India for fielding four spinners and one fast bowler. It’s the kind of strategy we might have adopted when playing Brian Lara Cricket and is therefore to be applauded. Come to think of it, this is often how we batted in Test matches on that game as well. This means we can probably expect a complete loss of patience midway through tomorrow which will see sixes alternate with wickets for two overs. India will then duck slower ball bouncers and find themselves all out for three.


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  1. Given that India have to take 20 wickets to get anything out of this match and England don’t, the latter should be fairly chuffed with batting all day for 5 wickets, one of whom was Ian Bell.

  2. India might bat brilliantly, England might not bowl well, but I think a par score on that grubby pitch might be as low as 270-280, which makes 199/5 marginally England’s day.

    Beautifully poised, even Daisy is excited about it ahead of Day Two.

    270-280 is a subjective assessment of the par score, but Daisy’s excitement level is an objective assessment of this test’s state of poisedness.

  3. Pictures are so deceiving. It looks like the batsman is standing on his toes after having carefully judged the bounce and guiding the cricket ball between point and gully.

    But it could have been a wide delivery and he is just stumbling back in fear having just seen a wendigo eat the third man.

  4. I reckon the way to for seamers to bowl on this track is the way it was fashionable to bowl in one dayers a couple of years back, especially if you were called Jade. Slower balls, slower ball bouncers. The pitch is going to produce some shooters. Keep em guessing. I of course am a renowned bowling tactician, my path to test greatness being only prevented by my huge cricketing blame only having tentative control of my limbs.

  5. It could be worse, you know. You could be Shane Watson. He’s getting stressed by all the pressure, according to Fox Sports today. My hopes for an “unholy Trinity” of Hughes, Watson and Johnson in the same team have been dashed though. The Mo is carrying the drinks against Sri Lanka who, according to the shy and retiring Rodney Hogg, have the worst bowling attack ever to tour Australia.

    He has obviously forgotten Martin McCague.

  6. Turgid, turgid cricket. I would rather watch Merv Hughes’s moustache grow. Actually I would watch that regardless of the quality of the cricket.

  7. I like the idea of the Bell/Panesar toggle switch. However, two days later, Panesar’s performance in the first innings of the Nagpur Test suggests he should be a first choice on almost anything other than a green early-season wicket in England. He has bowled 46 overs for 67 runs, and almost every ball has been directed at the stumps or just outside off (nothing negative about it). The value of this in enabling other bowlers – James Anderson, for instance – to recover between attacking spells. Until Bell rediscovers some serious form, the switch has to remain stuck in the Panesar position.

  8. I once scored 381* on Brian Lara Cricket, in an ODI, with Marvan Attapattu. In many ways, the rest of my life has been a declivous slide away from that Olympian height.

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