Three or four wishy-washy conclusions from Day 1 of a rare India v England Test

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To scroll through the list of venues for women’s Tests between England and India is to be struck by two things. (1) They don’t play in India very often. (2) The few India Tests that do take place are held in rather bigger cities than the ones used for the UK fixtures.

Wetherby, Blackpool and Worcester in 1986. Kolkata, Jamshedpur and Hyderabad in 1995. Then Shenley in 1999 and 2002. The latter match came a few months after a game in Lucknow and weeks before another in Taunton.

After that, there was a Test in Delhi, in 2005 – which was the most recent in India until today – followed by matches in Leicester, Taunton and Wormsley.

The last time the two teams played this format was in Bristol in 2021.

This time around they’re in Mumbai. We don’t know if you’ve ever been to Mumbai, but let us tell you right now, it’s a significantly busier and noisier conurbation than Shenley (which we had to google).

So what do we know?

This acute lack of history makes for an intriguing event, but it doesn’t make reporting on day one especially easy. India have made 410-7 in 94 overs, which feels like a lot of runs (and also quite a lot of overs).

That huge gap between fixtures means that comparisons tell us both something and nothing. The run-rate of 4.36 an over is striking – England scored at 1.57 an over in their first innings of the 2005 match and 1.85 in their second, while India careered along at 2.27 an over in their first innings and an eye-watering 2.86 an over in the second when hustling towards a declaration.

The fact that match took place getting on for 1,000 miles away from this one is however probably less significant than the fact it took place 18 years ago. Cricket has changed a fair bit in that time and the women’s game hugely so.

We’re pretty sure 410-7 in 94 overs is a good score though. It’s certainly not a bad one. If you keep Sophie Ecclestone (the Cestrian Who’s The Bestrian) to 1-85, you’re definitely going more than okay.

Four players have passed 60, but none has yet reached 70. Is a 60-odd pitch a thing?

“You can’t prepare for a Test match until you play it,” Lauren Bell told Raf Nicholson of the Guardian afterwards.

We’re not sure whether the virulently moronic use of the word “pre-prepared” has savaged modern vocabularies, but we’re pretty sure the start of a match marks the exact point at which preparation must end – unless she’s talking about days two, three and four.

Any significant events?

Just as a measure of the infrequency of women’s Tests, this was Jemimah Rodrigues’ debut after the small matter of 113 appearances for India across the two shorter formats. She made 68.

Also noteworth was Harmanpreet Kaur getting run out for 49. This is obviously not as annoying as getting run out for 99, but on this occasion it was compounded by the fact it only happened because her bat got stuck in the turf – which funnily enough is exactly how she also got run out in this year’s T20 World Cup.

Harmanpreet will no doubt react to the setback with her trademark sang froid. (Some umpiring in Bangladesh wasn’t to her taste earlier this year and The Final Word’s Geoff Lemon concluded that her protracted responses amounted to, ‘cracking the shits deluxe’.)

What’s next?

There are many unknowns, but it kind of feels like England will need somewhere around 200 from Nat Sciver-Brunt to stay in this one.

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  1. Daisy & I have been to a women’s test match at Shenley. In 2003. We’re pretty sure that we were the only people there that day who were not the friends and relatives of the participants.

    Any cricket ground that has a Corn Field End is a good place to watch cricket. Does the Wankyday (check spelling please ed) have a Corn Field End?

    1. The Wankhede does not have a corn field end, no. This game is in the DY Patil stadium in New Mumbai though. Which may have once had a corn field end but probably no longer does

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