These days, there’s a lot of rubbish spoken about ‘doing your best’ and ‘aiming high’. How does anyone hope to improve with a mentality like that?
You should always set the bar as low as possible and put in only a token amount of effort. That way you’ve got plenty of room for manoeuvre.
England’s batsmen have got this right. In the first innings, only Alastair Cook and Matt Prior exhibited competence. In the second innings, Nick Compton moved towards that level and Cook and Prior moved a step further. Lo, England’s batting had improved.
And there are further grounds for optimism, because at least now somebody knows what they’re doing. Maybe if the other batsmen could spend some time at the non-striker’s end, they too might improve. Unlike recent England Test tours, run-scoring has been revealed as a credible aim.
As for the bowlers, we actually reckon that England’s seam attack could be improved by removing a third of it. If Tim Bresnan is going to persist in bowling at 75mph without really moving the ball, he could be swapped for Monty Panesar with precisely no ill-effects. Even if you ignore the significant benefits brought to the spin attack by such a move, you still get a bowler who can shoulder a greater workload which should help the remaining seam bowlers stay fresher and more effective.
It is a four-match series and a lot of our interest is in seeing whether the England team can learn quickly enough to challenge India. They started badly, but ignorance, nerves and team selection will have contributed to this and so we actually don’t feel too disheartened. We’d say we can’t wait for the second Test if it weren’t for the fact that we hate back-to-back Tests and therefore think the exact opposite.