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Posted on | August 7, 2011 | 2 Comments
England are top of the world and good enough to stay there. The next step is to beat India 4-0. They have a strong desire to do this and that is the difference between the two sides. One team want to win, the other believe they are going to win.
But although England are winning well, we can improve. Alastair Cook has not made a run, he has had four failures, and Andrew Strauss has looked good but has twice got himself out after grafting his way to 32.
Graeme Swann is a top-class spinner but his bowling at Trent Bridge was the worst I have ever seen from him. I don’t know if his left hand affected him but he was conceding runs at six an over. He is better than that. He should have been bowling tight and defensive and drying up the runs to give the seamers a break.
We also still have a question mark hanging over Eoin Morgan. He started this series with three failures but in the second innings at Trent Bridge he was gifted 70 runs facing flighted, supposed off-spin rubbish from Suresh Raina and from the other end tired seamers bowling with the soft old ball.
As soon as India took the new ball he was gone. He lasted just two balls. That is the key. He tucked in to easy runs. We know he is good at that but what we want to see is him playing well against the new ball.
Yet even though Zaheer Khan, who is a damn good bowler, may well come back for Edgbaston and the Oval, England can counter that by the fact that all the players believe they are better than India.
England can press home their advantage by swapping the injured Jonathan Trott, a batsman, for another fast bowler in Chris Tremlett and Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss must request a bouncy pitch and bomb them with four seamers.
Their seamers are faster than India’s and bowl with more aggression and intensity. India’s seamers are military medium pace and although they swing it nicely with the new ball, once the hardness and shine has gone, facing the soft, old ball is not a problem for England.
That is why Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen murdered their bowling on the third day. On the third morning India had a chance of winning the match. England were 24 for two, in other words 43 runs behind with a major batsman, Trott, injured and unable to bat properly.
Swann was also in difficulty with his hand and it was a great opportunity to drive home their advantage but they were not quick enough or good enough. I cannot see that changing because of the pitches we are playing on.
Obviously Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar are very good players and they will find a way to make some runs. But the rest have struggled against the bouncing ball. It is difficult to win a Test match with only three batsmen.
It is evident to anybody who knows cricket that some of the Indian batsmen don’t fancy and can’t play the rising ball into their ribs, chest and neck area.
Raina was pathetic at Trent Bridge. He never looked at the short ball and in desperation flailed at the bouncer and hit it down fine leg’s throat.
Yuvraj Singh tried hard but was not keen on the pain after he was hit on the finger. In fact one ball hit him on the arm, not the glove or the bat, and he started walking off. He took a couple of steps towards the pavilion, giving himself out, when he suddenly realised how embarrassing it looked as the umpire said not out.
MS Dhoni is in poor form and, with the ball zipping around, does not know whether to stick or twist. He tried being positive and drove at a wide ball to be caught at slip in the first innings.
He tried defending and picked the wrong ball to pad up to and was lbw not playing a shot in the second. What a mess. Abhinav Mukund is a young new guy who will never have seen pitches like Lord’s and Trent Bridge. He looked out of place.
In India and other parts of the subcontinent, like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the new ball only bounces stump high. Seam bowlers can’t get life out of their pitches so batting against seamers is fairly easy.
The pitches spin but nobody gets rapped on the fingers or has to fend off balls that will hurt them. After some early swing, the seamers are not that difficult to face.
That is why India do not have and never have had a crop of good seamers. It is too much hard work with too little reward.
Most kids want to be batsmen. It is easier on those pitches. Occasionally they turn out a really good seamer, like Javagal Srinath or Kapil Dev, but most of the time batsmen are the Kings with huge television adverts and product endorsements. Now it is time to turn the big deals into big runs.
Article reproduced with kind permission from the Daily Telegraph