England v India in a 5 match test series should whet the appetite, but with two defensive captains in charge of their sides, can both teams take twenty wickets to win a test match?
Alistair Cook has not had a good 8/9 months, both in his captaincy and also his personal form. His last test hundred was at Headingley on 24th May 2013 against New Zealand, for this once prodigious run machine he is woefully out of touch. It is obvious to me that his captaincy is affecting his batting.
Cook has been groomed to be England captain by the ECB, but has he ever been the right man for the job? He has allowed himself to get involved in an unnecessary spat with the biggest wind-up merchant of all time Shane Warne. To the outsider it is obvious what Warne is doing, he is merely goading Cook, due to Warne's close personal friendship with Kevin Pietersen. The England captain should not be entertaining the thoughts of commentators, wasting time and effort answering them, or letting these comments affect him.
Cook's actual cricketing tactics are so negative and un-inspiring at times, it beggars belief. If Plan A doesn't work, let's keep trying it again, seems to be the only tactic. His reluctance to bowl a spinner is also infuriating, which he first showed signs of doing in Australia with Monty Panesar. If England want Mooen Ali to become a test match spinner, then he must bowl him...simple really. Either you pick him and bowl him, or you leave him out and go with five seam bowlers.
There has been a worrying trend in recent matches, that once the opposition are down to their tail-end batsmen, but there is still an established batsman in, the field set to that batsman is so defensive it's an absolute joke. They are allowed to get easy singles and keep the scoreboard ticking over. Bowl at the stumps, keep the fielders close. Play the game to take wickets!!
Look what an innovative inspirational captain is doing for New Zealand cricket.
Back to this Test series, and whilst England are in a state of transition, there are some highly promising players, if only they were allowed to play with the handbrake off.
I anticipate England to line up as follows:
Chris Jordan can count himself unfortunate to be dropped, but England must find a way of getting Ben Stokes into the side, he is a genuine quick bowling all rounder, which he proved in the Ashes over the winter. There is good depth in the batting with Prior coming in at number 8, so that gives some insurance if there any blips in the top order. The pace quartet should trouble the Indian batsmen, who in the last series played in England, got themselves in such a mess that they made the English bowlers reminiscent of the West Indies 1980s pace attack!
Mooen Ali must bowl more overs to give the pace bowlers plenty of time to rest. Without the spinner being bowled, and England's reliance on Jimmy Anderson, you genuinely feel how many years Anderson has bowling in test cricket for England. He is being bowled into the ground at present.
Let's hope for an entertaining series and ideally an England victory. However if England end up losing this series comfortably, then I fear it is the end for Captain Cook.
Chris Clark © 2014 @