Monday, 18 August 2014

England hammer a dis-interested India

For a Test Match to take place, it requires two teams to contest a game over 5 days. The game at the Oval could not be called a Test Match, India were truly woeful, and the game if anything was a confidence boost for Alastair Cook's resurgent England.
England are cock-a-hoop with confidence, but beating this un-motivated, and dis-interested Indian team, does not paper over the cracks which are still appearing within this England team. England won this Test Match by an innings and 244 runs, I will say that again an innings and 244 runs.

This demolition began once Cook won the toss and inserted the Indians on an overcast Friday morning in London. India's top order were completely abject, and were struggling at 44-6, after exceptional bowling, not just from Anderson and Broad, but finally ably backed up by Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes. This certainly bodes well for England's fast bowling future, when you consider the back up is Liam Plunkett, Steven Finn and Ben Stokes. If it wasn't for MS Dhoni's belligerent 82 from 140 balls, christ knows what the Indian score would have been.

As mentioned in a previous blog, the following players whilst lavished with superstardom in their own country, need to perform away from home if they are to be named in the same light as their predecessors. Virat Kohli, Pujara and Rahane need to concentrate on their technique and application. As the series has progressed, the English quicks have had their plans to bowl to the Indian middle order, and it would appear the Indian batsmen have not studied the English bowling or practiced in the nets.  India were finally bundled out for 148, and Cook and Robson handled the tricky overcast conditions with comparative ease to close day 62-0.

 Under sunny skies on the Saturday morning, Cook and Robson resumed, and again question marks will be raised against Sam Robson's long term future in the side. He played all round a full length delivery from Aaron, and was cleanly bowled. Robson is fortunate that there is no test cricket until April next year, if there were another test this calendar year, it would be unlikely that he would be opening. England have discarded the two previous openers Michael Carberry and Nick Compton erroneously in my opinion, and I would not be surprised if one of these two is given a go in future test series, quite possibly Compton due to his youth over Carberry. Cook and Ballance again showed the application and desire required in Test Match cricket, and they grinded out 79 and 64 respectively.

England have found a brilliant number 3 in Gary Ballance, and James Whitaker the chief selector should take some credit for giving him his opportunity. Since a slightly wobbly start against Sri Lanka in the summer, he has not looked back since the Indians arrived, and should have the number 3 slot nailed down for the foreseeable future. Joe Root has finally found a permanent position in this England side, and his 149* was a brilliant mixture of sensible batting, and increasing the run rate with techniquely sound aggressive batting. He was ably supported by Jos Buttler with a 45, and he has walked into this England side playing like a man who has been in it for years. Root is genuinely a world class player across all formats of cricket, and players like him should be cherished. They don't come along too often.

Whilst praising the England batting during their innings of 486, the Indian bowling and fielding should be admonished. They played like a side who could not be arsed, and as mentioned in a previous blog, serious questions should be asked about MS Dhoni's captaincy, especially out on the field. He gave an air of a man who would rather be elsewhere, and his motivational skills for his side are non-existent. The sign of a good team is by their fielding, and I have seen school teams field better than this Indian side in the last 3 Test matches. India will probably look to Virat Kohli as their next Test captain, however I feel that would be the wrong decision, he needs work on his technique, he is undoubtedly a fine batsmen, but you cannot play on roads each week when on tour. Murali Vijay would be my choice, he has worked hard to get into this Indian side, and shows great pride when batting, shame some of his team-mates cannot say the same.

After first innings India were 338 runs behind, and whilst nobody expected them to make England bat again, what followed was a procession of wickets, mainly due to a mixture of great bowling from the English pace quartet, and some genuinely lazy couldn't care less shots from the Indian batsmen. They saved their worst till last, and were bundled out for 94 in 29 overs, in little over 2 hours of play. Gautam Gambir played one of the most uncomfortable test innings you're likely to see, and he knew he was suffering, and ended up running himself out to stop the pain!

This series turned in the 3rd Test at the Rose Bowl when Alastair Cook was dropped on 15 by Ravi Jadeja. Since that moment England didn't look back. Who knows what would have happened if Jadeja had held that catch, would Cook have been replaced as captain? I would certainly have been calling for his head. However Cook and England have flourished since that pivotal moment, and I am happy to be proved wrong by the English captain. Long may this run of fine victories continue.

Chris Clark © 2014    @Chrisclark1975

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