Pathetic. Spineless. Useless Captain. These phrases have been used to describe England in the past 12 months, but over this Test, India served up a performance which truly plumbed the depths.
England's 1st innings started off a little scratchily, and there may be some growing concern about Sam Robson, who appears fidgety and frenetic at the wicket. Opening the batting is a hard task, but he seems to lack a certain composure, and his runs are always hard earned. Oh for the days of a Marcus Trescothick, to complement the doggedness of the captain Cook. After the KP fiasco, which I have spoke about in the past, it seems England now have a settled middle order, with the increasing authority of Gary Ballance at three, the technically flawless Ian Bell at four, and the little Yorkshire fighter Joe Root at five. There's a real glue to the England middle order, and after a period of finding the correct batting position for Root, he seems really settled at five.
One of the question marks over Jos Buttler's inclusion were - could he bat under pressure? When he walked to the wicket on Friday, England were 140-6. His circumspect 70 was an excellent knock in the context of the match, and his 134 run partnership with Joe Root was looking at the final score, a match winning partnership. Buttler should be, barring another youngster coming through, the England wicket-keeper in all 3 formats for the next 5 years at least. It is nice to see a young man break into the England team, and take his opportunity so brilliantly.
If India's 1st innings was shambolic, then their 2nd was spineless. The young men in their middle order, have had to bide their time to get the chance in this Indian test side, whilst they await the legends Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman to retire. It's all well and good getting runs in your home country, but the mark of a real test player is to go overseas and get runs in difficult conditions. Pujara, Kohli and Rahane need to stop reading the praise they get from the Indian press, and knuckle down and grow some balls.
Special praise must again be given to Mooen Ali, whilst he appears to have a problem with quick bowling, his bowling is coming on leaps and bounds, and if he can tie the supposed best players of spin in the world in knots, then it bodes extremely well for the future. In further test matches we may find the batting positions of Ali and Buttler becoming interchangeable, depending on circumstance.
There was no play after 2.15pm on Friday, so England have wrapped up this Test Match in little under 2 and half days. India are playing like a test team who want to get on the next plane home, however they still have a test at the Oval before they can. Alastair Cook must be thanking MS Dhoni, as Dhoni has helped to give England two easy test match wins, with some baffling bowling and field selections during England's recent innings. Dhoni in the field is playing like a man who would rather be elsewhere, I would anticipate that he will call time on his test career after this series.
So England rock on to the Oval cock-a-hoop, India off to lick their wounds. I can only see another comprehensive England victory in the final test of the summer. Who would have thought England would be winning this series 3-1 a month ago. Fair play to England, India however need a long hard look at themselves.
Chris Clark © 2014 @