November 21, 2008

England in India 2008-09

A lack of common sense

George Binoy
A frustrated Kevin Pietersen chats to the umpires when bad light curtailed the third ODI against India, India v England, 3rd ODI, Kanpur, November 20, 2008
 © AFP
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A reshuffled England fought hard but were again found wanting, their frustration heightened by a farcical finale, writes David Hopps in the Guardian.

The match was delayed by 45 minutes for morning mist, but nonsensically the overs were reduced only by one over per side to 49. By 4.30pm, the light was predictably fading, and even though England's spinners were bowling, umpires Russell Tiffin and Amiesh Saheba offered India bad light and victory by the dreaded Duckworth-Lewis calculations.

The International Cricket Council is always changing its playing regulations, but one rule that it claims umpires can apply at any time is common sense, something utterly lacking in Kanpur, writes Derek Pringle in the Telegraph.

Unsurprisingly, India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, batting at the time, accepted the offer from umpires Russell Tiffin and Amit Saheba, though England's cricketers quickly surrounded the pair to complain. However, the light, hindered by a pall of smog that had lasted all day (it delayed the start by 45 minutes), was never going to improve, which left the remonstrations from captain Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, who had bowled with unstinting pace and aggression, falling upon deaf ears.

The farcical and thoroughly unsatisfactory finish should not detract from the fact that India were the deserving winners for the third game on the trot," writes Jonathan Agnew on BBC Sport.

It was difficult not to have some sympathy for Pietersen and his hard working side as they fell to a third successive one-day defeat to India. When the umpires deemed that heavy smog had made the light unfit India, needing 43 runs in nine overs with five wickets to spare, were favourites to win, but plenty of matches have been lost from such situations in the past, writes Angus Fraser in the Independent.

The personnel were changed, the batting order rejigged, and the match was closer. But the result was the same. England are now 3-0 down in their one-day series with four matches still to play, writes Andy Bull in the Guardian.

As soon as officials announced a 9.45am start with as many as 49 overs a side, anyone who had been in Kanpur during the previous two afternoons could have predicted an unsatisfactory end to this contest, writes Richard Hobson in the Times.

I always assumed that Frank Keating had embellished the nickname (yes, I know, it was cruel even to imagine it for a minute) but in Indore I realised otherwise when I really was asked: "Where is Mr Iron Bottom?'' It is good to know that in the rapidly changing world of cricket some traditions never change, writes David Hopps in his tour diary for the Guardian.

It was in Indore against Central Zone in 1981-82 that Ian Botham bludgeoned 122 from 55 balls with 15 fours and seven sixes — said to be the best piece of hitting ever witnessed in the city. It was especially brilliant as it had the desperation of a man with a terrible hangover, half wanting to succeed, half wanting to get out and go and have a lie down.

Frank wrote in The Guardian the following morning about how that night he had been drinking with the man that Indore knew as Iron Bottom until dawn was approaching and that he had marvelled at his pulverizing of the Central Zone attack a few hours later. I've just tried to look up Frank's wondrous prose on Google but can't find it. Until I can the internet is not quite perfect after all.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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