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November 15, 2012

England in India 2012-13

England begin on amateurish note

Jarrod Kimber
Stuart Broad bowls in the nets, Haryana v England XI, 4th day, Ahmedabad, November 11, 2012
Sri Lanka could have played several series in the time England spent warming up  © Getty Images
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Four men are hired to save a rich rancher's wife in Mexico. The rancher picks four people with particular skills to form the ultimate team. The film is called The Professionals. Andy Flower is probably a fan of this film, and not just because of Woody Strobe and Lee Marvin, but because it fits his ethos.

England got to the top of the world by being more professional than every other team in the world. Their selections were impeccable. Everyone did their job. They made each other better. Strangled with the ball, dulled with the bat, took all chances. Preparation was key. They believed they could win. And they won a bunch of series on the way to No. 1.

Then things fell apart in the UAE. Saeed Ajmal does that to people, but England seemed to play like every Pakistani was Ajmal. In Sri Lanka they had Ajmal flashbacks, before ending up 1-1. At home against the West Indies they did what they needed to do and nothing more. Then South Africa turned up. And they did what England had been doing for a while: made no mistakes.

England made many mistakes. Their batsmen who had built foundations on common sense and minimising risk suddenly played at balls they should have left. Their bowlers lost pace. The fielding fell down. Inside the changing room was a disaster. And their captain was on the way out. The professional, well put-together team was missing key components and fighting amongst itself.

Yet they went back to basics. Sri Lanka could have played three Test series in the time England used just for warm up matches. Short of moving to Chennai, they couldn't have spent any longer over there. It was the old England. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

At the height of England's run, bowlers didn't play with injuries that often. They believed in their back ups, and wouldn't risk losing a bowler mid match.

In this Test they went with Broad. Perhaps he was fully fit, perhaps he wasn't. But once Broad played, Bresnan had to be more likely (even without his reverse swing in the last warm up), and that meant they were taking in a potentially injured bowler and leaving out a spinner on a wicket that from all accounts looked like it would have taken spin the day before the Test.

Then they fielded. And it was bad. Matt Prior's keeping looked like the Matt Prior of the bad old days. Jonathan Trott seemed surprised at slip. And Jimmy Anderson seemed to be looking at Cheteshwar Pujara's lofted mistake like he had 2D eyes. They were the chances they missed. But there was also a look of flatness about them. Some balls were shepherded to the boundary. Dives were made just to prove they had dived. And the energy was low.

That also led to the run rate getting out of control. Now, everyone gets Sehwag-ed once in a while. But it also took them hours to slow down Pujara who as classy as he is, is a man who often slows himself down. The control and patience of the English attack was nowhere. Too many boundaries came at the end of otherwise good overs. India were 61 runs into their innings before Swann came on to slow it down.

Cook captained in the same way that most of his team fielded.

England may still salvage this Test, although it's pretty doubtful. They might even win the series. But they won't do either without what got them there in the first place. And perhaps they can't. Things change. Right at the moment England look more like a middling side with issues than a team about to storm back to No. 1.

Watching Sehwag and Pujara flay their attack while their fielders looked like little more than CGI extras brought up a line from Burt Lancaster in the professionals, "Makes you wonder how we ever beat the Indians."

You don't wonder how England beat India last time, but you do wonder if they'll do it again.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Keywords: Touring

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Posted by Nicky on (November 16, 2012, 14:58 GMT)

The last time the Indians played in England the natives there prepared pitches that were assisting a body line attack by the pacers. Without this body line attack available now to these English natives they are at a loss to explain how they can be number one in the world without being able to handle the subcontinental conditions. This brings out whines from these poor losers like flat track bully as if their batsmen couldn't do the same on the same flat track. Oh wait they couldn't since they don't know how to play spin

Posted by Missingthe2chucks on (November 16, 2012, 7:47 GMT)

Hey Jarrod, top article as usual. Are the 2chucks not covering this series? Missing ur fun, quirky insights?

Posted by Thabo Makeleni on (November 16, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

Why Bresnan over Panesar ? I get the feeling that England went for the "tried & tested" who helped them to a whitewash over India in England. Surely ... the playing surfaces and conditions are unlike those back in England !

Posted by Suresh Haridas on (November 16, 2012, 7:27 GMT)

If one thinks, it is going to be difficult,even before it has started,it shows a negative mindset.I don't think that the English are good at touring countries where the weather is hot and humid, mainly because they think it is going to be difficult. Also England feels that the competition is meaningful only if they are playing Australia or South Africa.If they can take the tour seriously enough, they can do well.Unfortunately, the players think that they have excuses to fall back on.I am an Indian....correct me if I am wrong!

Posted by Hasan Cheema on (November 16, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

It is beyond my understanding why England have not selected Monty... I prefer Monty over Broad and finn over Bresnan in remaining series. Cook went on defensive field way too early should have attack more.

Posted by Amit on (November 16, 2012, 6:31 GMT)

Spot on...the energy was missing. Aussies, SA have faced similar conditions in India and yet they fought hard, made Indian batsmen work hard for runs and were mainly patient when things looked stagnant. England tried too hard to make things happen on a slow track where bowling accuracy would have made batting lot tougher. Missed chances didn't help either. If they are to be no. 1 again, they must come over that vanquished attitude that could be seen the moment Anderson found that there was no swing and Sehwag started his blitzkrieg. Including Panesar would have made a bit of difference too. But then it's easier to say so in the hindsight.

Posted by Kapil on (November 16, 2012, 4:50 GMT)

England didn't get to No. 1 because they were the best team or they were professional or for any other such reason. They got to No. 1 simply because the ridiculous ICC rankings system doesn't consider home advantage. England happened to play only at home (and thus beat) against all other higher ranked sides during the ranking period. For example, Eng got a truck load of points for beating India 4-0 at home as when they did it India were ranked no. 1 and because of India's high ranking, England got way more points for that victory then they should have (as India too got to No.1 undeservedly by just playing and winning at home). England will never improve until they and their supporters realize that they were never really good enough to be recognized as the best team in the world - it was just favorable scheduling and the ridiculous ICC ranking system which got them to No. 1.

Posted by Iyer on (November 16, 2012, 3:27 GMT)

I think you are too critical about England's performance just a day into a 4 test series. You still have 19 more days and I reckon it is too early to call. Indian bowling attack is the weakest. At least England has world class spinner Swann and a reputed fast bowler Anderson. India has none to its name, only Ashwin the young, up and coming bowler who is yet to make his mark in world test cricket. So my advise to you is just sit and relax. I have watched so much of Indian cricket and I only know how much unreliable is this Indian cricket team.

Posted by Krishna on (November 16, 2012, 2:44 GMT)

Thanks Jarrod for posting an article that is akin to a batsman in song. Refreshingly new approach to 'Cricket writing.' Great insights with implementable solutions for English backroom - coach and captain. Hope Indian spinners take a cue from Swann.

Posted by Anonymous on (November 16, 2012, 1:53 GMT)

I think Sehwag & pujara are both excellent Cricketers, one already established & other at the start of his career.While Other Indian batsmenincluding Tendulkar & Kohli got out cheaply, these 2 did not.I would give them more credit rather than discredit England team. It does look like India will top 450, which is a winning total on a pitch already taking spin. It will be tough for England to save this match.

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