November 16, 2012

England in India 2012

Dad's Army marches on

As India, led by Virender Sehwag, set about the bowling on day one of the first Test against England in Ahmedabad, Vic Marks, in the Guardian, envisaged the visiting captain, Alastair Cook, telling his men "Don't panic!"

Beforehand there was the suspicion that England were taking on a "Dad's Army" of a side. India have some senior citizens and the English optimists surmised that in their dotage some of them "don't like it up 'em", to borrow a phrase of Corporal Jones.

Well, it was hard to tell whether the 34-year-old Virender Sehwag no longer "liked it up 'im" because it was practically impossible on this surface to get the ball above chest height. Here was a pitch that blunted the English seamers perfectly: no early swing, no bounce, so the pursuit of reverse swing was already under way in the first session.

It was a difficult day for Cook, as a rejuvenated Sehwag hit a century and Cheteshwar Pujara closed in on one too. Scyld Berry, writing in the Telegraph, felt for Cook on his first assignment as permanent Test captain.

Somewhere in India - a textile mill in Ahmedabad or a tanning factory in Kanpur - there must have been a teaboy, new to the job, who got harried and bullied yesterday by excessive demands. But it is hard to think that anyone else in the country had a tougher first day in the office than Alastair Cook.

Meanwhile, in the Daily Mail, one of Cook's predecessors, Nasser Hussain, put his finger squarely on what he thought England's problem was:

It is not being wise after the event to say that the pitch in Ahmedabad looked like a two-spinner surface and that England misread the conditions. They should have played Monty Panesar in this first Test.

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