England v India, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 5th day July 13, 2014

Binny's selection does not prove trivial

Why had Stuart Binny been picked in this Test? It was probably not with a match-saving innings in mind, but that's what he produced just when India were threatening to topple apart

At 3.42pm, Stuart Binny let one Moeen Ali offbreak turn past his inside edge and was given out lbw. Immediately the traffic on the player page of Andy Ganteaume came down. Ganteaume is the only man who was dropped and never picked again after scoring a debut century, although Rodney Redmond had one hundred in one Test but he would have played again barring contact lens problems.

Binny had fallen 22 short of a century on debut after four days of giving the impression India had made a selection error and were playing with 10 men only. It was a century for the taking after the match had been saved and enough time of gentle part-time spin remained, but trivia lovers had to rein in their horses.

At 12.15pm, such trivia was not on anyone's mind. India had somehow managed to get into a position where they were hanging in desperately to save this match. Three specialist batsmen had fallen, and Ravindra Jadeja was batting as if blindfolded with one arm tied behind his back. At effectively 145 for 6, with two-and-a-half sessions to go, India now looked to a man that had been invisible on the field for the first four days. He was brought in to the side to bowl some steady seam and get an extra half batsman in the lower middle order.

Binny played a nervous shot in the first innings to get out for 1, and then looked so innocuous with the ball he bowled only 10 overs in the innings while his role was to bowl 10 in a day. Suddenly he walked in for what the team would have looked at as the most important innings of the Test. Binny was not even playing for his place in the side, for there were no guarantees he would be retained even if he scored a hundred here. He needed to play a team innings. Go on, lad, this could be your last innings; how do you want to be remembered?

Binny might or might not play ever again, but at least he will not be remembered as the selection error in a Test that India made quite a few other errors to lose to England. At various stages India switched off to find themselves trying to save the Test that you would have to play exceptionally poorly to lose.

Binny came in with a mix of nerves and energy. Allowance should be made for the fact that the most incisive spells of James Anderson and Stuart Broad were all but over, but Binny moved positively, showed he could bat, but was also part of two near run-outs. It almost seemed he did not fancy the strike too much at the start of the innings. The first single he took to get off the mark was tight. The next single he took could have been two, but Binny sent Jadeja back. An over later the third he took was a late decision, and Jadeja nearly got run out.

After that, Binny was in, and took the pressure off Jadeja, who had been playing and missing regularly. If Binny is retained, there could be a case for batting him higher in the order. The key part of Binny's innings was the scoring rate and the positive stroke-play. However, it was not based on reckless shots. MS Dhoni's shot to get out - across the line to the first ball bowled by someone other than Anderson or Broad - was reckless and showed clearly he had premeditated to try to hit Liam Plunkett off his rhythm. Binny batted naturally, and was obviously helped along by a flat and slow pitch.

The quality of the innings is hard to tell on such a pitch, but the value of it is obvious. This is only the fourth time out of 17 that India have not begun an England tour with a loss. On the other three occasions India went on to win the series. India will need to improve drastically if they are to keep that pattern going - it will be hard to get such favourable pitches, win the toss, and have good starts in the other Tests of the series - but Binny has - by fulfilling part of his role - made sure it will not be easy to drop him.

It will come down to the conditions at Lord's, and it should also come down to if the team feels Binny could be relied upon on the first four days to provide the main bowlers a break or if the conditions here hampered him in that pursuit.

Even if Binny does not play Test cricket again, it will not be down to attitude. Ganteaume was left out because he allegedly batted too slow despite team instructions and cost West Indies the time they could have used to force a Test win. The team said Ganteaume failed them. Binny, on the other hand, did his team job all right at least on the final day; it was when going for the personal glory that he failed.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Praveen on July 15, 2014, 17:49 GMT

    @Cricketfan, Gambhir and Rohit come at the top order. Openers always have higher avg, infact Jiwanjot and other openers have higher avg than Binny!

    Avg is just one factor for selecting but there are other factors which contribute the selection.

  • Ishrat on July 15, 2014, 10:35 GMT

    I think given a few tests Binny would be able to bat at No.6 he has the capacity to do so and bowl ten to fifteen overs a day

  • Sreenivas on July 15, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    It is surprising Binny was given only 10 overs to bowl. For those who think Binny's lack of tear away pace does not help, do not forget contributions of Madan Lal, Roger Binny and Mohinder Amaranath.

    We need to be able to accept the view point for variety in pace attack, Ishant, Shami, Bhuvi and Varun/ other would be a good combination too. Given the Indian bowling weakness, that is the department that needs to be strengthened.

  • vas on July 15, 2014, 4:39 GMT

    As far as batting is concerned Gambhir (51) and Rohit (60) have far better first class averages than Binny(37). So Binny should be chosen only when the conditions suit his bowling. He can't be chosen for his batting ability alone.

  • Suren on July 15, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    Binny did show his talent in this match. But having said that I would trade horses for courses. If the pitch for the second match is same as Tent Bridge, I would bring in Varun Aaron at his expense. We need someone who can bowl 145+ on these pitches. Make him bowl short 4-over spells. Jaddu looked at sea in his two brief innings and is woefully out of form.So I would bring back Ashwin into the team in his place. Dhawan deserves another chance and should seriously consider Gauthi if he fails in the next match. My team for the next match will be. 1-Shikar, 2-Vijay, 3-Pujara, 4-Kohli, 5-Rahane, 6-Dhoni, 7-Ashwin, 8-Bhuvi, 9-Shami, 10-Ishant, 11-Varun Aaron

  • Chirag on July 15, 2014, 0:41 GMT

    . Zero talent Rohit come in a side as many time as he wants ! ! But who performs is considered, wrong selection.

    Cricket pundits rated Rohit higher than Virat and happened completely reverse Same way Cricket pundits rated Ashwin higher than RJadeja and happened reverse of it.

    Same way Binny will be proved more talented than Rohit, M.Vijay, Ashwin and many more .

  • Rajagopal on July 14, 2014, 20:03 GMT

    Here is an offbeat idea: replace Dhawan with Ashwin. Rahane can open with Vijay. It will give the team a lot of bowling options. There will be plenty of batting in the middle to late order.

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    Binny did his job. Not many in our famed batting line-up could put their hand up to save the game - Binny along with Jadeja & BK ensured that we did not demonstrate how to loose a game when we probably could have won it.

    Though I would think Dhoni under bowled him. He's not express, but could be handful on seaming tracks bowls around (124-127K).

  • S on July 14, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    When Binny came in, the lead was 145 and there were still 77.5 overs remaining. If he had got out and if England managed to wrap up the other 3 wickets in the next 10 overs for 35 runs, the target would have been 180 runs. Take out 3 overs for the change-over, and that would mean nearly 65 overs. Which would be about 2.77 runs per over. India scored at 2.83 runs per over in their first innings and England's rate was 3.42 runs per over. India's second innings scoring rate at Dhoni's wicket was exactly 3.00 runs per over. So, there is no question that Binny's innings saved the match for India.

  • purush on July 14, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    Binny does have the attitude to perform at the big stage, he did show with his match winning performance in Bangladesh, yeah Bangladesh is still a very good team at home. We cannot judge his bowling in any stretch on this pitch, even Jimmy hardly swung the ball. He definitely deserves a few more chances, dropping him in the next game is too harsh on him. Ashwin could replace Jadeja and team should stick on with Binny. This is England and we need a swing bowler who can bat, selectors and team management brought him for that reason and we need to stick on to it. So far there is nothing to suggest that things haven not gone as per plan, Binny should be given more chances.