India in England 2014

Surface tension misplaced

Conspiracy theorists may like to imagine the ECB plotting India's downfall by demanding seam-friendly surfaces but the truth is that the tourists have little to fear

George Dobell

July 1, 2014

Comments: 98 | Text size: A | A
'Edges should always carry to slip' - Broad

Ishant Sharma bowls to Greg Smith, Leicestershire v Indians, Tour match, Grace Road, 3rd day, June 28, 2014
India have plenty of pace options but the pitches in England may suit their batsmen more © AFP

When India and England met in the final of the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston in June last year, the casual observer might have expected home advantage to play a key role.

It was not so. Instead, with the groundsman not allowed to water due to ICC regulations, conditions favoured India, with a dry, dusty pitch offering assistance to spin bowlers and minimising the effectiveness of England's seamers. It could have been Ahmedabad.

It may well prove a similar story in the Test series this English summer. While conspiracy theorists like to imagine the powerbrokers of English cricket gathered in smoke-filled rooms plotting the downfall of the tourists, the truth is that, even if everyone involved could agree on the sort of pitch that suited them best, there is some doubt as to whether they could produce it.

Most would agree that England's best hope of success might well be to produce lively, seaming wickets offering bounce and pace to the faster bowlers. They might also prefer not to provide much assistance to spinners.

But such wickets are becoming hard to find in England. While there may be more pace, movement and bounce than is seen in India, there should be nothing to fear, with the pitches almost universally offering conditions that will favour batsmen.

There are two major reasons for this. The first is that, with many of the grounds in England having recently redeveloped at great expense, they are desperate for Tests to last at least four and preferably five days.

Several of these grounds are heavily in debt. They have had to fight to host these games - grounds as well-established as Edgbaston have missed out - and, with the competition to stage Test cricket growing by the year, they have to maximise the benefits.

So even if the England management demand seam-friendly conditions, the grounds - and the groundsmen employed by the individual counties - will be understandably reluctant to prepare a surface that could bring about a three-day result and squander the chance of two days of ticket sales.

Consider, for example, the recent Lord's Test against Sri Lanka. Staged in early June - six weeks before the Test against India - it was low, slow and encouraged little other than attritional cricket. There was little home advantage.

Even if the England management could convince the counties to provide the pitches they require, though, there is some doubt whether they could do so successfully.

In the last few years, all the major grounds have installed new drainage systems. This has been, to some extent, a great success: the time spent off the pitch after rain has been reduced greatly and the unsatisfactory days when full grounds had to wait in fine weather for grass to dry have all but gone.

But there were unforeseen consequences. So quickly does the water drain, that it has become very difficult to retain any moisture in the pitch. While groundsmen can leave more grass on the wicket, there is little evidence to suggest they have found a way to prepare pitches that will remain lively throughout a Test. As a result, the surfaces may offer most assistance on the first day and could even convince England, with their relatively modest spin attack, to consider inserting India on occasions if they win the toss.

In the last few seasons, the counties have experimented with the use - or absence - of the heavy roller. Heavily rolled pitches tended to die and produce relatively unedifying cricket, whereas the entertainment value of games where the heavy roller was outlawed increased. It was eventually concluded, however, that unrolled surfaces provided too much assistance to the bowlers and, in Test cricket, the heavy roller will continue to crush the life out of pitches.

Atmospheric conditions may still prove a factor and there will be days, no doubt, when the ball swings. But this is an inexperienced England batting line-up - greener than any pitch - with an opening batsman as captain who is currently struggling for form. They are unlikely to risk exposing Alastair Cook's side to anything that will risk prolonging his grim run. India, in bringing six quicks plus a seam-bowling allrounder, will not rely solely on spin to trouble England.

The days when international pitches in England offered excessive bounce and movement are largely gone. Conditions will, of course, vary from the subcontinent. But, this time, India have little to fear from England's pitches.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: George Dobell

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Lion_Wallaby on (July 4, 2014, 6:19 GMT)

@vkias: I still remember some of your previous comments. First you were licking your lips to see SL losing the Asia cup! Then you were waiting till SL loses the T20 wc! Then you expected SL to fail in England!! Now your are trying to get some relief thinking that SL will lose in the future in your fantasy world by trying to prove young players are not performing! The truth is SL got one of the best bowling attacks in the world. Young bowlers are performing and Vass is guiding them nicely.Angelo has been a great captain and one of the best all-rounders going! Thirimanne failed in England. But performed well in the past. If you compare the starts Marvan or Sanga got Thirimanne has performed twice as much as them. Ashan has played well with whatever the chances he got! Silva has been a good test opener, Sachithra has been a great one day/T20 bowler. SL Coaches, Sanath/Hashan as selectors are doing a great job!! But try to forget all good things with SL cricket if it gives you heart pains!

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (July 4, 2014, 5:17 GMT)

@ Flat_Trac_Bally Sl bowlers did well, but i was referring to SL batting on flat decks in the recent Sl-Eng series.....In fact SL was bit lucky to get FLAT decks in Eng!! When Ind won the series in Eng in 2007, Zak(took 18 wickets) & RP singh did really well....Hope, BK & Shami can do the same this time around!!!

Posted by SLslider_original on (July 4, 2014, 4:19 GMT)

This ordinary lot of Ind bowlers even couldn't get the wickets of Div 2 second bottom team who couldn't get past 200 more than 5 times in the tournament.

Posted by SLslider_original on (July 4, 2014, 4:16 GMT)

@ITJOBSUCKS : That means the fast bowlers are good if they could get wickets even in the flat decks . That is what Ind is lacking and SL was successful in recently concluded Eng tour.

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 20:25 GMT)

Prabhakar Muthukrishnan - What matter is the end results, in 2014 Sri Lanka team performed extremely well, end of the day it will be tough for Indian batsmen against quality English bowling attack and India lack good fast bowlers as well, in the entire world apart from BD India is the only team that produce useless fast bowlers, even youre bowling coach Prasad got smashed all over the park by Sanath in 90's

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 19:44 GMT)

Both teams have good pace bowllers but india have bit better batting side...

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 17:12 GMT)

i think indian bowling lacks the bite for taking 20 wickets even if the grounds are helpful to the spinners ... ashwin as the record and his form suggest can not take more the a few wickets in a test

Posted by SajithaD on (July 3, 2014, 15:24 GMT)

@vikias lets hope so mate... About that comment, its a correct analysis by a Sri Lankan fan and half of it(about MJ and KS) still worries me...But the other half solved in last 2 tests, isn't it.. And remarkable thing I found is the same problems arose over last two decades over who is to replace, Aravinda, Arjuna, Murali, Sanath, Vaas, etc.. Are their indian players to replace Dravid, Sachin... Truth is no body can replace great players.. Players step up and fill the gaps and sometimes become great players.. Yes Sanga played many tests but only because he is good for that... If sachins performance hasn't started to get low wouldn't you guys have him in the team.. History cannot be changed, guesses are for weak, excuses are for losers, only the present matters.. This is a fair test for both teams, same foreign conditions, same opposition team, same time... Lets see who can do better...

Posted by SajithaD on (July 3, 2014, 14:28 GMT)

@Prabhakar How are you going to decide which is the better side? Past glories/ Individual Performance/ speed of fast bowlers/ deviation of spinners/ hundreds scored by batsmen/ wickets taken by bowlers etc... Mate, if that is so, please say your team to come home because England are far ahead than your team in those areas..But thats wrong.. India have a chance to win if they can work as a team, with a good fighting spirit and will to go on..Those are the things bought Sri Lankans victory.. Luck may play a bit..But remember fortune favors the brave, luck smiles more on people who work harder..If pradeep had given up hope we would have lose, if Eranga had given up we wouldn't have won.

Posted by SajithaD on (July 3, 2014, 14:21 GMT)

@Prabhakar Muthukrishnan lot of guesses and if clauses man... Lucky is a suspected word in cricket..Lucky to win, lucky not to lose, lucky to have century, Lucky to take wickets... Sri Lanka was lucky enough to win 1996 world cup, lucky enough to be in 3 ICC WC finals, lucky enough to be in 3 t20 finals and win one.. Lucky is usually a word some people to describe things that they does not like..One can say we are lucky to even live because who knows we could have died somewhere..You guys always find something to blame. Remarkably how many of you guys said India lost t20 WC because of Yuvi .. But we don't say we lost 2011 WC because of kulasekaras catch (some may have whispered it). Why? Its in how we see our teams, for you guys your team is a team(just a team) of cricketing super stars or gods, for us our team is a great team of good cricketers (but very human)..The difference is we are not worshiping them but we are always with them..Did you stayed with yuvi after t20 final?

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 12:39 GMT)

If one were to go by some of the comments here, one would feel that Sri Lankans have really thrashed England. The truth is that they almost lost the first test. They were lucky enough to escape defeat. They were also lucky to win the second test just narrowly. It was not as if England were subjected to a massive innings defeat. This is the reason why a minimum 3 test series should be played. If it were a 3 test series England would have definitely come back and drawn one all.

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 12:36 GMT)

@Sajitha D. You are right. The Sri Lankan team has always been famous for its fighting spirit. However, it has not helped them become a better side , outside the subcontinent. Even at home against quality sides, they come cropper. The Aussie team white washed them 3-0 in 2004. This was a series when Sri Lanka had prepared turning tracks for a Murali at his peak. Shane Warne was coming back after a year's ban and yet picked up 5 wicket hauls in all the matches. The Aussies were without Ricky Ponting too.The Sri Lankans also need not worry about Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardene's retirement, for they have not done anything substantial outside the subcontinent. Sri Lanka will always have its own set of batsmen who will score dozens of hundreds on their home ground.

Posted by hnlns on (July 3, 2014, 12:01 GMT)

Though Indian batsmen might falter on seaming tracks, there are some very good seamers who can test English batsmen too, so no way will it be a rollover, if there is to be enough life in the pitches. I would favor pitches with some pace, to find out how Aaron and Yadav, the two genuine quicks would do in relatively favorable conditions.

Posted by SajithaD on (July 3, 2014, 11:31 GMT)

@vkias thanks for pointing out some nice comment from SL fan which worried and not biased..And now also it worries me who can replace Sanga and Mahela when they gone..It is very natural to be worried about the team but we can't do anything about it other that picking a bat and go practice(i'm not doing that)..But what makes me happy is the second part about bowlers is answered in this tour.. So time may provide the answers for first part too.. Now I can shoot you back with indian bowlers being the worst bowling attack for ever but why should I..Like I said who am I to compare players abilities if I'm not in their level( i'm sure you are in the same level of MJ, KS, SRT, Sehwag, etc and you will play for your country sooner)..And honestly mate (you can copy paste and highlight this) I believe in the skill level, conditions, media hype, England were the better than Sri Lanka..But Sri Lanka had "THE WILL TO GO ON AND FIGHT"(even for draw)..Does this Indian team have it?.. Lets see

Posted by Sultan2007 on (July 3, 2014, 11:08 GMT)

In general, I feel happy about the Indian midde order batting. It is the openers that are not convincing. And if they consistently fall early, we know that bad things will happen. Drawing from learnings when this team of players last performed successfully in England at the Champions trophy; 1) Dhawan gave us phenomenal starts, 2) the fielding was awesome, 3) the quicks were inspired because of the filip provided by the warm ups - especially the game against Australia where Umesh was awesome - and 4) tracks helpful to spinners. I think the tracks will be reasonably helpful for all the reasons that George Dobell has referred to. Everything else is for India to do. Good luck, Boys!

Posted by SajithaD on (July 3, 2014, 11:04 GMT)

@ITJOBSUCKS Who we are to compare players for their skills..It cannot be measured..Maybe younger gets the advantage of being young and not tested before, maybe older gets the advantage of being wiser and experienced but age gets them..So its not about apples or oranges (its sound like saying our team is new so they are weak )(although they are not that new)..And I can say Sri Lanka hadn't enough test matches like india(here too only 2), have a young seem attack,etc but that may sound like i'm a loser..This is the best teams which Sri Lanka could offer and this is the best team india could offer..Only thing we can do is test the two teams ability to win and we did that for a long time didn't we... And when ever one team wins the other says helping pitches/ weak opposition/ But this is the place we haven't been in..Both teams tested in same conditions against same team in same time period.We can end our debate right here by watching this series..

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 10:56 GMT)

don't compare India with Srilanka's recent success in UK, INDIA is a different side overseas specially in Tests so England have a great chance to win series against Poor Nd inexperienced in both batting nd bowling department. though mine wishes are with India

Posted by vkumar_086 on (July 3, 2014, 10:46 GMT)

@SajithaD...plz worry about your team's future not at all seeing any match winning players after KS, MJ retires (sometimes barring mathews)....all you new players miserably failed in subcontinent not remembering any TEST CENTURY scored by them in foreign tour...but INDIAN YOUNG GUNS have proved themselves in their very first foreign tour (three of them scored century)....

im posting one featured comment from SL fan during CT 2013 which held at same place, at same time

Posted by LankaGod on (June 20, 2013, 16:20 GMT) - Featured comment It is impressive really how the Indian team has been able to replace the likes of Tendulkar, Sewag, Gambhir and Yuvraj in a short time. What worries me is that I do not see the same bench strength once Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan go. We rely too much on Malinga to fire and bowl us to improbable victories, but we know fast bowlers have shortish careers. India has been the form team in this tournament and the lions have been outplayed

Posted by Sultan2007 on (July 3, 2014, 9:43 GMT)

This should be an intriguing series and I expect the frst couple of matches wil set the tone. While India may or may not win the series, this definitiely does not look like 2011. For starters, English batsmen were individually and collectively, at the peak of their performance - subsequent to which they went into decline. Secondly, the English bowling attack was also at its peak. India, on the other hand, had great batsmen, but in decline and a bowling attack that didnt add up once Zaheer and Bhajji had their injuries. For sure the 2 teams are better matched this time around - with both in transition - which is why the first 2 tests will be important. They will bring out the true capability gaps between the 2 teams or not. I do feel that England are somewhat stronger. Though out of form, Cook, Bell and Prior bring the experience that Sanga and Mahela bring to the young Sri Lankans. And they do have Broad and Anderson. Ben Stokes could bethe difference!

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (July 3, 2014, 8:50 GMT)

@SajithaD You are comparing apples with oranges.....i.e. you are judging Indian team which has no player with over 50 Tests apart from Dhoni with SL team team which has 2 players(2 experienced batsmen) with more than 125 test & a spinner with more than 50 tests...on top of this, mahela & sanga have toured Eng all the "4" times failing most of the times whereas for Kohli, pujara & rahane this would be the first Eng tour....But still i expect this Indian team to perform much better than the last one which toured in 2011!! Let's see how they fare this time around..

Posted by brusselslion on (July 3, 2014, 8:43 GMT)

@ GRVJPR: Congratulations. Haven't seen that one before: English groundsmen prepare pitches to suit Sri Lankans. I knew that we made a mistake somewhere. Thanks for pointing it out. ECB please note.

Posted by SajithaD on (July 3, 2014, 8:41 GMT)

@GRVJPR nice try but..1) This article says the tracks will be better for batting.. 2) And it means india are playing in flat tracks...3) Sri Lankan seemers have taken more wickets than spinners, matches went to the wire indicates the pitches are not so called flat tracks and you are the only one saying Sri Lanka played in flat tracks...4) In all it means India is playing in better batting conditions than Sri Lanka...5) You can't bear the fact that if india lose it is even humiliating because Sri Lanka won in harder conditions...6) So you chose to comment"I am upset. Why england gave flattest ever tracks to Sri Lanka. It is a sin to make someonle look better than they are. Sri Lanka is a mediocre test side like paksitan and there record in India and Australia shows that. Lucky sri lanka was also saved by DRS."....7) You still think you made everybody believe that Sri Lanka played in better conditions...8)So you expect you can blame for the pitches if you lose...

Posted by SajithaD on (July 3, 2014, 8:22 GMT)

@Yousufahmed1 long time no see mate... As I may remind some of your comments in PAK vs SL tour...1/23/2014-"BIG STRIDES??? Towards what?? Extending the coveted record of not winning a single series outside SL since 2000."..."It is great to watch this associate level is irony that SL is bloking other teams like uganda or png to enter to the top 10 in place of SL.i think uganda has more talented bowlers or batsmen than Sri Lanka.i hope they get a chance."......And list continues... And that low class team won against england which your team going to play now...So lets watch it together and see if india can be a better team than a team which lower than uganda as you said... So calm down, keep your cool, india may win... If they lose?...he he I promise I wouldn't say a word... Because its your own words will do for your team...Secretly i hope india to win because I don't want you to disappear again... You makes our team special with your big effort to humiliate it..thanks you mate

Posted by SajithaD on (July 3, 2014, 7:57 GMT)

@vkias ha ha you played the card mate... Nobody did taken excuses like inexperienced team, in history we have won, etc yet because it hears ugly... So here is what actually how it hears like...inexperienced team-(India don't have many good old/young players )... we have won in history-(you know this time you are going to lose)...And then you try to turn the subject-"Jadeja, Binny also scoring runs"-so why are you yelling about inexperienced team if those players are good...It is not like India send their a-team...Its their best team to send... Talking about history, india has the better record without argument but they have a very long history in cricket aren't they... So lets stick to matter, can present indian team do which Sri Lankan team already done or can they do better(5-0 or something like that)...Lets see it together mate...cheers...

Posted by GRVJPR on (July 3, 2014, 7:56 GMT)

I am upset. Why england gave flattest ever tracks to Sri Lanka. It is a sin to make someonle look better than they are. Sri Lanka is a mediocre test side like paksitan and there record in India and Australia shows that. Lucky sri lanka was also saved by DRS.

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 7:54 GMT)

cricket unlike football is becoming too friendly or must I say too gentleman. hosts prepare friendly pitches, batsmen & bowlers too friendly on pitch, blah blah blah. as spectators we want to see contests.

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 7:05 GMT)

well said arun bose. just look at the score cards during the Champions T. then people will realize what india can do in english conditions.

Posted by Naresh28 on (July 3, 2014, 7:03 GMT)

@Herath-Uk - This is Eng v India nothing to do with SL. You as a SL fan are not bringing any objectivity into this forum. So what if the SUN shines for some and not for others. At the end of the day it is both teams who are going to play - not India on its own. Anyway a great insight by the writer on pitches. Well done to SL on beating Eng in the last series.

Posted by Madpashcrickers on (July 3, 2014, 6:59 GMT)

An additional source of ease and comfort for India's batsmen will be the knowledge that England will always hand the new ball to their slowest bowlers, Broad and Anderson. India's openers will be having pleasant dreams of getting their eyes in against medium pacers on a docile pitch - heavenly!

Posted by Mittkap on (July 3, 2014, 6:52 GMT)

Irrespective of how the pitches are going to behave, this series is going to be much tightly contested than any other past series. Considering the recent loss against Sri Lanka, having batting friendly wickets might make English batsmen and crowd happy.

Posted by Udendra on (July 3, 2014, 6:47 GMT)

When an Asian team wins, the pitches are labelled as "dry & spinning". When England wins its labelled as "bouncy & lively".

Posted by Herath-UK on (July 3, 2014, 6:11 GMT)

No seam friendly pitches & what about the sun George, the warmth on indian batsmen back which the Sri Lankan batsmen would have dreamt. Sun was the talking point when the Sri Lankan team was in the town. This was what terrified them not the pitches. I feel terribly warm AC & fans are at high speed now. A glut of runs should flow from Indians & the power of BCCI everywhere to see, everyone bending their backs,nothing but a 5/0 win to india should satisfy them.

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 5:55 GMT)

If pitches remain dry and flat then It's advantage India as India prefers to play on these kind of wickets often..Dhoni should consider playing with two spinners cz if India bats first then England has to bat 4th innings and by 4th or 5th day the wickets will crumble and assist spin bowlers and we all know how vulnerable these fast track bullies like Aus, Sa, Eng, Nz are against spin bowling on the other hand if India bats 4th innings then England doesn't have a specialist spinner to attack Indian batting, even well established spinners struggle against India then What's Moeen Ali and Root? Folks, India's winning this series..

Posted by vj1504 on (July 3, 2014, 5:45 GMT)

Even if the pitches are dry/belters, one would expect England to leave a lot of grass on them to use their fast bowling strength. England does not have a world class spinner anyways. Anderson and Broad have performed well over the last few matches and will be playing in conditions they know how to exploit. Its a given that Indian batting will be tested whether they bat with 6 batsmen or 7 but a bigger problem for India would be taking 20 wickets with just 4 genuine bowlers. For India to win abroad they need to play 5 genuine bowlers (4 seamers + 1 spinner given grassy wickets and overcast conditions). My pick for the team would be : Dhawan, Gambhir, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni, Ashwin/Jadeja (both can bat a bit), Shami, Pankaj Singh, Ishwar/Aaron (for pace) and Ishant (for experience). The reason i am omitting Bhuvi is because of his lack of pace. Its very easy to let his balls go even when they are moving and hence his record of just 9 wickets in 6 tests.

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 4:44 GMT)

It might not as hostile a summer in England as India imagined

Posted by robin41284 on (July 3, 2014, 4:40 GMT)

India should start with 6 batsmen, 1 wicket keeper, 1 spinner, 1 seaming allrounder & 3 genuine seamers: Murali Vj, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni, Binny, Ashwin, Bhuvi, Shami, Ishant.

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (July 3, 2014, 3:43 GMT)

@ Alejandro Fontez What has flatness of the pitch has to do with fast bowlers taking wickets ?? LOL If the fast bowlers take wickets, it doesn't mean that deck is not flat...steyn,mcgrath & et al have taken loads of wickets in Asia..does that mean Asian pitches are not flat?? LOL

Posted by sray23 on (July 3, 2014, 3:27 GMT)

Flat pitches with the Indian bowling attack and captain Dhoni...I don't see India bowling England out twice any of the 5 Test matches! Unless England bowlers can produce some results, this Test series will be torture!!!

Posted by   on (July 3, 2014, 1:37 GMT)

Excellent article, Mr. Dobell.

Posted by Sol09 on (July 3, 2014, 1:10 GMT)

Only time will tell how India fares. In the mean time I thought the headline for this article was very clever. Well done George !

Posted by ac_Indian on (July 2, 2014, 20:10 GMT)

As an Indian fan, I would actually like the pitches to have some movement in it. First, it will probably offset a little bit our lack of penetrative strength in the bowling. Second, our young batsmen must get a chance to play and do well in "English" conditions. The reason we revere our batting legends such as Tendulkar, Dravid, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar etc. so much is that these batsmen scored around the world in different conditions. We want our batsmen like Kohli, Pujara etc. to follow the same path, do well in English conditions, and if they can't do well this time, learn and then do well next time they tour. I remember Kohli after scoring a test century in SA, said in an interview that as an Indian batsman he keenly looks to do well in Aus, SA, and Eng. Third, if the conditions are helpful and if our bowlers do well, the confidence that they will carry forward will be enormous.

Posted by vkumar_086 on (July 2, 2014, 19:41 GMT)

@getsetgopk....When did SL won against INDIA in tests...when Pak won a test against not remembering the time...but INDIA is playing relatively well with its inexperienced side when compared to SL (KS, MJ, LM, TD, NK) and Pak(Hafeez, Misbah, Afridi, Akmal, Ajmal)..both have loads of experience...but in Indian team except Dhoni, nobody played more than 50 tests...mate give time to this YOUNG TEAM to practice matches also, India is not facing any problem in batting...even bowling allrounders Jadeja, Binny also scoring runs....remember India won CT 2013 against the SAME SIDE, in SAME PLACE at SAME TIME

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 19:22 GMT)

If England want to use their conditions better , then schedule some test matches further North in Durham etc as make use of the different weather further North. Lords pitch was one of the flattest I've ever seen in England as had the top toe teams batted on it , the. They both would of made 700. Maybe even look at playing a test in Scotland as can't be any worse than Cardiff?

Posted by shillingsworth on (July 2, 2014, 19:14 GMT)

So last year's pitches weren't prepared for Swann after all. More evidence of the media making the facts fit the story.

@Michael Flynn - the 'backwards thinking' was actually the preponderance of seaming wickets and bowlers who hadn't a clue on any other surface.

Posted by TimeKiller on (July 2, 2014, 18:32 GMT)

Does anyone remember all the furor when Stuart Binny was included in this England tour? People accused Roger Binny of nepotism, even though he excused himself when the name of Stuart Binny came up for discussion. Look at Stuart Binny's performance today and in the Bangladesh ODI. Winning triple crown (3 domestic tournaments) in the same year counts for something. There should have been more Karnataka player's in this tour. Karnataka Ranji team is better than this India test side at the moment.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (July 2, 2014, 18:31 GMT)

@ Sexysteven commented "add two negative defensive captains to the mix it looks like it will be one of the worst boring series in the history of cricket."

I can't but agree 100% with what you say. Yesterday I posted "this promises to be possibly the most boring test series in modern cricket. Five excruciatingly painful, laboured draws beckon, with cricket's 2 most conservative captains unwilling to declare, and batting on and on and on..."

In 2012 Eng produced a dull track for the 1st test vs SA. It seemed this was to neutralize the SA pace attack, & Swann would be Eng's "wicket taker" SA still took 20 wickets, but Eng only managed to take 2! Three Saffas scored more, in 1 inns, than all of Eng's players could in 2 innings. S. Rajesh concluded it was "The most comprehensive Test victory" history, & Dobell's report on Eng's loss was titled "Losing at their own game."

Deja Vu all over again - except can either Eng or Ind take 20 wickets on these dull, lifeless tracks? Doubt it!

Posted by SirViv1973 on (July 2, 2014, 18:14 GMT)

@Yorkshire Pud, There is Onions age as well, so although he's been unlucky I would be surprised if he does now end up getting another chance for Eng. Also re Stokes likely selection, I think most are in agreement that he will replace Jordan for 1st test. I think his likely selection will make it even more difficult to get a spinner in to the side later in the series. I don't yet see Stokes as a good enough bowler to play as a 3rd seamer in a 3/1 attack, so the only way to get the slow bowler in would be to drop a batsman & push Stokes or Prior up to 6, it's difficult at the moment to see which batsman could be dropped to accommodate such a move.

Posted by neil99 on (July 2, 2014, 17:18 GMT)

The ECB aim to depose Australia and South Africa, but persist with these nothing pitches. It's mind boggling. And a warning. Those suggesting India will be steamrollered beware. They have a solid and long batting line up capable of piling on the runs on flat tracks, plus England are clueless when there's not much happening, err have we forgotten the last test against SL already? So it's all about the toss; bat first, compile 600 and then wait and see. Shame on the ECB and county groundsmen.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 16:55 GMT)

Good old England. Only they would prepare pitches that don't suit their own team. Yet more evidence of the backwards thinking by the whole England collective. England do not deserve to win this series.

Posted by inswing on (July 2, 2014, 16:54 GMT)

Making tests last 5 days is hardly a problem anywhere. The whole "we can't make seaming wickets because want the matches to last 5 days" angle is clearly bogus. You can be sure that there will be seaming wickets in the series. Equally sure as the fact that India will be given the flattest of the flat wickets in "practice" matches, so they have no chance whatsoever of getting used to swing and seam.

Posted by coldcoffee123 on (July 2, 2014, 15:57 GMT)

India made a blunder by picking M. Vijay. He can't bat. Period. Sehwag would have murdered this Eng attack. Good to see a "real" batsman (Pujara) showing how it is done. I reckon he will score +800 runs in the series.

Posted by wapuser on (July 2, 2014, 15:03 GMT)

why every cricket loving ppl wants india to lose this tesr series????? the only reason i can sense its tht too much influence bcci to change the icc rules so that their batsmen can enjoy batting with no fear. such rules will not going to be survive for a longer days as test matches ll get boring if not producing result i m in favor of bouncing seaming friendly wickets. india have their strength in spin only not likes eng, sa, aus, pak and sl now who beaten eng with their seam not spin

Posted by My-Dear-Watson on (July 2, 2014, 14:31 GMT)

Indians bowlers have the the history of converting out of form batsmen into in-form runs scoring machines, unfortunately this time also it would not be much different. The signs are already ominous in the two warm up games. Where in the world a bowler having an average of 37.56 after 55 test matches is called the "spearhead" of the bowling unit ? This guy should not be in Ranji team, leave alone Indian team. Indian team desperately needs a bowling mentor-coach like Wasim and off-course some bowlers.

Posted by Nods on (July 2, 2014, 14:20 GMT)

Look we have to be realistic...whatever the conditions are...this Indian team has too little experience.I mean with the exception of Pujara Kohli and to a certain extent Bhuvi(considering the swinging conditions) , we don't have the players to seriously mount a challenge. And I even fail to understand why..why the hell is Ashwin even in he team .

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 13:53 GMT)

@Dobell: Apropos the following observation of yours:

"... with an opening batsman as captain who is currently struggling for form. They are unlikely to risk exposing Alastair Cook's side to anything that will risk his prolonged grim run..."

No need to worry on that score, George. What are we Indian bowlers here for? They will be hospitable... even on tour. Perhaps, more so on tour! May help Cook to regain his form, despite Ravi' Shastry's 'pre-war-bugle-calls"! :-)

Posted by Nampally on (July 2, 2014, 13:33 GMT)

Despite the pitches being batting friendly as the author predicts, England still have the home team advantage! If England I green, India is even greener with only one pace bowler with several Test match playing experience in Ishant. England has at least 3 pace bowlers with extensive test match + several batsmen who have played more Test matches. Cook & Bell are the experienced bats supplemented with Robson & Balance's talent. India has just Gambhir as the experienced batsman who I desperately hanging on to his spot. Of course Kohli, Pujara & Rohit Sharma are ery talented but they are playing on English pitches. Indian bowling is the one that is t a huge disadvantage. Kumar, Shami & Aaron are all inexperienced with <15 Tests combined playing experience. Only the spinners Ashwin & jadeja have Test match experience which is not beneficial on England pitches till day 5- if the test lasts till then. So who has the advantage? I make it evenly balanced series with England better pace bowlers.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 13:18 GMT)

Sorry, no so called Sri Lanken 'Lions' needed in here.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 12:43 GMT)

SL Lion

hopefully tough series for both....india will show some fight in dis time...battle between kholi's classy batting & beautiful seam movement of anderson...gud luck for both team..anyway miss KP

Posted by hkiran1 on (July 2, 2014, 12:42 GMT)

Still Indian batsmen would have to bat for 3 days in every test to cover the bowlers.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 12:35 GMT)

No matter how batting friendly the wicket is,Murali Vijay and Rohit sharma are two players who are never going to make it big no matter how many chances they are given.Still the commentators and Coaches are so fond of him and god knows why.India is not a country where talent is deficient.Noone cares as long as you dont have the temparement.There are many players like Wasim Jaffer,Vinod Kambli,kaif and many others who never even got to prove their talent.So Please dont opt for Murali Vijay for the Series starting on 9th.Going with Ajinkya Rahane is a much much better option.

Posted by DingDong420 on (July 2, 2014, 12:32 GMT)

Indian bowlers need to be playing county cricket, this alone will strengthen the attack. Zaheer and RP Singh spent a season in county cricket before the indian 1-0 success a couple of tours ago.

I would argue that Zaks county stint was the making of him as an international bowloer

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 2, 2014, 12:30 GMT)

@SirViv1973, The other things against Onions is Age. As you state theres a concern over a frot line spinner, but Imagine Stokes will take over from Jordan/Moeen, If its Jordan then the possibility exists that Prior moves to 8, giving potentially solid but inexperienced Batting order.

Difficult to judge India as Fletch is doing his usual 'use the Entire squad' warmup games.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (July 2, 2014, 12:05 GMT)

@Phil Katon, Onions is injured and has not played any cricket for Durham since early May. His form early season was no great shakes anyway he took 11 wickets in 4 matches at an ave in the mid 30s. He did go on the Lions tour to SRL in Feb so that would indicate that he is still in the selectors thoughts. However Plunkett & Jordan have now jumped ahead of him and Stokes will probably come back in to the side for the 1st test, there's also the likely return of Finn at some point and the need to get a slow bowler into the side. Given all of that together with the slightly indifferent early season form & subsequent injury Onions has now probably slipped a fair way down the pecking order.

Posted by ramz30380 on (July 2, 2014, 12:01 GMT)

@KingOwl - India has IPL to contend with during Apr-May, they wont be touring any country at tht time. In future u will also see no other country playing at this time as most of them participate in it!

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 12:01 GMT)

But then, India do badly precisely on batting friendly wickets abroad... You need to take 20 wickets to win a test match. At home, the spinners do the job, because the conditions suit them. Abroad, there is no chance for a less than mediocre seam attack to take 20 wickets on a batsman friendly pitch. Neither would there be seam movement, neither spin... If this is the story of English pitches this summer, I would be reluctant to put my money on India, winning the test series!!!

Posted by Pippy_the_dog on (July 2, 2014, 11:59 GMT)

Really good article. There is not enough written about the state of pitches in England, and indeed around the world. The issue of conditions suiting one side or another, is less important than the overall quality of the cricket. Is it any wonder that test cricket is failing to attract paying customers when we are served up pitches like the one we were served up at Lords!

Slow, low batting tracks make for dull cricket. Its about time the administrators seriously addressed this issue, because people will not continue to pay to watch dull cricket in the UK or elsewhere.

Posted by Sir_Ivor on (July 2, 2014, 11:59 GMT)

The weather forecast for July 9th to 13th is Sunny mostly with temperatures between 27 and 24 degrees Celsius.There will be low clouds on 11th and 13th. But no rains are likely. So we can hope for a decent test match with the pitch playing normally for 4 days and then spinning on the 4th and 5th days given the hot weather.

Posted by ramz30380 on (July 2, 2014, 11:57 GMT)

@ Lassie.Perera - Weather in Eng even in summer, is gloomy, can rain. So dont make such ridiculous statments. The wickets are bound to be drier than usual because there will be reasonable sunshine thats all. English bowlers have been more effective due to the overcast conditions than wht the pitch offers. So, it will be an even playing field.

Do U know the domestic structure in India? Do U know tht we play domestic tournamnets like Ranji Trophy which is 4 day cricket and do you know that the test team's selection has been made based on tht performance?! (barring Ishant ofcourse) India's domestic structure is the best at the moment with equal importance being given to all three formats of the game. Being a vast country, with plenty of states, they set higher standards.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 11:53 GMT)

I think the first 3 tests will be interesting , but I feel if India are 2-0 down or even 2-1 down then they will lose interest come the fourth test. This should of been a 3 match series as would add some spice to the series. Just feel if things don't go India's way then they will collapse like a pack of cards very early in the series and that will look very silly indeed in a 5 match series.

Posted by rajuramki on (July 2, 2014, 11:52 GMT)

If wickets in England is not likely to help Anderson , Broad , Jordan and Tremlet , I do not know how it will help the mediocre Indian seamers. The Indian line up has to include both Ashwin and Jadeja as spinning all rounders alongwith three seamers , Dhoni and 5 batsmen . The major advantage for England is that only three Indian players have played test cricket in England. In any case, I do not see either England or India dominating their opponent with the result that we are going to see a dull series .

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 11:47 GMT)

@ITJOBsucks most of the wickets taken by fast bowlers, both sides lost their 20 wickets in both then this so called "FLAT"wicket is not similar to flat tracks in India.I saw many of the times in 20 20s ,in India, 200 runs was a chasable total many of the ocations.

Posted by Sir_Ivor on (July 2, 2014, 11:47 GMT)

There was a time in the early 5os when England had the likes of Truman and Bedser who in most conditions were excellent. Because of India's poor show in 1952 against these, it had come to be standard that Indian batting is always considered easy picking anywhere. But times have changed now. With their teams touring much more now and facing fast bowlers on all types of wickets and in the IPL also, I think the inhibitions of an earlier time have gone. I find that great fast bowlers will get wickets against the best batsmen in helpful conditions. England's batting lineup was made to look very ordinary in the last Ashes series not just by Mitch Johnson but by Ryan Harris and Siddle as well. And I think England had a terrific batting lineup. It is just that three good fast bowlers opened up the English batting. This is what the author should understand. Today any team will struggle against sustained aggresion. It is not as if the coin turns the other way with a change in conditions.

Posted by heartbreakerz on (July 2, 2014, 11:43 GMT)

Some English fans are giving a bit too much respect to this Indian team...Dhoni n co have not won an away test since June, 2011 and their bowlers are struggling against bottom placed 2nd division counties. I agree that Eng team isn't at their best but still they should not have much trouble in beating this indian team. My bet is on Eng winning it 3-0

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (July 2, 2014, 11:41 GMT)

A real "battle of the giants" coming up

Posted by KingOwl on (July 2, 2014, 11:28 GMT)

English wickets in early season are much more difficult than in late season. That is why India never comes to England in April/May. Also, let us not forget that the English did ask for seaming pitches against SL and the pitch in Leeds was certainly favourable to England (although they lost it). But I think demanding such wickets against India is much more difficult given the power of BCCI.

Posted by crzcric on (July 2, 2014, 11:27 GMT)

Lucky IND Batsman.They always get batting friendly conditions whenever they tour.No cold weather.And now flat pitches. Wow.They must win this.

Posted by Sir_Ivor on (July 2, 2014, 11:26 GMT)

I have always believed that spicy bowler friendly conditions make Indian bowlers more effective be it in England or anywhere in the world. It is therefore a fallacy to think that even if the groundsmen in England are able to produce the kind of wickets that would make the Andersons and Broads virtually unplayable it would wholly be to India's disadvantage. I would like to mention the Trent Bridge Nottingham Test of 2007. England lost the toss -- and that is the crucial point-- and Zaheer RP and Sreesanth got England for a small score. Then India batted and put up a massive score and bowled out England for a middling score. Even if England batted better the second time, it was india that won the game. Similarly the 2002 Test at Headingly. It was a spiced up wicket. but India had the combination of Dravid at his peak and a blood and gore man in Bangar. India scored big and then actually spun out England. So I think it is batting pitches that will favour England.

Posted by HatsforBats on (July 2, 2014, 11:25 GMT)

Can somebody update on the recent weather conditions in England (can't be bothered checking meteorological records). The last time Australia toured they played on pitches tailor made for Swann to attack our strong lefty lineup, but most English fans on here proposed the dry summer conditions and low water tables for the overwhelmingly dry nature of the pitches. The improvement of drainage systems is an interesting observation: are these conditions being replicated at county level? Are things different this season, are the curators able to hold some moisture in the pitches?

If India get served up similar conditions their stronger batting lineup may just be too much for England to overcome. Odds are that neither Anderson nor Broad will complete the series, but I'm very much looking forward to seeing this new England team play to their potential.

Posted by Yousufahmed1 on (July 2, 2014, 11:02 GMT)

@ Lassie.Perera Rahane has better technique than most of your Sl young batsmen. We have all seen how thirri fared in ENG and he isn't even playing IPL. Please worry about your team who is yet to win a single test match in AUS and IND.

Posted by Yevghenny on (July 2, 2014, 10:59 GMT)

I'm not sure that the article is trying to excuse England from not doing so well, more that the "big 3" will now be preparing matches in order to maximise playing time rather than produce an exciting test match wicket

Posted by GRVJPR on (July 2, 2014, 10:48 GMT)

Hard to undertand this article. Over the years I've seen in England when a good quality pace attack comes along like Aus and SA, the prepare flat tracks (low and slow). Even South AFrica did that to nullify Mitch Johnson. So if you give flat tracks to aussies and SA's what is the problem if they are flat for India. But that is what INDIA won't like. Our (India's) seamers would like some life in pitches. If not seam, then turners would do (like in India). Basically result oriented wickets are wanted. In India ball spins from day 1 and hence out of last 30 matches 27 got results. We don't want a flat tracks like in Sri Lanka and UAE/Pakistan.

Posted by fairfan70 on (July 2, 2014, 10:46 GMT)

Well, I beg to differ from the comments of some English fans here, who seem to be giving more credit to this Indian team than it deserves. Indian bowling is not even county class! Indian batting line up is still shaping up, not a settled unit by any means. And the captain has been getting more and more defensive with every series. So nothing to worry, England! You can win hands down.

--- from an Indian fan.

Posted by markatnotts on (July 2, 2014, 10:43 GMT)


No if you read the article and of course have watched a lot of test cricket in recent years in England then you will see the pitches are far from fast, far from bouncy with very little seam movement. Whatever help there is for fast bowling has come from the overhead conditions. It is not an excuse but hard cold fact. Even in 2011 apart from day 1 at Trent Bridge the pitches were generally very flat. In fact I seem to recall watching many passages of play where the ball was going through to Dhoni at ankle height because of the slowness of the pitch.

Posted by CricketAficionado on (July 2, 2014, 10:34 GMT)

In my opinion, lively wickets with a little bit of bounce and swing help indian bowlers. If the pitches are outright flat then Indian bowlers will be brutally exposed ,of course Indian batsmen make merry out of it hence the result will be a draw. If the pitch is somewhere in the middle, then also these guys fail to take wkts coz they do not use their heads and bend their backs to get purchase from the pitch and batsmen except kohli n pujara fumble and lose the match. The only opportunity for Indian bowlers to take wkts is good assistance from the pitch. A good bowler is someone who doesn't completely rely on pitch condition but uses their brains and skills to get wkts even from less than helpful tracks. This is not the case with Indian bowlers. Indian bowlers need either complete rank turners or fast pitches. Anything else spells disastrous for them. We have seen this thing before in Perth, Durban and Indian spin conducive wkts. Cricket should be played either on fast or spin pitches.

Posted by Sexysteven on (July 2, 2014, 10:19 GMT)

Unbelievable England making money is more important then preparing pitches to suit your team I was looking forward to this series but sounds like the pitches r going to be flat low and slow only good for dull cricket plus u add two negative defensive captains to the mix it looks like it will be one of the worst boring series in the history of cricket the only saving grace will be is if there is rain and overcast conditions at some point in every test just so it can juice the pitches up abit cos nobody wants these tests to go into the last day cos of these two defensive minded captains we all know they will be draws if they go in to day five seriously people want to be entertained not put to sleep by boring tactics

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 10:17 GMT)

Unlike their last visit here, I don't think the Indians should have much to fear. Other than the pitches, Jimmy seems to be getting a bit long in the tooth. Where have the 89MPH delveries gone? Broad looks tired, or is he suffering from the overall lethargy that seems to have been hanging around this England team since the Ashes in England, when the cracks were starting to show. Plunkett looks ok for a bang it in bowler, but u would hardly describe even him as lightening fast. Why oh why didn't Onions get a look in?! India have in Kohli someone who has thrived in all conditions bar England (yet!), and players like Rahane who look suited to playing here. India have England at their lowest ebb, and some classy young batsmen. The bowlers are the only problem, and India's batting has long made up for them....England fan.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 10:13 GMT)

Indian batmen wil have a good tour but not the Indian bowlers. They dont llok like a unit that is capable of taking 20 wickets. Only if England sets a target India has chance to win through their batsmen. If India are asked to bowl out Engalnd and win then the chance of winning is minimal. Fingers crossed. Lers wait and watch

Posted by rock.rockyin on (July 2, 2014, 10:07 GMT)

so England and its supporters already found a reason to blame if India wins. Come on !!! concentrate on the game first. If it is a green wick for Indi it will be a green wick for Eng too. considering that both the teams have new caps it will be an interesting series. Please do not give hype to these things even before the series.

Posted by Lassie.Perera on (July 2, 2014, 9:59 GMT)

When you play against England in England during the proper summer (like Indians would get) there won't be any home advantage. Because it will be sunny and hot. England had home advantage against Sri Lankans as matches were played in gloomy cold overcast conditions. Indians cricket's biggest problem is IPL. Because of IPL glory (glory means money) they never going to find batsmen like Tendulkar, Dravid, Vishwanath, Gavaskar or Amaranath. (too many to be mentioned). Luckily V Kohli was born in late 80's and he was technically sounded before the IPL first series. New generation's Indians cricketers seems to be (and will be) IPL orientated batsmen. Quick runs will get quick money. With these boom boom cricketers Indians will struggle more and more in the coming years. These Indians shouldn't forget that Money can't buy everything.

Posted by marktheshark on (July 2, 2014, 9:53 GMT)

India will struggle on win on flat pitches as they do not have express bowlers. On green pitches India has a great chance as its bowlers are very skilful at seam and swing.

So as an Indian, I would really hope the pitches offer assistance - otherwise India might struggle to get the opposition out 2 times.

Posted by Humdingers on (July 2, 2014, 9:45 GMT)

EXACTLY Why they should have brought a Leg Spinner in the squad and also Ojha. They have to play 2 spinners - with Jadeja as an All rounder (he is NOT a front line bowler - he is an all rounder (the guy has a FC 300 so he can bat) and needs to contribute with the bat as well). If 3 seamers can't take 20 wickets, what is the 4th going to do? You are better off hedging your bets and going with 5 bowlers: 3 Seamers and 2 Spinners (with one being Jadeja playing as a all rounder).

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (July 2, 2014, 9:42 GMT)

After going through this, i can safely say that why SL won the series...LOL

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (July 2, 2014, 9:27 GMT)

I think the Indian bowlers are being underrated, they certainly aren't going to be outclassed by their opposite numbers, many of whom are out of form. India have batsman who like to get massive scores and the pitches will favour them.

Posted by rock.rockyin on (July 2, 2014, 9:15 GMT)

and India are so generous to call Australia, Eng in the months of Dec for test crick. The climatic conditions perfectly suit England and Aus during that period. There should be a day when India should invite England team in the months of June July to India for test cricket. Here in England all the Asian teams first fight against cold, rain etc etc at first place then against the cricketing skills. This is the least help that England groundsman can do as other boards are also helping England when they tour.

Posted by Realistic_cri_fan on (July 2, 2014, 9:02 GMT)

Even if the pitches are green and no heavy rollers are used,this Indian bowling attack will find difficult to take wickets.So why is the fear?It will be very nice to see the usual England pitch which assures swing,seam and bounce.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2014, 8:58 GMT)

People think India has a chance only on slow pitches, including greats like Boycott. The reality is that Indian bowlers cant really do anything of notice if the pitch is dry and flat. Flat wickets in England (like Lords) stay flat for the entire duration (unlike the ones in Sub continent which crumble on day 4-5). So India stand a better chance with a fast pitch (like Perth '08, Headingly '02) which would also give little chance to England. A flat wicket, English seamers can get better purchase than Indian counterparts. India used to win not on flat pitches, but on pitches that crumble and turn. India's record in flat wickets are at best, high scoring draws.

Posted by Vilander on (July 2, 2014, 8:50 GMT)

I think in Green tracks the frail Indian bowling will not be exposed and the Indian batting will do as well as England against the English bowling. Green tracks will not be prepared as it will play into Indian hands remember 2007. Flat tracks will be an other story, Indian bowling in flat tracks is just abysmal, so advantage cook and co.

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