England v India, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day July 11, 2014

Lack of leaders a hurdle to England revival

In a batting order containing four or five relatively inexperienced cricketers, it is not obvious who in the dressing room can revitalise England
47

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#politeenquiries: Why has Binny been picked?

If you were the sort of driver who kept colliding with bollards, the sort of sailor who kept hitting rocks and the sort of pilot who kept crash landing, you might conclude, eventually, that you are not very good at driving, sailing or flying.

A similar conclusion might be sinking into the seasick sailors of English cricket. Beaten like a snare drum, by Australia, Sri Lanka and Netherlands among others, the England team would be better served acknowledging their failings than hiding behind poor fortune. Only fools and losers continually bemoan luck as the cause of their failings.

Yes, at least one England player was the victim of an umpiring error. But so was at least one India player. And Murali Vijay looked in better form than Matt Prior. And yes, a ball change at the end of the 54th over did appear to precipitate England's collapse, though a mildly reverse-swinging ball at this pace should hardly have caused this level of bother.

Instead, England should reflect that, if they play across straight deliveries (Alastair Cook), if they poke at wide deliveries (Ian Bell), if they lose balance at the crease (Gary Ballance), if they play back when they should be forward (Sam Robson), they are not the victims of bad luck. They are guilty of poor batting.

This is hardly the first batting collapse they have experienced in recent times. Indeed, the 6 for 68 they suffered here on a slow pitch and against a modest attack, compares well against the 5 for 18 they suffered in the previous Test at Headingley, the 5 for 23 and 4 for 8 they suffered in Sydney, the 6 for 53 and 5 for 6 they suffered in Melbourne, the 6 for 24 in Adelaide, the 8 for 54 and 7 for 49 in Brisbane or the 6 for 37 here last year. If something keeps happening it is not an aberration; it is a problem.

They might also reflect on what sort of surfaces they do like. Because, in recent times, they have struggled on pitches offering spin, struggled on pitches offering bounce, struggled on pitches where the balls skids, struggled on pitches where the balls swings and struggled on pitches like this where the ball does very little of anything. Until Test cricket is played on ice, they are going to have to learn to manage a bit better on at least some of those surfaces.

The sight of James Anderson reverse-sweeping boundaries and Stuart Broad driving on the up through the covers just underlined how poorly England's middle-order played. There is nothing to fear in this slow, low surface and, decently though India bowled in the circumstances, little to fear against an attack that, by the standards of Test cricket, remains modest. Batting at this level will rarely be this comfortable and this England side contains a record nine men with Test centuries to their name.

One of England's enduring problems is that the majority of their players do just enough to justify their continued selection. But "just enough" does not win Tests and England require more from Bell and Co if they are to end their current malaise. Nobody doubts Bell's ability and his place is, quite rightly, secure. But, five Test innings into the new era, he is averaging 32.40 and struggling to provide the leadership and inspiration his side requires.

It may be that leadership and inspiration are the key missing ingredients in this England side. For as this malaise continues - and, barring a miracle, they will have extended their winless run to nine Tests by Sunday night - so the belief is draining from this England team. With Anderson and Broad seemingly resigned to endless spells on dead wickets, Cook and Prior currently struggling to lead from example and a batting order containing four or five relatively inexperienced cricketers, it is not obvious who in the dressing room can lead the revival.

English cricket is bursting with men who never offend, or shock or rock the boat. Men who have paid their dues and do not disrupt the dressing rooms or committee rooms to which they serve. Men who will disappear without leaving much of a trace.

But sometimes you need characters who ruffle and question and offend. Sometimes you need characters who have the arrogance and aggression to change what appears an inevitable course. Sometimes you need the sort of player a mild-mannered former England captain might describe as "an absolute c***".

There may be knock-on effects to England's shortened innings. By forcing Anderson and Co into the field once again so soon after their draining first innings efforts, they sustain a vicious circle that could compromise England's efforts throughout the series. Still jaded by their first innings efforts, they are likely to be less effective - the harsh might say even less effective - the second time around. And with only three days between Tests, they may still be feeling the effects by the time the match at Lord's starts.

It was the same story in Australia. Though England fairly often claimed the first four or five wickets relatively cheaply, Australia invariably recovered through Brad Haddin as Anderson and Broad tired. Until the batsmen support the bowlers better, it will continue to happen.

In normal circumstances, England should still be able to hang on for a draw. The pitch will hardly deteriorate; it will just become ever more funereal in pace. And, had it not been for the Indian tenth-wicket stand, England would already have a lead. Even more pertinently, MS Dhoni may have a tricky decision to make regarding a declaration.

But normal circumstances no longer apply. England's batting collapses have occurred too often to retain even a hint of complacency.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AJournalistHimself on July 14, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    Dobell: written from the heart, and written by a big heart that knows its marbles; has researched them; 'intuits' more about said marbles than the average 'harsh-it-all' can ever fantasise about; cares for said marbles ... but written by someone who cares even more about truth and fair play.

    As a fellow journo, I am archiving this one as an object lesson. Well done, thanks, and cheers.

  • BradmanBestEver on July 12, 2014, 17:36 GMT

    They need wholesale changes at the top. Captain Cook's Endeavour sank at the end of the Sri Lankan series after the Aussies mortally wounded the old Bark.

    Any landlubber or seasoned sailor can see that yet the selectors choose to play turtle

  • rick333 on July 12, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    @ScottStevo. No! Root, currently the best English batsmen put together a partnership with Jimmy Anderson a partnership of 198 on the very same pitch where the Ind No 10 & No 11 put together a partnership of 111. So, if you are calling Ind bowling attack modest where does that Eng Bowling attack - age group cricket bowlers?

  • ScottStevo on July 12, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    @rick333, don't you just wish you could take that back now! Calling them even modest right now is being exceptionally courteous...

  • milepost on July 12, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    I disagree entirely with comments about Swann being a big loss. He was unquestionably a great bowler and a massive plus for England but he never quite got it back after elbow surgery and retired at the right time. They are right about a lack of leaders but that is true of the setup off the field too. Poor hopeless England.

  • southstoke49 on July 12, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    Great article. The only disagreement I have is the unquestioned inclusion of Bell who seems an integral part of any collapse and has not made any scores for about a year. At least Cook can't be blamed for collapses as he is usually long gone by the time of any middle order collapse. While some blame must be laid at the previous regime for the lack of foresight and planning you have to wonder what Moores is doing. If you contrast this with when Lehman took over Australia it is frightening. They had a poor run & he had about 10 days notice to prepare for the ashes. They lost but at least noticeably improved immediately an then given some time to prepare they were lethal. 3 months on, we seem to have gone backwards.

  • Uticensis on July 12, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Ballance has made a score in every Test so far this summer. Not bad, for someone who's batting out of position and is new to Test cricket. Its the sort of reliability we used to look to Trott for. Yes, once the video analysts around the world home in on Ballance playing within his crease he'll have to adjust. But getting after a guy averaging near 50 in his first four Tests, in the context of a team struggling to compete, is surely a little glass-half-empty. The point about leadership is well made though. I was probably with a lot of people when Bell scored 3 tons in the 2013 Ashes thinking 'this is it - this is when he develops the mental grit to go with his fantastic technique and timing and becomes England's Jayawardene.' Not so. His shot selection isn't tight enough - especially (and disappointingly) when a collapse is on. All batting orders lose two quick wickets sometimes. Senior players are there to make sure setbacks don't become routs.

  • on July 12, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    I don't think Prior should last the series. How about restoring Jamie Foster who is currently keeping beautifully. As for the current match, England have the momentum, and the brave thing to do is declare immediately and try to cash in on that while the bowlers are fresh.

  • sundar02 on July 12, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    Not totally surprised by Mr. Dobell column. 1) They always intimidated by ausi pace attack and rest of the attack in the world are just ordinary to them. But most batsmen lost their wicket to swing and seam than pace. 2) They always think they are the best team in the world at home. But their win loss ratio is below India's at home. 3) They think their bowlers always bowls near to 90mph and rest of the bowlers only slow medium or gentle pace. But their bowlers always lower in the pace as the match progress, Broad bowled around mid 70mphs from 5th spell onward which is much lower than binny's average speed. Last ashes revealed, Anderson or Broad become just ordinary if they had to bowl more than 20+ overs in an innings. The basic difference between ausi and english is ausi respect and credit to every cricketer opposing team including Bangladesh as equal as they are and even after they white wash the opponent.Them refers to English media who are nothing but xplayers and current players

  • dunger.bob on July 12, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    @ Nutcutlet: The England side was hit with a torpedo when you lost Swann. I think you miss him as much, if not actually more, than we missed Warne. Quite apart from the wickets he got one of the major things he gave your side was breathing space. He could bowl long spells of normally high quality spin so he wasn't just giving your fast bowlers a rest, he took the baton off them and continued to pressure the opposition. .. Also, everyone talks about KP but what about Trott. He was, for a time, one of the most dependable No 3's going around. He piled on some impressive numbers for a while there. .. Anyway, I'm not sure it's fair to put the blame entirely on Cook. A lot has happened and the old grey mare, well, she ain't what she used to be. It's not necessarily the jockeys fault she can't run too well these days.

  • AJournalistHimself on July 14, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    Dobell: written from the heart, and written by a big heart that knows its marbles; has researched them; 'intuits' more about said marbles than the average 'harsh-it-all' can ever fantasise about; cares for said marbles ... but written by someone who cares even more about truth and fair play.

    As a fellow journo, I am archiving this one as an object lesson. Well done, thanks, and cheers.

  • BradmanBestEver on July 12, 2014, 17:36 GMT

    They need wholesale changes at the top. Captain Cook's Endeavour sank at the end of the Sri Lankan series after the Aussies mortally wounded the old Bark.

    Any landlubber or seasoned sailor can see that yet the selectors choose to play turtle

  • rick333 on July 12, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    @ScottStevo. No! Root, currently the best English batsmen put together a partnership with Jimmy Anderson a partnership of 198 on the very same pitch where the Ind No 10 & No 11 put together a partnership of 111. So, if you are calling Ind bowling attack modest where does that Eng Bowling attack - age group cricket bowlers?

  • ScottStevo on July 12, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    @rick333, don't you just wish you could take that back now! Calling them even modest right now is being exceptionally courteous...

  • milepost on July 12, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    I disagree entirely with comments about Swann being a big loss. He was unquestionably a great bowler and a massive plus for England but he never quite got it back after elbow surgery and retired at the right time. They are right about a lack of leaders but that is true of the setup off the field too. Poor hopeless England.

  • southstoke49 on July 12, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    Great article. The only disagreement I have is the unquestioned inclusion of Bell who seems an integral part of any collapse and has not made any scores for about a year. At least Cook can't be blamed for collapses as he is usually long gone by the time of any middle order collapse. While some blame must be laid at the previous regime for the lack of foresight and planning you have to wonder what Moores is doing. If you contrast this with when Lehman took over Australia it is frightening. They had a poor run & he had about 10 days notice to prepare for the ashes. They lost but at least noticeably improved immediately an then given some time to prepare they were lethal. 3 months on, we seem to have gone backwards.

  • Uticensis on July 12, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Ballance has made a score in every Test so far this summer. Not bad, for someone who's batting out of position and is new to Test cricket. Its the sort of reliability we used to look to Trott for. Yes, once the video analysts around the world home in on Ballance playing within his crease he'll have to adjust. But getting after a guy averaging near 50 in his first four Tests, in the context of a team struggling to compete, is surely a little glass-half-empty. The point about leadership is well made though. I was probably with a lot of people when Bell scored 3 tons in the 2013 Ashes thinking 'this is it - this is when he develops the mental grit to go with his fantastic technique and timing and becomes England's Jayawardene.' Not so. His shot selection isn't tight enough - especially (and disappointingly) when a collapse is on. All batting orders lose two quick wickets sometimes. Senior players are there to make sure setbacks don't become routs.

  • on July 12, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    I don't think Prior should last the series. How about restoring Jamie Foster who is currently keeping beautifully. As for the current match, England have the momentum, and the brave thing to do is declare immediately and try to cash in on that while the bowlers are fresh.

  • sundar02 on July 12, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    Not totally surprised by Mr. Dobell column. 1) They always intimidated by ausi pace attack and rest of the attack in the world are just ordinary to them. But most batsmen lost their wicket to swing and seam than pace. 2) They always think they are the best team in the world at home. But their win loss ratio is below India's at home. 3) They think their bowlers always bowls near to 90mph and rest of the bowlers only slow medium or gentle pace. But their bowlers always lower in the pace as the match progress, Broad bowled around mid 70mphs from 5th spell onward which is much lower than binny's average speed. Last ashes revealed, Anderson or Broad become just ordinary if they had to bowl more than 20+ overs in an innings. The basic difference between ausi and english is ausi respect and credit to every cricketer opposing team including Bangladesh as equal as they are and even after they white wash the opponent.Them refers to English media who are nothing but xplayers and current players

  • dunger.bob on July 12, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    @ Nutcutlet: The England side was hit with a torpedo when you lost Swann. I think you miss him as much, if not actually more, than we missed Warne. Quite apart from the wickets he got one of the major things he gave your side was breathing space. He could bowl long spells of normally high quality spin so he wasn't just giving your fast bowlers a rest, he took the baton off them and continued to pressure the opposition. .. Also, everyone talks about KP but what about Trott. He was, for a time, one of the most dependable No 3's going around. He piled on some impressive numbers for a while there. .. Anyway, I'm not sure it's fair to put the blame entirely on Cook. A lot has happened and the old grey mare, well, she ain't what she used to be. It's not necessarily the jockeys fault she can't run too well these days.

  • on July 12, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    There is a lot of talk about change of ball after lunch in Trent bridge yesterday. I wonder how much it is to do with England's batting performance rather than ball itself. It is like blaming the dance floor rather than dancers!!!! Root showed how tobat. Don't know shat Moen Ali is doing in England team!!!!!!

  • yorkshire-86 on July 12, 2014, 7:31 GMT

    Great article highlighting England's feeble excuses. Far too many 'nice men' in the team, far too many 'nice men' in the boardroom. In addition we seem to have an obsession with picking players just out of nappies rather than ones in the 25-30 age range who have had time to sort out their techniques. There is only one natural leader in the current England team, and that is the one that sets all the fields and comes up with these innovative fielding positions that Cook somehow gets the credit for - and that is Anderson.

  • on July 12, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    @Arun Bose

    Did you miss the part where the failures/collapses of the current English batting were mentioned in length with multiple instances? Indian bowlers did alright, but the reality is that against a quality batting line up that isn't struggling immensely for form, the Indians attack would get taken apart.

  • venkatesh018 on July 12, 2014, 6:19 GMT

    To the watching public, it may look like India is out-bowling England. But the truth is England have made selection blunders in their bowling line up by picking Stokes & Moeen Ali as their fourth seamer and spinner. The English attack consists only of two bowlers-Broad and Anderson. Also, the Indian bowlers are bowling against a much inferior batting line up than their own, which makes their task slightly easier, despite the lifeless pitch. Cook is their best bat, who is woefully out of nick, Bell for all his experience is an eye catching stroke player rather than a technically sound innings building batsman. Moeen Ali looks the most exciting of the current lot and he was unlucky in his dismissal. This is to take nothing away from Ishant and Shami, who bowled superbly all day. I thought Bhuvi was lucky to pick up the number of wickets, he did.

  • Nutcutlet on July 12, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    Let me share some of my amateur musing about this current Eng side. Try as I might, I just can't quite become engaged by their stamp. I asked myself why that should be and what was missing. To begin with, I thought is was character - but that wasn't quite it. Broad showed character in his counter-attacking innings, Jimmy too. Root, on his own confession, needed Broad to galvanize him into action as he (JR) was spending time in the middle & going nowhere. The mid-order, as George has already pointed out, are regular easy pickings. Then I realised what it could well be: England is less than the sum of its parts - another way of saying that they don't gel. There's no opening partnership these days; no spinner to keep the quicks fresh; thus there's no vim in the tiring quicks; Prior's batting is flaky & his keeping patchy. Bell isn't quite right. A misfiring unit, all in all. It comes back to the captain. His team reflects his difficulties and tentativeness. It's inescapable.

  • dunger.bob on July 12, 2014, 4:13 GMT

    @landl47: If I were English I think I would be pretty happy with how the replacements are going. It's the senior players letting you down not the young guys. It seems to me that it's only a matter of time before Bell and Cook start firing again and IF the young dudes can maintain their form then you will be onto something solid. I can't see a future for Prior though and I predict he won't last the series. So that will mean yet another inexperienced player but sometimes it's just best to go with the flow and have a thorough spring clean.

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned much is the dreaded 'honey-moon' period. Isn't it amazing how many young players start off with a bang only to slowly but surely get worked out by the opposition and dragged back to the pack. .. Some say it's a myth but I'm convinced it's a factor. If it does happen, and your seniors are STILL out of form, then things could suddenly start looking bleak again.

  • xtrafalgarx on July 12, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    @landl47: If you pick teams for the future, you will only ever win in the future. Australia had one of the youngest team on show last year. Pattinson, Starc, Wade, Khawaja, Hughes, Smith, Henriques, Maxwell, Agar, Bird all got runs in the test team last year and look what happened.

    It's no coincidence that when Australia started picking the best and most experienced players, the team started winning. Harris, Johnson, Haddin, Rogers all played key roles in the wins in SA and the Ashes. Young players may make you feel better with that sense of hope that thing 'might' get better in the future, but nothing is a better healer than success.

  • on July 12, 2014, 3:03 GMT

    As usual, No credit to Indian players and blaming everything on English batting order, I agree they struggled in the past and still struggling but they didn't gifted their wickets to our bowlers..Our bowlers earned them by hardwork..Someone said taking wickets won't be easy on this track but our bowlers took 8 wickets in one day where as England took just 4 on the first day and 6 on the second day.. Ball was changed according to rules of the game and umpires changed it bcz the ball lost It's shape and it was proven on camera.. Saying that ball change was the reason for Indian bowling performance is absolutely ridiculous to say the least..Ball doesn't take wickets, Bowlers do.. Try to give credit where It's due..Everybody said this is a mediocre bowling attack but they proved their critics wrong by bowling exceptionally well on a placid track like this one.. I don't know what India needs to do to prove that they are a good team..

  • landl47 on July 12, 2014, 3:02 GMT

    @jackthelad: Broad has a test century and 10 test fifties. Shami, the Indian #11 with a previous highest test score of 11 and highest first-class score of 33, scored exactly the same number of runs (51) as Dhawan, Pujara and Kohli, India's #2,3 and 4, between them, only Shami was not out. By your logic, that would mean that India's best young batsmen are hopeless. Of course they aren't; it's just that cherrypicking statistics like that is meaningless.

    Robson, Ballance and Root all made decent scores for England and Robson and Ballance put on 125. They succeeded, others failed. That's what happens in cricket. Next game someone else will succeed and someone else will fail. Trying to make a case from statistics for one innings is like saying the British weather is always wonderful because Wednesday was sunny.

  • xtrafalgarx on July 12, 2014, 2:41 GMT

    I think it was a year ago when i read an Ed Smith article by the title of 'England's magnificent 7''. The seven being the seven leaders of the side. Cook, Trott, Bell, Pietersen, Prior, Anderson, Swann as compared to Australia's one - Michael Clarke. It stated that England could never broken down easily because of the seven pillars it stood upon, that it would be a fortress that would stand for years to come - how wrong it turned out to be.

    As Jimi Henddrix once sand, 'castles made of sand slip into sea eventually'.

  • landl47 on July 12, 2014, 2:36 GMT

    This is a young England side. 4 players are under 25, another 4 under 30. Only Anderson, Bell and Prior are over 30. 6 players (Robson, Ballance, Root, Moeen, Stokes and Plunkett ) have played 43 tests between them and Root, second youngest in the side, has 18 of them. The reserve members of the squad, Jordan and Woakes, are 25 and have played 3 tests between them.

    When England lost, for various reasons, Strauss, Trott, KP and Swann in the space of 18 months it was clear rebuilding would take a while. If anyone expected that England would just adjust seamlessly they were dreaming. There are going to be ups and downs. What is encouraging is that there is no lack of fight. As the new boys get experience (and 3 of them made 50s today) the consistency will improve.

    Australia, currently the #1 test side, has 6 players older than the oldest England player in their side, including the two bowlers who took 59 of the 100 wickets to fall in the last Ashes series. Think about it.

  • Garp on July 12, 2014, 1:51 GMT

    One of the best article I've read in a long while. This is exactly the England batsmen problems, they constantly blame luck yet they continue to get out making the same mistakes. If you drive to cut a ball you should be driving your going to either drag it into your stinks, edge it to a fielder, or pop it up to a fielder, why can't Cook comprehend this simple fact? All we here about is how hard they practice unfortunately it is obvious they do not practice there problem areas.

  • Ms.Cricket on July 12, 2014, 1:01 GMT

    Bring back KP and make his captain. Matter closed.

  • ruester on July 12, 2014, 0:54 GMT

    Watch out. Broad and Anderson, keep your head up and have a straight back. Downton has cast a glance at you from his box and is thinking about how disengaged you look when your team is getting beaten! it might be time for a new era again!

  • rick333 on July 11, 2014, 23:56 GMT

    Come on let us not be a sore loser. Indian bowlers are a better bunch than the English attach at least in this match. To rate them as Modest Attack at the Test level is whining. Perhaps Indian bowlers needs swagger, bit of Sourav Ganguly in them to blow their own trumpet to be taken seriously. Perhaps they should bark in press conference, cuss in social media to be perceived as aggressive bunch!!!

  • jatstheword on July 11, 2014, 23:34 GMT

    Well said George, glad to see yet another sensible piece from you. Forget players, it is quite shocking to see even some of these so-called pundits, ex England players (apologists, if you ask me) making the same old excuses to justify England's collapse. As far as England are concerned, it is always someone else's fault. As you say, some of the shots played by the English top and middle order batsmen were ordinary to say the least and they probably deserved to get out. Having said that, I thought the Indian batsmen showed a bit more application and purpose when batting, which is reflected in the scores. However, as far as India are concerned, I'm afraid it's same old same old, not too different from England. We have yet again managed to squander a potentially winning position through some unimaginative, overly defensive captaincy and by not sticking to what we did soon after lunch.

  • niazbhi on July 11, 2014, 23:30 GMT

    England plays 4 batsmen Ballance, Robson, Bell and Root.. 3 of them played well. one got a bad decision. So its not surprising...

  • warnerbasher on July 11, 2014, 23:20 GMT

    Problem is that that 3 of the top 7 are failing and they are the experienced test players. Bell is class so deserves a long period to sort out his game however serious questions must be asked of Cook and Prior. The ECB has had to keep these non performers in the side because of the experience that has been lost in recent times. With competent man management they may have kept the one player with the ability to turn a game and perhaps start the transition of moving Cook and Prior out of the side. At the moment they are in the side and they don't deserve to be. Having lost his place in the side in Australia its obvious Prior was only recalled due to past deeds. He is fading as test force on a daily basis. On a positive Ballance, Ali and Robson look the goods and look to have the technique and temperment to have very solid careers for England

  • Rahul_78 on July 11, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    It is always a pleasure to read an article from George. But what takes the cake is the snippets of wisdom from Joe Roots statements. No doubt he has batted with distinction but saying that " we came out after tea and put that pressure straight back on to them." is plain laughable. Your side is trailing by 100+ runs, you have to bat last, your leader is under tremendous pressure to deliver plus to save his title as well as his place in the side and you havent won any tests in recent memories. A little bit of reality check and humility might be well served. Root doesnt seem to have learnt anything from his recent encounter with Lankan Lions where he woke them up on the last day when Poms were on their way to save a memorable test. Surely Cook and Moores doesnt want to do him the same with Indians.

  • Sexysteven on July 11, 2014, 23:02 GMT

    Unfortunately even with that collapse there's still only one result possibly it looks like cos I doubt dhoni is going declare until the game is safe in this case that is fair enough cos the pitch is to dead so i understand the safety first tactic this time I still don't like it cos the chance of a result is unlikely that's why I hate this pitch it's no good for anyone it makes for dull cricket and when u see tailenders with modest records bat comfortable on this u know it's going to be almost impossible to get 20 wickets on this pitch I can understand bowler rotation going in to the next match some of them do need arest after being bowled into the ground in this game on a complete road yes there's abit of reverse from time to time but any decent batsman should be able to adjust cos it is slow

  • jackthelad on July 11, 2014, 22:55 GMT

    Broad - a bowler - scored more than Cook, Bell, Prior and Stokes combined (indeed, only 2 less than these four plus Ali); this is the measureof England's problem - against fairly friendly bowling on dead pitches, they still can't produce stands.

  • fguy on July 11, 2014, 22:54 GMT

    mr dobell always talks about england bowlers & how tired they will be in the 5 match series but what about the indian bowlers who have an equal workload (& have the added tiredness from playing away from home)?

    also yesterday he mentioned each delivery which was awkwardly played by indian batsman which helped him conclude that they were weak against short pitched deliveries but hasnt done the same with all the english batsman who were equally uncomfortable & awkward against it

  • B.R.K.R on July 11, 2014, 22:16 GMT

    its a universal problem, lack of leaders hurting india's bowling too !

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on July 11, 2014, 22:11 GMT

    Perhaps the leadership and inspiration walked out the door along with Swann and KP.

  • Front_foot_cyber_bully_aka_Milepost on July 11, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    George has quite correctly pointed out the ongoing poor performances of Cook, Bell and Prior who despite failing time and time again are the first names on the team sheet. We all know about Cooks woes, but Bell has averaged over 40 just 3 times in the last 11 test series and 6 times averaged under 30. His batting is as poor as Cooks. Prior was rushed back too soon. He's struggling with the bat and dropping catches. However, there is no call to drop Bell and Prior. The selectors need only look at the new boys - Root, Robson & Ballance to see there is talent out there, and they do not need to pick players who are living on past glories. That is not to say those players shouldn't be part of the set up and be chosen again in the future.

  • OpeninBatsman on July 11, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    Oh.. So, when Rahane was out due to a freaky bottom edged pull; MSD was run out; Ishant leaving a straight ball on to stumps, it was all due to the mighty English bowling but when Bell gets out a rising delivery on a docile pitch or Ballace gets out plumb in front lbw it's due to poor batting.

    Still remember your column on the first day blaming the dead pitch for lack of penetration from England bowlers.

  • on July 11, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    It's not all about the change of ball it's just superb bowling by Indian bowlers especially the way ishant bowled..... Credit goes to England for fighting back otherwise it could have been a lot worse.....

  • on July 11, 2014, 21:20 GMT

    series vs sl and this so far, most of times senior 3 ( cook , bell, prior ) not doing much. youngsters are doing reasonable job.

  • Nampally on July 11, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    An excellent summary of the England batting woes! But England did fight back from 202 for 7 to 352 for 9. They repeated the rear guard action of Indian 10th wkt. Had Indians got out for say 350 & England for 210- both likely, this Test match would have been heading for a decision instead of most likely result at this stage- DRAW. So both England & Indian bowlers failed to complete the job. As for batting, Indian top players had done the same "No- Brainer" type of decisions in their dismissals. Dhawan defended with slant bat instead of a straight bat to get an outside edge caught. Kohli & Jadeja got out poking while Binny forgot that he is playing a Test match not T20! It looked like the England batsmen were telling India "Any Mistakes you make, we can do Better"! Strangely, this theme was perfected to apply to Broad & Anderson re: their rear guard action, compared to Kumar & Shami's. Hopefully there will be less "Copy cat" actions in remaining 4 Tests. Good Luck to both Teams!

  • jackiethepen on July 11, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    No mention of the new coach Moores, isn't he supposed to be injecting some new ideas into the England side or maybe that is part of the problem? Bell is supposed to be providing leadership? Who is the captain of this side? who does Cook consult with on the field? Bell takes over when Cook is off (rarely) but not given the title of Vice Captain because Prior is the unofficial VC? If you want Bell to be the leader then make him captain otherwise look to the guys who are given that role and to the coach who is supposed to be running new England and who usurped Ashley Giles. As for KP - has he set the world alight since being sacked? Has he heck! So why would he ruffle up things? He hasn't ruffled up anything, the IPL, Surrey t20 or the Rest of the World. The tragedy for England is that Cook, Bell and KP are all part of the complete mess left behind by the former coach Flower who decided to break up the side to push Cook into the prime seat as his legacy. It has worked for no one.

  • on July 11, 2014, 20:56 GMT

    sack cook. remedy is easy bring back KP and make him captain . replace prior with jos buttler. funny cook told buttler is not prepared for test cricket which is absolutely incorrect. . cook is not good enough to play test cricket now. am sure my grandma will play better than cook

  • on July 11, 2014, 20:52 GMT

    Good report George. Watching Ballance and Robson in the morning session playing with such deference against very moderate bowling would have been OK if they had been able to move up a gear and take the initiative away from the Indians. But they look as if 3rd gear is their maximum. There are few - if any - batsmen in the England top 6 that bowling attacks will fear. As you say, they do "just enough" to say they haven't failed, but we need more bold and beautiful that servicable and workmanlike. That has to be a cultural decision by the England selectors, and unfortunately they don't seem to be willing to accept that you sometimes have to pick mavericks to go beyond the mundane. The innings of the day was Stuart Broad's because he played with freedom and without fear. Surely there must be a few full-time batsmen in England who play in a similar style?

  • VillageBlacksmith on July 11, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    At last the cricket writers are noticing it. Bell has done "just enough" for far too long with stylish little 20s & 30s, and the odd 50, apart from averaging 8 vs Pakistan.. With new bats coming in and scoring tons it's time to move on from the affable Belly. He is certainly no help to Cook in the "new era" and so it's time to try someone new. Bells performance as a senior player down under & against Sri Lanka and now on a road like this vs India is just not good enough and the new era must continue with a new batter.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 11, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    Yeah but who's to say Prior wouldn't have contributed this innings George? Sure he's been in poor form, but with the attacking way he plays (and the way the likes of Broad showed that works here) it's a bitter pill to swallow that we didn't get the chance to at least see more of him.

  • tests_the_best on July 11, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    Much better article and more balanced than Mr. Dobell's earlier article about the pitch. Correctly acknowledging England's failings instead of just placing the whole blame on luck/pitch/umpiring etc. One excuse England can put up though is that losing players like KP/Swann/Trott in one go is always hard on any team.

    From the Indian side, although the seamers bowled well, there's plenty to think about the recurring problem of tailenders piling on runs. One can point out that even India's last pair added over 100 runs. But that's a rare occurrence compared to how many times India have not been able to clean up the opposition's tail. India didn't have an express bowler the previous decade as well but Kumble's presence ensured that the tail won't wag as much as in recent times. This might well prove to be India's Achilles heel resulting in conceding draws from winnable positions. There's plenty for both teams to think about, they are rightly placed in the middle rung of the ICC rankings.

  • pestonji on July 11, 2014, 20:31 GMT

    The problem is not the on-field leadership. It is the cricket establishment off the field. A willing Pietersen is not playing and neither is a still capable Graeme Swann (the best spinner in the game since Warne). It speaks to poor management that players of this caliber are not playing or choosing not to. England is regressing to the bad old days, when mediocrity and bits and pieces were allowed into the team (why Moeen Ali-why not a specialist spinner). I think England is a young and very talented team but it is underperforming. A more winning attitude from Moores and company , will go a long way.

  • kvarunk on July 11, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    I feel its little harsh to call this newly formed bowling attack of India which is 10 tests old, modest looking at today's performance. With proper mentoring and guidance they ought to perform well in future. Lets hope this is not a one off performance. Nevertheless A brilliant article as usual by George.

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  • kvarunk on July 11, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    I feel its little harsh to call this newly formed bowling attack of India which is 10 tests old, modest looking at today's performance. With proper mentoring and guidance they ought to perform well in future. Lets hope this is not a one off performance. Nevertheless A brilliant article as usual by George.

  • pestonji on July 11, 2014, 20:31 GMT

    The problem is not the on-field leadership. It is the cricket establishment off the field. A willing Pietersen is not playing and neither is a still capable Graeme Swann (the best spinner in the game since Warne). It speaks to poor management that players of this caliber are not playing or choosing not to. England is regressing to the bad old days, when mediocrity and bits and pieces were allowed into the team (why Moeen Ali-why not a specialist spinner). I think England is a young and very talented team but it is underperforming. A more winning attitude from Moores and company , will go a long way.

  • tests_the_best on July 11, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    Much better article and more balanced than Mr. Dobell's earlier article about the pitch. Correctly acknowledging England's failings instead of just placing the whole blame on luck/pitch/umpiring etc. One excuse England can put up though is that losing players like KP/Swann/Trott in one go is always hard on any team.

    From the Indian side, although the seamers bowled well, there's plenty to think about the recurring problem of tailenders piling on runs. One can point out that even India's last pair added over 100 runs. But that's a rare occurrence compared to how many times India have not been able to clean up the opposition's tail. India didn't have an express bowler the previous decade as well but Kumble's presence ensured that the tail won't wag as much as in recent times. This might well prove to be India's Achilles heel resulting in conceding draws from winnable positions. There's plenty for both teams to think about, they are rightly placed in the middle rung of the ICC rankings.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 11, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    Yeah but who's to say Prior wouldn't have contributed this innings George? Sure he's been in poor form, but with the attacking way he plays (and the way the likes of Broad showed that works here) it's a bitter pill to swallow that we didn't get the chance to at least see more of him.

  • VillageBlacksmith on July 11, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    At last the cricket writers are noticing it. Bell has done "just enough" for far too long with stylish little 20s & 30s, and the odd 50, apart from averaging 8 vs Pakistan.. With new bats coming in and scoring tons it's time to move on from the affable Belly. He is certainly no help to Cook in the "new era" and so it's time to try someone new. Bells performance as a senior player down under & against Sri Lanka and now on a road like this vs India is just not good enough and the new era must continue with a new batter.

  • on July 11, 2014, 20:52 GMT

    Good report George. Watching Ballance and Robson in the morning session playing with such deference against very moderate bowling would have been OK if they had been able to move up a gear and take the initiative away from the Indians. But they look as if 3rd gear is their maximum. There are few - if any - batsmen in the England top 6 that bowling attacks will fear. As you say, they do "just enough" to say they haven't failed, but we need more bold and beautiful that servicable and workmanlike. That has to be a cultural decision by the England selectors, and unfortunately they don't seem to be willing to accept that you sometimes have to pick mavericks to go beyond the mundane. The innings of the day was Stuart Broad's because he played with freedom and without fear. Surely there must be a few full-time batsmen in England who play in a similar style?

  • on July 11, 2014, 20:56 GMT

    sack cook. remedy is easy bring back KP and make him captain . replace prior with jos buttler. funny cook told buttler is not prepared for test cricket which is absolutely incorrect. . cook is not good enough to play test cricket now. am sure my grandma will play better than cook

  • jackiethepen on July 11, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    No mention of the new coach Moores, isn't he supposed to be injecting some new ideas into the England side or maybe that is part of the problem? Bell is supposed to be providing leadership? Who is the captain of this side? who does Cook consult with on the field? Bell takes over when Cook is off (rarely) but not given the title of Vice Captain because Prior is the unofficial VC? If you want Bell to be the leader then make him captain otherwise look to the guys who are given that role and to the coach who is supposed to be running new England and who usurped Ashley Giles. As for KP - has he set the world alight since being sacked? Has he heck! So why would he ruffle up things? He hasn't ruffled up anything, the IPL, Surrey t20 or the Rest of the World. The tragedy for England is that Cook, Bell and KP are all part of the complete mess left behind by the former coach Flower who decided to break up the side to push Cook into the prime seat as his legacy. It has worked for no one.

  • Nampally on July 11, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    An excellent summary of the England batting woes! But England did fight back from 202 for 7 to 352 for 9. They repeated the rear guard action of Indian 10th wkt. Had Indians got out for say 350 & England for 210- both likely, this Test match would have been heading for a decision instead of most likely result at this stage- DRAW. So both England & Indian bowlers failed to complete the job. As for batting, Indian top players had done the same "No- Brainer" type of decisions in their dismissals. Dhawan defended with slant bat instead of a straight bat to get an outside edge caught. Kohli & Jadeja got out poking while Binny forgot that he is playing a Test match not T20! It looked like the England batsmen were telling India "Any Mistakes you make, we can do Better"! Strangely, this theme was perfected to apply to Broad & Anderson re: their rear guard action, compared to Kumar & Shami's. Hopefully there will be less "Copy cat" actions in remaining 4 Tests. Good Luck to both Teams!

  • on July 11, 2014, 21:20 GMT

    series vs sl and this so far, most of times senior 3 ( cook , bell, prior ) not doing much. youngsters are doing reasonable job.