England v India, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day July 12, 2014

England could turn to Kerrigan at Lord's

After a hard slog on a lifeless wicket and similarly docile conditions expected at Lord's, England may recall the Lancashire spinner to inject a bit of bite into their bowling attack

Thomas Hardy probably was not thinking of the Trent Bridge pitch when he wrote that "happiness is but a mere episode in the general drama of pain" but it is a line that seems appropriate nevertheless.

A match that has, at times, looked close to sinking into a persistent vegetative state was briefly roused from its stupor by the joyous partnership between James Anderson and Joe Root. For the second time in 367 days, Trent Bridge witnessed a new world record tenth-wicket stand. Ashton Agar's place in history has already been largely obscured.

Not only has this Test given us a world record, two century stands for the 10th wicket for the first time and a record score by an England No. 11, but it also provided Anderson with his maiden first-class 50.

He later admitted he was not quite sure how to acknowledge the applause upon reaching the milestone. While Joe Root urged him to "milk it," Anderson somewhat sheepishly raised his bat. "I've seen people point their bat at the dressing room, so I did that," he said afterwards.

"I knew that if I was ever going to get 50, it would be on a wicket like this," Anderson admitted. "The short ball wasn't that dangerous.

"We just wanted to eat into the time left in the game and chip away at their lead. We knew it would be tiring for their bowlers to keep banging the ball in on a turgid pitch. It's very hard to get people out on that pitch if they play straight."

While this was all new territory for Anderson - he once made 49 as an opening batsman for Burnley against Todmorden - he has contributed with the bat previously for England. Without his rear-guard effort at Cardiff in 2009 - he and Monty Panesar survived the final 69 balls to secure a draw - England might not have won back the Ashes and, even as recently as the previous Test at Headingley, he was distraught after coming within two deliveries of saving the game after 81 minutes of defiance.

"Not a lot is expected of me," Anderson said. "My batting isn't the reason I'm selected. But I've had a few triumphs and I work hard at it. After the disappointment at Leeds, it has made me cherish this all the more."

There are several possible conclusions from such a freak stand and such a freak match. The first might be that neither side has the potent bowling attack it might like, though it would be harsh to judge anyone on this lifeless track. Even the greats, the likes of Shane Warne, Richard Hadlee, Wasim Akram or Malcolm Marshall, would have struggled.

It might be used to criticise the captains, too. And while it is true that India appeared to persist with the short-ball long after it had become clear that it would not work - and long after the full ball had accounted for most of England's top-order - such criticism is largely facile. This was a surface that rendered most plans futile. Anderson did, for a while, look suspect against Ishant Sharma and, as the ball softened, there was little swing and no seam or spin to help the bowlers.

Most of all, it should lead to the conclusion that this is a wretched cricket pitch. It rewards neither good strokeplay nor skilful bowling. It rewards attrition, discipline and patience. Such qualities will always have a place in Test cricket, but if the game favours them more than it does flair and skill, it will face an uphill challenge to persuade spectators to spend £70 on tickets.

It should lead to some reflection on the absurdity of a sport that takes the time to legislate against spectators bringing branded water to global events or the size of advertising logos on the back of players' bats but seems unable to solve an issue as fundamental as the playing surface.

The partnership made the game safe, but hard work remains for England. With three days between Tests, India may well be persuaded to keep England in the field for most of the final day and only consider a declaration in the last hour with a view to testing Alastair Cook's poor run of form.

In an effort to inject a bit of bite into the bowling attack, Simon Kerrigan will be called into the 14-man England squad for the second Investec Test which starts at Lord's on Thursday and will be named at stumps on Sunday.

Kerrigan, the 25-year-old Lancashire left-arm spinner, made his Test debut at The Oval last year but was dropped after bowling eight nervous overs. He remains the brightest long-term spin prospect in the county game and, at his best, bowls with the pace and aggression to sustain a long career at this level. But whether recalling him for a Test at Lord's - where the pitch is again expected to provide precious little assistance to bowlers of any description - will do his rehabilitation any favours remains to be seen. But if England are looking for an experienced, short-term, reliable and expendable spin option, they might consider the likes of Gareth Batty.

There might also be a case for a new wicketkeeper. It would be harsh to drop Matt Prior after a match in which he was generally kept well in desperately testing conditions, in which he was incorrectly given out and after a career in which he has served England so well but, with his body creaking, his keeping appears to have deteriorated. While none of the chances he has missed in this game - Dhoni on 50 in the first innings and Mural Vijay on 0 and 23 in the second - compare to the simple effort he missed at Headingley off Kumar Sangakkara, the fact is that on such benign surfaces, the value of every chance is increased.

The England camp insist he will be fine to keep on the final day, but the sight of him leaving the ground in a sling due to a sore hand underlined the chastened state in which he currently finds himself.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 16:29 GMT

    Felix, if you base your "ratings" (I'm being VERY polite here) on Kerrigan's Oval performance, I'd agree with you. But to place Borthwick at 3rd is plainly ridiculous. He's a part-timer who has bowled less than 100 overs this season and taken seven wickets at 62.57 with a SR of 84.8 an ER of 4.42. Panesar is over the hill even for Div 2, Tredwell occasionally useful in one-dayers, Ali has proven to be an expensive luxury, Patel is too chubby for the selectors but I'll give you Rashid though. Funny you haven't included Steve Parry as he's a very useful spinner in the shorter format.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 13:16 GMT

    Kerrigan is probably the 5th or 6th best spinner in ENGLAND!!!!

    1. Monty Panesar 2. James Tredwell 3. Scott Borthwick 4. Moeen M Ali 5. Simon Kerrigan 6. Samit Patel 7. Adil Rashid

    Panesar & Tredwell definitely deserve to be the NO.1 SPINNER in the post-Graeme Swann ERA for England in TESTS!!!!!

    Others needs to massively up their games as spinner!!!!

  • Chris on July 13, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    Agree pretty much with Henrik Loven analysis. Unfortunately, the way Lancs are playing in Championship cricket, Simon K will be bowling at Division Two batsmen again next season.

  • John on July 13, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    In my opinion Kerrigan was discarded to quick,after all 1 game is hardly enough to find out if the player has what it takes to become a Test Match Player.What if Australia had discarded Shane Warne after his debut after taking 1 for 145.The world would have been denied the sight of one of,if not the best leg spinner of all time.Alistair Cook has to show utter faith in his selected spinner and give him a fair crack of the whip.This appears not the case with both Kerrigan last summer and Ali this summer.Surely Lords is not the ground to experiment with the Spin Bowling option,the bowling honour boards are hardly littered with names of Spin Bowlers.Last Season we also got sight of Joe Root turning his arm over,what was the problem yesterday,perhaps he did not have the confidence of the Captain!.There have also been comment's posted that Indians play spinner's better than most,therefore if you are selected as the team spinner you are gaining experience and learning against the best.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    The truth is that unless Cook is prepared to bowl his seamers into the ground, rotation notwithstanding, at least one spinner will have to be included for each test from now on. That causes a selection problem as England will have to drop a batsman, else a spinner will make little change to the workload of the seamers, thus putting a greater onus on an already fragile batting line-up to score runs. One batsman less will also put even more pressure on Captain Cook to perform. It is a Catch 22 situation.

    In spite of people plugging their personal favourites, be they Batty, Patel or Riley, Kerrigan still remains England's best prospect. While 28 1st-Division wickets at 34.25 isn't brilliant, it's still very good for this year's pitches. Furthermore, Kerrigan has sent down over 50 overs in an innings this year and maintains a fairly respectable ER of 2.84. Also, Batty and Riley take their wickets in the second division where the pickings are rich and Kerrigan was outstanding last year.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    Sorry but this sentence "Ashton Agar's place in history has already been largely obscured." seems to be so oddly chauvinistic as to border on jingoism. Agar's achievement as #11 was, firstly, in his debut innings. Secondly, as a nineteen year old. And more significantly it was The Ashes, against a solid bowling attack, on a track where a great deal of batsman had been dismissed cheaply (from BOTH teams, unlike this match).

    Finally, as the observant viewer may have noticed, Agar scored more runs, and scored them quicker. In addition to Anderson's more-than-a-decade extra life experience, he also possessed the experience of 130 test match battings innings. Rather than zero.

    Also, that match actually had a result and made for engaging viewing.

  • Martin on July 13, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Completely agree with CodandChips that whoever we play as spinner, Cook has to show confidence in him. He badly mishandled Kerrigan last year and his refusal to give Ali any kind of prolonged spell has clearly knocked his confidence and rhythm too. Ali should have bowled from one end all last session yesterday - in a match we can't lose, with the fast bowlers needing rest and Ali needing a long spell to settle down and show us what he can do. Instead, twice he took a wicket and was taken off the following over!

  • Paulo on July 13, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    I like Kerrigan. I'd love him to get a go.

    We need a captain to show confidence in him. The Indians will go after any of our spinners. Cook and Kerrigan need to be aware of this and Cook needs to back Kerrigan.

  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 6:46 GMT

    You can have Buttler or Kerrigan but not both. Lancashire >>>> England. Be thankful we don't recall Jim to open the batting!

  • vas on July 13, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    It was freak last wicket stand in a freak match. Don't forget India's own freak last wicket stand. We might even get a freak results today with either India or England winning. India started the freakiest of all freaknesses with the freak choices of the Playing XI. While England is searching for a front line spinner, India's best mystery spinner and world no2(no1 recently) all rounder is warming the bench!!!!

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