England v India, third Investec Test, Ageas Bowl, 4th day July 30, 2014

The woeful world of Pankaj Singh

Pankaj Singh greeted his most expensive analysis in Test history with the words 'That is cricket'. It was admirable acceptance from an impressive man of a record he did not deserve
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Lawrence Booth, editor of Wisden, met Pankaj Singh in a lift. They talked about Pankaj's day, which turned into Pankaj's luck. It was exactly the sort of conversation you would expect from any bowler in the world when talking about a wicketless day. At the end, Pankaj left Booth with the words: "That is cricket".

****

There is a ball that Pankaj Singh bowled in the IPL that hit the pitch and cleared the keeper's head. That is a combination of pace and bounce. He also has swing. Lovely curling outswing that he can maintain even with an older ball. Then there is his offcutter. That makes him a bowler who can move the ball both ways, get bounce and bowl in the mid-80s mph.

His action is uncomplicated and rugged. His body seems to have been chipped from solid stone. His wrist position at release is good. He has got a smart bowling brain. He works with his captain on his fields. He works batsmen out. He bowls to plans. He is willing to do grunt work.

This is an international bowler. And for the last ten years he has been a domestic bowler. This Test may send him back there.

****

If you were playing Indian Quick Bowler Bingo, Pankaj would go close to completing your sheet. He played U-19 cricket for India, went to the MRF pace factory, was a quick bowler, became a slower swing bowler, played one ODI, toured Australia without bowling a ball and then went about playing some IPL.

Pankaj is not a good IPL bowler. He averages 33 with the ball; he goes at over 8 an over. When you YouTube an Indian bowler's name, you generally just find clips of them disappearing into riotous, crowds. Pankaj has a large selection of them. It's not his format. So there is no hype for him.

Between his tour of Australia and this tour, India have used roughly 43 million other fast bowlers. Despite the fact that year after year Pankaj is near the top of the wicket-takers list in first-class cricket. Despite the fact that he has helped Rajasthan win the Ranji Trophy. Despite the fact he is obviously just a really good cricketer.

His one ODI game was in the Zimbabwean Triangular series of 2010, which was a tournament so useless, relocated witnesses running from the mob could have sat openly in the stands and not been found. His first ball almost took the edge of Upal Tharanga. But he ended with no wickets that day as well. He disappeared off India's radar so completely that he might as well have been in a witness relocation programme.

****

Cricket Journalists ooze cynicism from every single pore of their being. It's the first thing you're asked about when you apply for the job. So it's rare that they get behind someone with match figures of 0 for 179. Usually that would invoke snide remarks, casual jokes and general chuckles. Something about Pankaj meant they didn't do that.

Cries of "Get Pankaj on", "Give Pankaj a bowl", "Come on Pankaj" were heard as Pankaj thudded around the outfield. Sure, they still laughed when he fell over fielding the simplest ball. But no one thought he deserved the worst figures ever by a debutant. No one thought he hadn't been unlucky. No one wanted the loveable lug to fail.

Even on Twitter where snark is king, people just seemed to feel sorry for him.

"@reverse_sweeper Please, someone give Pankaj a hug. Is there a backroom guy for that?"

"‪@SpiceBoxofEarth Would be a real shame if Pankaj Singh was judged on just his figures alone. This has been a very decent debut. "

"Yogesh ‏@YOGESHBOND The Oscar for making the unluckiest debut ever in tests goes to pankaj singh.. This guy needs a jaadu ki jhappi.. #UnluckyPankaj "

"Mark Pougatch ‏@markpougatch I'm not alone am I in really wanting Pankaj Singh to get a wicket?"

He is the MHMOTS (Most huggable man of the series).

****

A right arm bowler coming around the wicket to a left hand batsman that can take the ball away is quite a skill. Few can do it. Pankaj can. He angles the ball in, Cook pushes at it as it seams away. His pace and bounce ensure it carries to slip. But Jadeja doesn't take it.

Later Dhoni will try one of his leg slip traps to Ballance. To help make it work, Pankaj bowls the perfect inswinger on middle stump which Ballance gets enough bat on for it just to drop short of leg slip.

At the 80 over mark, Pankaj is promoted to new ball bowler status. Reward for being the best bowler of the day. Then he placed a ball on leg stump. Every single batsman in the world knew that meant it was slipping down leg. But it didn't slip down, it didn't even straighten, it came back towards middle. It was the ball swing bowlers wet dream over. It could not have been more perfect.

Pankaj appealed.

He appealed like he was trying to feed his family, his village, and every single person he had ever met. It was about as emotive as a human being could be. It was the closest any human being had ever been to making themselves explode. He wanted a wicket, he deserved a wicket, every single molecule that went into this impressive chunk of cricketer pleaded for a wicket.

Not out.

****

Rohit Sharma got a wicket with a ball that missed the bat. Moeen Ali got one from a half tracker. And Ravi Jadeja, the man who cost Pankaj a wicket, and perhaps India a Test, took one with a half tracker down the legside that if you received it in the nets you would catch it and throw it back.

****

Pankaj did not bowl overs full of the sweetest peaches at all times, he also bowled poorly. He couldn't group the ball together enough. He got tired. And when England attacked he didn't seem to have many answers.

The worst was Buttler. Buttler 'Bryce McGained' Pankaj. In five balls he took 20 runs. Pankaj probably won't remember much more than a front leg clearing and a bat flying through. But the 20 runs in that over in England's first innings was the 20 runs that helped him fly past Sohail Khan and Bryce McGain as the worst-ever bowling figures by a debutant in Test cricket history.

If he was unlucky not to get a wicket, then we need a new word to describe that achievement.

****

There are many small things to like about Pankaj. On day one, it was his nipples. Which were probably the best seam bowling nipples seen in England's South. He is also an unusually violent ball shiner. His throwing style is more like that of the local butcher playing a club game that a professional athlete. He doesn't stop balls in the field as much as runs along beside them. His shirt is often untucked. He is an older player who has earned his position through deeds. His running often makes it look like his shoulders are too big for him to stay upright. And he bats like a proper 1930s tailender.

Pankaj is part of a small club of cricketers who have been stumped facing a seamer with the keeper standing back. It happened because he wanted to sledge Ajit Agarkar for bouncing him. You have to commend him for standing up for himself against a senior player like Agarkar. You have to laugh at him for getting stumped while he did it.

When Pankaj was asked what he would do with a million dollars, he said he would build schools, improve infrastructure and find jobs for his village. In almost every way he is a thoroughly lovable big lump of lad who has spent years trying to make it.

****

There is brief excitement in the eyes of Pankaj as he sees another ball take the outside of Cook's bat. The ball flies in the air towards a well set double gully trap. Had Mohammed Shami bowled the ball, it could have probably nestled into the hands of one of them. But this is Pankaj, so the excitement quickly becomes pain, then acceptance.

For a few seconds, he stares in the direction of the ball, even though it has been returned. He waits for Dhoni to say something, but nothing comes. Then he turns, a turn so heavy you can hear it from 100 metres away, and he gingerly walks back to the umpire, Rod Tucker, who is smiling sympathetically. It is the smile of a man who spent 103 first-class matches bowling luckless spells. Tucker says something and gives his cap back.

Pankaj walks alone towards the boundary. None of his team mates go over, the time for encouragement has passed. They know he has probably bowled his last ball this match, and possibly the last of his entire Test career. He fields one more ball, and then walks off the ground to get some treatment. No one claps, no one pats him on the back, he just moves through the few spectators and support staff, three stairs at a time.

Just as he is about to disappear into the changeroom, he takes off his cap and slams it on his leg.

That is cricket.

Jarrod Kimber was 50% of the Two Chucks, and is the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • de.rahul on July 31, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    Its unfortunate that Pankaj Singh's figure does not provide a good assessment of his contribution to the match. Pankaj Singh to me seems like a more promising test bowler then Ishant, Varun Aaron or Umesh Yadav. The consistency of his run up, efficiency of his action and his body language suggest to me that he is better suited to the requirements of test cricket. Also, his years of experience in the domestic league will serve him in the long run, especially since he seems to have the sort of steely determination required to survive even on flat batting tracks. Hope India gives him another chance in this series. I think its time to give Sami a rest, as he looks out of ideas and rhythm in this tour.

  • on August 6, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    What an article! Pankaj was indeed unlucky probably he will not play even today!

  • on August 5, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    One thing that the Indian selectors have to remember is that the great Shane Warne after 4 tests had career figures of 1 for 335. Pankaj bowled well but was ridiculously unlucky. They have to stick with this guy. giving him another test match at Old Trafford will instill some confidence to him that people are rooting for him and believe he can succeed at this level. He will turn that luck around given another match.

  • zzby on August 1, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    Poor pankaj when he was young didnt got a chance now at this age bowling friendly outswingers@130 which are harmless atleast he should crank them up to 140-145 so he can get some sucess like ryan harris.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on August 1, 2014, 3:43 GMT

    If life can be unfair, why not cricket? In an ideal world, he deserves a better deal - and those who dropped catches off his bowling deserve to be kept on bread and water for a few days. But then it's not an ideal world. No guarantees for this guy.

  • Temuzin on July 31, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    I heard Dhoni was also praising Pankaj's bowling. This increases hopes that he will be selected again. This will be good for morale of Pankaj and he should use this opportunity to come back with greater efficiency.

  • TimeKiller on July 31, 2014, 19:04 GMT

    The fact is Pankaj didn't get any wickets on debut. Time to move on. There are plenty of medium pacers like him India. Try everyone out at least once before coming back to Pankaj. Pankaj is slow inspite of the good build, and that is the problem.

  • gugu1234 on July 31, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    It was very emotional and interesting written words about Pankaj Singh efforts in the first class cricket and his luck for not getting a single wicket after his first test match . I was amazed and surprised that why this player was not selected earlier . I am sure he will be given a chance again as Ishant Sharma has still not recovered from his injury . " That Is Cricket " are those words which makes him special that how much he understand and respect this game . He will show his class , just give him a chance for the remaining matches of this tour . I wish him all the best :)

  • on July 31, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    An article filled with sympathy. Pankaj Singh ought to be persisted with as almost no one came off with flying colors from this Test barring Rahane. You cannot drop anyone just after a Test and he needs to be given the full run of the remaining Tests. If thus assured he may feel encouraged, think normally (without any feeling of insecurity, 'one false step and I am out') and may do well. After it does not take much to outperform any Indian bowler on this tour!

  • Naikan on July 31, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    Elsewhere I read about what Dhoni looks for in his bowling combination - swing (Bhuvi), skiddy (Shami) and bouncy (Ishant). This line of thought which discounts unique though processes has persisted more in Indian team selection- preventing SO Called SIMILAR bowlers from playing together & one can go back to Prasanna / Venkat time (both offspinners) to see the issue. So if this has held back Pankaj from getting a spot while the "blue" eyed boy (Ishant) was persisted for years-- then it is a sad statement on how the career of a promising bowler was scuttled. His lack of success in the test is also as much to do with poorer handling. Else which Captain would remove a bowler after 5 overs for just 5 runs (also beating batsmen a few times). Even in the first innings - the spells were too short to gain rhythm (crucial in a test) and missed out on field placements that allowed edged shots to escape. Pankaj and others like him can only get a fair chance if the test Captaincy changes.

  • de.rahul on July 31, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    Its unfortunate that Pankaj Singh's figure does not provide a good assessment of his contribution to the match. Pankaj Singh to me seems like a more promising test bowler then Ishant, Varun Aaron or Umesh Yadav. The consistency of his run up, efficiency of his action and his body language suggest to me that he is better suited to the requirements of test cricket. Also, his years of experience in the domestic league will serve him in the long run, especially since he seems to have the sort of steely determination required to survive even on flat batting tracks. Hope India gives him another chance in this series. I think its time to give Sami a rest, as he looks out of ideas and rhythm in this tour.

  • on August 6, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    What an article! Pankaj was indeed unlucky probably he will not play even today!

  • on August 5, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    One thing that the Indian selectors have to remember is that the great Shane Warne after 4 tests had career figures of 1 for 335. Pankaj bowled well but was ridiculously unlucky. They have to stick with this guy. giving him another test match at Old Trafford will instill some confidence to him that people are rooting for him and believe he can succeed at this level. He will turn that luck around given another match.

  • zzby on August 1, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    Poor pankaj when he was young didnt got a chance now at this age bowling friendly outswingers@130 which are harmless atleast he should crank them up to 140-145 so he can get some sucess like ryan harris.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on August 1, 2014, 3:43 GMT

    If life can be unfair, why not cricket? In an ideal world, he deserves a better deal - and those who dropped catches off his bowling deserve to be kept on bread and water for a few days. But then it's not an ideal world. No guarantees for this guy.

  • Temuzin on July 31, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    I heard Dhoni was also praising Pankaj's bowling. This increases hopes that he will be selected again. This will be good for morale of Pankaj and he should use this opportunity to come back with greater efficiency.

  • TimeKiller on July 31, 2014, 19:04 GMT

    The fact is Pankaj didn't get any wickets on debut. Time to move on. There are plenty of medium pacers like him India. Try everyone out at least once before coming back to Pankaj. Pankaj is slow inspite of the good build, and that is the problem.

  • gugu1234 on July 31, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    It was very emotional and interesting written words about Pankaj Singh efforts in the first class cricket and his luck for not getting a single wicket after his first test match . I was amazed and surprised that why this player was not selected earlier . I am sure he will be given a chance again as Ishant Sharma has still not recovered from his injury . " That Is Cricket " are those words which makes him special that how much he understand and respect this game . He will show his class , just give him a chance for the remaining matches of this tour . I wish him all the best :)

  • on July 31, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    An article filled with sympathy. Pankaj Singh ought to be persisted with as almost no one came off with flying colors from this Test barring Rahane. You cannot drop anyone just after a Test and he needs to be given the full run of the remaining Tests. If thus assured he may feel encouraged, think normally (without any feeling of insecurity, 'one false step and I am out') and may do well. After it does not take much to outperform any Indian bowler on this tour!

  • Naikan on July 31, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    Elsewhere I read about what Dhoni looks for in his bowling combination - swing (Bhuvi), skiddy (Shami) and bouncy (Ishant). This line of thought which discounts unique though processes has persisted more in Indian team selection- preventing SO Called SIMILAR bowlers from playing together & one can go back to Prasanna / Venkat time (both offspinners) to see the issue. So if this has held back Pankaj from getting a spot while the "blue" eyed boy (Ishant) was persisted for years-- then it is a sad statement on how the career of a promising bowler was scuttled. His lack of success in the test is also as much to do with poorer handling. Else which Captain would remove a bowler after 5 overs for just 5 runs (also beating batsmen a few times). Even in the first innings - the spells were too short to gain rhythm (crucial in a test) and missed out on field placements that allowed edged shots to escape. Pankaj and others like him can only get a fair chance if the test Captaincy changes.

  • Temuzin on July 31, 2014, 13:03 GMT

    Pankaj will get another chance. He should not lose his heart and fight it out. He deserves good run in the tests.

  • Temuzin on July 31, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    It will be very harsh not to play Pankaj in next game. He is a good bowler and needs encouragement from the team and coach. Players should mill around him to give him support. This lad will have his days when wickets will fall in heaps.

  • on July 31, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    He will get another chance, because he did bowl extremely well and he showed character and heart. Luck will favor him next time for sure.

  • on July 31, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    Patience is the key to all the success in Life, he will have to keep trying hard and surely he will succeed in the right time come.

  • on July 31, 2014, 11:38 GMT

    He is definitely going to prove his talent. Common India give him a chance. And cheer him. And wish him the very best luck.

  • on July 31, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    I have seen him Bowl in First class... can swing the ball both ways at a decent pace. His height allows him steep bounce occasionally.can bowl long spells with consistency. If luck favours him he can well be India's main bowler for next 3-4 years. He is definitely a better pacer than Ishant and Shami (for Tests). Plus he is a wonderful human being who has given it all. Hope he gets another chance

  • KingOwl on July 31, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    It's a really nicely written piece. But seriously, if he was good, despite the lack of wickets, this will not be his last test.

  • on July 31, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    And in some another world a bowler named Manoj Tiwari takes a 5for.. Of which 3 were on the balls dat some other day would have gone for huge sixes... Tough luck Pankaj... But u gonna be back wid a bang...

  • here2rock on July 31, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    His figures don't tell the story, as a captain you want him in your team my because he is going to give you 100% every time.

  • Puffin on July 31, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    I've seen excellent bowlers get nothing and rubbish bowlers get lucky wickets, it's just not fair. He's far from the worst cricketer ever to play in a test and deserves another chance. Perhaps next time he will get a 10-for.

  • on July 31, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    If Pankaj singh is not played in the next test..then Jadeja who missed Cook's catch and dhoni for poor captaincy also should not be in next match.. I remeber Jeoffrey Boycott saying that batsman should be judged on their technique and application not on stats when they r starting their international career..remember Marvan Attapattu.. Even Shane Warne had a worst first test in India.. Bowlers who are skilled and ready to give 100% should be persisted..for me even if a catch was dropped it should go in the credit of bowler..

  • on July 31, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    I could have imagined a similar article for a player who just retired..too emotional.. hope this test is not curtains for pankaj.. i m sure he would come back with a stronger performance whenever he wud get a chance.. India needs good seam bowling options..

  • ElZud on July 31, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    I've really felt sorry for him, I hope he can score 20 runs and be not out at the end so he's something to show for his efforts.

  • crazydesi on July 31, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    Loveable Lug. Come on, Pankaj! with all these well-wishers surely his luck will change! :) this was a very tender article and kudos to the writer for allowing the humanity of the sport to reign over facts and figures, which anyway often mask as much as reveal the truth.

  • JG2704 on July 31, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    I hope India perseveer with him. He has run in all day giving 100% and bowled well with no reward. I've seen plenty of worse bowling performances where bowlers have come out with 5 fors

  • on July 31, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    this is also a test for MSD the captain in terms of cricket, philosophy as well as foresightness about this team.

  • on July 31, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    Dhoni projects himself street smart by taking non copybook decisions , my question is why didnt he stand close to the stumps while Bhuvneshwar was bowling at 125kmp to out of form cook , who was standing well out of the crease trying to regain his shaken confidence but still able to kill slow swing of bowler by standing out and driving easily . indian attack proved to be a great comfort for out of form batsman and captain. trust me friends he will be the difference in out come of this series now.

  • on July 31, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    Beautifully put. Pankaj was really unlucky. The only consolation I can offer him is that Cricinfo published a list of "most runs conceded by a wicketless bowler on debut". A little way down that list were 2 of the most terrifying fast bowlers ever to stalk batsmen: Michael Anthony (Whispering Death") Holding, and Jeffrey Robert ("Thommo") Thomson. As a fast bowler, you don't mind joining a club that has them as members (although this one wouldn't be your first choice).

  • on July 31, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    please remove dhoni from tests. then India will win test matches!. i dont know how he can be in the job after losing all the series in outside India very badly. India should 2-0 in this stage up if some one captioned well India. the last wicket pair taken 200 runs in first test match against Dhoni India. Jadeja not good test bowler. India need wicket taking leg spinner and Aswin.

  • on July 31, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    Dont loose heart......Ifhe keeps the good work .........results will surely come

  • ramli on July 31, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    One can feel sorry but there is no room for emotions in professional sports ... Wickets mean everything ultimately ... PS failed in this, but his effort will never be questioned ... his services will certainly be sought in circumstances where required if not in the next test or so ... good luck then!!

  • o-bomb on July 31, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    Pankaj has had a really tough debut. His fielders have let him down, the umpires have let him down and his board's refusal to accept technology has let him down. I hope India doesn't just discard him after 1 test.

  • VinodGupte on July 31, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    I think he should be in commonwealth wrestling. Come on. He is 6'4" and has more muscle mass than any other IND player. Yet he clocks 130 at the age of 29. In a couple of years, he will bowl as fast as venky prasad (of today). He should be given another chance, no doubt, but his pace is not threatening and he is no good for the upcoming AUS tour.

  • SagirParkar on July 31, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Mr Kimber, i have been a big fan of your writing for a long time now... this one, somehow, was more touching than many of your previous excellent ones...

    the last paragraph where you talk about how no one encouraged him, no one patted his back or appreciated his efforts.. quite moving.. paints a haunting vivid image of a man unappreciated by his own team mates, let alone the world at large..

    i doff my hat to thee !

  • venkatesh018 on July 31, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    He deserves to play in Manchester(in place of a disappointing Shami) and he deserves to go to Australia again, this winter. He has looked that good-well, at least on Day 1 of this Test.

  • anver777 on July 31, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    @Kashi0127 spot on my mate....... ultimately the poor player who suffers, always under pressure to perform well & finally crash lands in his cricketing career !!!!

  • Naresh28 on July 31, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    Dhoni has given Ishant a chance due to "workhorse" spell. Pankaj is similar. These are the guys Dhoni will turn to as long as he is captain in Tests. Its an extra option that Dhoni will have from now on.

  • on July 31, 2014, 7:24 GMT

    I've read a couple of articles snd I believe in this guy. I'm sure he has the makings of a good quality test bowler once he gets a couple of goes on more realistic pitches..

  • subcontinent-expert on July 31, 2014, 6:54 GMT

    People who says bowling average of 28 is not good needs to understand that in the pitches like India without any pace and only dependent on swing would make 300 wkts like a dream come true... People who are non Indians cannot understand the pain of being an Indian domestic cricketer... Favouring a player,politics in selection is most common in ground level selection... Selectors give chances to players like ROHIT and ISHANT consistently for 7-8 years getting a big "ZERO" while players like Manoj tiwari, Pankaj and others have to wait for long time... Pankaj was in the Australia series when Ishant made debut in 2007-08.. Had Pankaj got half the matches of Ishant, I m sure he would have been way better bowler than Ishant...

  • AdhishS on July 31, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    If this happens to be the last test for Pankaj, then it will re-affirm that there is something really wrong with Indian cricket and selections. He deserves at least another 2-3 chances if not more. True that he wasn't consistent with his lines and lengths, something which is expected of an international bowler, but the way he bowled on his debut, he has all the ingredients of becoming a decent medium fast bowler on foreign pitches. If the couple of chances had gone in his favor he would have become a different bowler altogether. It is not for nothing that he has a first class bowling average of just over 25, that too bowling on flat Indian wickets.

  • Kashi0127 on July 31, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    While Pankaj looked good without taking a wicket, this might be more or les end of his Test cricket career. Dhoni is not one to nurture newcomers and encourage the. See how he destroyed Stuart Binny by giving him hardly any bowling opportunities. And when Binny did bowl well neither Dhoni nor Kohli went for the catch which sropped between them - a relatively easy one. It is true Binny did worsened his chances of selection by throwing his wicket away in Lords test (that is IPL killing any cricket sense one might have) . Binny's career is almost over. He did the same to Vinay Kumar. Dhoni has a few select players whom he supports. Not clear why.

  • Paddy789 on July 31, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    He can do well. He has the ability !!

  • on July 31, 2014, 5:36 GMT

    I have nothing against Pankaj Singh but the fact is that he never looked to me as great prospect specially in test. He does not bowl with extreme pace nor can swing the bowl. The only chance of getting wicket he had was when dhawan drop the catch in slip. I think dropping Umesh yadav at cost of Pankaj singh is really a foolish thing to do. Varon Aaron has always been struggling with Injuries. No one expect long spells from fast bowler but when ever they get there chances they will put the batsmen in trouble. When i 1st saw pankaj singh my impression was that with the body frame that he has he can bounce the ball, hit the deck hard but sadly we saw nothing of the in last test he played. Also now a days standard of fast bowling has change and no one will consider bowling in mid 80mph qualities as fast bowler. India has got the whole selection wrong and they are paying for it. I hope some miracle happens and we win the test series .

  • here2rock on July 31, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    Figures don't tell the story, he ran hard and bowled with heart and effort, his day in the sun will come if he keeps it up. I certainly hope that it is not his last test match because that will be a real shame, he is an imposing character, I would prefer him in the side instead of Shami (who likes tired) for the next two games. Let's hope Dhoni and Fletcher back hip up because some of the selections in these first 3 test matches have been fairly ordinary.

  • on July 31, 2014, 3:54 GMT

    I always support Pankaj Singh, he was not given an entry to play for India at the right time, he is now running 30, Management has ruined his career by playing him in domestic alone. But still Pankaj has to learn a lesson from this test like where he should pitch the ball and should bowl according to the field restrictions, he is bowling too much of deliveries on the leg and on pads which is not worthy for test, as he is leaking runs. Some decisions went against him, he also lost hope because of good Indian fielders on the ground by dropping all the catches coming to hands. All the best Pankaj, hopefully you should be given an another chance dropping Shami. if Ishant is still unfit then varun should be given a chance, also Ashwin should play for kohli, as kohli is a flat track player, Ashwin can also bowl some overs and can get to 30's what kohli is capable of. Also dhawan should be relaced with Gambir, dhawan is totally unworthy. But Dhoni or mgmt will not make any changes.

  • here2rock on July 31, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    Looks a good prospect but need a bit of variation in his bowling. He is a strong lad, should be able to bowl a good bouncer and combine that with a yorker, he will be a really exciting prospect for India for the next 3-5 years. He will need a major work on his batting, tailenders are expected to score some runs these days, he is from the old school, hit and miss.

  • jmcilhinney on July 31, 2014, 2:09 GMT

    I don't feel sorry for India as a team. England have dropped plenty of catches over the past few years and I've seen no sympathy and as for DRS, that's the BCCI's call but the players have supported it, publicly at least. I do feel for Pankaj Singh personally though. If Ishant is fit then you'd expect him to play the next Test. If he does come in, I would hope that he replace Shami, who has been relatively ineffective so far, rather than Pankaj.

  • D.S.A on July 31, 2014, 1:38 GMT

    If india look past results, and see the performance, Pankaj Singh should be in the Test team for the remainder of the series, at least. In general, india have performed badly in the Test, and because of the fielding mistakes, it's grossly skewed the interpretation that most will have of Pankaj's performance. If india truly value quality that will lead to results, they should persist with Pankaj Singh. They should also drop jadeja for ashwin, rotate dhawan for gambhir, rotate shami for ishant and drop one of kohli or sharma for aaron or pandey as the team is imbalanced. Rahane should be at 4, kohli or sharma at 5, and then dhoni at 6. An all round better team with players in the right place.

  • Texmex on July 31, 2014, 1:12 GMT

    We have Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron who can bowl 140+ consistently. why doesnt Dhoni give them a chance? So what if they are not accurate? Bowling long spells in tests is the best way they are going to learn.......

  • AJournalistHimself on July 31, 2014, 1:06 GMT

    Mr Kimber: I always lurk but never post (perhaps seeing as I am one of your own ilk), but: hats off, my man. I am no psycho(-logist, I mean), but whenever we regale the so-called world with "snide remarks, casual jokes and general chuckles" about someone we are actually saying it about ourselves, aren't we? (the general pop-psycho-balle about 'projection' and all that)

    Something about Pankaj says and means we cannot do that on this 'story'. I could not, Sir Jarrod, have expressed them (my, and apparently your, emotions and thoughts) any better. 'That' is not just cricket. That is life: mine, ours and yours.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on July 31, 2014, 0:29 GMT

    Heres Pankaj singh. And am sure he will get chance to spearhead Inds attack in coming 2 tests as well,at least.Which he richly deserves. Anyways, he's way better,quicker,bouncier,skilful,steady than most hyped Ind bowler Ishant,who's distinctly avg.

  • on July 31, 2014, 0:01 GMT

    Not every tall bowler can be the giant named Mohammed irfan

  • on July 30, 2014, 23:50 GMT

    Sad Story of one more hapless bowler in India

  • on July 30, 2014, 22:30 GMT

    What an article. It can not have been written better then that.

  • whoster on July 30, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    It's a ridiculously unlucky stat for Pankaj. Bowled well on the first day, and no DRS cost him and India massively. He got frustrated and lost his discipline later in the game, but it's a lot to ask of a debutant to replace the injured matchwinner from the last Test.

    He's got a bit of pace, can swing it, and gets bounce. Certainly deserves another chance.

  • on July 30, 2014, 21:57 GMT

    Pankaj deserves more than a second chance. He should play the next two matches..... Jadeja dropped a catch and Cook made merry on a batting wicket...very impressed with the swing and seam Pankaj can accomplish on such a wicket..truly good to see a good pace bowler who is a hard worker... India needs a couple of such bowlers more to play test cricket.

  • PROPHESIER on July 30, 2014, 21:51 GMT

    Pankaj may have been unlucky on a few occasions when jadeja dropped the catch or umpire turned down couple of appeals. But test cricket bowling is not about bowling a few good deliveries here and there and expecting wkts and umpire calls fall on your side. If you look at broad and anderson, they maintained line and length and hit the deck hard to get bounce, and troubled the batsman relentlessly. In their bowling also couple of catches were dropped. If you are a good test bowler, you need to outsmart batsman and come up with variations and back up plans and ultimately get the batsmen out, that's what matters at the end of the day, words like unlucky doesn't garner sympathy here.

  • on July 30, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    He's not quick enough to trouble top order batsmen. Yes, luck plays a part but you do need to create your own luck sometimes.

    Look at Broad - height wise they are about the same but results wise they are a pole apart.

    Pankaj has also been brought in far too late for him to adopt new styles. He's well suited to first class cricket in India. Needs more time touring before he should feature again. At 28 I can't see him making a return. Good luck big fella.

  • BellCurve on July 30, 2014, 21:05 GMT

    This is the worst Indian bowling attack ever. For a country that amazingly has not produced even one truly great bowler, that is saying a heck of a lot.

  • on July 30, 2014, 21:04 GMT

    awesome article.Remember Michael Holding too had a bad debut.But we all know what happened after that. I support Pankaj. I hope the Captain, Team-mates & fans should also support & pray for him. He is the best bowler in Ranji Trophy, any day better than ishant

  • on July 30, 2014, 20:45 GMT

    Just an average medium pacer. Nothing special.

  • on July 30, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    India Does not Need Medium Pace bowler, They need Geniun Quick Bowler like Shoib Akhtar or Brett Lee, I am clearly see Class difference in England Bowling and Indian Bowling, Jadeja is clearly not a test player, but because Dhoni has great relationship with him, he is in the team, Ashwin should be playing in Test matches in stead of Jadeja, Shaker Dhawan Clearly Lack Technique on Bouncy Pictches he need to be replaced to.

  • WTEH on July 30, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    Hahaha, funny.. But Jarrod, he is playing for India. He may given a chance again and again and again... till he gets a wicket!!!

  • on July 30, 2014, 20:18 GMT

    He'll play again I'm sure.

  • cubersamy on July 30, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    Thanks for channeling the sentiments I felt watching Pankaj bowl his heart outin such a beautiful way. Kimberlicious!

  • bhushanB on July 30, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    I would play Pankaj in place of Sharma any day. India should rest Shami and Rohit in the next game and get Aaron and Ishwar.. now between jadeja and ashwin. .nothing much to chose from or nothing much to expect from.

  • cricfootyfan on July 30, 2014, 19:55 GMT

    Contraray to waht everyone may say, I do not see a future in test cricket for Pankaj Singh. A few good deliveries, a couple of dropped catches and a poor umpiring decision notwithstanding, his line and length were inconsistent. His fielding is below par and he can not bat. Tough luck - yes, a long future ahead - not in my view.

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    He is a great bowler who needs encouragement and guidance from his senior players during the over breaks. He deserves to be given number of chances to prove his mettle though he iis touching 30. He has the strength and stamina to be a successful fast bowler for couple of years if his fielders and 13th and 14th man co-operate.

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    Jarrod Kimber is the best thing to have happened to modern cricket writing!

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:39 GMT

    A very emotional article.. But professional sports is a cruel world.. No room for sentiments.. I personally didn't find anything special in Pankaj! India dearly missed Sharma in this match.

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:39 GMT

    No way this should be his last test match.

  • JaranNirsi on July 30, 2014, 19:36 GMT

    Beautiful write up about luckless Pankaj Singh. At times you could have been writing about Maurice Tate, whom he may resemble in build and luck if not quite in skill. Hopefully, he will get another chance at Old Trafford, and do better. He can't easily do worse, anyway.

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:35 GMT

    @Anubhav: Asif was quite young, I guess 23,24 at the time of his debut. Pankaj is touching 30. He currently operates in the early 80s and will only get slower. India would be better off investing in Umesh.

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:25 GMT

    the best bowling figures on debut as listed by cricinfo is by narendra hirwani and bob massi...and that's only what we know about them..so pankaj...dont worry...u may become one of the best. Just know that Sir Bradman is one who had the worst batting record on debut. BEST WISHES SUNIL

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    I remember Asif having such a series. Good bowlers do have that initial hiccup but if they are dynamic in learning they will eventually move forward from this phase.

  • jever03 on July 30, 2014, 19:21 GMT

    Great article for a great cricketer. Pankaj deserves a second chance.

  • KINGH11 on July 30, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    Bowling Average of 28 in First class is NO NO for International Level India missed Ishant Sharma and Pankaj was not his replacement. Aaron would have given more chances.... Pankaj is good bowler but not world Class to break England Batsman.

    Chances are chances and same for everyone... Pankaj have to work on pace and be sharp, faster and dangerous as Ishant or someone like close to Anderson

    Body language was not good from Pankaj see Anderson he was steaming in

  • crikkfan on July 30, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    really nice article..well written Jarod.

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    happens to everybody..take it easy :-)

  • hswarup on July 30, 2014, 18:57 GMT

    There's tears in my eyes as I read this.

  • on July 30, 2014, 18:56 GMT

    It would be a mistake to penalize this lion-hearted man for a single luckless test and keep him out of the next one. Everyone deserves a second chance.

  • Raki99 on July 30, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    Wow, that is a really good write and really fell sad for pankaj Singh. He deserved cook and bell in the first innings. But well that's cricket, Also The problem with Indian selectors is that they have ruined lot of medium pacers careers. Abbey karuville was similar to pankaj singh selected for the indian team when he lost half of his pace and nearly 28 years old. I hope pankaj gets another chance.

  • on July 30, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    Amazing bowler..he swing the bowl even 138 miles speed.... He will spark in upcoming games...

  • Big_Poppa_94 on July 30, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    So unlucky. What a difference the catch would've made. An early wicket would've lifted him and boosted his confidence. Who knows, he may have rattled through the English batsman. But alas, we will never know. Such is the nature of this wonderful, yet harsh game.

  • Big_Poppa_94 on July 30, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    So unlucky. What a difference the catch would've made. An early wicket would've lifted him and boosted his confidence. Who knows, he may have rattled through the English batsman. But alas, we will never know. Such is the nature of this wonderful, yet harsh game.

  • on July 30, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    Amazing bowler..he swing the bowl even 138 miles speed.... He will spark in upcoming games...

  • Raki99 on July 30, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    Wow, that is a really good write and really fell sad for pankaj Singh. He deserved cook and bell in the first innings. But well that's cricket, Also The problem with Indian selectors is that they have ruined lot of medium pacers careers. Abbey karuville was similar to pankaj singh selected for the indian team when he lost half of his pace and nearly 28 years old. I hope pankaj gets another chance.

  • on July 30, 2014, 18:56 GMT

    It would be a mistake to penalize this lion-hearted man for a single luckless test and keep him out of the next one. Everyone deserves a second chance.

  • hswarup on July 30, 2014, 18:57 GMT

    There's tears in my eyes as I read this.

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    happens to everybody..take it easy :-)

  • crikkfan on July 30, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    really nice article..well written Jarod.

  • KINGH11 on July 30, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    Bowling Average of 28 in First class is NO NO for International Level India missed Ishant Sharma and Pankaj was not his replacement. Aaron would have given more chances.... Pankaj is good bowler but not world Class to break England Batsman.

    Chances are chances and same for everyone... Pankaj have to work on pace and be sharp, faster and dangerous as Ishant or someone like close to Anderson

    Body language was not good from Pankaj see Anderson he was steaming in

  • jever03 on July 30, 2014, 19:21 GMT

    Great article for a great cricketer. Pankaj deserves a second chance.

  • on July 30, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    I remember Asif having such a series. Good bowlers do have that initial hiccup but if they are dynamic in learning they will eventually move forward from this phase.