No panic over India catching - Penney
You hardly get to know how and in what ways India's support staff work. You don't know what they think of their charges. They are not allowed to interact with the media and the only time you might get to speak to fielding coach Trevor Penney or bowling coach Joe Dawes or head coach Duncan Fletcher is when the team has had an awful day in the field, and no player is willing to attend the post-play press conference. You can understand the coaches can't really say their players are no good, but during the odd times that you speak to Dawes or Penney, you don't get to see their heads. They are usually in the sand.
Dawes once said Zaheer Khan was at the best of his fitness when he was struggling to take a start at short fine leg. A dropped slip catch - a regular occurrence with India - turned this series on its head but Dawes said even Mark Waugh and Mark Taylor dropped catches. Hopefully the Marks are not reading this. They might send a legal notice to Dawes when he goes back to Queensland. And now that India were left with no one to attend the press conference after the performance at The Oval, Penney was put up, to say he has no issues with the technique and temperament of the India slip fielders.
However, there was one important admission. And you, at first slip - it is not good news for you. Penney admitted that MS Dhoni won't be going for too many catches between him and first slip. It has been an issue with the India team over the years but it has now become almost embarrassing to see. Penney didn't speak of any niggle that might be preventing Dhoni from going for those catches, but you are not allowed follow-up questions in India's press conferences.
"MS obviously is one of those keepers that maybe lets the first slip take the catch so we work on that," Penney said. "It's no issue as long as the first slip understands that MS might not go across."
When told that it didn't seem apparent to the first slip, Penney said: "Yeah, we are working on it."
You will sympathise with Penney because he has had to chop and change the cordon more often than he would want to in his worst nightmares. Some have not been good there, others have been dropped. "It is always difficult because you want to keep your slip cordon the same throughout the series but with people being dropped and left out of the side you have got to practise with the other guys and do different combinations," Penney said. "We have caught quite a few, and we have dropped a couple as well. England even dropped a few today. It is one of those things. It is not the easiest catch in the world in the slips, and there are going to be catches dropped. We practise with all different combinations, and it is according to selection."
For the record, England dropped one catch today.
Penney said, however, that he saw no reason to panic. "It is something we talk about all the time," he said. "We are happy with all the techniques. There are going to be dropped catches in cricket. There haven't been that many that we will start panicking and stuff like that. No."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo