England v India, World T20, Group A, Colombo September 23, 2012

England played for Armageddon

Having plumbed new depth with a record-low T20 total, England had their supporters running for the hills

Harbhajan Singh has been on the outside for a while. So long in fact that he found himself back in Division Two county cricket playing for Essex. His career was not over, but with R Ashwin taking the main job, and players like Pragyan Ojha as backups, it looked like the end for India's fighter.

Harbhajan played five first class games and five List A matches at Essex with varying success. It's doubtful that in all ten of those games he'd ever seen as many bad shots played against spin as England's debacle at the Presmadasa.

The pitch was ok for spinners. OK. Not anything more. I've seen many pitches in Britain that spin far more than this. For England, it was nothing like what they got sliced and diced on in the UAE. And far from the one they fell over on in Galle. But England could barely handle the bat when the spinners came on.

They devolved from sensible cricketers to the crazy families you see on the apocalypse preparation shows. Shooting at imaginary invaders and stocking up for the inevitable mushroom cloud or global financial crisis. It wasn't even one of the obvious players that ended their world. Piyush Chawla is the player Indian fans abuse when they're tired of abusing Rohit Sharma.

To most of us, these looked like standard non-lethal spinners, to England they were the black plague, and they ran madly towards the hills with canned food and shot guns.

It was as bad a batting performance as England have mustered, on a fairly benign surface against a new bowling attack without their oldest and most reliable bowler and their best T20 weapon.

This is the same Indian bowling attack that has the Indian media in a permanent state of panic. Some wanting four bowlers, some five, some eleven. Tonight they dismissed England with three as easily as you like, a few nights back they couldn't get close to Afghanistan.

You need a research grant and a team of technicians to look into who played the worst shot. Alex Hales didn't even wait for the spinners. Eoin Morgan's cut shot was to a different ball on a different pitch. Craig Kieswetter's flick-waft should be burned before any child gets a chance to see it. Jonny Bairstow's slog against the wrong'un defied science. Jos Buttler backed away so far he was at the SSC when he missed his ball. Graeme Swann went for a wander. And Tim Bresnan brought back memories of England's horror winter with a top-edged sweep.

All this while Kevin Pietersen was stuck in a studio with a grin stapled to his face while Dermot Reeve threw a ball at him.

It's impossible to believe England played this badly, and yet we've seen it all before. In their minds, England seemed to be playing on a ghost pitch from their past and not the quicker-than-everyone-thought pitches that are actually being prepared.

There are no dead rubbers for a while now and far bigger killers than Harbhajan and Chawla lurk around the corner. Unless England learn to swim against the spin, their fans are the ones who should be heading to the store to buy all the canned food they can carry.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rod on September 26, 2012, 2:50 GMT

    A couple of points. It was horrible, but I don't think the line-up of Keiswetter, Hales, Wright, Morgan, Bairstow, Buttler is exactly England's best batting line up in anything except possibly T20. Second, it seems to be partly a mental thing, by which I mean that the minute the English batsmen realize they're facing an "Indian" (or "Pakistani" or "Sri Lankan") spinner in the subcontinent, they just go all wobbly. I'll bet they do ok against a "mystery" spinner like Narine, who is only from the West Indies, even if the game is played in sri Lanka..

  • Imi on September 25, 2012, 18:18 GMT


  • Matrix on September 25, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    I missed mentioning Engalnd's own Greame Swan who can be as dangerous as Ashwin and Ajmal.

  • Hawks on September 25, 2012, 9:00 GMT

    Another huge blow to team India's bowling with the arrival of Harbhajjan!!! He's been below avg. performer since ages!!! Team India is going to get thrashed mercilessly by Aus,Pak and SA in the super 8 and will be the first to pack-up their luggage back to India!!!

  • Matrix on September 25, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    Ashwin is a far more intelligent bowler than Bajji and Chawla. He can wreck more havoc on England than Bajji ans Chawla put together. India's Ashwin, Pak's Ajmal and Afridi , Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis , Wi's Sunil Naraine are going to be the real ones to recon with.

  • Dummy4 on September 25, 2012, 0:35 GMT

    Let us take confidence from this and not go overboard with it.

  • Dummy4 on September 24, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    May be it was the psychological pressure created by opposition. To be frank, This English team is not a balanced side as far as batting is concerned. In absence of KP, there was no one who could handle the pressure of being on a slippery slope in an unknown territory. Evey good team has some bashers but also have some batsmen who have test match standard technique. I would like to see Ian bell or cook on one end. Anyway, Broad was very predictable in using his bowling options and did nothing out of ordinary to break partnerships. Dhoni on the other hand had confidence to experiment and thus ruined English plans by throwing a number of surprises including introducing spin in powerplay, holding off Yuvraj to make English batters attack Chawla. in the end, it was the mind game that made English batsman to look awkword. Broad as a captain is no match to Dhoni - please spare him further abuse.

  • gurinder on September 24, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    hahaha the article doesnt give credit to world class bowling with bhajji topspinners and chawla googly but making excuses for batsman inability , wait till 4-0 loss to draw conclusions

  • oscar on September 24, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    @ranjeetc Usually I'd be totally agreeing with you. But here I don't. People gave Ajmal and Rehman a lot of credit when they destroyed England, and even Herath when he did it in Galle. But this bowling was nowhere near as quality. Sure both Harby and Chawla bowled well. But was it the conditions and attack for an 80 all out? Hell no.

  • kiran on September 24, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    @ranjeet c : perfect bro !!!!!! Awesome reply

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