India v England, 1st Test, Ahmedabad

England 'ready' to right sharp decline

George Dobell

November 14, 2012

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Alastair Cook and Matt Prior go up in appeal, Haryana v England XI, Ahmedabad, 4th day, November 10, 2012
Alastair Cook's fielding at first slip could be one of England's biggest worry © Getty Images

Like two former champion heavyweights now consigned to the undercard, India and England come into this series desperate to recapture former glories. Both have declined sharply since respectively attaining the No. 1 Test ranking and, while South Africa and Australia have taken top billing, they find themselves at a crossroads: win this series and they earn another shot at the big time; lose and they face some awkward questions.

The phoney war, at least, is over. After three weeks in India and a great deal more spin off the pitch than on it, England are as ready as they will ever be to face what is, arguably, the biggest challenge in the sport: beating India in India.

At first glance, the series should not be close. India are unbeaten at home in eight years; England have not won a series in India for 28 years and, since then, have only won one of 11 Tests. England's record against spin is hardly promising, either.

Yet, despite all that, England may never have a better opportunity to beat India in India. It is not just that India are a side in transition - they have already lost VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid - but the form and fitness of several of remaining players is under scrutiny.

There is also more pressure on India. Victory is not just expected of them; it is demanded. Their pride is built upon their strong home record. If England are not the pushover some are expecting then there will be those in the Indian camp - not least their coach, Duncan Fletcher - peering over their shoulders nervously.

Perhaps that explains why India have taken some remarkable risks in the run-up to this series. The policy of denying England access to high-quality spin or turning wickets does mean that England will go into the Test lacking match practise in one key part of the game, but it has also allowed them the chance to gain form and confidence. Every one of the top seven has passed 50 at least once.

India also appear to have taken a risk with the pitch for the Ahmedabad Test. It is not just that it is relaid - and relaying a Test pitch two months before a game means no-one can predict how it will play - but that it has been relaid with a higher proportion of sand and a more brittle type of clay. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that India expect it to break up and offer substantial assistance to the spinners sooner rather than later.

This England team has made something of a habit of breaking barriers. They won the World T20, they won in Australia. Winning in India is as difficult but they can do it.

But what if England set a challenging first innings total and utilise the crumbling pitch when they bowl? What if England's seamers gain as much from the surface as India's spinners? What if Swann enjoys the best of the conditions? India's tactics are not those of a side that truly believes in its own ability. If they did, they would surely prepare the best possible cricketing surface and back themselves to prevail.

History tends not to recall subtleties. Accepted wisdom tells us that England were crushed in the UAE and thrashed by South Africa, but that is not the full story. They might, should even, have beaten Pakistan had they not capitulated so feebly against spin - they were set just 145 in the second Test and dismissed Pakistan out for less than 100 in the third.

Similarly, they went into the final session of the second and third Tests against South Africa with potentially a winning positions. For all the criticism they have attracted of late, it is worth remembering that if they win this series handsomely and Australia defeat South Africa, England will return to No. 1 in the Test rankings. They have not fallen so far as some suggest.

England have suffered one major reverse on this tour. The loss of Steven Finn, by some distance the quickest bowler on either side, deprives England of a key method of attack. While he should be back to full fitness for the second Test in Mumbai, England will be reliant on the subtler skills of Tim Bresnan in the meantime. But it bodes well for them that towards the end of the final warm-up game, Bresnan appeared to have recovered both his nip and his ability to reverse swing the ball.

The crux of the series, though, remains England's ability to play spin. If they do not improve substantially on their efforts in the UAE, they will be beaten. While they went into that series complacent and under prepared, they go into this one focussed and informed.

While, in the long term, they will need to review their policy - albeit a policy they will not admit to having - of not allowing "mystery" spin in English domestic cricket and, perhaps, look at the surfaces Championship games are played upon if they are really to master their spin issues, they are as well prepared as any England touring party to India has been. As Alastair Cook put it: "We're ready."

There are other concerns. There is the catching, there is Stuart Broad's lack of potency in the series against South Africa and there is the doubt about the strength of the renewed team spirit. Of all those issues it is the slip catching that should provoke most anxiety. Cook, for his many admirable qualities, has rarely looked assured in the cordon and the decision to place him at first slip is a mistake.

This England team has made something of a habit of breaking down barriers. In early 2010 they became the first England side to win a global limited-overs trophy - the World T20 in the Caribbean - and, less than a year later, they became the first England side to win in Australia for more than two decades. Winning in India is just as difficult. But they can do it.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

England quicks have no variation, no cutters, no reverse , no speed variation. When the swing is gone they look donkeys( quoting Nasser hussain ) . England are loins at home, can't win a single game in subcontinent and that 50 % of world cricket

Posted by RandyOZ on (November 15, 2012, 10:18 GMT)

England were never on the up so I dont know how its a sharp decline. They benefitted from Australia rebuilding, as has every other team who reached 1 in history

Posted by dunger.bob on (November 15, 2012, 4:29 GMT)

As an outsider, I can see a lot of potential for either or even both teams to have some sort of implosion in this series. .. on one hand we have England with their recent internal woes coupled with a complimentary form slump while on the other there is India who are just taking their first wobbly steps into the post "big 3" era following their own slump. .. mix in some "revenge & redemption" talk and I think it makes for a pretty volatile mix. .. it's not hard to imagine simmering issues coming to a head out there in the heat and the pressure if things go really badly for either side. .. hopefully that won't happen, but if it does, please give us a good one to justify all the hoohah it will generate.

Posted by g.narsimha on (November 15, 2012, 4:12 GMT)

big81- i dont think u r memory line is just struck on our last bad performances in ENG, AUS, my dear friend just go beyong those tours , ours is the only team from subcontinent won matches every where in the last decade , infact it is u r team which has nothing to show in IND FOR decades, reg our bowling yaa just refresh u r memory few days back u r team was bundled for penuts i meam 80 odd runs in sl , besides the 5-0 thrashing in odis by our youngesters in IND last time u r team visited ind .

Posted by Kolpak1989 on (November 15, 2012, 3:17 GMT)

Despite getting drubbed by Pakistan and South Africa England are still a very good team. I think that this series will be closer than alot of people expect. Similarly, India are backing up after being on the receiving end of two whitewashes but I think they still have the quality to be very competitive on subcontinent pitches. My prediction is 2-1 to India. Should be great to see how the English bats go against Ojha and Ashwin on rank turners. I think Cook, Trott and KP will stand up again, Bell will get found out. James Anderson's comments about Tendulkar were right on the money too. He is a great player and undoubtedly the second-best batsman ever, but you can't respect him too much if you want to be fired-up enough to beat him.

Posted by RodStark on (November 15, 2012, 3:17 GMT)

Well, it's nearly bedtime here in the US. When I wake up tomorrow the first day's play will be over and we should have some idea of what sort of series it's going to be. Good luck to both teams and let's hope for some real excitement. Wish I could follow it live.

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (November 15, 2012, 2:57 GMT)

MadhavY - sporting spirit ie. Played in the right way without hissy fits from Broad or Harbajan.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 2:49 GMT)

What england have in their strengths is K.P,bell and swann... but every one is forgetting about strauss... if he should have been there then england would have a real chance.... right now the indian batting leading by the GOD will come into picture.and indian spinners will create mayhem throughout this winter......

Posted by Pritt32 on (November 15, 2012, 2:22 GMT)

England form has dipped this year and shown to struggle against spin bowling. I still think England have a great chance of winning in India and make history. The visitor boosts a quality bowling attack and an experience batting line up. India form has been ragged. Sehwag and Gambhir are losing their wickets cheaply. They have not put on a good partnership for a long time. The little master is getting clean bowled. If England dismisses the top three, then it puts England in a commanding position and puts pressure on an inexperienced Indian middle order batting line at test level. Although India's spin bowling is promising at present, the pace bowling paints a different picture. Z.Khan will feel the heat as he has not been bowling well. India still struggle to find quality pace bowlers. On balance, England looks a stronger team. Can India silence the critics by handling the pressure? India needs to knuckle down by playing inspiring cricket.

Posted by RJHB on (November 15, 2012, 1:54 GMT)

Looking forward to this series, both sides exposing each others many frailties for Australia to exploit in the next few months. England overall is vastly better than India but is weak against spin. India is weak in many aspects- batting, pace bowling, fielding etc- but is at home and playing on its own heavily doctored sandboxes. My predictions: Kohli and Cook best batsmen for each side, Pietersen accused of putting Deep Heat in England players jocks, India opening almost every innings with a spinner or atleast after 5 overs when Zaheer gets injured, Tendulkar declares he's going for twenty thousand test runs even if it takes another twenty years, BCCI declares they own test cricket and then have it banned until all countries pay them a royalty of 10 million bucks a game, Harbhajan says he loves playing England but that Australia can go suck his bails!

Posted by Agila on (November 15, 2012, 1:52 GMT)

@The_bowlers_Holding, why not India 80all out and England 340/0 huh? Gimme a break buddy!

Posted by maddy20 on (November 15, 2012, 1:35 GMT)

@Buggsy I was not referring to the Aus-SA wicket, I was referring to the first test between Eng and South Africa at the oval I think. One look at it and it obviously seemed very dry and without any surprises, England produced their "BEST" performance in the history of test cricket. @JG2704 Why would I rubbish them after they have already beaten us thrice. You must have been mistaken. Aus made SA look like amateurs, unlike some others I can mention. True that last 1 year was bad for us, and with two of our best batsmen on their way out it was not hard to believe. But before that we held the No.1 ranking for 2 and half years. No side has beaten us at home in 8 years. Before the last years' series in England, we have beaten England in England, Pak in Pak, Drew with SA in SA and beat them at home. We have nearly beaten Aus in Aus(but for the Sydney fiasco), and beat them 2-0 twice at home(the last being a clean sweep). Can England boast of such a record?

Posted by cricketfannik on (November 14, 2012, 23:54 GMT)

It would be hard for india to make 4-0 to england or even to aus in early next yr beacuse few pitches will be where both team will score heavily and would be a draw. i would say ind will win both series (eng and Aus) no doubt in it but it wont be easy. Beating india in india is very difficult. Ind lost to SA in 2000 and Aus in 2004.

Posted by bigG81 on (November 14, 2012, 23:38 GMT)

I think it will be the usual dull test matches you get in India with a a slow, low turning pitch. But this is the only way India can win as they are incapable of facing quick bowlers on proper wickets and dont have a decent seem attack themselves.

Posted by whoster on (November 14, 2012, 23:34 GMT)

This is a difficult series to predict. If England's batsmen continue to struggle against spin, then yes, India will win comfortably. If England are shown to have made progress in that department, then with the Indian batting line up in transition, this could well be England's best opportunity for many years in India. I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind providing England with mediocre bowling attacks in the warm up games. Although the quality England will face in the Tests will be massively increased, England's batsmen have all spent a lot of time at the crease. Time will tell whether that was a wise strategy - I thought it was a little negative and defensive. My prediction is for a very tight series that could go either way.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 23:26 GMT)

England do stop whingeing. Play the game.

Posted by dsig3 on (November 14, 2012, 23:22 GMT)

George, I think you need to put your rose coloured glasses down mate. England WERE thrashed by Pakistan and WERE humiliated by SA. No amount of spin will change that. England must face the facts that they let everyone down and let a once in 20 year oppotunity to dominate cricket slip from their fingers because they didnt want it enough and didnt have the heart. If you accept this and move on it will make it easier to sleep at night mate, I promise.

Posted by jb633 on (November 14, 2012, 22:38 GMT)

Wow they have just shown India's home record since 1990 and I must say it is phenomenal. South Africa have the best record there with a win percentage of 41 but Aus only had 22 and that took into account when they had the best side. I did not actually realise it was this strong. England have seemed to lose narrowly and had too many draws there. India at home is an incredibly difficult challenge for us. I can't see us winning the series but I hope we can at least pull out some performances worth remembering. Good luck to both sides and I hope for some some entertaining cricket. My bet is India 2-1 with one drawn game

Posted by arebee on (November 14, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

@JG2704 , it's nonsense to say that Aus would 'almost certainly have won' the 1st test had it not been for the rain. After the loss of the day, SA batsmen were throwing their wickets away because of the lost time. The game would have been completely different. How do you know SA would not have dominated the lost day.

I am too concerned, Aus only needed to take !8 wickets in that match and only got a draw

Posted by CHINAMAN_UK on (November 14, 2012, 22:16 GMT)

too right.. the biggest worry is "first slip", spinners, sand pits ...bring them on! Let the game begin and the off field spin stop

Posted by PACERONE on (November 14, 2012, 22:07 GMT)

If Cook feels that all the pressure is on India he could be greatly mistaken.If England loses this series and do not win one test let us see who has pressure.England claim to have the best or second best set of fast bowlers,best off spinner and best batsman.So why are they trying to pretend that they have no pressure.They were #1 just recently and if they lose will maybe fall lower.Is that where they want to be?Notice what happened to the #1 team and #1 set of fast bowlers in Australia.Beware England.

Posted by MMahmood1 on (November 14, 2012, 21:33 GMT)

In my view, everyone prepare wickets to their own advantage weather its India, Pakistan, Srilanka or it is England South Africa Newzeland or Australia. I am not degrading West Indies,pitches in WI were fast and bouncy suiting their bowlers now their pitches are low and slow just subcontinent like pitches in astralia are get less bouncy. Coming back on this England V India, I will predict a series to be decided on first toss, If England win they should allow India to bat first and relieve the hipe and pressure of the series by bowling tight length. If India win the Toss they should force England in and test them with spin and variations. Which ever team comes on top on day will have bigger impact on the series outcome. Big fan of cricket rather individual team, looking forward to a great contest.

Posted by Patrick_ on (November 14, 2012, 21:18 GMT)

"Dobell: Under-pressure India take risks in preparation". I do not like this heading. Why is that India always under pressure when they play England at home or away ? Regardless of who wins this series, currently it is England under pressure given their dismal records in India.

Posted by hhillbumper on (November 14, 2012, 21:00 GMT)

do we think that Tendulkar would get a ton? Lets face it if he does not do it now then he should go

Posted by xylo on (November 14, 2012, 20:49 GMT)

Just being evil, I wonder what would happen, if an Indian batsman walks out to the field, looks at KP and says "That was a funny text, mate". ;-)

Posted by sharidas on (November 14, 2012, 20:46 GMT)

How dull it would be if every team in the world played the same type of game on identical pitches. India has never been known for pitches friendly to fast bowlers, but good bowlers will perform anywhere albeit with handicaps.Right now, India is certainly a team in transition, and England, I would say is in the best position in years to really challenge India in India. I am looking forward to a good series and hope I will not be disappointed.

Posted by MadhavY on (November 14, 2012, 20:30 GMT)

@ The_bowlers_Holding, WOW hoping for good sporting series and then again hoping India 108 all out and Eng 340-1, can you explain how is that called a good sporting series?

Posted by ramesh5 on (November 14, 2012, 20:11 GMT)

This is likely to be an interesting match with England side being very determined to overcome their mind set against spin and turning tracks. I am an Indian but I want a good contest and not victory at any cost. Let India play to its strength but also bear in mind that India is not badly off in fast bowling as the general feeling in Indian circles. India must or rather Mr.Dhoni must not forget that he needs to have a decent pace attack. He should not neglect to use Umesh Yadav or Ishant Sharma as they can match any English fast bowlers in pace. What has happened to Varun Aeron? Forgotten already!! Otherwise, we will always be Tigers at home but lambs for slaughter outside India. we should not play on terrible turning tracks just to win one series. This has been a very myopic attitude of India all these years and we are not behaving a like confident cricketing country. We have to prove that we are good on any surface even outside the sub continent as a great Indian team.

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (November 14, 2012, 19:53 GMT)

Grizzle good point re:pitches, India are surely strong favourites given their home record but I think talk of a white wash and tests over in 3 days is a bit optimistic, this is not India in England or Australia after all. I hope Finn regains fitness for the second test as he was the bowler I thought would have the most impact. I will not get to see any of the cricket live as I am residing in the states so hopefully will be greeted with India all out for 108 tomorow and England 340-1 (we live in hope)in the morning; here's hoping for a good sporting series even if the fans will no doubt be bickering like girls.

Posted by Buggsy on (November 14, 2012, 19:37 GMT)

@maddy20, this is sort of off topic, but in relation to the Gabba wicket for Aus-SA the wicket was not intentionally prepared like that - the weather in the lead up plus the lost day changed the nature of the pitch. Sometimes the pitch just changes beyond the control of the curator, much like Hobart last year. It happens.

Posted by GRVJPR on (November 14, 2012, 19:13 GMT)

India is extremely confident of their skills and ability. Even if India Looses toss, which they did in 95% of test matches when they were number 1, they will chase down england's total. It's all about Skill and Ability.

Posted by JG2704 on (November 14, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

@maddy20 on (November 14 2012, 17:32 PM GMT) Mr Dobell just points out all the permutations. Talking of Australia , I seem to remembering you rubbishing them after day 1/3 of the last test and you seemed to go quiet when Australia got on top and would almost certainly have won that match themselves had it gone the full course. Re this series , yes most of us realise what a task we have ahead of us and yes India is a fortress. Having said all that , you're right that we beat WI only 2-0 and have been in bad form this year but have India done anything of huge significance in tests in the last year. If Eng beating WI at home proves little (which I am honest enough to agree on) then how does beating WI and the even lower ranked NZ (both at home) prove anything?

Posted by PGSGimson on (November 14, 2012, 18:37 GMT)

@Hobbart "As far as Sachin is concerned, he played Anderson and Bresnan well in English conditions"

Hardly realized he was playing last time he faced Anderson and Bresnan in English conditions. Didn't contribute with the bat much, only passing 50 twice with no hundreds. He wasn't terrible, but you can't say he played them well.

However, I expect him to play them incredibly well in Indian conditions

Posted by JESHIPL on (November 14, 2012, 18:28 GMT)

with ash and ojha bowling they are never gone to win even a single test.

Posted by chapathishot on (November 14, 2012, 17:59 GMT)

Excuses are flowing even before the first ball is bowled expect more going into the series.Dobell is writing a obituary for England

Posted by big_al_81 on (November 14, 2012, 17:51 GMT)

Good article - very well-judged comments about England's chances and where the problems lie. I hold my hands up and say I'm surprised, as most of what George Dobell has written previously had convinced me he was just longing for any chance to bring England down a peg or two in the manner of the English press between 1981 and 2005. But this is spot on. It is a good chance but they'll have to have most things click in the right way to take it. Thanks for a well-argued piece Mr Dobell.

Posted by maddy20 on (November 14, 2012, 17:32 GMT)

"India's tactics are not those of a side that truly believes in its own ability. If they did, they would surely prepare the best possible cricketing surface and back themselves to prevail. " You could not be further from the truth Mr.Dobell. First up, our special ability , in the subcontinental conditions, is to spin our opponents of the game. The surfaces have been prepared with the confidence, that reverse swing will not bother them(atleast not as much as spin will bother England) and that they will be able to play off Swann and Patel easily.As for preparing sporting wickets , would you(or any English fan)be so kind to explain why a dry surface has been prepared for the first test of the SA series where as India got green-topss?"If they win this series handsomely and Australia defeat South Africa, England will return to No. 1 in the Test rankings.They have not fallen so far as some suggest." Another laugh huffed to beat WI(Their only series win in1yr) at home but can beat India away?

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 16:13 GMT)

"India's tactics are not those of a side that truly believes in its own ability. If they did, they would surely prepare the best possible cricketing surface and back themselves to prevail." Really dude!!!Are you covering cricket for the first time???? Let me tell u..unlike Football,cricket pitches vary significantly from place to place....and "Every" home team prepares the pitch as per their own wish...

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (November 14, 2012, 16:12 GMT)

I think India won't mind losing the toss. Their successes towards the push for the no.1 title 2 years go was by winning MOST of their games AT HOME batting second. They beat England in Chennai in 2008 chasing 380 odd. So they won't be concerned one bit batting first or second. England, though the better team will be under immense pressure. India are the underdogs and they would hide in the shadows and strike when England least expect it.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

all tests will end between 3-4 days. good thing is england will get a extra week off because of early finishes!!!!. can take rest and mingle a bit , understand indian culture and embrace it so that they can be better prepared for next time.

Posted by grizzle on (November 14, 2012, 16:02 GMT)

Whatever the reasons for India preparing a raging turner (if that is indeed the case), it should make for a cracking game, one where bowlers have more of a say than they normally do in Tests in India. That is the important thing and one should not lose sight of it, IMO. Right now, I can't see any other way for India to win a test match than to prepare a surface that offers substantial help to its bowlers. If this offers England a sniff as well, then great! Should make for an engrossing contest.

Posted by balakumar246 on (November 14, 2012, 15:55 GMT)

Mate,you are an Englishman and I expect you to support your team but who are we kidding here?What purpose did the 3 tour games serve?Nothing except for playing in hot Indian conditions.Against a decent India A in the first tour game,your batsmen didn't get to face a spinner.As far as the batting of India A is concerned,their batsmen did a decent job against your first string bowling attack.Now let's talk about the 2nd tour game against Mumbai A.Again no quality spinner on display but some Yadav guy took a bunch of wickets and had a few things to say about the way your batsmen tackle spin.Now,let's take the last tour game against Haryana.Their only player of repute is Amit Mishra and he took 4 wickets in the first innings.Yes,your batsmen scored heavily against a weak bowling attack but does that count for anything?Don't worry,we don't need rank turners to beat your team but expect pitches to start turning from day 3.Prediction:India wins series,you can decide the scoreline.Pls publish.

Posted by Hobbart on (November 14, 2012, 15:47 GMT)

@gnomeorram : Your analysis seems fair..while I think Dhoni will come out a better captain than Cook, I feel Andy will prove a better coach for England than Duncan would be for India. In all probability, a sane person would back India to win the series comfortably, if not do a clean sweep !

Posted by chokkashokka on (November 14, 2012, 15:45 GMT)

are you for real Mr. Dobbell? if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, it would be a merry christmas.

Posted by Hobbart on (November 14, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

@Thomas : Sehwag and Gambhir playing in India can come back to form like a swan takes to water ! As far as Sachin is concerned, he played Anderson and Bresnan well in English conditions, need I say more...?

Posted by bobmartin on (November 14, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

@A_N_I Judging by the news of tcket sales thus far... very few have bought them for days 1, 2, and 3 either..

Posted by Match_Referee on (November 14, 2012, 15:23 GMT)

Team winnig toss bats first. If England bat first, then they SHOULD make 400+ score. This is the only scenario ENG can win a Test match in India. Any other scenario, ENG have no chance of winning the test...

Posted by gnanzcupid on (November 14, 2012, 15:11 GMT)

@A_N_I whoever may win the toss, INDIA wins the match

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 14:58 GMT)

They have one man who played spin very very well - Andy Flower. Add Gooch's inputs and they have a team. And yes they have players capable enough. India has no Kimble or man indent or Saladin or Ajman or warne or Murali. So it will be tough even with rank turners. And the worry for India is their batting too. And they struggled against even a weak kiwi side. It might as well be the beginning of the end for Dhoni part 2. After the 2011 wc win India has just rolled off the worlds most beautiful girl and just wants to sleep ;) Time for players with hunger. Not just IPL dreams.

Posted by Dr.Vindaloo on (November 14, 2012, 14:57 GMT)

Surprised he didn't mention absence of DRS, which negates any spin advantage that India may have had. DRS was definitely a factor in England's capitulation to spin in UAE.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 14:47 GMT)

I think Indian batting is weak with Gambir and Sehwag on top with a below average Tendulkar in middle and trying to come back again Yuvraj. Only person one can count on is Kohli. It is time to look past Sehwag to open the batting but I dont see that happening until the visit to South Africa when the famous opening duo will fail again

Posted by kabe_ag7 on (November 14, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

"India's tactics are not those of a side that truly believes in its own ability. If they did, they would surely prepare the best possible cricketing surface". So a potential turner is not a cricketing surface? And if India are getting a turner and backing their spinners to do the job, isn't that same as believing in their ability to play spin better than England?

Posted by krishroxx on (November 14, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

"India's tactics are not those of a side that truly believes in its own ability"

what are you,nuts??

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 14:38 GMT)

Broad and Bresnan were a long way down on pace for the whole Summer - an issue the press passed over and the England management barely acknowledged. Unless both of them have improved considerably I would plump for 2 specialist spinners.Iit wasn't just a "dodgy speedgun" either . The Saffers bowlers on the same day were right up there. In the first test Bopara - wobbling in with the loaping run up and a hybrid "straight from the village green" roundarm action was outpacing Broad over for over. I don't know what England are doing wrong - turning quality pacers into "please cart me into next week" trundlers - it felt like 1990 all over again. England someohow managed to wreck the pace of Greg Thomas, Devon Malcom and David Lawrence back then - and seem determined to so it again in 2012

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (November 14, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

@rahulcricket007 Yadav no doubt is quick but he's not played much competitve cricket recently and certainly none internationally for a while. Finn has the advantage of his height and experience bowling in India in the ODI's last year.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (November 14, 2012, 14:27 GMT)

The quickest bowler on either side was struggling in summer Tests to get it above 83.Medium pace is the new express pace. In any case I would say Meaker is as fast as Finn most times.

Posted by gnomeorram on (November 14, 2012, 13:55 GMT)

My, you're seeing a lot more liquid in that glass than I am, George. I think even half-empty is a touch optimistic. I'm with Boycs on this one - however transitional or nervous India are, you'd have to be nuts to back England in this series. Our recent successes (since 2005 - is that still recent?) have been built on smooth, sustained, confidence-raising preparation. We've had the luck, the planning and the following wind to get our build-up to the big series spot on; hitting a climax at precisely the right time, with all key players fit and fully firing. Far from being such a year, 2012 has been an annus bloodius horribilis. Everything points to a lack of confidence in recent Tests - fragile batting, poor catching, lacklustre bowling from all but Anderson. Can Cook really turn things round on such a tough tour, so soon after the Pietersen fiasco, in his first major series at the helm? If he could, he'd be the best Test captain since SR Waugh. I can't see it myself.

Posted by A_N_I on (November 14, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

One who wins the toss .. wins this match .. Dont buy tickets for 4th/5th day.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (November 14, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

steven finn by far the quickest bowler from either side . i think dobell should watch the speed at which umesh yadav bowls .he may be not fast then einn but he is also not slower than him .

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India won by 5 wickets (with 15 balls remaining)
India v England at Ranchi - Jan 19, 2013
India won by 7 wickets (with 131 balls remaining)
India v England at Kochi - Jan 15, 2013
India won by 127 runs
India v England at Rajkot - Jan 11, 2013
England won by 9 runs
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News | Features Last 3 days