Trescothick and Giles have been impressive

The tall left-handed opening batsman from Somerset is always looking forruns, going boldly for his strokes; in particular, he has swept and cutfluently

Partab Ramchand

December 22, 2001

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The tall left-handed opening batsman from Somerset is always looking for runs, going boldly for his strokes; in particular, he has swept and cut fluently. There is little doubt that he will benefit a lot from the Indian tour and in future, could list the trip as a turning point in his career, which promises to be extended and fruitful.
Whether the team visiting India is a strong one or not, there are always players to attract attention. They may be crowd pullers and entertainers, or cricketers with proven class and ability. Of course there are promising players who arrive unheralded and make their name on the tour. Vivian Richards is the most famous example. He arrived here in 1974-75 as just another promising West Indian batsman, made his Test debut at Bangalore, had acute problems in facing Chandrasekhar on his way to a double failure (4 and 3), but stayed on to make 192 not out in the next Test at New Delhi ­ and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

The current England team is probably the most unglamorous visiting side ever to come to India. There are hardly any crowd pullers of the calibre of Ken Barrington, no dynamic players like Ted Dexter, no entertainers anywhere in the Ian Botham class, and no world figures in the category of Colin Cowdrey, Alan Knott, Geoff Boycott, Tony Greig, David Gower or Graham Gooch. To a large extent, the team is made up of the nameless or faceless ones.

Graham Thorpe came over with the tag of being the best batsman in the side, Mark Butcher had enhanced his reputation following his matchwinning unbeaten century in the recent Ashes series, Marcus Trescothick arrived as a cricketer of much promise while his being born in Chennai gave Nasser Hussain a certain aura as did an Indian sounding name to Mark Ramprakash. But none of these players could fall in the category of entertainers, crowd pullers or really world-class cricketers.

But now that the tour is drawing to a close, there is no doubt that a few of the team members have given cricket fans in this country something to savour. Trescothick, for one, has certainly caught the eye. Not only has he scored runs consistently but has made them handsomely. A feature of his batting has been his refusal to be cowed down. The tall left-handed opening batsman from Somerset is always looking for runs, going boldly for his strokes; in particular, he has swept and cut fluently. There is little doubt that he will benefit a lot from the Indian tour and in future, could list the trip as a turning point in his career, which promises to be extended and fruitful.

Butcher is one player whose deeds, experts reckon, is not reflected truly in his figures. His Test career average of a little below 30 is not in keeping with his class and ability. On the current tour, the experienced campaigner from Surrey has not played the spinners with absolute fluency but none can question his determination and concentration. The manner in which he stuck it out to get 92 at Ahmedabad, despite having a stomach disorder, is testimony to Butcher's reputation as a fighter.

Is Hussain a better captain or a batsman? That is the point likely to be debated when the team leaves India. He has always been a fine batsman, capable of mixing caution and aggression judiciously. An upright player known for his sound strokes, Hussain has made runs handsomely and there is no doubt that his personal example has inspired the other batsmen to perform beyond expectations in alien conditions. But the tour is also likely to mark a turning point in his leadership, for which there has been nothing but praise. Hussain is obviously a thinking captain, who forms a theory and then puts it into practice, as can be envisaged by his restrictive field placings as a captain of a team that is quite obviously the underdogs. The tactic has certainly forced the Indian batsmen into making mistakes.

Craig White came over with the limited reputation of being one of the side's utility men. The 32-year-old Yorkshireman certainly enhanced his reputation with a five-wicket haul in the tour game against India A and his century in the Ahmedabad Test.

Indeed, the bowling was expected to be the weaker of the two departments when the team arrived in India, but Dawson and Giles have done their bit in covering up for this. Giles is obviously a tricky customer as the Indian batsmen have found out. The 28-year-old left arm spinner from Warwickshire has been difficult to score off, thanks to his tidy line and length and his ability to probe the area on or just outside the leg stump. Dawson is the kind of young player who will make the best use of a tour like this to further his cricketing education. The 21-year-old Yorkshireman, who made his Test debut at Mohali, is obviously a fast learner.

And finally one must also mention another player who too made his Test debut at Mohali and has caught the eye in his own unobtrusive way ­ wicketkeeper Jamie Foster. Also 21, Foster, like his captain, from Essex, has been quietly efficient behind the stumps and as a bonus, his form with the bat too has stood England in very good stead.

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