Tag Archives: England v India Second Test

India Have a Great Fall – 2nd Test Day 4

In the morning of the fourth day of the second Test between England and India the home side completed the mental disorientation of their opponents, not by words, but by deeds – lots and lots of them – 544 of them – as England batted on with Prior making 73 from 107 balls, Bresnen 90 from 146 and Broad 44 from 59 until their last wicket fell.

Dismantlement followed disorientation.

Only twice in  England’s second innings had an Indian bowler found the savage life in the Trent Bridge wicket and the prodigious movement through the Nottingham air that had been the feature of the first two days. 

The England bowlers proceeded to find it almost every ball.

Dravid could not really be expected to ‘do it again’ and he did not, edging Broad to Prior. Laxman was bowled by a fittingly ‘special delivery’ fromAndersonfor 4.  How often in his long and distinguished career will Laxman have been bowled for 4?

So, Tendulka had been brought to the wicket with only 13 runs on the board. 

Around his class and patience the edifice crumbled: Mukund simply could not cope; Raina personified degeneration, his weakness to the short ball now cruelly exposed; the mighty Yuvraj humbled by a barrage of the short stuff found his fingers crushed and his mind deconstructed; a dazed and confused Dhoni was dismissed first ball padding-up, a state that ultimately infected Tendulka who repeated the misjudgement. 

It was 107 for 7 and the day but half done.  Harbhajan and Kumar swiped. The score limped to 158 at which point Humpty lay in a thousand pieces with the world champions beaten by 319 runs, their second loss in two matches of a four match series.

The three England pacemen had matched the belligerence of the batters on the day before; Bresnan taking 5 for 48, Anderson 3 for 51 and Broad 2 for 30. 

Broad was made Man of the Match if for nothing else, then, for the amazing counterattack he led on the first day.

It is worth recalling that when Broad came to the wicket, in that moment, England were at the mercy of India on 117 for 7 and, also that in their first innings, India were at one point 267 for 4, already 46 runs ahead of their opponents.

Mentally, England have proved themselves very tough, India very weak. 

The question is: can Fletcher and some very great cricketers put India together again?

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Knight-time at Trent Bridge

Cricket is a game of bat and ball and therefore, if a side is to lose, it must be beaten twice-over.  This is cricket’s erudite expression of the adage, ‘It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.’

During the course of the third day of the second Test between England and India, the Indian bowlers were well and truly beaten. 

England began what for them should have been an anxious day 43 runs behind India with one wicket down and an important batsman, Trott, hors de combat.

But they ended it having scored 417 runs for the loss of only 5 wickets with a total of 441 for 6 – giving them a startling and commanding lead of 374 with more to come.

After Strauss had been unhorsed with the lost ground yet to be retaken, Bell first and Pietersen later made a mockery of the perceived difficulties of the batting conditions.  

There followed a day of carnage and mayhem. 

As soon as India had unseated one opponent his replacement picked up the fallen lance and took forward the advance with yet more zeal and vigour.

In England’s list the pugnacious Swann comes into the tilt-yard at 10 and the belligerent Broad, who transformed England’s fortunes in their first innings, has yet to bat.

It is the interminable belligerence of the batting, with its ricochet of the West Indians and the Australians in their pomp, that will have done so much psychological injury to India.

Theirs was a weakened bowling attack.  Not only is Khan missing, but Singh was unable to bowl more than 9 half-hearted overs at a stage in the match when a physically and mentally robust spinner should have bowled 30 or 40.  

Yet, the dismissal of Trott caught off the gloves from a steeply rising delivery from Kumar that was a repeat of one earlier in the day which bounced over the gloves of Dhoni standing up to the same bowler, is evidence that the spite has not been rolled and baked out of this wicket entirely.

However, the day will be remembered for an incident that occurred from the final delivery before tea when Morgan hit the ball to the midwicket boundary and, owing to a mixture of the confusion caused unintentionally by the boundary fielder, Kumar, and the tiredness and sudden break in concentration on the part of Bell (137 at the time), the batsman left his ground for the sanctuary of tea, believing the ball to have gone for four and thus to be ‘dead’.

Kumar unsure whether the ball had reached the ‘ropes’ returned the ball in leisurely fashion, via the wicket keeper, to short leg who calmly removed the bails and appealed.

Bell was given out amid the taunts and jeers of an unattractive crowd whose belligerence easily matched that of England’s batting.

Foot soldiers will say that the valid appeal should have stood.  The cavalry will say that Bell’s error was a misunderstanding and therefore, in the spirit in which cricket is played, the appeal should have been withdrawn.

Following a visit to the Indian dressing room by Strauss and Flower, Dhoni, with the support of his side, chivalrously withdrew the appeal and Bell resumed his assault on the Indian bowling after an interval extended by this diplomacy.

Whether this incident adversely affected the performance of India in the final session or whether it was plain exhaustion, England plundered 187 runs after tea with Prior hacking 64 in 55 balls and Bresnan 47 in 66.

Rahul Dravid, acting as spokesperson for Team India, had evidently been reading The Waning of the Middle Ages in which Johan Huizinga identifies the source of the chivalrous idea to be ‘pride aspiring to beauty, and formalized pride giving rise to a conception of honour, which is the pole of noble life’, told reporters, “It is nice to play the game in the right spirit.”

But chivalry is also a social mechanism for the avoidance of blood-and-treasure-sapping feuds, and the maintenance of dignity amongst a self-preserving elite.

Without questioning the upright motives of India’s senior players, who clearly felt a deep unease at the nature of Bell’s dismissal, the decision was made against the background hubub of a crowd making naked its aggressive intent and the buzz of half the commentariat who were already challenging the honour of this tourney’s visiting combatants.

After his innings of 159, Bell can place his lineage without presumption beside that of Tendulka, Dravid and Laxman in the Peerage – a high rank indeed.

The prospect is dark for India, but these esteemed knights and their fellows will tell themselves that in cricket the batsmen must be beaten too.

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Bernoulli is Key to Second Test

It is possible to comprehend a game of cricket in terms of resource management. 

The 101st Test encounter between England and India reached the half way stage in terms of wickets available to each side shortly after five o’clock on day two of five possible days – that is, in a touch under two-fifths of the available time.

Cricketers talk about a game being ‘in a hurry’.  This game is in the type of hurry that the hare was in when, wakened from a deep slumber beneath a shady tree by an intruding sense of unease, it spied the tortoise up-ahead a human foot from the finish line, and sped off flustered and unsteady, disorientated by the unfamiliar condition of the pursuing rather than the pursued.

The batsmen in this Test have been similarly disorientated and taken into unfamiliar territory by the nature of the Trent Bridge wicket that they are playing on and the characteristics of the liquid (air) through which the ball is travelling.

Help was at hand thanks to the presence in the ground of Professor Julius Sumner Miller.  (Third Man, on calmer reflection, may have been deceived by some fiendish impersonator in fancy dress.)

“Why is it so?” the batsmen could have asked the good Professor when the ball swung late or did not do so, or when the ball reared with the force of a Harrier jet taking off from aircraft carrier in a heavy sea or did so next delivery with the feebleness of a Tiger Moth.

With what passion Sumner Miller could have demonstrated in either dressing room the principle of Bernoulli with its commonsense-defying effects of pressure and temperature on liquids!

“My view is this,” the Professor might have explained to those Project Managers, Flower and Fletcher, “We teach nothing. We do not teach cricket nor do we teach cricketers. What is the same thing: No one is taught anything! Here lies the folly of this business. We try to teach somebody nothing. This is a sorry endeavour for no one can be taught a thing.  What we do, if we are successful, is to stir interest in the matter at hand, awaken enthusiasm for it, arouse a curiosity, kindle a feeling, fire up the imagination.”

Professional batsmen rarely show their emotions.  They discover early in their career the value of inscrutability.  They show no pain when hit.  They communicate no admiration when beaten by the bowler’s guile.

However, in this match we have seen more expressions of shock and awe from the batsmen than in a whole career, such has been the volatility produced by the extraordinary playing conditions.

Stuart Broad took six wickets for 46 in 24.1 overs.  He even took a hattrick, a rare enough event in Test cricket.  Yet long after his feat has been forgotten, the memory of VVS Laxman and Raul Dravid batting in these conditions in the morning session will remain etched on the memory.

93 runs they put on, most of them in boundaries.  Dravid, taming the willful ball as he shepherded it through an imaginary gap in that hurdled fence made by the slips and gully, went on to make 117.

Laxman, driving square through the covers with a languid bat or picking up the ball with the apparent effortlessness of a boy scrumping an apple in an orchard and tossing it over the wall made by midwicket for his friends to enjoy, will have been disappointed to edge a loosener from Bresnen to Prior for 54.

Interviewed after the end of the day’s play, when England remained 43 runs behind India’s first innings total of 288, with 9 of their available resource of wickets remaining, Dravid explained, “What we do, if we are successful, is to stir interest in the matter at hand, awaken enthusiasm for it, arouse a curiosity, kindle a feeling, fire up the imagination.”

So, it had been Sumner Miller.

It is therefore with awakened enthusiasm, curiosity and imagination that the resumption of play is awaited.  Resource Management be damned.

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Send For Mary Ann: England v India Test 101 Day 1

At 124 for 8, India who had won the toss in the second Test of the series and put England into bat had their sponsor’s boots firmly pressed down on the home side’s wind pipe.

It was then, after tea, that Broad and Swann impishly launched a counterattack.  India’s bowlers, who had previously been perfecting the tantric art of bowling balls round corners, reduced their length and invited the big shot, while the field scattered generously to allow the single.

When Swann departed, caught off his glove in the gully to a 75 mph ball from Praveen that leapt from a good length in a way that the 90mph Malcolm Marshall would have been pleased with, India allowed Broad to farm the bowling and shield the eleventh man, James Anderson.

Broad ended with 64, easily twice the score recorded by any of the other batsmen.  The last three in the England line-up put on nearly a hundred to almost double the score to 221, but it appeared not to matter in any way to the cool and composed MS Dhoni, he of the sang froid.

The Brit, a member of an Island race, has never valued languages other than his own and a half dozen or so that no-one living now uses such as Latin, Greek and Old Persian.  

So when a couple of million of them were transported a hundred years ago across to France to fight in the First World War their reaction to the incomprehensible sounds uttered by the locals was to paraphrase them into something that sounded … well … English.

The Gallic shrug articulated in the expression ça ne fait rien, “it does not matter”, became a catchphrase of the lowest ranks of the army whose duty it was to accept whatever fate and his bungling officers decreed in a fashion both resigned and cynical. 

In English mouths the phrase evolved via ‘san fairy Ann’ into the plaintive, ‘Send for Mary Ann’.

Could the influence of Shri Madhvacharya be detected at Trent Bridge on India's tactics during the first day's play of the second Test?

India’s captain at Trent Bridge yesterday appeared to be as fatalistic as the old British Tommy facing a hail of bullets.  “Dear Fellows,” he was heard to say, “We are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do.  Who are we to seek to influence the future?”

To which VVS Relaxman standing at first slip with knees as inflexible as iron girders intoned, “Even God cannot alter the flow of Vidhi.”

As the players left the field at the end of the England innings Anderson turned to Broad, “Stuart, I just don’t get it.  Man may not be able to will what he wills, but he is free to do what he wills.”

Ten minutes later the boy from Burnley, where the favourite tipple is still a ‘hot Benny’ or Benedictine  first sampled on the freezing Western Front*, translated these words into action, having Mukund caught by Pietersen in the gully with the very first ball of the Indian innings.

These fine philosophical distinctions surrounding predetermination will be further articulated when play resumes with India on 24 for 1 in pursuit of the 221 runs that England have on the board.

Send for Mary Ann or, “Deo Optimo Maximo,” as they say in Burnley. 

* 93 years after the Old Pals returned from the trenches, this East Lancashire town is still responsible for the consumption of more of this herbal liqueur than everywhere else in the world … put together!

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