Exams are cancelled and England are refusing to learn.
At the start of this series I spoke frequently about England needing to learn on this tour. In effect I would’ve taken 4-0 if England changed the way they played spin and developed their games against the turning ball.
Well 3 tests in and Bairstow is sweeping a ball turning away from him 2nd ball and Sibley is attempting to slog it out the park when the game is (yet again) on a knife edge. Many may think that the Bairstow dismissal was more disappointing as he was brought in to help England's batting concerns against spin for me personally the removal of the Warwickshire wall is far far worse.
One thing I have found so impressive about this England side but primarily Sibley is his mental fortitude and his judgement of match situations; knowing when to buckle down and save the game (a good example being the 2nd test match between England and the West Indies this summer). So with Joe Root at the crease and looking good as well as Sibley looking as comfortable as any England batsmen has in the past 2 games there were no 2 other England batsmen i would rather have at the crease. Runs where there and Sibley seemingly knew this with him having his guard more leg side and working the easy singles where India's men around the bat would normally be. Then he just channels his inner Randy Orton and out of nowhere heaves across the line to a left arm spinner to play a totally unnecessary shot and England are 19-3 and Ben Stokes is brought to the crease. Not only was it a poor shot from Sibley but it was poor game management why on earth play it? The game is in the balance you have a chance to make a difference and to go down as a hero so why play that shot? Although one must add that Sibley has come on leaps and bounds this winter from being a walking wicket to being one of England's most trustworthy and comfortable batsmen (his dismissals actually haven’t been awful) and in no world am i ever dropping him.
Bairstow was a special case with many (myself included) saying he should’ve been included if the pitch was turning. Well that didn’t go too well. First up a sweep shot against a left armer taking it away from you on a turning track isn’t a good shot but he was saved by height. Then pushing out a mile away from your body with hard hands and leaving a huge gap between bat and pad and getting bowled by the straight one which as i said before has been dangerous for the entirety of the whole game is just not good enough for a genuinely good player of spin. Poor judgement let down the Yorkshire man and an impatience was yet again his downfall. Is this the last we will see of Johnny in England whites? No. Should it be? Probably. A miracle is needed from Johnny in the 4th game to rescue his test career and his reputation as a test player.
As you read this you may be wondering but how does this relate to learning? Well Sibley didn’t learn, Burns didn’t learn, Bairstow didn’t learn. None of the batsmen learnt. Many times they worked against the spin cross bat trying to sweep on a turning track without committing and they got caught on the crease and taken out. The straight one has been a danger all series but England seem so fixated on the turning ball they seem to ignore the former and it is infuriating to see. England seem to have heard and seen a lot of information this winter but refused to put any of it into practice and this for me is infuriating.
Anyway I've let out my anger. England are still batting and they have a slim lead so what do I know?