The Bad Old Days
Win the toss bat big, bat long, get big runs on the board, digging in. Not today. On the day it truly counted and all excuses were off the table England didn’t do the one thing that they had done so well for the past year instead they reverted back to the ways of old. Looking to dominate the bowler, put pressure back on the opposition and show the ever desired ‘intent’. But today it all backfired. This was a masterclass in a batting collapse.
This series has shown that batting between overs 30 and 80 is the best time to bat and if we’re honest there wasn’t a lot in this surface that couldn’t be negated by some true test match batting (I won’t run through the cliches we’re all undoubtedly sick to death of them by now) but today was the day to bat and bat and then bat some more. Post 200-3 who cares if you don’t score quick it’s not what matters. Steve Waugh has consistently stated that his side played to draw test matches and England should’ve done that today.
To begin with Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley saw off a truly dangerous new ball spell from Siraj and Sharma and then it all went pear shaped again. Bearing freakish similarities to Sri Lanka (Zak Crawley falling for 9 with an attempted loft over mid off the most telling of all) it all felt a bit well here we go again. Sibley's technique was poor with a huge gap between bat and pad. Something which Sibley has been good at covering all winter and Crawleys temperament was poor as you would expect from a young lad used to free scoring. On that wicket at 15-2? Well England were always against the 8 ball. The wicket of Bairstow was symptomatic of the Yorkshireman's issues; no matter how good he looks, cutting and driving if you bowl straight you’re always in the game. Though the truly worrying wicket for me today was that of Joe Root. In the monster year for the captain he has looked imperious even in the eyes of defeat he has always played well but today against some high class swing Root never looked comfortable and the demons of 2019 with Cummins and co were rattling through my head.
Stokes played well and him, Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence all showed that runs were to be had on a surface that wasn’t offering a lot. Of course one will turn big past your bat but it’s India what else do you expect? But on that wicket today not a lot was offered and the bad balls came and were often dispatched. A word on Stokes who top scored with 55 but got out just missing a straight one and never looked truly fit throughout his innings and murmurs of a sickness bug affecting Stokes started appearing and explain his dismissal. Pope can count himself lucky but as I said on my Twitter (@therunoutblog1) his foot movement was much improved and he was meeting the pitch of the ball and really looking like his old self until he caught the unluckiest dismissal of his career. Dan Lawrence toiled hard and showed why promoting a number 5 or 6 to number 3 isn’t exactly a great idea. The way Lawrence got out was poor but like Stokes understandable and to be perfectly honest who can blame him? He showed the senior guys how to play today and they will be kicking themselves (I just hope we get to see a match winning spell from him tomorrow).
Ben Foakes is an odd case as after Chennai his spot in the side was almost nailed on but Foakes hasn’t truly delivered. Whilst the argument can be made that Foakes’ other worldly keeping is reason enough to keep him in the side, Buttler is improving match by match both with bat and gloves and Foakes had a chance here and really missed it.
Today was a sad day, a deflating day and one which is just disappointing. England are panicked, they’re ruined and it showed as they reverted back to the method of the days of old, the method that saw them boweld out for 205 on a wicket on which 300 is par. England have until Tea time tomorrow to salvage this game anything after that and it’s gone and with it the series. Of course it is not unthinkable that England show up in Ahmenabad and one of their bowlers produces something magic in a session but given the body language of the team it looks far from likely. This could be a tough few days and with Pujara at the crease England could be reminded once again exactly how to bat in test match cricket.