Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Typical England, we're so frail and inconsistent... Oh wait

It is clear that England are a weak, vulnerable and inconsistent team, relying on a few star players, most of whom aren't even English. That's why, after they scrape a win at Lord's purely by virtue of injuring their opponents, they just collapse in the face of a bit of pressure.

Put into bat in ideal conditions (a heavy cloud cover and irregular bounce), they can't even get to 125 without losing 8 wickets. A few lucky slogs and they scrape to a meagre 221. So much for challenging to be the best team in the world!

It was highly fortunate for England to be bowled out at that time, leaving India a difficult period in the evening on Friday. Mukund's wicket was a joke really, England using such gamesmanship like warming up before bowling, putting fielders in places where they could catch the ball and bowling quicker than 75mph. Just not on really.

Dravid & Laxman showed them how to bat - these are two class batsmen who know how to perform under pressure, not like Ian Bell or someone! There's no way he'd cope with being moved to a different position in the order during a match and having to overturn a deficit in classy style and go onto score big runs. Not a chance.

So then Stuart Broad managed to get a few tailenders out, conveniently taking advantage of the lack of DRS for LBW decisions. Frankly I'd rather not get a hatrick if it was achieved in such a manner. He should be ashamed of himself. How can you expect India to score 300+ in those circumstances, or any circumstances indeed?

Alastair Cook showing his true colours with another performance you'd expect from the so-called run-machine. I think he may require an MOT. 
Trott's wimpish injury (dislocated shoulder! I've had worse playing pro-evo) meant that Bell came in at 3, where we all know he can't bat. Fortunately he hardly scored any runs, and most of the runs he did get he did so by just wandering down the pitch as he felt like it and then crying to Mummy Flower when he was run out. Luckily for him, MS appears to stand for Majorly Soft or possibly Massive Sucker. There's been a lot of talk about how good it was of India to let Bell back into bat but there's a couple of things about that:

1) we always gave our younger brother two lives (*also, if he was out golden duck it "didn't count") - surely similar rules apply to such a diminuitive fella like Ian.
2) The overlooked but more significant demonstration of thoughtfulness came from the Indian bowlers, who, aware that Bell/Morgan probably didn't get much to eat during tea cos of the stress, dished up some lovely buffet bowling, on which the English(/Irish) feasted.

As well as the after-tea nutrition, there was a healthy and decidedly ample breakfast laid on for Bresnan and Broad. Despite this, England were only able to set a target of 478, which was really very get-able, after all, 3 times in test match history teams have chased down more than 200 runs at Trent Bridge, so why not another couple of hundred to set the record? 

Given that it was a reserve bowler who took most of the wickets in the second Indian innings, it doesn't really count and I'm sure that if Gamhir/Sehwag were there things would have been different. As it was, India didn't really make too much of an effort - fair play I suppose, always good to let the underdogs take a game or two. 

All in all, a very weak and inconsistent team at the moment - we'll be lucky to win another match this series. Heaven knows what will happen against West Indies next summer.

Anyway, here are the traditional (2nd match in a row) ratings that you're (both) clamouring for:
Strauss - 48 runs but another victory 4/10
Cook - I never rated him. Another couple of failures with the bat, now averages the lowest of all England players across the two games (CT/JA haven't been out) 0/10
Trott - joking aside, clearly wasn't fit in the second innings but somehow managed to score even less that Cook, I'll cut him some slack and go for 1/10
Pietersen - couple of decent knocks, looks in good touch really. 7/10
Bell - as discussed, very poor performance from him. As a result, only 9/10
Morgan - wasn't really there when we needed him 1st innings but was able to play like an ODI in the second for a good 70. 6/10
Prior - as per Eoin 6/10
Bresnan - 7 wickets (at 14 runs each) plus 101 runs isn't bad for a second stringer. May have earned himself a place for the 3rd test. 9/10
Broad - Another exceptional performance, made all the more impressive because he got his runs when we were seriously under the cosh and got his wickets when the game was running away from us. In other words, people like Bresnan and Bell did the damage, but were only able to because Broad had saved us from the brink. Worthy MotM 10/10
Swann - Oh Swanny, where are you mate? Decent and very important knock in the first innings but 97 runs for no wickets isn't the return you'd expect from the world's best spinner, even if the seamers were doing the job anyway. Let's hope it was just a bruised hand and not a sign of his form. 3/10
Anderson - quietly picked up 5 wickets in the match at only 26 and continues to lead the attack well. 7/10

Mukund - 3 runs probably isn't what the selectors were hoping for to be honest 0/10
Dravid - another century in vain, he must wonder why he bothers. Hopefully he won't at Edgbaston. That would help. A shame he couldn't put up a Wall when India really needed it on Monday. 8/10
Laxman - has threatened to really come good but not quite there yet. Again, went missing when his country need him. 6/10
Tendulkar - the wait for the hundredth hundred continues. And in this form, it may wait all summer. 6/10
Raina - the promised showed at Lord's was left thoroughly unfulfilled in Nottinghamshire by Suresh. If all you had to do was bowl a bouncer or two at him, it makes you wonder how he scored so many last test match. Very weak game for him 2/10
Yuvraj - offers a good option with the ball, especially with Habhajan bowling like a Dad trying to build his son's confidence with a few underarms, and can do damage with the bat but as with his whole career really, lacking concentration and consistency. Will surely make way for Gambhir and/or Sehwag. 62 and the wicket of Bell earn him 6/10
Dhoni - sadly no points for sportsmanship, which is a shame for MS, cos he sure isn't going to win any for his field placements or batting skills. The 4th Indian golden duck of the match and the final nail in the coffin. 0/10
Harbhajan - 67/1 doesn't look too bad really, given that the Turbanator is bowling a lot of unthreatening Ashley Giles at the moment. His only consolation is that Swann isn't doing much better. Nice little cameo with the bat though. 2/10
Kumar - Praveen is picking up a good number of wickets, he now has 13 for the series, second only behind Broad. But frankly, I can't help thinking he gets wickets mostly just because no-one else in the Indian team does. Still, you can't argue with 169/7 - 7/10
Ishant - five wickets in the match may seem like a decent effort, but at nearly 40 runs a pop, he probably won't be opening the bubbly. 4/10
Sreesanth - as with Ishant, 5 wickets, but at 42 runs each. Nothing to write home about and certainly nothing to threaten Zaheer's return should his hamstring return to full working order. 4/10

Team totals:
England - 62
India - 45

Prediction time:
It looked for a while as though my 100-150 run victory could be accurate. Little did I account for Tim Bresnan. India will be stronger with a bit of a break and a couple of big players to return but it would take a massive turn around to stop England securing the top spot in the ICC rankings next weekend. England to win again