England up against two very tough oppositions


Alastair Cook: Cricket ExclusiveAt the Heathrow airport, the moment they checked-in to fly to the Indian sub-continent, English side would have known this for sure. They would have known that they have two very tough oppositions to defy in order for them to maintain their reputation of a good all-round test side.

Two oppositions being – ‘the Indian side’ of course and ‘the sub-continent conditions’.

For past many years, England have been on top of their game when it comes to test match cricket. But to prove to the world that they are a good all-round side, the sub-continent challenge must be conquered. And make no mistake; this challenge is their biggest this year.

As I write this, England is falling apart. At lunch on day 3 of the 1st test match, they are 110/7 in response to the huge Indian score of 521/8d and clearly looking at a follow-on. One wonders what has suddenly gone wrong, what is it that a champion side like them as one TV commentator mentioned have ‘a noose tightened around their throat’? The answer, well, as most would agree is that they try too hard when up against good quality spinners on turning tracks… It is all in the mind.

If one watches closely the way English batsmen have got out, it can be noticed that they don’t have a clear approach towards playing spin. There is too much pre-meditation, there is over-complication in the manner the shots are being played and there is absolutely no attempt to simplify the method to go about things. Let me be very clear here, these players are top quality with no dearth of skills but at the moment their mindset is such that everything they do seems to come back and choke them. They are either too defensive to the extent of using just the pads or they (read Bell) want to go after the bowling from ball one. Indians batted on the same pitch with so much ease. Sehwag and Yuvraj looked great but Pujara was just outstanding, playing everything straight and late, just how you play on these tracks.

Amidst English performance (non-), due credit must be given to the Indian spinners who bowled really well. However bad the opposition is batting, you still have to put the ball in the right areas. In fact Dhoni had so much confidence in ability of his spinners that his premier fast bowler Umesh Yadav came into bowl only in the 48th over of English innings.

Well, all is not lost for England and they can still come back into this long four match test series, if not this test match. But for that to happen Alastair Cook and the coach Andy Flower have to do some thinking and get their strategies right, very quickly.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Test Cricket, the game’s most exciting form


(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

It all started with this particular form and it still remains most exciting and intriguing. The game of cricket has gone through immense change and has transformed from being a sport played by a handful of players in equally small number of countries to a universally recognized sport. Not just more countries are involved now but the perception about this sport has seen a significant contrast.

Few decades ago, who would have imagined that there would be such a huge viewership of this sport, who would have thought that the players themselves would pre-sell a tournament on TV, creative people alike will write the ‘Mehman-Nawazi’ campaigns and who would have imagined in their wildest of dreams that cricketers, yes cricketers would draw huge money from ad commercial endorsements…they aren’t footballers…

But all this has happened and so much more. Amidst all this however, test match cricket remains as beautiful and exciting as ever. The very fact that you can win a test match only if you have the capability to take 20 wickets, that means you get the opposition out twice in a match makes this form of the game so challenging. Man…you have all the time in the world but you must get them out twice and thus you must scale the ‘Wall’. Well we all know this, by the time Mr. Dravid retired he had made life of the bowlers around the world difficult not because of his ability to score at the quickest rate but because his unmatched talent of staying at the crease and fighting it out.

Another reason that makes Test match cricket extensively exciting is that it is everybody’s game and its not just about fours and sixes. Let’s not forget there are millions of fans who love bowling and fielding too and I bet they all love it when good bowlers run through batting line-ups. If I ask an average cricket follower about his memories of some famous wins of his favorite side, for sure he will mention some test wins. Who can forget VVS Laxman’s marathon innings of 281 at Kolkata or Harbhajan Singh’s back to back match winning spells in the same series or Anil Kumble’s 10 wicket haul at Ferozshah Kotla against the arch rivals Pakistan, Sehwag’s triple hundred at Multan, Tendulkar’s numerous innings…well the list is endless and mind you these efforts that I’ve listed are particularly from Indian players, there are so many more of such performances from players of various other nations which are equally splendid and tell us never ending tales of glory.

In any cricketer’s career, performing well in test cricket is one huge aspiration and it takes a lot to do well at this level.

The shorter forms of the game have arrived and they promise lot of entertainment, but still, nothing can match the excitement of the real cricket – Test Cricket, all whites and red cherry has its own charm !!!WW6PXY4QQTKV