India test series


Urrr, umm, yes, hmm, oh dear, bother. Read about it somewhere else:

Cricinfo: Tendulkar century sets up famous win
The Independent: Tendulkar hails special performance
Telegraph:
Sachin Tendulkar steers India to famous win over England
Times Online:
India defeat will be psychologically damaging for England, says Mike Atherton

Monty looked short of he best and the use of technology would have seen off Gambhir and Youvraj. KP says no excuses, so bugger! We should have won this one.

What a day. Seemingly underachieved with the bat this morning, but England’s bowlers, inspired by the debutant Graeme Swann – who took two big wickets the last over before lunch, his first in test cricket, have fought back magnificently. This is shaping up to be a magnificent contest. There is a lot of cricket to be played, but England are ahead. If they can roll over the Indian’s early tomorrow England will have a crucial first innings lead, and the opportunity to set India a daunting run chase in the last day and a half. This is cricket at its best.

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Arrgggghhh, how very Australian. England grafted and ground, and Andrew Strauss was marvellous in compiling an excellent ton, but failures from pretty much England’s entire middle-order, means that the good foundations he and Alistair Cook built in the first session and beyond could yet be wasted. The pitch is good and will become increasingly spin friendly. England need to stop the rot and build another 150 – 200 runs tomorrow to put the pressue on India. This was the toss we hoped for, but Flintoff and Prior need to dig in and build a commanding first innings total.

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Ian Bell, famously coined ‘the Sherminator’ by Shane Warne during the 2006/7 Ashes series (after the ginger haired geek in the American Pie film Trilogy), approaches the beginning of 12 months that could make or break his reputation as a Test cricketer, writes Paul McDonald, exclusively for The Village Cricketer).

Ive been called worse Chuck Sherman (left) and Ian Bell (right)

"I've been called worse" Chuck Sherman (left) and Ian Bell (right)

I’ve always been a fan of Bell. He is technically correct, compact and equally adept off both the front and back foot. During his maiden test innings (an impressive 70 against the West Indies in 2004) he reminded me of Michael Atherton (albeit with more of a desire to play shots). Aside from a brief period on the sidelines in early 2006, he has been a near permanent fixture in the England Test side since the glorious Ashes summer of 2005 (filling his boots with 227 unbeaten runs in two tests against woeful Bangladesh certainly did his average no harm).

Bell averages 42, has 8 centuries in 43 tests (not far off Boycott’s oft-quoted 1 in 5 conversion requirement), so what’s the problem? Well, quite frankly, I expect more.

A batting average of over 40 no longer cuts the mustard, it is simply not enough. The last decade has brought with it substantial improvements in bat technology and pitch preparation. England are touring the sub-continent with increasing regularity where, new ball negotiation aside, batters are able to build centuries at will (TVC has already said that England are ‘better able and better inclined to build the slow, steady centuries required’ – I wholeheartedly agree).

Once described as ‘the best 16-year old I have ever seen’ by Dayle Hadlee (Brother to Sir Richard and respected coach), Bell has hardly set the test world alight. Having done just about enough to justify batting first wicket down for the upcoming series, I wonder how long it will be before media pressure pushes Kevin Pietersen up to number three?

There are positives I can draw upon. Bell’s series tally against Pakistan in 2005/6, 313 runs at 52 is an achievement not to be sniffed at. He also scored three centuries in three tests, again against the Pakistanis (in 2006). Recently, his 199 against the Saffers at Lords suggested Bell had finally come of age.

Alas, this was a thought that proved misplaced. Consolation dead rubber victory aside, England were soundly beaten by an impressive outfit and Bell contributed just 133 runs at 22 during the rest of the series (on another note, I too am very much looking forward to the upcoming Australia versus South Africa confrontations. Finally, in 20 innings, Bell has yet to make a century against the Aussies – hardly a record befitting a world class number three.

So what’s required over the next 12 months?

I want to see more of a combative attitude from Bell. Who can forget Owais Shah’s test debut, batting at number three, sledging the Indian Bowlers during his 88 at Mumbai in 2006 (I always enjoy seeing Harbhajan and Sreesanth getting smashed around)?. A Test number three should be dictating the pace of the game in all conditions and Bell needs to step up. At 26 years of age, the next 5 years could be a golden period. I want to see him averaging over 50 against India and the West Indies (both home and away), I want to see him compiling significant scores where the pitches are friendly (India) and when the bowling attacks lack quality and experience (the Windies). Bell should be approaching the 2009 Ashes at the peak of his powers, ready to demolish the Aussies without fearing the now retired McGrath/Warne combination. Let’s hope the Sherminator can deliver.

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Now we are talking! After an autumn of mismatches it finally looks as though there will be some enthralling cricketing contests coming up.

England are on the way to India with a pretty much full strength side. Reasons to be cheerful following the ODI results? Yes, absolutely. Despite what happened against the Saffas this summer, England are far better at test cricket than ODIs. The batsmen are better able and better inclined to build the slow, steady centuries that are required in tests, rather than the flamboyant, rapid ones required for ODI cricket. In addition, England’s bowling attack has more variety than the one the Canary Yellows took to India. India are favourites to win, especially given that England will be woefully underprepared, however Monty Panesar is a proper spinner and the key to England coming away from India with a drawn series, or even a sneaky win should a crucial toss go in Kevin Pietersen’s favour.

Meanwhile, there is the mouth-watering prospect of a confident South Africa versus a ponderous Australia in the land of Oz. Ricky Ponting is saying that Australia are still the best wide in the world, and would remain so even it the South Africans sneak a series win. I think the Aussie batting line up edges the Saffa’s, however given that the best spinner on either side is Paul Harris, I think we can be confident in saying that this will be a series that will be won by the best pace attack. Graeme Smith is talking up Dale Steyn, but it could be Morne Morkel that really unsettles the Canary Yellow batters when they meet for the first test in Perth. This series is too close to call.

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First of all, I am aware that the major talking point as far as cricket is concerned right now is the Stanford Twenty20 game. However, I think enough has been said about this all over the press and blogosphere. Overall, I just don’t care enough about the result of the game to discuss it too much, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

Instead, I wanted to talk about a man that has been an excellent servant to test cricket – Anil Kumble. The India captain has retired from international cricket with immediate effect. He decided to stand down during the final day of the third test against Australia after sustaining a finger injury on day three.

Kumble said that ‘the body gave me the decision’ to retire and that he always knew that it was time to call it a day. There was a distinct possibility that he would be unfit for the final test match of the series, so the timing seemed perfect for the spinner.

The decision means that India are technically without a captain as they head to Nagpur looking to secure a series win over Australia. However, one-day captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni – who led the team to victory in the second test – is backed by all cricket betting websites to become the new test skipper.

Looking back at Kumble’s career makes you realise just how excellent he was and how much he did for Indian cricket. He took 619 test match wickets to leave him third in the all-time list behind fellow spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne. This is a record to be proud of; as is the fact he is one of only two players that have ever taken all ten wickets in a test match innings. Kumble achieved this in 1999 against Pakistan.

The fact that he has ended his career at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground has substantial significance as this was where he achieved his 10-74 nine years ago. Kumble admitted that Delhi had been ‘really special’ for him.

The 38-year-old is arguably the greatest Indian match winner of all time and I suppose his retirement may come as welcome news to England. Kevin Pietersen’s side travel to India this month and will eventually play two test matches against a team that is without their main spinner from over the years. Therefore, in theory, England should be pleased that Kumble has called time on his illustrious career. He has an excellent record against England, after all.

However, under Dhoni, this India team have showed real signs of progression. They won the Twenty20 world cup under the leadership of the wicket-keeper and they are moving positively into a new era. They are a very confident side right now and Dhoni’s captaincy will exaggerate this even further.

They even have a new spinner to replace the outgoing Kumble. Amit Mishra – who stepped in for an injured Kumble in the second test against the Aussies – took seven wickets in this match and he could very well cause England problems. KP and co aren’t exactly renowned for handling an unknown spinning quality that well!

Overall, as much as India have lost one of their greatest ever players, I think the timing was right. It is time for a new era of Indian cricket. They will still be strong favourites to beat England according to the cricket odds as Pietersen faces his first real test as captain. Kumble or no Kumble, this is a very talented and enthusiastic India side that will be extremely difficult to beat.

The war of words is hotting up ahead of Australia’s test series against India. Sehwag has reminded everyone of the previous series by suggest that “Australians are claiming one-bounce catches, we’d have won the Sydney test match if they hadn’t claimed catches taken off half-volleys in that game”. These are claims that Ricky Ponting says are “fairly insulting”. Read about it in The Times.

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