India test series


England have announced their 15-man squad for the test series against India that begins in December. National selector Geoff Miller said the selection process was relatively straight forward and I can see what he means. They have been consistent in the selection of players that operated during the summer and not a great deal of risks have been taken, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

There is also an obvious relationship between the test squad and one-day squad. Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen appear keen to have a similar group of players operating in both the short and long version of the game. Highlighting this is fact that of the 11 players who played the last ODI game against South Africa, only two – Samit Patel and Luke Wright – are not in the test squad for the India tour.

The main talking points prior to this squad being announced were surrounding the wicket-keeper position, the second spinner and the extra batsmen following Michael Vaughan’s absence.

In terms of who will be getting the gloves for the first test in India – well, we still don’t know. Both Matt Prior and Tim Ambrose have been selected in a relatively save move from the selectors. They have recognised Ambrose’s failures but have kept faith with him. Something I think will be another trait of the Moores/Pietersen partnership. However, Prior is likely to get the nod for the One Day series and should he perform well, I think the cricket odds will be backing him to keep the gloves for the test matches.

The next significant selection was that of Graeme Swann who will operate alongside Monty Panesar in the spin department. The Nottinghamshire man was picked ahead of Adil Rashid and Samit Patel who were aiming to make their first test squad. Again, this is a rather conservative selection from the selectors. Not that this is a bad thing. Swann has been in and around the England set-up for quite some time now and has performed admirably in the 12 one-day games he has played. It would perhaps have been too much to ask of Patel or Rashid to make their test bow as the second spinner against India in India. Especially at their age.

Finally, let’s discuss the selection of Owais Shah. The player himself said he was surprised at getting the call, but I wasn’t at all. I believe that Pietersen is a huge fan of Shah’s and has a lot of faith in his ability. The new captain promoted the Middlesex batsman to number three in the ODI games, after all. Shah’s selection meant that Ravi Bopara missed out. As you know, I am a big fan of the Essex man, but it appears that Shah’s superior ability to play spin secured his seat on the plane. Bopara will be devastated, but I don’t think he can have too many complaints on this basis. Bopara’s international career is certainly on hold right now and he is in danger of slipping down the pecking order too far.

Anyway, they are the main talking points after England’s squad for India was announced. Everything else was as expected, with the nucleus of the side looking very strong. It has to be said that in terms of cricket betting, India will be favourites to win the series. However, England will be hoping that the feel good factor surrounding the Pietersen era, along with faith in certain players’ ability and consistent selection could help them prosper.

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Cricinfo has scored both teams and provided additional commentary following the recent England v India test series. England’s marks out of ten are below, the thoughts of Andrew Miller can be seen here.

Kevin Pietersen – 8
Michael Vaughan – 7
Ryan Sidebottom – 7
James Anderson – 6
Chris Tremlett – 6
Paul Collingwood – 6
Monty Panesar – 5
Andrew Strauss – 4
Alastair Cook – 4
Ian Bell – 4
Matt Prior – 3.5

Sing when you’re winning, England are still second in the ICC Test Rankings. The third and final test fizzled out with a Pietersen ton and some strokes from Bell as Test Match Special debated whether England should have pushed for a win by scoring more than 400 on the final day. Bookies were incredibly stingey with their odds, 40-1 to chase down 500 in the final innings? Ridiculous. Should have been more like 1000 – 1. Its not going to happen.

The series belongs to India. There is an old saying that it is better to be lucky than good, and Dravid’s side were lucky. England were robbed at Lords, and the toss at Trent Bridge was crucial. Having said that, had England held their catches in the Indian first innings at the Oval India would have only scored 400-odd, which would have left England well and truely in the game.

Jimmy Anderson was the pick of the England bowlers throughout the series. Sidebottom and Panesar were steady. No matter how well the commentators said that Tremlett had bowled, he does seem to give the impression that there is more pace in the tank. I want to see him really make the batters jump around.

Batting wise, Pietersen again was the best batter in the England side and Vaughan looked quality on occasion. Alastair Cook too often did the hard work and got out, something he didn’t do in England colours earlier in his brief international career. Strauss looks like he needs some time off and a good net session with Sir Geoffrey.

This was Vaughan’s first loss in a test series in England, and hopefully should make his team fight even harder in future series. The good news for England is that they have 6 weeks of ODI and International Twenty20 cricket to come. TVC is licking his lips.

Sing when you're winning

The Indian cricket team has been issued with a list of DOs and DON’Ts for the forthcoming tour of England. The team, which will be led by captain Rahul Dravid, have flown into Belfast to start an 80-day tour, and will be given £50 a day for expenses in Ireland and Scotland, and £47.50 a day when in England. Read more here.

The first test between England and India starts at Lord’s on July 19. In London £47.50 could buy you:

Zone 1&2 travel card (can be used on Night Bus too): £5
Two pints of lager in London pub: £8
Slap-up feed at Standard Indian Restaurant, Bayswater: £20
Entrance to Brown’s nightclub, Farringdon: £5
Pedalo on the Serpentine in Hyde Park: £7.50

Pedalo fun in London town

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