England took on India in the first of a bumper 5 Test match series in Nottingham where the game showed glimpses of like, ended in farce and nicely summed up everything wrong with English cricket at the moment.
Alistair Cook capped the game off by taking his first test wicket after some positive captaincy managed to overshadow another failure with the bat. His form continues to worry everyone but after more positive contributions with the bat from Root, Balance & Robson – the pressure on Cook may be beginning to lift. For the past 18 months Cook’s own failures have mirrored that of the team. He fails the team fails.
This game started badly when it appeared England were so keen on becoming welcoming hosts they allowed the Trent Bridge management team to prepare a pitch that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Mohali or Calcutta. Slow, low and flat. Very flat. I’ll come onto how this kind of thing will kill Test cricket later on but it created an utterly boring game of Test cricket.
India batted OK and England bowled well to get to stumps on day 1 at 259 – 4. The next day England bowled well and India poorly to get to 346-9 (which would have been hideously under par on this pitch) until England once again lost their heads and allowed batsmen 9 & 11 to put on 100 for the last wicket. Frustrating times. England batted well enough until a hilariously poor collapse which saw them go from 134-1 to 202 – 7. Well done lads.
The only remotely entertaining part of the game from an England point of view was the tail, alongside Joe Root, who smashed their way to an incredible 496 all out. Root hit a quite amazing unbeaten 154 which is all the more remarkable as most of the runs were scored with the England bowlers. Most unbelievable at all James Anderson hit a quite spectacular 81. After this England toiled well in the field to sniff a remarkable victory but once again we couldn’t dismiss the Indian tail as Binny & Kumar put the game to bed as a draw.
So for the third time this summer England played out a game on a turgid flat pitch. ‘Chief Exec’ pitches as they’re known are a far bigger threat to Test cricket than T20’s or ODI’s. There is a hunger and a desire to see Test cricket played on English pitches and conditions. There doesn’t need to be green tops with 250 being a good score, but the desires of the County’s who are forced to bid millions of pounds for Test matches are being put in front of the success of the team and the cricket watching public.
I’m off to Lords this week for the second Test – I’ll not be going back if a similar feast of boredom is served up for the 4th time this summer.
Man of the Match: Joe Root (England)
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