Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Alastair Cook is extremely effective as a batsman.
Alastair Cook is extremely effective as a batsman.

A remarkable yet predictable script in India-England Test so far

Osman Samiuddin is not surprised that India have an edge in Ahmedabad while the England captain Alastair Cook has shown a lot of pluck even as some of his teammates struggled to play spin.

Four days into the first Test between India and England and sweet hindsight tells us this: if someone impartial, not prone to hyperbole, and sane, had written a script predicting how things may go in this Test, indeed in this entire Test series, would this not have been it, as things stand tomorrow morning?

India are in the driver's seat, comfortably the favourites to the win the Test and England, though struggling, are not the pushovers that might have been expected.

There is a long way to go, 16 more days possibly, including tomorrow, but this scenario already sounds so much like it could work as a fairly reasonable analysis of the tour for England.

What are we to read into it so far? That England's batting would struggle against spin, on similar surfaces, but not necessarily that all of their batsmen might.

It is difficult to pinpoint precisely why this should be the case, but it is probably something similar to why subcontinent batsmen might struggle to play swing in England; unused to wildly alien conditions, unused to the kind of bowling even more.

But if he is not acknowledged or celebrated, more accurately for the batsman that he is, it is only because Alastair Cook is just so, well, is normal the right word? Unassuming, frill-free? Already his second-innings hundred (the first captain to make three in his first three Tests in charge incidentally, although the first two came against Bangladesh) is on its way to acquiring the status of a true epic, its grandness to stand very likely untarnished by defeat.

If he manages any other result, it will be easily his finest innings and one of the great subcontinent rearguards.

And, typically from Cook, it will hardly have been an act of shiny heroism as much as just a supremely competent innings, a nine-to-five shift of an innings, as if this is precisely what he is meant to have done.

Not even close to 30 yet and not far short of 7000 Test runs, a flurry of landmarks in the bag and another batch in view, he is best placed among a group of batsmen to attack the crazy records Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting will leave behind soon.

That Matt Prior gave him company in the second innings was also not surprising. He has actually looked the most comfortable of all England's batsmen against spin this year; over the last two years or so, he is averaging near enough 50 with the bat.

But that England's bowling attack would have been so unprepared for conditions out here, an attack built on a reputation for being so tight, well-drilled and purposeful remember, will be cause for greater worry.

In particular the extent to which they have been out bowled by Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav has been instructive. Both have found significant reverse swing, reverse that has escaped England's three pace bowlers; Zaheer has been far cleverer with and more protective of the new ball than any.

And Yadav has been the quickest of all the fast bowlers; that specifically should raise questions about why James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan are bowling at such a lower pace than they were last year for example, and particularly since the South Africa series this summer.

It is only one innings so far, it is important to remind ourselves, and Anderson and Broad were magnificent in the UAE and Sri Lanka earlier this year. But this seems the right time to be asking deeper questions, as longer-held concerns emerge. Is the balance of the attack right presently, for India? Should Monty Panesar not be playing, if only to ease the burden on Graeme Swann?

Bresnan would be the easier to drop if they do opt to change but England will probably feel it is time they decided to talk about Broad as well. Broad has not had a bad year at all. In fact he was their most dangerous pace bowler in the UAE and picked up wickets against the West Indies at home.

But so muted was he against South Africa and again in the first innings here, that it should be cause for mild alarm.

Down on pace and erring in lengths anyway, he has looked one rejected appeal from losing it entirely (and the appeals have been stupendously ill-judged ones), a muttering, mumbling disaffection of a kind that, in sweet hindsight again, comes to end up symbolising an entire tour.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike puts Al Jazira on verge of qualifying for the last 16 of Asian Champions League

All to play for across East Asia during final round of group phase.

 Manchester City's Vincent Kompany reacts after being sent off by referee Lee Mason during their English Premier League soccer match against Hull City at the KC stadium in Hull, northern England March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Man City’s Manuel Pellegrini says Vincent Kompany is an important player

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini defends team captain and talks about team's injuries ahead of clash with Sunderland at home on Wednesday night.

 Supporters of China during the Asian Cup Qualifier match between Iraq vs China at Sharjah football stadium in Sharjah. Iraq won the match by 3-1. Pawan Singh / The National

Asian Cup expanding to 24 football teams in 2019

As part of a regional shake-up, the 2019 Asian Cup will climb to 24 teams but next month’s Challenge Cup in the Maldives will be the last, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced.

 Latifa Ali Al Shamsi of UAE fights compatriot Boshra Ghanem Al Zadjali in their 38.5kg match at the Junior World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Christopher Pike / The National

Competitors at Abu Dhabi Junior World Jiu-Jitsu Championship target world domination

All of Wednesday’s winners at the tournament, being held in the UAE capital, are ambitious enough to target a black belt and reach the pinnacle of the sport, Amith Passela reports.

 Jacques Kallis top-scored with 72 for Kolkata Knight Riders against Mumbai Indians at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Pawan Singh / The National

Kallis kicks off IPL 7 with fifty as Kolkata thrash Mumbai

South African legend shows class is permanent as Knight Riders beat defending champions by 41 runs. Osman Samiuddin reports from Abu Dhabi.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National