x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Duncan Fletcher defends his India batsmen in swinging conditions

The coach says his batsmen are not used to swing back home but had done all that was asked of them in terms of preparation.

Gautam Gambhir is clean bowled by Tim Bresnan at Edgbaston yesterday.
Gautam Gambhir is clean bowled by Tim Bresnan at Edgbaston yesterday.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND // Duncan Fletcher, the under-pressure India coach, has defended his side's misfiring batsmen, saying they could have done anything more to combat England's thriving pace-attack.

Fletcher, who has endured a tough return to England in his new role with India, having suffered two consecutive defeats already, saw his side capitulate to 224 all out, the fifth time in succession they have failed to reach 300.

After their hosts closed on 84 for no wicket on day one of the third Test, India seem to be heading for another defeat, meaning they would cede their No 1 ranking in Test cricket.

"I have never played on three wickets [as in the first three Test matches of this series] where the ball has moved around so much, even when I was with England [as head coach]," Fletcher said.

"How can we go out there and practice against swing bowling in India when there is no swing bowling there?"

The Zimbabwean said his celebrated batsmen had done all that was asked of them in terms of preparation, and have attended even optional batting practice, and insisted England's dominance has been down to their battery of pace bowlers.

The in-form Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan shared eight wickets between them at Edgbaston, while James Anderson picked up the other two.

"They seem to hunt as a pack well, and they have an intensity about them," said Fletcher, who oversaw rise of the vaunted four-man pace attack which won the 2005 Ashes for England during his time in charge.

Bresnan, whose haul here came on top of the decisive five he took in the last match in Nottingham, said he thought conditions were less helpful for the seam-bowlers than they had been to date.

"It swung a bit, but not overly, not like Trent Bridge," he said. "It was a great day's Test cricket for us. We know you have to bowl well to bowl out this batting line up, that is the bottom line.

"It's nice that the wickets are shared around a bit. It definitely has that hunting in a pack mentality to it, and we do enjoy each other's success."

Bresnan: it was business as usual

Tim Bresnan, the England bowler, said his side had been given no extra motivation to succeed by the civil disorder sweeping the UK.

On the eve of the third Test, Andrew Strauss, the captain, said he wanted his team to divorce cricket from any external issues, but did say they would be doing their bit to provide some sort of feel-good factor for the country.

Bresnan took four wickets, but said it had been business as usual for his team.

“It would be nice to win and give something positive back to England, but I would not say we are motivated by what is happening,” the Yorkshireman said.

“We are just going about our business as we would if nothing was happening. I think that is pretty much the right way to go about it. We have a job to do like anyone else.”

The England players had been told to stay in their hotel for the two nights before the Test, as rioters swarmed the city centre of Birmingham.

However, Bresnan insisted England had been undetered, as he said: “It has not really affected us.

"We have just concentrated on what we have to do rather than outside distractions.

“As the situation is at the minute, the authorities have said it is fine for us to play and we follow their advice wherever we are in the world, so there is no reason why it should be any different here.”

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