And Then Came The Evening Session: Day 1 at The Oval

It was all going swimmingly in the morning. TMS were even predicting a day 5 finish. The pitch looked so tame. There was no pace, no swing, no sting. It was almost Melbourne 2017ish. And everyone assumed it was just a matter of time before Alastair Cook signed off his test career the way he started it: with a ton.

But then lunch happened. And it was a completely different game thereafter. Whatever the ball ate with its pasta – steroids I assume – produced an almost surreal change in conditions. Suddenly it was swinging like a sexually frustrated couple with a liberal attitude to monogamy. And England’s batsmen were predictably flummoxed.

Having said that our batting took a while to collapse this time. Somehow Cook and Moeen – who looked anything like a test No.3 in these conditions – managed to survive until tea. Mo played and missed 30 (yes, thirty according to Sky’s statisticians) times.

And the Alastair that looked destined for a ton metamorphosed back into the uncertain opener we’ve seen for the last couple of years. The crowd were willing him on, but when a ball from Bumrah seamed back into him a little too much, we discovered that his infamous tank was empty after all. Groan.

The afternoon session was a painful exercise. Ishant, Shami and Bumrah had the ball on a string, and our batsmen came and went like cheap referendum promises. Root lost his balance (not for the first time) and was pinged in front. Bairstow (not for the first time) got a little squared up and nicked one behind, and Moeen’s luck eventually ran out.

Dear old Mo concentrated really well, and showed he has the patience to bat up the order, but I fear his game isn’t quite good enough at this level. He’s just too vulnerable in a couple of areas – not least outside off stump. He might do a job this winter but I fear Australia’s pacemen will have him on toast if he bats 3 in next year’s Ashes.

Although it’s tempting to lay into our batsmen yet again – after all, 133-1 to 198-7 is a weapons-grade collapse – this time I do have a little sympathy for them. The ball really did hoop around corners during the last session. Pant had an absolute nightmare behind the stumps. Several balls swung prodigiously before they reached the batsmen, and then swung even more once they passed the bat. It was like watching cricket with a hurricane Katrina style cross-wind. No wonder our batters struggled.

Having said that, England batsmen of bygone eras probably would have coped a lot better. This lot can’t really adapt their games successfully (not with any level of consistency anyway) due to their heavy diet of white ball cricket. Their day one run rate of 2.2 per over just about said it all really. They saw the ball swinging, freaked out a bit, and completely went into their shells.

It’s quite funny when you think about it. England collapse in a heap when they play their natural game and attack. This time they knuckled down, hardly played a shot in anger and …. collapsed in a heap.

Only three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and England batting collapses. At least it felt reassuringly familiar when we were reduced to 181-7. I felt a bit light-headed when there were three figures in the total column for the loss of just Keaton Jennings.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

James Morgan

2018-09-07T19:14:17+00:00September 7th, 2018|Eng v Ind 2018, Test Cricket|16 Comments


  1. Andrew Cheese September 7, 2018 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Jennings – crap – he has to go.
    Bairstow – who wants a three year old kid in their side – he has to go.
    Root – a hasbeen – he has to go.
    Stokes – ok but I don’t understand what the fuss is about – can stay for now.
    Buttler – doing a good job – can stay.
    Mo – a good all rounder – can stay
    Curren – what was that today – let’s wait for the second innings.
    Anderson and Broad – we don’t need both abroad – take Jimmy as at least he is economical.
    Cook – he’s gone.
    Rashid – Who ???????

    Time to rebuild – look to the future. This side has failed for too long now. How come Ed Smith can’t see this – maybe it is his dark sun glasses he can’t see through.

    • Willie Mohan September 10, 2018 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Good God.

  2. Simon H September 7, 2018 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Jennings still going on the SL tour according to Lawrence Booth (whose selection predictions have been most amazingly accurate recently)..

  3. Norman Duggers Dugdale September 7, 2018 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    I think this Cheese might have gone mouldy?

    Panic is not the answer. If the ball was moving around much as James says; I never watched one ball from my German home! then I can totally understand the failures; REMEMBER, its September when all UK League cricket has finished and only the money grabbing ECB/ICC international and County fixtures are deemed worthy playing…… WRONG!! VERY WRONG!! The cricket season was never meant to go into September!!!

    • Doug M September 7, 2018 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      It only goes into September because they play nothing but crap T20 through June, July and August. Only 2 rounds of the Championship in 7 weeks in glorious weather. The result of that? A poor Test side. You can’t have it both ways. And England players should be able to play the moving ball, oh trouble is central contracts largely keep them away from 4 day cricket so they play one day shots. Next year the last two Ashes tests are in September, one in Manchester. Can’t wait.

    • Cricketcricketcricket September 8, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

      Umm league cricket is still going fella….

  4. Doug M September 7, 2018 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Well for once our top 3, sorry not Jennings, got runs albeit painfully. But the middle order white ball men couldn’t bail us out this time. Alistair Cook show or not, glad I didn’t pay £70 odd to sit through that. 3/1 up to this game don’t half flatter this England side. If India has bowled fuller in the 1st session we would not have made 150. Blimey there were a lot of play and misses Just saw another great Surrey win against Essex for the princely sum of £27 for 3 days! Burns (who says Smith?) 1000 runs up. Give me the run in to the Championship any day than this poor Test stuff. You know Andrew says it above, way overdue for a rebuild. This side looks tired.

  5. Marc Evans September 7, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    The problem, as James points out, is the classic catch 22 of the modern game. We can all see when conditions favour bowling the modern day batsmen, increasingly weaned on a diet of batsman friendly white ball cricket, do not have the basics to cope. This particularly applies to the regular test players, who get to play virtually no county cricket with their central contracts prioritizing international matches. It seems that whoever we introduce into the mix ends up with these same issues, batsmen and bowlers alike.
    As the problem is getting steadily worse, it is unbelievable to me that it seems to remain unaddressed.

  6. Marce Evans September 7, 2018 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    A propo of value for money, was looking to get a couple of tickets for next weekend’s 20-20 bash finals day at Edgbaston, only to find the cheapest tickets were close to £100, many almost double that. If the powers at be are looking to attract families to white ball events there are few I know who could afford these prices. Even children’s tickets were £40, more than for a full day’s county cricket. I know you get 3 matches, but at least one will not feature your team, and at this time of year it gets cold when the sun’s gone in, even under floodlights, not easy if you have young kids, especially if the weather’s iffy. Sure there will be other distractions for them, but most you have to pay for. Doesn’t seem great value for money to me.

    • Doug M September 8, 2018 at 5:54 am - Reply

      Hello Marc. Agree what you say on prices. London always charges top whack, but other grounds are now noticeably less full. County Cricket miles cheaper and you get some good matches, Surrey for example charge only £1 for under 16’s and a four day match ticket at Essex last week cost me £28! Ok there was only 3 days but that’s still £9 a day.

  7. Mark September 8, 2018 at 3:36 am - Reply

    Why were Jennings Broad Bairstow Rashid all picked in this test??? Surely a dead rubber to try out some others before SL tour. Instead of trying burns (on his home ground) we are now none the wiser on which will be our opening pair in November. Instead of trying leach we are still relying on 2 spinners who have not done it abroad and instead of trying stone we are still giving broad the benefit of doubt based on past glories. Would have liked to have seen Clarke get a go at 3 in this test too. I would have gone with:


    This team would have generated some hype with many wanting to see how the new lads get on. Also a nice excuse if we don’t win this one. It’s building for future…

    All in the team need to feel like there are consequences to bad performances. I get the need for stability but also high competition for places will only help create high performance culture. Look at the one day team where they regularly rotate and drop if not performing or need a little rest. Time to blood some youngsters and time to not rely nor keep accommodating poor performing players no matter how much experience they have. They can always go back to some 4 day cricket and play thier way back into form. Oh wait…

    • Marc Evans September 8, 2018 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Totally agree re the chance to blood some new faces for the squad this winter. After Cook acknowledged his mojo was gone as a test player didn’t see the point of picking him just for old time’s sake. Can’t believe Jennings has yet another chance. Bairstow is totally out of touch and there are doubts about Stoke’s fitness. Rashid also, being a fringe player could easily be replaced. This gives 5 new faces a chance in a dead rubber, where intensity cannot be the same for the team, whatever the players say, whereas for the new players this is a one off chance to impress, so intensity for them will be there in spades.
      As a Warwick supporter would love to see Ollie Stone on a pacy track like the Oval. We need a class keeper and a front line spinner. Foakes and Leach could have been in there with Burns and maybe young Sam Hain or a return to Stoneham to open. Unless you select a proper no3 like Vince, Root is going to have to play there. I know my ideas would weaken the batting, as Butler would have to be 4, Moin 5, Curran 6 and Foakes 7, neither Stone or Leach being batsmen, but the present line up is hardly setting the world alight.

      • AndyB September 9, 2018 at 10:47 am - Reply

        I was born and bred in Brum and still get to Edgbaston 2-3 times a season. Like you I would like to see Stone tried but I do wonder if pure pace will cut it at test level (he gets little movement). We will only know if we try him, but Brookes looks the real deal unless his injury forces him to change his action. But I cannot agree with Hain. My view is that he is lucky to keep his place in the Warwickshire team over Matt Lamb. His red ball record has been poor for 3 years. God knows what Foakes has to do to get selected

  8. Comte September 8, 2018 at 8:28 am - Reply

    Just a cotton-pickin’ minute – playing cricket in September is nothing new. The problem is the failure to play CC cricket in mid summer. The curse of white ball cricket is here. We are no longer in a position to bring about a quick fix.
    Does anyone remember James Whitaker? Whatever the weather he would wear sunglasses pushed up onto his hair. I used to think it was an affectation. Smith seems to wear shades all the time, covering his eyes.I would ban selectors from wearing shades – that way they might see what every one else sees e.g. Jennings is rubbish and should never again play for England.

  9. AndyB September 8, 2018 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Always dangerous to judge on one innings, but all the day did for me was to confirm some things which were evident from the series;

    * Jennings is just not good enough. Having said that we will need to take 3 openers on tour, so I guess he will be going anyway.
    * Stokes should have been rested and then brought back for the tour. He looks out of sorts and that can only be down to his last few months.
    * Woakes is essential to stiffen the batting down order (as well as being our best bowler after Jimmy). I am saying that watching Broad support Buttler – but that is going to happen about as often as Boris Johnson giving up sex for Lent.
    * Mo is a genuine all rounder – but not at 3. He plays at balls established top order bats will leave.
    * What is the point of picking Rashid?

    • James September 9, 2018 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      I think the idea of Moeen batting at 3 is to let the rest of the top and middle order (Root Bairstow Stokes and Buttler) bat in their right places. Tea on day 3 as I write. England have a small first innings lead and India might need a bit of an England batting collapse to get back into the game. That isn’t entirely out of the question!

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