Oh dear. What a shame that the build up to this test match has been soured by the charges against Jimmy Anderson. Why can’t teams get along? We had the ultra-aggressive Aussies in the Ashes, bad feeling throughout the Sri Lanka series, and now this.
The players are behaving like school kids: we’ve had Jimmy pumping his chest out (I have no idea whether he’s guilty but his on-field demeanour often seems aggressive), and then we have India acting like classic passive-aggressives.
Dhoni seems like a reasonable fella, but given the chance to put the boot in and gain an advantage, he’s seized it ruthlessly. Physical altercations cannot be condoned in any shape or form, but did England press charges when David Warner punched Joe Root? No. All Root asked for was an apology.
England felt Warner’s public embarrassment was enough. Criminal charges could have been pressed, but were not. Jimmy Anderson didn’t even hit anyone (as far as we know), he’s simply accused of pushing Jadeja, who by all accounts pushed back. I wonder if they were brandishing handbags as they did it?
Until I hear evidence to the contrary, I consider this affair to be a storm in a teacup. If the charges are proven then Jimmy was clearly out of line; but running off and telling tales to teacher isn’t particularly attractive either. As far as we know, nobody was actually hurt.
Anyway, back to the actual cricket. According to the bureau of meteorology, and presumably Tony Grieg’s weather wall too, Thursday is set to be the hottest day of the year so far.
Add to this the fact that the Lord’s pitch is usually flatter than a Dutchman’s garden, and we have a recipe for runs … lots of them.
Winning the toss is therefore absolutely crucial. Even if Cook scores no runs whatsoever (again), he’ll have had a good game if England manage to bat first. The prospect of our weary attack spending another two days in the field is too much to bear.
Talking of Cook, this will probably be the first time in a long time that he’s not the guy in the spotlight. The pressure on Kerrigan (and Anderson) will be greater. Maybe this will be Chef’s recipe for success?
Kerrigan in particular will be depositing bricks in the deluxe Lord’s lavatories with alarming regularity. The Indians will be all too aware of this. They’re bound to go after him. If he concedes less runs than Moeen Ali has thus far in the series he’ll have bowled extremely well.
Team selection should also be interesting. Who will make way for Kerrigan (if indeed he plays)? My money is on either Moeen, or bizarrely enough, Stokes.
England will be reluctant to drop either Anderson or Broad – although if the latter is carrying a knock then that might solve a tricky dilemma – and I think they’ll want Plunkett in the side because he generates more pace and bounce than the other bowlers.
What’s more, Stokes struggled with a side injury at Trent Bridge, so don’t be surprised if he isn’t risked.
As for India, the rumour is that Binny will retain his place. This is probably good news. England will be delighted if Ashwin is left out of the side again.
When Duncan Fletcher was England coach, he often made a few odd selections (despite being brilliant overall). Leaving Ashwin – a bowler I rate extremely highly – out of the final XI seems to be another head-scratcher. Not that I’m complaining.
So who’s your money on? A quick perusal of the odds via gambling.com reveals that England are favourites. What’s more, some bookies have lower odds on Cook being top England run scorer than Root.
This I find rather puzzling. Maybe they know something we don’t. One has scored two big hundreds this year; the other hasn’t scored a century since Jimmy Anderson was a shy Burnley lad who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.
Well, maybe not that long ago, but it still seems like a very, very, long time. Let’s just hope the players keep their hair on over the next five days.
Written in collaboration with gambling.com