The relationship between English cricket and the Indians has been somewhat strained this summer. After the controversial dismissals of Rahul Dravid (and the ensuing row about the DRS) many Indians genuinely seem to hate us. We’ve been accused of all kinds of things, from ‘double standards’ to cheating and ‘failing to observe the spirit of cricket’.
Take a peek at this report from Indian TV after the Ian Bell ‘run out’ at Trent Bridge http://bit.ly/pgTZ36 I’ve rarely heard such nonsense. Amongst other things the report accuses Jimmy Anderson of swearing at an Indian batsman! Oh Jimmy, you naughty boy. How dare you behave like every other bowler in international cricket? I wonder if Merv Hughes ever toured India. He wouldn’t last five minutes; they’d throw him in jail for profanity.
Of course, not all Indian fans are idiots. The majority are gracious and intelligent, as well as being passionate – much like their team and their captain, M.S. Dhoni, who oozes class from every pore. Indeed, the Indian supporters have made the atmosphere inside the grounds electric. At one point during the Lord’s test, all the MCC members were actually awake at the same time.
However, to all the bitter idiots who have accused England of bending the rules, and who have attributed our victories to an elaborate western conspiracy, we have one thing to say to you: 8-0. Yes, that’s four test matches, a T20, and three ODIs. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Having said that, it looked like it was going to be 7-1 at one point yesterday. India made a very impressive 304 off their 50 overs, which included a sparkling 107 from Virat Kholi, whose batting is as stylish as his bowling is, err peculiar.
Kholi came to these shores with a big reputation as one of the emerging golden boys of Indian cricket. We can see why. He looks to be a real talent.
After the inevitable rain interruption – whose stupid idea was it to schedule a ODI at statistically the wettest ground in the northern hemisphere in mid-September? – England were set a revised target of 241 in 34 overs. For long periods, it didn’t look like we were going to get there. Enter Jonny Bairstow.
The Yorkshire youngster struck a nerveless 41 off 21 balls. It was an incredible display of power hitting – and it turned the match on its head. He could be exactly what we’ve needed for donkey’s years: a middle-order batsman capable of clearing the ropes on a regular basis i.e. someone like Luke Wright, but good.
The rejuvenated Ravi Bopara also played his part yesterday. His 37 off 22 deliveries completed what has been a promising series for the Essex man. He’s very much a confidence player. If an attack gets on top of him, he quickly becomes nervous and forlorn. If he’s in form, however, he plays with great panache. Let’s hope he keeps up the good work.
The problem for Bopara, and Bairstow for that matter, is whether they can cement a place in the side. Pietersen and Morgan are bound to be automatic picks when available. There has been a lot of talk about India’s injuries, but England have been missing key players too in this series. Yesterday we were without our two best ODI batsmen, plus Broad and Anderson (who are our most experienced bowlers). Not that a certain Indian TV channel would have noticed.