Lucky Man – Day 2 at Edgbaston

“I’m a lucky man. With fire in my hands. I know just who I am”. It’s probably a bit too early to be quoting Richard Ashcroft, but I couldn’t get The Verve out of my head after watching highlights of day 2.

Virat Kohli most certainly has fire in his hands. And judging by that strut he definitely knows he’s one of the best players in the world. But was he lucky yesterday? I think he was bloody lucky. But when he finally got his eye in, he took advantage of England’s generosity superbly – as world class players tend to do.

Kohli’s knock was very much an innings of two halves. The first part was skittish, fraught, fragile, and about as impressive as Edgbaston’s ticket sales on the first day. Jimmy Anderson basically had him on toast, and India’s skipper did absolutely nothing to silence those who doubt his ability to perform in English conditions.

I lost count of the number of edges that fell agonisingly short of slip. And England dropped him too. The culprit, one forlorn looking Dawid Malan, sadly doesn’t look long for test cricket. At one point Kohli himself could easily have been 51-4.

But thereafter the Indian skipper was imperious. Sometimes having nothing to lose can free a batsman up. With wickets falling at the other end, Kohli decided to play his shots. And he capitalised like the brilliant white ball player he is. Some of his strokes were brutal. And by the time he cut Adil Rashid to Broad at backward point, he’d scored a spectacular century and all but drawn India level.

So what do we make of England’s day? Once again it was pretty much par for the course. The team got themselves into a commanding position and then squandered that position. They say the best test teams are ruthless. England are profligate and careless. You can’t expect to win matches if you catch like a bunch of blind of bats in a bag.

There was one big positive, however. Sam Curran exceeded expectations and ripped out India’s top order. He swung the ball, which everyone thought he might, but what people didn’t expect was him to bowl above medium pace. In his first spell he occasionally reached mid-80s until fatigue set in. This was more like the Sam Curran that impressed me so much in the England junior teams. Perhaps he was just nervous against Pakistan?

Although I think Chris Woakes might have done some damage had he been playing, and some might argue that India’s batsmen somewhat gifted young Sam a couple of his wickets, it was hugely encouraging to see the young man rise to the occasion.

I still think Curran’s elevation to test cricket has come a little early – I bet his brother wished he was bowling on this Edgbaston pitch with a Duke ball rather than trying his heart out for no reward on Melbourne’s featherbed – but there’s no doubting his potential as a cricketer. He might not be tall, and he might not be quick, but he might develop into a superb all-rounder in time.

This test match is now set up intriguingly. Much will depend on how England bat today of course. I’m optimistic we’ll scrape together enough runs to set India a Kohli-proof target but time will tell. Our cause wasn’t helped by the dismissal of Alastair Cook in the final over of the day – clean bowled by Ashwin for the second time in the match.

Normally big question marks are raised when batsmen get clean bowed. However, I doubt there will be much criticism of Alastair because of his saintly status in English cricket. However, I have to confess that I’m worried now. Is his eye going ever so slightly? He dropped yet another dolly at slip, and although the two Ashwin deliveries that defeated him were both peaches, one might argue that he played down the wrong line initially and missed them by miles.

I’m not going to write off Cook at this point because he’s come back from the brink so many times before. However, he simply hasn’t made big runs on anything other than completely benign pitches for eons. You should never drop a batsman unless you’ve someone better to replace them of course, but England could pick Mark Lathwell at the moment and he wouldn’t score any less.

At what point do England say “sorry but enough is enough”? Or maybe it will be Cook who decides “I’ve had enough of this because I’m just not doing myself justice anymore”? I always thought it was extremely sad watching the great Sachin Tendulkar scratch around towards the end of his career. It seemed clear he was just holding on long enough for an easy opportunity to register his hundredth hundred. I would hate to see the same happen to Cook.

The problem with Alastair is that he might not know when the best time to go is. He has always been so stubborn. We might end up in a situation where he needs a nudge but nobody within the England set up has the courage to give him the gentle push he needs.

Now watch him score 200 in the next test.

James Morgan


2018-08-03T07:50:36+00:00August 3rd, 2018|Eng v Ind 2018, Test Cricket|21 Comments


  1. Nigel August 3, 2018 at 8:01 am - Reply

    When considering whether or not replacing Cook is justified, consider the cost of the dropped catches. Our slips average around 1 drop for every four chances; the best (Aus/SA) around 1 in 7 or 8.

    For every match that Cook now turns our way with a big score, I reckon he’s probably losing us a couple. Burns can catch, and would likely score us top order runs more reliably, even if not the occasional double hundred, and just as importantly see off the new ball more often.

    And if we’ve now got a left arm seamer in the side on a semi-permanent basis, it’s probably worth bringing back Moeen. He’s at the very least no worse a bat than Malan, and with the seamer’s footmarks to bowl into might pose more of a bowling threat than hitherto. And definitely a safer pair of hands.

    Marginal gains, possibly, but nonetheless worthwhile.

  2. James August 3, 2018 at 8:16 am - Reply

    I reckon Ashwin might have the hoodoo over Cook. 9 balls, 1 run, 2 identical dismissals in this test (both, to be fair, very good balls). Days 1 and 2 of this test have been very similar. England build up a good position in the first 2 sessions then throw it away in the third (probably past Joe Root’s bedtime), by failing to dismiss the tail (not for the first time). The Anderson v Kohli duel was riveting cricket (not quite as dangerous as Donald to Atherton, but just as compelling). Kohli won (with the aid of England’s slips) this time. Talking of which, what on earth is wrong with England’s catching? 4 or 5 dropped chances yesterday: you can’t afford to do that.

  3. James August 3, 2018 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Apparently, at some stage today (probably when they understand the concept of 11 players in a team), England will announce an “all time XI” in “honour” of England’s 1000’s test. I’m surprised it’s not “100 greats” in a cack handed attempt to promote their latest fiasco.

    • Simon H August 3, 2018 at 9:20 am - Reply

      Isn’t it the one they’ve already announced on TMS? You know, the one with Cook instead of Hobbs or Sutcliffe….

  4. pktroll (@pktroll) August 3, 2018 at 9:20 am - Reply

    In each of these last two innings, Cook’s bat has seemingly come from third man to finish pointing at mid-off. Not just the eyes going although I think his slip performances suggest they are, his technique for a long time so good against South Asian spin bowling and not least on their own patches, is simply not what it was.

  5. Simon H August 3, 2018 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Kohli’s batting was genius, the rest of the Indian batting was meh. Without Pujara, it doesn’t even look that good on paper.

    Still, two very flawed teams and conditions with a bit in them for bowlers of all types makes for a good contest – if not one of mostly a terribly high standard.

    • Nigel August 3, 2018 at 9:57 am - Reply

      I wouldn’t have called the first half of that innings genius – unless it’s the kind that’s 99% perspiration.
      It was both determined and patient, though.

  6. Kevin August 3, 2018 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Good report James. I do think Cook has received the best 2 balls in the match, so far. But maybe the bat wasn’t coming down straight. The problem with a replacement, is due to the ridiculous schedules, there’s nobody scoring runs for fun, in the championship. Cook is just as likely to score big, as any of the potential new boys.

  7. Doug M August 3, 2018 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Good day of Test cricket amongst all the endless T20. James puts it well, unfortunately good batsmen get dropped and go on to make big 100’s. More so with this England slip field. Surely Root should be in there? Kohli’s was a great innings, best I’ve seen in a while.

    Look Cook is almost at his sell by date, two good balls yes, but it seemed to me he played down the wrong line. Jennings? Not really. Burns is great at seeing of the new ball, and going on to make a big score Although I’m a Surrey man, surely worth a try now?

    Two down already I see. Still can’t play spin can we.

    • Nigel August 3, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

      Now four down…

      Speaking of which isn’t number four supposed to be where you accomodate the best batsman in the team ?
      I’m not exactly convinced Malan fits that description.

    • Cricketcricketcricket August 3, 2018 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      Burns has technical issues and plays very aggressively.. modern ball striker .. what makes you think he will suddenly adapt to red ball test cricket

  8. Growltiger August 3, 2018 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Cook’s minces have gone, to judge by his effort in the slips.

  9. Gav August 3, 2018 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    absolute rubbish once again from the top order. Test match after test match, series after series, year after year. What’s the point of even complaining anymore, they’re just going to carry on with this bunch of overrated one day only batsmen

  10. Keith JB August 3, 2018 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    How much longer can this continue.
    When will the ECB recognise that county cricket must be prioritised if they want a successful test team-or maybe they don’t care?

  11. Cricketcricketcricket August 3, 2018 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Just look at how World class all these England players are still.. we are so delusional about these players.. our system is broken and no one is being honest.

    If you grow up and favour limited overs Cricket you will only very rarely produce red ball cricketers.. remove the over 30’s from this side and you have a load of ball strikers.. white ball players

    Said it before and you guys all defend them.. from grass roots upwards we need the higher levels to be playing red ball Cricket to produce the volume of players with the right technical, tactical and mental abilities.. we need pro game to mirror that to make red ball the pinnacle.. neither is done and that’s why we are producing less and less talent and will continue to get worse.

    All that will happen is ‘test’ cricket will be dumbed down to mask the issues

    • Gav August 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      right on cue, this from Michael Vaughan

      “There is too much talent in this England team for them to continuously perform like they have today. It happens too often.”

      At what point do you start to ask “are these players really that good?”

      • Cricketcricketcricket August 3, 2018 at 9:51 pm - Reply

        These guys are super talented ball strikers. Sadly, ball striking is a completely different skill to what is required in test matches. World cricket is now full of white ball strikers

        India are just as bad, Vijay, dhawan, Rahul are yet more examples

        You can read it on here and James himself was calling them super talents earlier on Twitter.. no one is brave enough to be honest and say they aren’t good enough. The other problem is the system (and now amateur Cricket ) is geared up to produce white ball not red ball players so all the next guys talked about will have exactly the same issues

  12. muffin August 3, 2018 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    England don’t have a great depth of batting talent at the moment – though there are several names (too many) who are being suggested as “Let’s give him a try”. As I said on a dead thread for Day 1, open with Bairstow (quite a good bat) and let Buttler keep, allowing another all-rounder (Ali?) to play – though he’s the probable replacement for Stokes at Lord’s anyway. Bairstow isn’t a great keeper, and he has never scored lots of runs except in the first innings of a match when keeping – it seems like a no-brainer.
    Encouraging from Curran today – I said some time ago that he was a better bat than his brother.

    • Cricketcricketcricket August 3, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      Bairstow is a white ball player..his technique and crucially mentality is not really test quality.. let alone top order !!

      You need red ball specialists now in the top 4.root is a better version if Bell.. perfect 5/6 but certainly not 1/2/3/4

      Clarke for Australia had the same issue.. he was a 5 but forced to bat higher because then Aussies weren’t actually producing test players.. still aren’t

  13. Paul August 4, 2018 at 8:58 am - Reply

    So it’s Kohli or bust for both England and India, may the best man win.

  14. Marc Evans August 6, 2018 at 2:53 am - Reply

    I fear we may have played Kohli into form at exactly the wrong time, though he must be aware now how fragile his batting line up is against the moving ball. You can’t just go into the nets and sort this out overnight and there’s no cricket left for them apart from test matches on this tour, so you feel all the pressure is on Kohli to carry this team. Much more than is on Root to carry us. Good to see us bowling well as a team, though Broad still doesn’t look match fit to me. With better catching we should have had a lead of well over 100, which I think would have been enough for a comfortable win, but still fancy us to win a close contest.
    The frustrating thing is the balance will be upset again by Stoke’s absence at Lords and possibly for the whole series. There simply isn’t a ready made replacement for such a key position.

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