Scratchin’ Tendulkar – day one from Kolkata

India 273-7 stumps

There are two main stories from today’s play: England’s extremely disciplined performance in the field, and Sachin Tendulkar’s innings of 76. And there are two ways of looking at the second story: Sachin either justified his place by scoring some important runs, or the nature of that innings suggested the little maestro should have retired a year ago.

I’m one of those people who like to see the great batsmen go out on a high. I hate seeing them cling on for grim death. When Raul Dravid retired he was still much admired. Ok, so he’d just had a tough tour of Australia, but not long before that he was singlehandedly resisting England’s attack and sparing India’s blushes.

Although Sachin’s innings dug India out of a hole, it was quite sad to watch. He looked pretty much like a tailender with a proper batsman’s brain. The application and mental toughness was there, but the old skills looked sadly lacking:

He played and missed more than Devon Malcolm in a blindfold (when I say missed, he missed by a country mile) and his scoring options were akin to Jimmy Anderson’s: basically behind square on the offside deflecting the ball through the slips and gully.

Tendulkar only played one shot of genuine quality: a tasty drive through extra cover. It came after he’d been at the crease for over three hours. It took him ages to find his feet. Before that he was extremely scratchy. Sometimes, I feel he has declined more than Ricky Ponting.

Having said that, at least it took a good ball to get him out; Tendulkar batted with great heart and determination. He put his teammates to shame really. The dismissals of Gambhir and Yuvraj were particularly soft.

The bottom line is that England are in a highly promising position. This is a good pitch. It’s different to the turner in Mumbai. A total of 400 is the minimum a batting side would want.

If England can take the remaining wickets tomorrow quite cheaply, and topple India for about 330, we’ll have a good chance to establish a decisive first innings lead.

However, perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Dhoni loves batting at Eden Gardens. He makes hundreds here for fun. Meanwhile, there’s no escaping the fact that we’ve over reliant on Cook, Pietersen and Prior for runs. It’s about time Trott, Bell, Compton and Patel pulled their weight.

Talking of Patel, does anyone know why we’re persisting with him? You get the feeling this is simply intransigence from an England management team who have always been a tad stubborn.

Patel did not bowl a single ball today – despite the fact that Swann was ill and could only manage fourteen overs. If Patel isn’t going to bowl in these circumstances then he’s never going to bowl.

One must assume, therefore, that Samit is being picked as a specialist batsman. Does this sound sensible to you? Is Patel really a better batsman than Morgan and Root? Does the Pope live in Bethnal Green?

At least Finn was picked ahead of Broad however. Although he didn’t take a wicket, he bowled well and troubled most of the Indian batsmen. Finn was certainly a better foil for Anderson; Jimmy picked up three wickets and managed to extract some reverse swing for the first time this series.

We should also give an honourable mention to Monty. Because Swann had a touch of Delhi belly and kept leaving the field – presumably to damage the Doulton – the Montster got through 35 overs and took 2-75. All the Indian batsmen treated him with respect. Well bowled Mr Panesar.

James Morgan


  • I think you’re being pretty harsh on SRT. His start was pretty shaky but some of the old magic started coming back and he became pretty fluent. Some of the flicks through the leg-side were beautiful, and the trademark back-foot punch through extra-cover was back.

    I agree with the main point that he should have retired, though. I used to lament Lara’s decision to retire so early. Apart from being deprived of the pleasure of seeing him bat, it was as if he was letting Ponting and SRT steal a march on him. Now, though, I have trouble remembering anything other than their declines, whereas Lara was always brilliant and remains that way in the memory.

    If you only saw highlights, by the way, Anderson bowled brilliantly. Genuinely sublime. He was very unlucky to only take two.

    Surprised you didn’t mention cocking-up a crucial run-out, by the way. May prove very important….

  • When I wrote this I was trying somewhat to be provocative – although I personally believe what I wrote. I was quite surprised, though vindicated I suppose, that both sky and TMS have debated a similar subject in their summaries. Great point re: Lara by the way. I feel exactly the same. I will always remember Lara as a swashbuckling genius and I have no recollection of his decline; the timing of his retirement seemed about right. As a result I’m inclined to think that Lara was the best batsman I’ve seen. I have no idea whether that’s fair, as I’ve seen tendulkar struggle so much recently, but that’s just my gut.

  • Well, if you’re provocative people respond. ;)

    The old magic’s gone and he’s chasing past glories, but he looked ok yesterday. Being in a different timezone I saw it live, so I was wondering if you saw most of his innings via highlights, which may have distorted the impression.

    About to go out and play cricket, actually, but before I do, on the subject of Patel – he should have caught Dhoni first ball. It was a pretty abject attempt, just watching the ball come to him on the half-volley, absolutely no movement forwards. I hope it doesn’t cost us dear, but small margins make all the difference. Between that and Ashwin’s run-out, India should already have been dismissed. If Dhoni costs us the game, Patel’s contribution to the series so far will have been less than zero.


copywriter copywriting