VI Day: Victory In India

Well glaze my nipples in honey and call me Ritu. I saw England’s victory in Sri Lanka coming from a mile off but not in my wildest dreams, not even after consuming a mind-bending chilli, did I expect England to walk the first Test in India.

Here’s what stood out to me during the first Test.

Dom Bess: This tour was always likely to be defined by how well our spinners bowled. And didn’t they do well in Chennai! Dom Bess is turning into the proverbial golden arm. He doesn’t half take wickets in fortuitous circumstances. I’ve been watching cricket for decades but I’ve never seen a long hop pulled onto short leg’s shoulder and then balloon straight to mid-wicket. However, it’s worth pointing out that big bad Dom also bowled some peaches. The crucial wicket of Kohli in the first innings was a classic off-spinner’s dismissal.

Jack Leach: I’m as pleased as punch for Leach. I think we all feared the worst when Pant took him to the cleaners in the first innings but he rallied brilliantly. The bloke has faced a lot during his short career – Crohn’s disease, questions about his action and, worst of all, typically poor mishandling by the selectors and management. However, these setbacks seem to have built up his character. A perfectly good international spinner in this observer’s opinion, Leach now boasts the same Test average as Graeme Swann (30) and exactly the same strike rate too (60). What’s more, he’s only just got started.

Dom Sibley: Test cricket is alive and well and living in Dom Sibley. You’ve got to love it when an old-fashioned opener bats all day for just 80 runs and absorbs over 250 odd deliveries. And if you don’t, just imagine how much it must wind up Tom Harrison, Colin Graves, and all those other weirdos who promote the concept of 4-day Test cricket. Sibley obviously works tremendously hard at his game and the improvement since the first Test in Sri Lanka is obvious. Well done fella.

Jimmy Anderson: We’ve talked about his bowling ad nauseam. There’s little else we can add. He’s just a class act and, like Tom Brady, age doesn’t seem to wither him. Just take that diving catch to dismiss Gill in the first dig. Remarkable. He must be the most athletic 38 and a half year of all time. Don’t you go changing, Jimmy.

Joe Root: With a mere 218 in the first innings, and a useful 40 in the second, captain fantastic remains a fantastic player of spin. His career average is above 50 once more – which is exactly where it belongs – and the confidence has come flooding back. He’s the best England batsman for the last 30 years. And I won’t hear a word against him today.

The Toss: Yes, yes, we know the toss was crucial. It always is in India. If you can score big runs and grind the opposition into the dust then you stand a great chance of winning the game. However – and it’s a big however – you’ve still got to actually, you know, take advantage of the conditions. Scoreboard pressure doesn’t create itself. And then your bowlers have to be good enough to press home the advantage.

Let’s not forget what happened the last time we toured India in 2016. We won the toss and batted in the third, fourth, and fifth Tests. We lost all three by an innings.

The series is set up brilliantly now. I wouldn’t be surprised if India come storming back but we’ll always have Chennai. Congrats lads.

James Morgan


  • Root has scored 41% of England’s runs in the last 3 Tests. As I’ve said before, Silverwood’s management has made a massive difference to his performances both as batsman and captain. Root has made double centuries in 3 different batting positions. I haven’t found anyone else who has done that, Lara and Sobers came close, and Sobers did make a century in each of 7 batting positions !
    Great victory. What else is there to be said about Jimmy ? I quite agree with you about JL as well : great to seeing him demonstrating the mental toughness to deliver that second innings performance after his experience in the first.

  • A fine victory, and well done for noting Sibley’s role in it. This match is the third in succession in which Bess has taken a respectable haul of wickets, and Leach now averages in the low 20s when bowling in the opposition’s second innings. On the point above about double centuries from multiple positions: Don Bradman scored them from nos 3,4,5 and 7 (the last, an Ashes turning innings after he had sent tailenders in to play and miss while the wicket was at its most spiteful – Don came in at 97-5 and a he and Jack Fingleton put on 346 for the sixth wicket).

  • India turns out to be not quite so impossible either as a team or a location as some had been making out. England scored 500+ in the Frist Test on the last tour and weren’t that far off winning. Jadeja was by some distance India’s best bowler on that tour and he’s a massive loss to them (England have had some good fortune, to put it nicely, with opposition best bowlers being missing in recent years). It’s also worth remembering Australia won their First Test in India on their last tour (by a huge 333 run margin thanks to the legend that was Steve O’Keefe) and still lost the series.

    England’s improvement does suggest the team was under-performing in Tests under Bayliss. The team has solved its two big problems, the openers and the spinners, by trusting the outstanding CC performers in those areas. Under Bayliss they’d pick white ball specialists like Roy or bits-and-pieces cricketers like Ansari. Sibley and Burns could only bat against 78mph trundlers and Leach and Bess were flattered by Taunton bunsens – or so we were told. It’s probably going to cost England a place in the WTC Finals (not that the ECB will be too bothered).

    England have won in India before (three times in my cricketing memory). Pakistan is much more England’s graveyard (only 2 Tests won away against them ever).

  • James, how can you continue to justify Bess as a test cricketer. To suggest he has a golden arm is on the same level as suggesting Sam Curran has one. Neither should have ever been let near test cricket as neither have shown either the talent or potential at present. Their face clearly fits Mr Eds profile as both can provide useful batting contrinbutions in the lower order, but both were picked as bowlers and have yet to show any real improvement. Bess’ bowling yesterday was awful, with our spin bowling coach sitting head in hands much of the time. Effectively Root only had 4 bowlers to call on.
    Don’t blind me with more stats as they are meaningless in short term careers. They don’t take circumstances into account, like how many wickets were taken with full tosses and long hops. Both the above have had their fair share of those and this never continues long.
    I believe we need experience to win this series, not promise. For that reason Broad must return and after his performances in Galle maybe Bairstow for Lawrence. There’s no point picking so called specialists above better bowlers if they can’t use the conditions they’re picked to thrive in.

    • That’s a rather extreme comment, Marc. Bess is a promising offspinner (though obviosuly not the finsihed article – who would you go for instead?), and Sam Curran is the most dangerous left-armer around in England (doesn’t say much, I know). That they are both more than competent batsmen doesn’t detract from their usefulsness.

    • A ‘golden arm’ is a bloke who has a happy habit of taking wickets with terrible balls. That’s Bess all over. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that.

  • Sorry, are you demented? Sure, Montana was good, but how can you rate him higher than Brady?

    • Different era. The passing game is so much easier now and QBs are very protected. It was different in Joe Cool’s day. He got absolutely smacked. And his receivers were routinely held. What’s more, Montana’s record in SBs was a perfect 4-0 and he didn’t throw a single interception in those games. Brady ain’t bad though ;-)

  • Marc
    I see Bess as very much a work in progress – he’s still very young and clearly has potential but at the moment no more than that. I wouldn’t have picked him for this Test and would have gone with the extra seamer.
    I think it’s significant that Root batted on so long. He clearly didn’t have confidence that his spinners could dismiss India cheaply. Not for the first time, thank goodness for Jimmy !

  • Great to hear from you again James. Missed your writing on here!

    This was an amazing result. We made the most of the toss which we have not done so many times and many captains before root. We beat an Indian side some are saying is their best ever! Root is not only back to the batsmen we know he is but is also now becoming a very mature leader making his own decisions and reading the game very well. I hope he can keep going and be England’s greatest ever skipper as well as batsman.

    With regards to some of England’s younger lads. Its certainly not time to cast them away as some are suggesting. Lawrence Curran Bess have all contributed and will continue to develop. They are all very young. What is great about England at this moment is the competition for places. I don’t remember it being so strong. Apart from 1 opener slot I think we have choices everywhere. On the sidelines at the moment are Bairstow Crawley Foakes Woakes Ali Curran Wood Broad Stone Virdi Mehmoud. Many of these guys will be rotated in form dependant or could slot in at any time. If we can get any first class cricket this year hopefully some other young batsmen start to emerge (Hain Banton Lammonby) and what a pool of players we have!

    My changes for next test would be ali for bess, broad for Anderson (stick to the plan and protect him with 3rd test a day nighter). Crawley and Bairstow waiting in wings in case burns and Lawrence don’t score in 2nd test. Come on England give us a famous series win in India!

  • Root has now equalled Vaughan’s record number of Test wins (26) for an England captain (in 4 fewer matches). The media don’t seem to be noticing much – no “rods of iron” – but he must be doing something right.

    Root’s W/L ratio as captain (a more meaningful stat in my view) at 1.7 is good but not great. England captains with a W/L ratio of 2 or over (min: 12 matches) are Jardine, Brearley, Chapman, Hutton, Grace, Illingworth, Vaughan, Strauss, Cowdrey and May. The reason why Root can have so many wins but not such a great W/L ratio is because of how few matches are now drawn. England under Root have only drawn 6 out of 47 games. Some of the reasons for this are good, like improved drainage, but much isn’t like inadequate acclimatisation, juiced-up pitches and batsmen unable to bat out time. On the last point, one big difference between this match just gone and the last tour was that India had an old-school opener in Murali Vijay then and now they had the hopeless biffer and flat track bully Rohit Sharma (they might have picked him last time as well but got lucky because he was injured).

  • A fantastic, if unexpected, victory in Chennai. Now, without taking outlandish risks, we must seek to make the series safe and not be overwhelmed by an embarrassed Indian team looking for vengeance. I’ve been lambasted for even daring to suggest that Burns might need some runs (and better judgement)in this Test and that there are one or two (Crawley, Burns, Bracey) waiting in the wings for the 3rd and 4th Test. I’ve nothing against Burns (he’s a decent enough opener) but, as was proven in the last Test, we need to score big in the first innings. And we need a decent start. We can’t always rely on Root to knock up a quick double hundred every time. What if Root comes in at 30 for 2 or 3 and only scores 10, then what? Do we have the talent and temperament behind him to dig us out of a hole? Against such strong opposition o, in alien conditions, we cannot afford to be carrying anyone. Which is why I’d drop Archer for this Test. There was nothing in the pitch for real pace and he contributed nothing in the field or with the bat. Jopefully, the 3rd and 4th Test pitches will be different and he can take advantage. Anderson, Broad and Woakes can all move the ball both ways and that is what will take Indian wickets. Yes, Bess has the luck of a two-time lottery winner and may provide the odd spell of buffet bowling but he has the knack of producing the odd unplayable delivery plus he can bat, so I’d leave him be. Aside from Foakes in for Buttler, I would leave the batting order as it is for now. I believe that Lawrence has the talent and temperament, providing he can avoid those laser-bean yorkers, and Pope showed that match practice will loosen his shoulder. Since his first cap, Sibley has shown that he’s keen and a fast learner – losing all that weight and then tinkering with his stance mid-pseries so that he plays spin better. So my team for this Test would be.

    And 2 from Anderson/Broad/Woakes


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