Tuesday, May 18

India-England: Five things we learned from the Test series | England in India 2020-21


1 R&R is hard to do

“Productivity isn’t everything,” wrote economist Paul Krugman. “But in the long run, it is almost everything.” When looking for a place to point fingers in response to England’s turnover policy, replace productivity with scheduling. Of course, in a year unlike any other for workload, they had no choice but to mix and match. It’s far from perfect, but, borrowing the maxim from these Covid times, it is what it is.

Then the wheels fell off. Quickly, the discussion about the well-being of the players morphed into one about the primacy of test cricket compared to shorter forms. Moeen Ali’s handling during the second test, when asked if he would be willing to break and skip the breather before his block of cue ball engagements, stoked the fire. But regrettable as it is that England have failed to present their best teams, it will become routine even after the biobubbles overtake us, unless hectic schedules are reformed to meet the realities of the modern game. Boring stuff, sure, but it’s pretty much everything.

2 Jimmy Anderson as Richard Hadlee

He’s avoided the mustache, but the bow Anderson finds himself in bears an uncanny resemblance to that of New Zealand’s greatest bowler in comparable periods of his extraordinary careers. In four rounds over the winter, the 38-year-old England finished with a combined 14 of 173 from 96.5 overs (44 maidens!) Averaging 12.35, going to an absurd 1.78 runs once again.

If you go back to the last five years, this brings your count in that period to 181 victims to 19.96 to 2.37 and more. For Hadlee, in her last five years until her retirement at age 39, the most productive of her historic journey, it was 165 scalps at 19.81 at an economy rate of 2.57. The Common: Opposing hitters offer the most respect, making them as efficient as they are effective. And for Anderson, his march to 700 lots has started well and truly.

3 Know your role and stick to it

Finishing a bad tour on a relatively high note like Dan Lawrence did, at 46 and 50 in Ahmedabad, guarantees that he will be higher up in the pecking order than he might have been when summer rolls around. But it’s the next step that’s more important: finding a place to call yours, having bounced between three, five, and seven.

To find out why, see Jonny Bairstow. The snake and ladder dance is one he knows well, and it serves him terribly. From the world’s leading wicketkeeper-hitter at No. 7 the last time England were in India, they have now bagged six ducks in their last nine innings against those opponents, including three out of four hits after coming back at No. 3 in this series. It is a disaster that the Test career of a player capable of so much can be done at 31 years old. The lesson? In this business, unlike most professions, it serves to specialize.

The England players congratulate Jimmy Anderson after dismissing Shubman Gill in the fourth test.  The veteran sailor was in excellent shape despite the series loss for his team.
The England players congratulate Jimmy Anderson after dismissing Shubman Gill in the fourth test. The veteran sailor was in excellent shape despite the series loss for his team. Photograph: Aijaz Rahi / AP

4 The Right Time for Bess to Step Back

Dom Bess, from what we’ve been instilled in from the moment it hit the proving ground in 2018, is made of harsh material. That he made his teammates smile in his early 20s helped, as it did when he made a big fist in an unexpected second appearance in South Africa last winter. The proposition with him is solid: every bit of experience the off-spinner acquires now will be worth it when he is at the peak of his powers, a bit like Nathan Lyon a decade ago.

But even good eggs break, and that’s what happened when India made the calculated decision to attack Bess through her nervous return to the bowling alley, having been an unexpected omission for the second test and failing the third as well. Suddenly, this performance was charged like a referendum on whether he was up to the task. Indeed, it did not end well. The good news for Bess is that there is consensus that she received bad letters in India. And because he has so much time on his side, he will have the opportunity to regroup with hundreds of passes this season for Yorkshire, his new club. Now use that time well.

5 India’s growth by choice, not by chance

Axar Patel and Washington Sundar in this series, Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj in Australia – Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan as well. The depth that India has shown in just two months and a bit of test cricket this year is staggering. But this production line is not a coincidence; Rather, it is a direct consequence of the Indian Premier League franchises’ search for hidden local gems over the past decade.

Going back to 2019, one of the main goals of the World Cup organizers was to bring new people to the game at home. He did a good job, and then 2020 happened. India has filled its talent pool by choice, not by chance. In the post-pandemic world, it is a challenge that England must accept.


www.theguardian.com

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