Tuesday, March 21, 2006
England reap reward of deserved Indian summer
Sehwag out for a bombay duck
Waking up in the arms of a beautiful woman and hearing the words India are 92-7 on Radio 4 is the ideal way to start your day. England have achieved the highly improbable by beating a star-studded Indian line-up by a whopping 212 runs. Come on!
And this is England minus first XI players: Marcus Trescothik, Michael Vaughan, Ashley Giles, Simon Jones and Steve Harmison. England's achievement in drawing the series 1-1 in India, generally accepted as the hardest place in the world to tour, is immense. In this match England had Andrew Strauss, debutant Owais Shah, Shaun Udal, Matthew Hoggard and James Anderson all make valuable contribution. Even Geraint Jones temporarily gave up on his seemingly permanent David James impression (dropping everything near him) to snaffle at least 3 world class catches behind the stumps. And engineering everything was Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff. Emergency stand-in captain, chief bowler, star batsman and inspired tactician. I can't praise him highly enough. Duncan Fletcher, England's Zimbabwean coach, now has a welcome selection dilemma come the summer's Tests against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
We have 3 top quality openers in Trescothik, Strauss and Essex's Alistair Cook and combine that with a middle order consisting of any 3 of Vaughan, Pietersen, Bell, Collingwood and Shah England's batting looks very prolific. Freddie at 6 with a recalled Chris Read (touch wood) coming in at 7. Leaving 3 pace bowlers to be picked from Simon Jones, Harmison, Hoggard and James Anderson (who exorcised the ghosts of his nightmare last test vs. South Africa with an excellent performance in Mumbai) with a fit again Giles, Udal or, more likely, Monty Panesar as the spinner. The big losers will be Liam Plunkett and Ian Blackwell who sadly failed to display any of their considerable talents when picked. It speaks volumes that players who do not perform will not automatically remain in the team.
Dismissing a batting line up of Jaffer, Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Y. Singh, Dhoni, Pathan, Kumble, H. Singh, Sreesanth and Patel for 100 is almost beyond belief. And if this is the last of Udal's test appearances (and at 37 with quality alternatives it may well be) he can be rightly proud of figures of 4-14 (including Tendulkar), especially after the pasting he took in Pakistan.
It's been over twenty years since England won a game in India, let alone drew a series - dominating the first test too! Debutants taking to international cricket as to the manner born: there was a long stretch between Thorpe and Cork dominating their debuts and the next debutant worth a damn, now they're all at it!
Flintoff is immense. Nuff said.
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