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Team India makes a collective statement

August 10, 2007

Anil Kumble will among other things go down in the books as a trivia question: Who, in a batting lineup including Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman, Karthik, Jaffar and Dhoni, was India's sole centurion on the 2007 three-Test tour of England? At the other end of the performance scale, Matt Prior's record of 118 byes and counting in the course of two back to back Test series, plus an ability to not just drop catches, but even prevent others from taking them, have increased the chorus of criticism. It was inevitable that the British media, while reporting on day two of the third Test, would share ink equally between these two players. Sparing you the predictable stuff and moving beyond, here is an interesting article, that uses Bishen Singh Bedi as exemplar of the weapon Monty Panesar lacks in his armory:

England selector and former off-spinner Geoff Miller tells a story of a match between Derbyshire and Bedi's Northamptonshire. Miller stood at the non-striker's end as Bedi gave a masterclass of flight and guile. "What a spinner needs is a loop," Bedi said. "Watch." He proceeded to float up two plain balls which the batsman the other end, Ashley Harvey Walker, planted over the boundary. Bedi then made a play of bringing the field up, and sent down another tempter, apparently the same, but this time with more body action. The batsman's eyes lit up, the ball dipped in flight and the resultant skier was easily caught. "That sir," said Bedi to the admiring Miller, "is loop."

It's an old-fashioned skill which, in an era of big bats and 'the right areas', is almost lost to the game. Yesterday afternoon cried out for an attempt to buy a wicket against a determined tail. Instead of lobbing one or two up with the field in to entice a mis-hit, however, Panesar generally maintained his usual brisk pace, still looking for bat-pad catches with silly points and short legs. Given his excellent summer, it's churlish to criticise, but Panesar might like to dip back into the Bedi bible when he gets a minute.

I did say I'd spare you the Prior patter, but Martin Johnson at his hilarious best on the subject of the England wicket-keeper cheerleader is a nice antidote to the gloom and doom stuff elsewhere.

Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, homes in on the series-defining aspect of India's batting: specifically, that with three days left to play, England are already out of the game, and have nothing to play for:

The game is up. Totally without remorse, India yesterday batted England out of the third Test and thus the series. Even that supreme optimist Peter Moores, a man who would regard a rainy day as an opportunity to sell umbrellas, will have his work cut out convincing his charges that it is worth getting out of bed in the next three days. The Indians, 316 for four overnight, batted on throughout the morning, then the afternoon, and finally deep into the evening session until all the England bowlers were on their knees with the exception of Ryan Sidebottom, who was in the casualty ward instead nursing a side strain.

In the Indian Express, K Shriniwas Rao celebrates Anil Kumble, as does Dileep Premachandran on Cricinfo:

"We had a team meeting a couple of days back and I just mentioned that it's about time our batsmen scored a hundred in the series, but I never thought I'd have to do it [laughs]" he said. "Jokingly, I mentioned it again at tea time when I was batting on 60, saying: 'Maybe it's my turn to go out there and get a hundred'."

Photographs: Getty Images | Text: Prem Panicker
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