When it rains in England, it really pours. Threatening grey clouds release seismic droplets of water which fall with a heavy splash. The scene at Lords on Friday afternoon was one Adam Peaty would have relished. The baked harsh outfield was transformed into a glistening lake of a swimming pool. With Thursday a complete wash out, retiring groundsman, Mick Hunt was dammed if Friday was going to be lost too. A bedraggled crowd need not have worried. From tea on Friday through to Sunday, what a test match we witnessed. Ultimately India drowned by England’s brilliance.
Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
James Anderson is an absolute freak isn’t he? Into the twilight of his career and possibly producing some of his most scintillating bowling ever. With a swinging ball, there is none better. Not now. Nor ever. The ultimate master of his craft, Jimmy has batsmen on ice. With overcast conditions and rain lurking, he exploited India’s top order with all the teasing guile of a hen party stripper. Like a stalking panther he offers up a routine of out swingers, before CRACK. Just when you think you’ve escaped his fangs he’ll whip one onto your pads. Predatory. Genius.
Anderson whipped through India with 5-20 on that second evening. Which in reality was really the first days play. Who thinks four day tests are the future? Try three when Jimmy’s in town. Backed up by two from returning Woakes and one apiece from Broad and Curran, India capitulated to 107.
The visitors might as well have stayed dry in the pavilion. It was pointless facing up to this attack. Yes, conditions favoured England. And yes it must be hard focusing with all the rain delays, but this is test match cricket. The pinnacle of the sport. Just last week Virat Kohli was saying how much he relished the challenge of English conditions. On arriving in England, coach Ravi Shastri described India as ‘the team for all conditions.’ I don’t think so Rav mate. You still have an awful long way to go. When the ball gets swinging, the Indians bat mingin’.
I Wish It Would Rain Down
Mind you, at 77-3 Root may have been praying for the heavens to open. And then they did because Pope descended. Which would have been a hysterical line to write, had Pope gone on and blessed us with a tonne. Have to save it for Trent Bridge. Where we’ll see Oliver ask for more runs. It was a bright debut for the ginger saviour though with a rapid 24 made. However England still demonstrated an Indian lack of quality with bat in hand. Jennings’ mindless review of his plumb LBW demonstrated a selfish nervousness over his place in the side. Cook got a good ‘un, but Root played all around the cherry and Buttler spilt dog shite on his master’s shoes.
With India’s total being so fragile, combined with the wrong decision to drop Umesh Yadav in favour of a not so mystery spinner, England had plenty left in the tank. Step forward Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes. Over the next two sessions this partnership sparkled in the returning sun’s rays. Considering Woakes has been out for much of the season, his all-round display at Lords was remarkable. Calming a fidgety Bairstow down, Chris looked in total control of proceedings. Belting twenty one 4’s would’ve helped. Hitting a maiden test century at the Home of Cricket is no mean feat. Legends of the game, such as Ricky Ponting never made it onto the honours board. Which surely means, Chris is better than Ricky!
Woakes reassured us all in the absence of Stokes. In fact I’d imagine he’ll keep his place for Trent Bridge. If Ben is a free man by then, Sam Curran would drop out. Curran’s 40 pushed England’s total up 396, whereupon they declared yesterday morn.
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
Some folk are made to be heroes. Stuck in a Bolivian store, wounded and low on ammo, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, weren’t going to surrender. No way Jose. Against impossible odds they went down fighting in a blaze of glory. Springing out into a hailstorm of bullets, they perished in a valiant effort to escape injustice. Never give up; that was their mantra.
India on the other hand… went out with barely a whimper. Had they been low on ammo and faced with impossible odds, it’s likely they would have all taken the cowards way out and shot each other. Murali received a pair of ducks’ wrapped up in a pancake for Jimmy to swallow whole. Partner Rahul provided the Hoisin sauce with scores of 8 and 10. Pujara brought his Yorkshire form smack into the contest. Even ‘King’ Kohli was abject; struggling with a back injury.
Stuart Broad’s spell before tea on the final day was sensational. Exploiting the Indian skipper’s niggles, he forced Kohli onto the back foot, keeping him constantly playing and missing. There was little surprise when Virat spooned one to Pope at deep short leg. Suddenly the number one batsman in world cricket looked fallible. Unlike with Steve Smith in the winter, England executed a plan to him. Where his was Custer before, now Root marshalled his troops like Monty in Africa. In fact the spinner of the same name popped into TMS for a quick chat.
Speaking of spin. Poor Adil Rashid has achieved the dubious feat of being the first test player to; not bat, not ball and not take a catch. What was all the fuss in playing him eh?
If England’s bowlers hit a purple patch in this test, India were green with envy. Only Ashwin faced Anderson, Broad and Woakes with any sense. His 33 being India’s top score. The bowling figures were masterful. Woakes 4-43, Broad 5-81, Anderson 9-43. The Burnley Express is fast chugging towards Glenn McGrath’s total of 563 test victims. With Trent Bridge up next that milestone could occur exceptionally soon. In fact at Nottingham, England have won six of their last eight. The Lords test was India’s last hope of clinging onto the series.
How can India salvage pride now? All of their batsman are unable to play the swinging ball. They look as comfortable in the middle as Boris Johnson does in an Islamic community. And for Kohli and co, even a tea break spells disaster. It is doom and gloom time for the travellers. Only once has a team come from a 2-0 deficit to win a five match series. That of Don Bradman’s side back in 1937. Despite their undoubted talent, this Indian side are miles off replicating that incredible feat. Instead they’ll have to pray for fifteen days of solid rain.
Mind you, England won’t care.
They’ll be singing in the rain.