That there. Right there! Looks, see. That’s Test Cricket in it’s most perfect art form. There! Look!
England vs India in the 1st Test at Edgbaston had pretty much everything, didn’t it?
England top order batting collapse x2? TICK.
Stupid run out? TICK.
Dropped catches by the dozen, including the most valued wicket in Test cricket right now? TICK.
Plucky lower order batting from the bowlers? TICK.
A match swinging like a pendulum and nobody really knowing who is going to win until it is over? TICK.
England ended up winning this Test match by 31 runs and, in the words of Ben Stokes who removed Virat Kohli in the second innings and pretty much guaranteeing even England couldn’t throw this one away, “shut a few mouths”.
You see, the England Test team has taken a bit of a kicking recently, and rightly so because if you don’t win matches people question whether you are any good. Wins like this tend to calm that kind of talk down, but let us not get too carried away. I know, I know. I can always find the negatives.
Alastair Cook, bowled brilliantly twice or just slowly declining? Ashwin has him on a string, though that is not just exclusive to Cook. The biggest problem England have here? Zero other options as if Keaton Jennings is the next best opener we have then we have serious opening issues. But then, we knew that, didn’t we?
Dawid Malan is just not good enough. Isham Sharma licks his lips when he sees him and he dropped about four too many catches for my liking. Get rid and bring anyone in, please. Ollie Pope you say? New one on me.
But, there were some very high points as well! Yes, positivity ahoy!
Rashid certainly proved that bringing him back was a worthwhile experiment. Sam Curran looks like the perfect left-arm ‘pace’ option we need, if only in English conditions. Of course, what will actually happen to Curran is that he will be dropped once someone like Chris Woakes is available again, but hey – it is good to know what he can do. He can bat a bit too, which is always a bonus when England insist on giving away wickets in batches of four.
Jimmy Anderson again showed he is the master of a swinging ball in favourable conditions and Ben Stokes reminded us what we will miss when he disappears again to stand trial. Joe Root made batting look easy but then also allowed his opposite number to play the innings we will all remember. That should, and so easily could, have been yours Joe – the big ton and then removing Kohli cheap.
But still, a win is a win and we all head off to Lords to get going on Thursday.