Cricket / First Test: England spinning out of control: Indian bowlers strengthen the hosts' position as the tourists seek to repair the damage at the second attempt

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The Independent Online
ON THE basis that they do not look likely to earn too much in the way of prize-money on this tour, England's cricketers might now be considering hiring out their services as a United Nations peace- keeping force. Explosions and fire had rather more sinister overtones until England hit town, but after three days of Test cricket, they now represent national expressions of delight.

The firecracker salesmen, on the verge of calling in the receivers after India's performances in 1992, have been doing a roaring trade at Eden Gardens, and yesterday the entire Indian Test side issued a statement calling for 'national unity and communal harmony'. Before England arrived it would have been a further incitement to riot in that the only thing this nation was united on was the incompetence of their cricket team.

India, who had never before enjoyed the luxury of enforcing the follow-on on this ground, have now (after the Oval Test in 1990) done so twice in consecutive matches against their old colonial masters. The only time that England had suffered the indignity in India before was in Kanpur in 1961-62, when E R Dexter was asked to bat again by N J Contractor.

The only thing Dexter was asked this weekend, by Indian journalists who traditionally pose delightfully innocent questions, was whether he thought he had presided over a selectorial cock- up before the team left home. Dexter, though, was in his best 1989 Australian summer mode, and gave them a version of the old 'I'm not aware of any errors . . .' line. This was probably justified, in that having spent Saturday afternoon at the Calcutta races, the England chairman had managed to miss some of the more gruesome batting.

While Lord Ted was away studying form in the paddock, England were, so to speak, tailed off in the Eden Gardens Selling Plate for 10-year-old geldings, and inviting the stewards to call for an inquiry. England could not have looked more hapless in their first innings had they been issed with blindfolds.

It is the contention of Graham Gooch and Keith Fletcher that all those sessions at Lilleshall are more about honing techniques than sprouting Charles Atlas physiques, but there was precious little evidence in England's most clueless batting display against spin since Pakistan in 1987. On that occasion, there was almost a case for taking out injunctions against the umpires for restraint of trade, but in this match, the umpiring has been as good as you will find anywhere in the world.

To put it into perspective, this was not Bedi, Chandra and Prasanna mesmerising the opposition on a raging dust bowl, but three spinners who would barely scrape a living in county cricket making England's front-line batsmen look like total Charlies on a slow, bounceless turner.

Even a schoolboy knows that playing forward, with bat tucked behind the pad, is a pre-requisite for defence in these conditions, but England turned out to be rabbits of the stuck-in-the-car-headlights variety. They were all undone by either playing back, or pushing half-forward with the bat hung out in front. If this had been a team of professional plumbers, you would have paid the bill, turned on the taps and watched water gushing out of the gas stove.

England's follow-on target of 172 should have been a pushover, and the fact that they came within nine runs of making it from an overnight 88 for 5 was an eloquent comment on the ineptitude of the top-order batting. The best techniques of all came from Ian Salisbury, and a No 10 in his first Test, Paul Taylor. Salisbury batted for three hours, and while both of them were dropped twice, it was less than Salisbury's effort deserved when he was last out, caught behind cutting at a long hop from the off-spinner, Rajesh Chauhan.

The most obvious flaw in England's approach was their utter timidity. Their 163 runs occupied 100 overs and one ball, and for all that practice on slow matting at Lilleshall, once exposed to the dusty Orient, they looked as though they had never seen a spinner in their lives before.

In fairness, England did learn from their first-innings mistakes, and batted much more positively second time around. However, the outbreak of illness in the camp probably cost them the wicket of Gooch to a bizarre stumping off the leg-spinner, Anil Kumble.

Gooch played and missed at a rare delivery from Kumble that turned, but just as the wicketkeeper, Kiran More, was about to lob the ball away to a fielder, he spotted that Gooch's back-foot toe was only on the crease instead of, as the law decrees, behind it. However, if Gooch is currently in the sort of fog that has little to do with Calcutta's exhaust fumes, it is understandable, as he is still far from well.

He may have been a bit delirious asking Alec Stewart to open after keeping wicket for 123 overs, and Stewart played much better in the second innings until he was given out caught off bat and pad. Stewart, though, is rather keener on Indian appeals for unity than he is for his wicket, and emitted his customary disapproving body-language when the finger went up. A word in his ear may be necessary.

That England did not end the third day in more disarray was largely down to Mike Gatting, who has come to terms with Indian conditions better than most. Gatting tucks into spinners and tikka masalas with equal relish, and is the only tourist who is the same weight now as when he left home.

England's scorer, Clem Driver, is to return home after falling ill during the Calcutta Test.

England's three-day match against the Rest of India at Vishakhapatnam starting on Friday will go ahead only if the tour party are guaranteed flights in and out rather than long train journeys.

EDEN GARDENS SCOREBOARD

(Third day: India won toss)

INDIA - First Innings

(Friday: 263-4)

*M Azharuddin c Gooch b Hick. . . . . . . . . . . . 182 326 min, 197 balls, 26 fours, 1 six P K Amre c Hick b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 88 min, 74 balls Kapil Dev c Lewis b Hick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 70 min, 50 balls K S More not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 72 min, 61 balls A Kumble b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 18 min, 11 balls R K Chauhan b Malcolm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 3 min, 5 balls Venkatapathy Raju c Salisbury b Hick. . . . . . . . . 1 16 min, 13 balls Extras (b6 lb6 w10 nb10). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Total (545 min, 122.5 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . 371

Fall (cont): 5-278 (Amre), 6-346 (Kapil Dev), 7-362 (Azharuddin), 8-368 (Kumble), 9-370 (Chauhan),

10-371 (Venkatapathy Raju).

Bowling: Malcolm 24-3-67-3 nb7 w1 (5-2-7-0) (4-0-8- 0) (4-0-13-0) (4-0-18-1) (4-0-18-0) (3-1-3-2); Jarvis 27-5-72-2 nb1 w4 (6-3-9-0) (5-0-19-1) (3-2-2-0) (9-0- 35-1) (4-0-7-0); Lewis 23-5-64-0 nb2 w1 (6-2-10-0) (5-1-12-0) (3-0-13-0) (4-0-19-0) (5-2-10-0); Taylor 19-2-65-1 w4 (8-1-25-1) (2-0-10-0) (5-1-21-0) (4-0-9-0); Salisbury 17-2-72-1 nb3 (7-2-16-1) (6-0-29-0) (4-0-27- 0); Hick 12.5-5-19-3 (2-1-9-0) (10.5-4-10-3).

Progress: Second day: 300: 413 min, 91.5 overs. 350: 481 min, 106.1 overs. Innings closed: 12.56pm.

Azharuddin: 50: 99 min, 79 balls, 8 fours. 100: 174 min, 114 balls, 17 fours. 150: 265 min, 155 balls, 25 fours.

ENGLAND - First Innings

*G A Gooch c Azharuddin b Venkatapathy Raju. . . . .17 68 min, 59 balls, 2 fours ] A J Stewart b Prabhakar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 5 min, 1 ball M W Gatting b Chauhan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 160 min, 143 balls, 2 fours R A Smith c Amre b Kumble. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 11 min, 15 balls G A Hick b Kumble. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 11 min, 12 balls N H Fairbrother c More b Kumble . . . . . . . . . . 17 87 min, 68 balls I D K Salisbury c More b Chauhan. . . . . . . . . . 28 183 min, 162 balls, 5 fours C C Lewis b Venkatapathy Raju. . . . . . . . . . . .21 65 min, 62 balls, 4 fours P W Jarvis c Prabhakar b Venkatapathy Raju. . . . . .4 10 min, 8 balls, 1 four J P Taylor st More b Chauhan. . . . . . . . . . . . 17 65 min, 60 balls, 1 four D E Malcolm not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 23 min, 11 balls Extras (b8 lb8 w4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Total (353 min, 100.1 overs). . . . . . . . . . . .163

Fall: 1-8 (Stewart), 2-37 (Gooch), 3-38 (Smith), 4-40 (Hick), 5-87 (Gatting), 6-89 (Fairbrother), 7-111 (Lewis), 8-119 (Jarvis), 9-149 (Taylor), 10-163 (Salisbury).

Bowling: Kapil Dev 6-1-18-0 (w1) (one spell); Prabhakar 9-3-10-1 (6-2-7-1 3-1-3-0); Kumble 29-8-50-3 (11-4- 12-2 13-3-23-1 2-1-5-0 2-0-5-0 1-0-5-0); Venkatapathy Raju 27-14-39-3 (13-6-15-1 13-8-20-2 1-0-4-0); Chauhan 29.1-15-30-3 (20-10-21-1 8-5-7-0 1-0-2-1 0.1-0-0-1).

Progress: Second day: Tea: 29-1 (Gooch 15. Gatting 9) in 14 overs. 50: 113 min, 32.3 overs. Close: 88-5 (Fairbrother 17, Salisbury 0) in 50 overs. Third day: Morning smog/mist delayed start until 9.30am. 100: 217 min, 62.0 overs. Lunch: 125-8 (Salisbury 9, Taylor 3) in 82 overs. 150: 331 min, 95.4 overs. Innings closed: 1.11pm.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

*G A Gooch st More b Kumble . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 52 min, 40 balls, 2 fours ] A J Stewart c Tendulkar b Kumble . . . . . . . . .49 133 min, 127 balls, 5 fours, 1 six M W Gatting not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 108 min, 90 balls, 8 fours R A Smith not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 27 min, 34 balls Extras (lb9 nb2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Total (for 2, 162 min, 48 overs) . . . . . . . . . 128 Fall: 1-48 (Gooch), 2-111 (Stewart).

Bowling: Kapil Dev 4-2-7-0; Prabhakar 4-0-20-0 (nb3) (one spell each); Chauhan 8-0-32-0 (1-0-1-0 6-0-30-0 1-0-1-0); Venkatapathy Raju 14-3-29-0 (9-1- 25-0 5-2-4-0); Kumble 18-6-31-2 (one spell).

Progress: Tea: 35-0 (Gooch 14, Stewart 17) 10 overs. 50: 56 min, 14.4 overs. 100: 127 min, 37.1 overs.

Umpires: P Reporter and S Venkataraghavan

ENGLAND Under-19 completed an impressive victory over their Indian counterparts on the final day of the first Test in Ghazibad yesterday. Mark Broadhurst (4 for 71) and Glen Chapple (3 for 38) enabled England to win by an innings and four runs. Jason Kerr made sure of victory by taking two wickets with three overs remaining.

Australia in tatters,

England A slump, page 25

(Photograph omitted)

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