England call shots but acid test awaits

Green pitches fuel dominance but boot will be on the other foot on upcoming tours of India

In late 2008, it was possible to ponder if England would ever defeat India again. Three years later the pondering is, so to speak, on the other foot.

Then, India were 5-0 ahead in a series of seven one-day matches which, had it not been halted by terrorist atrocities, could easily have been stopped by the match referee on the grounds that England were taking too much punishment. When the postponed tour eventually resumed, India went and won a Test match they should have lost.

Now, England have won seven matches without response: four Tests, a Twenty20 and two one-day internationals. There are two more of the last-named to play. The fourth of the series is at Lord's today and the fifth at Cardiff next Friday, which will seem an interminable wait for all concerned if England are 3-0, or indeed 8-0, ahead by then. Nobody would blame the match referee on this occasion, Jeff Crowe, if he inter-vened for compassionate reasons.

There might be several reasons for this stark difference. India had the better team then and England have the better team now would count as two. But the pitches bequeathed by having home advantage are as high as anything in the pecking order.

England were ineffectual on the low, slow surfaces they encountered in some Indian odd spots last time; India have been incompetent against the moving ball on English grounds wherever they might be. It was, however, almost embarrassing when the pitch at The Oval was unveiled on Friday afternoon.

Had England been given a detailed recipe of their requirements – and nobody, of course, is suggesting that they did any such thing – it could not have been more beneficial to their seam bowlers or less amenable to India's batsmen. So it proved, and while it was the closest match of the summer, the damage was done while the ball was moving about sharply in the opening overs.

What type of surfaces England can expect to be greeted with both in the return one-day series next month and in Test and one-day series late next year and early in 2013 hardly bears thinking about. But contemplate it they must, because grass of any kind is unlikely to be involved.

If this inequality of surfaces seems to bestow unfair advantages, far betterthat than the bland alternative. It provides an examination. The hegemonyof homogeny must be resisted.

It has the potential to be as horrible for England in the near future as it is for India in the present. Except that England are a truly accomplished team who, if they learn to be patient, will operate with aplomb anywhere.

Next year could be the making of them. First they have South Africa at home, and if that series will unfortunately be burned alive by the Olympic torch it will still be significant. The tours of India, split by Christmas, follow. Win both of the Test series and this England's greatness will be established forever. One thing at a time, though, and that means the present one-day series. England's batting is brittle in parts and will be the more fragile next month for lacking Eoin Morgan, who is having surgery on his right shoulder this week and will be out for three months. This will give Ben Stokes a golden opportunity.

His innings in challenging circumstances on Friday was both frenetic and bold. He played shots that were not appropriate for the circumstances, he was slightly overawed, but the six he struck over long on off his 34th ball in international cricket was a sign of real promise. Jonathan Trott has yet to clear the ropes after facing 1,950 balls. Each to his own, to an extent.

This an important period for Ravi Bopara. He did the hard work on Friday but he was out with the line in sight. Morgan's absence means he will go to India.

Bopara is the sort of cricketer who should be wished well but talent goes only so far and 62 matches with only five 50s is quite a long way. But then Ian Bell is in magical form and still the one-day secrets elude him. England are winning. For now that may be enough.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering