England in 'naughty boy' nets after dismal defeat

Click to follow
The Independent Online

England were sentenced to an impromptu practice session after suffering a humiliating defeat in their final match before the start of the one-day international series against India

Just three days before the opening game of a seven-match series in Rajkot, England's preparations were thrown into disarray by a 124-run defeat to a Mumbai side largely made up of club professionals.

None of the players who dismissed the tourists for just 98 inside 25 overs are considered part of their squad for the Ranji Trophy, the main domestic competition in India.

It was a humbling experience with only three players - Samit Patel, Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson - even reaching double figures, and followed just 10 days after England were dismissed for 99 in the Stanford showdown in Antigua.

The embarrassing display prompted coach Peter Moores and his backroom staff to order a practice session in the middle, normally known as "naughty boy nets", after the match finished.

But for a 34-run last-wicket stand between Swann and Anderson, England's humiliation would have been even greater although captain Kevin Pietersen did his best to shrug off the significance of the result.

"It's a tough few lessons we need to learn," he said. "It's competitive cricket and there is a need to respect opposition and make sure we go and do the business. But there are no dramas. If we did this in the internationals three or four games in a row then there is a drama, but this is not it."

Pietersen was one of five members of the top seven dismissed for single figure scores, in his case a third-ball duck when he advanced down the wicket to 23-year-old seamer Kshemal Waingankar and was given lbw.

The England captain clearly believed the decision was harsh and questioned it as he walked past the umpire, but just to prove that success was no fluke Waingankar went on to claim five for 35 - not bad for a bowler who has only played one first class match.

England had been warned about his abilities after he dismissed Ian Bell, Michael Vaughan and Geraint Jones during a tour match two years ago.

Bell had set the tone for England's desperate reply to Mumbai's 222 for seven by lazily leaving his bat hanging outside off stump to a wide delivery and edging behind in the second over.

Paul Collingwood chipped straight to mid-on and both Ravi Bopara and Andrew Flintoff were caught behind trying to drive.

"The boys will be disappointed and you're never happy when you lose," said Pietersen. "But it's not these games that count, no one ever knows what happened in the tour games in Pakistan or Australia or wherever. It is the internationals that count and I know the lads will have their heads on and come out firing on Friday.

"It's a warm up game and you can't get as switched on as you do for an international. I'm not going to criticise or do anything. I'll back all the lads in the dressing room to know that, come tomorrow when we travel to Rajkot, they are going to have their heads on.

"This is just a quick little lesson and a quick little reminder that we need to get back into winning ways - there's no drama."

For all Pietersen's bullishness, however, England will board the plane to Rajkot with major issues to confront as they attempt to cure a misfiring batting line-up before facing an India side brimming with confidence following their Test series victory over Australia.

England expect Stuart Broad, who sat out the dismal defeat with a sore right knee, to be fit for selection but are unlikely to consider Ryan Sidebottom as he battles back to fitness from Achilles problems.

They can at least be consoled by the form of Lancashire seamer Anderson, who has impressed with the new ball in both matches and earned England an early breakthrough again after the tourists won the toss and decided to field.

Both Steve Harmison and Samit Patel claimed two wickets apiece as Mumbai were restricted to a modest total despite a determined 65 from left-hander Sushant Marathe and a quickfire 37 off 35 balls from Shoaib Shaikh.