India has always been a place to test the constitutions of the most resolute of cricketers. The danger on this tour is that England are becoming less susceptible to Delhi Belly than White Line Fever.
Doses of dodgy tummy were running neck and neck with cases of angry young men as the tourists prepared for the fourth match of the one-day series here today (due to end at 11.15am GMT). England somehow escaped official censure for their antics in the third match in Madras last Friday night, but there is no doubt that the team management have been made aware of the need to keep their team in check.
"What is too far?" asked the team coach, Duncan Fletcher. "There is a fine line, but what's going overboard? It's up to the individual but you want some sort of aggression. They've just got to be warned not to go too far." The match referee, Denis Lindsay, has had a quiet word with both sides about their behaviour, though presumably it was slightly louder in England's case.
Andrew Flintoff, who has the most smiling of personalities, Matthew Hoggard, who has the natural attributes of a truly hostile fast bowler in every sense, and Jeremy Snape, who is proving to be a canny operator on the international scene, were all involved in incidents with Indian players on the field. Lindsay decided to take no further action, but he may be forced to be more punitive next time despite India's apparent acceptance of what happened as part and parcel of the intensity of one-day internationals.
"It shows it wasn't that serious," said Fletcher. "It was just a matter of making sure it doesn't get any worse. It's always nice to have a bowler that's aggressive and Andrew Flintoff has bowled magnificently.
"He's done well at crucial times, slowed them down and put them under pressure which is important, especially after the first six or eight overs when their batters have run away with it a bit."
Flintoff's batting is, for the moment, as much concern as his intemperate outbursts. But, who knows, his abuse of Virender Sehwag after an inside edge for four may be connected with the fact that this is precisely the sort of good fortune Flintoff himself is not enjoying at the moment.
"Anyone who isn't getting runs is bound to feel it but he gets over it pretty quickly and gets stuck in which is good to see. It doesn't seem to upset him very long, he's a merry sort of guy."
The news that the all-rounder, Craig White is to rejoin England in New Delhi this week – probably with a view to getting back in the team for the New Zealand leg of the tour – will not only increase selection options but also reduce the temper quotient. White has recovered from keyhole surgery on his left knee.
The Indian camp, meanwhile, were affected by the news that the television mogul, Mark Mascarenhas, had died in a car crash near Nagpur. Mascarenhas became a big wheel in the televising of cricket through his company WorldTel and a bigger one in the game generally when he became business manager to Sachin Tendulkar.
He was a controversial figure whose involvement in the rights for the 1997 World Cup was the subject of widespread criticism. He has looked after Tendulkar's interests outside cricket for five years.Reuse content