England vs India: England come up short after faith in the bowlers proves wide of the mark

India 290-9 v England; second Test, day one

Lord's

All summer England have craved the comfort of the familiar. Give us the tools, the lads have been indicating, and we will do the job. It turns out they were being economical with the truth or a bit too full of themselves, or both.

How their lips must have smacked on Thursday morning when they rolled up on a smashing morning at Lord’s and saw that grass was not only on the square. At last they had a Test pitch worthy of the name and the occasion, a pitch where the ball carried and moved and where batsmen could not simply drop anchor to survive.

This was the big chance. The hue of the business area resembled mouldy Wensleydale and it was the right side of sporting. If the wickets had not been there it would have been difficult to be sure where play was to take place.

But how England’s bowlers squandered it on the opening day of the second Investec Test. They were short and wide when they ought to have been full and straight. Indiscipline seems to be affecting them in many areas.

Perhaps it was their way of peacekeeping with India in a series that threatens to be spicier than phall. Give them some innocuous stuff they could leave at will and we can all be pals together again. 

Yet it seemed to matter not initially. Wickets fell intermittently enough. Maybe, reciprocally, that was India’s idea of rapprochement before the preliminary hearings of charges against Jimmy Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja are held next Tuesday.

England’s penalty for their miscreant behaviour came later. An admirable eighth-wicket stand of 90 between Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took India out of deep trouble if not to certain safety.

Rahane played serenely, left well alone when he could and declined to be overawed by the occasion, the second half of his second Test hundred coming at a run a ball. His first name in Sanskrit means incapable of being defeated and when he struck Anderson back over his head for six into the pavilion as he dashed to three figures in the evening, it seemed to fit perfectly.

The day closed with the tourists on 290 for 9, which is not riches but was more than England would have wanted or expected. Rahane went three overs from the end to a sharp return catch taken by Anderson and given the history of the 10th wicket in this series, England can expect to be batting by mid-afternoon today.

The recovery from 145 for 7 might have been averted if more damage had been inflicted in the morning when there was the rare sight of a seaming ball and four slips, all of whom felt that they would shortly be in business.

Somewhere deep in their memory banks, England’s pace quartet - the three long-in-the-tooth merchants, Anderson, Stuart Broad and Liam Plunkett and even the tyro Ben Stokes - should have located the image that this was an English type of surface for the ages. More Derby in May than Lord’s in July, though there similarities ended.

The tone was set in the morning by Anderson and his long-time new ball partner, Broad. They have been together in 66 Test matches during which they have taken 491 wickets between them. Yet they produced what amounted to unintelligent dross.

Anderson broke a plethora of records. He became the leading Test wicket-taker in several categories: in England, eclipsing Fred Trueman after 50 years, for England against India, passing Bob Willis and Derek Underwood after 32 and at Lord’s, overhauling Ian Botham after 22. But only in spasms was he at his best. Broad never achieved those heights, even without a level three ICC charge hanging over his head.

This was hardly the first occasion in 2014 that this most durable of pairings has failed to deliver what was expected. At Headingley, in both innings against Sri Lanka they were profligate with the new ball.  The other worrying fallibility was Matt Prior’s wicketkeeping. He could be forgiven most of the 17 byes he conceded, with the ball often starting wide and seaming and swinging prodigiously, but his lapses mount. The two dropped catches in the morning brought to seven his misses this summer so far.

He shelled Murali Vijay before the batsman had scored in the fourth over, failing to move alertly enough to his right, which immediately suggested that his various ailments are restricting his agility. Then he could not close his gloves to a thin edge from Virat Kohli from the last ball before lunch by Moeen Ali, who for some reason had been brought on to bowl. Neither was expensive individually but a wicketkeeper influences a side’s well-being and self-esteem. Prior has been a wonderful Test cricketer, he may be again but he is on borrowed time.

When Anderson seared one across Shikhar Djawan in the third over, the edge being taken with cool judgment by Gary Ballance at third slip, there was a prospect of a rapid demise. But instead of being forced to play and hang on for grim life the batsmen were allowed to leave.

Vijay was removed by Plunkett, bowling well in this spell, with another catch flying to Ballance. It might have been a celebratory moment for taking your shirt and waving it above your head but Ballance has been doing enough of that in a Nottingham nightclub with photos to prove it and been warned by management about his future behaviour.

Kohli, either side of his reprieve, batted like a genius before Anderson unfurled a perfect away swinger.

Cheteshwar Pujara was effective in a different way and over three hours batted with rare skill and orthodoxy, building an innings in difficult circumstances. It took a fast, full seaming ball from Stokes to pierce his defences.

MS Dhoni and Jadeja, the main protagonists in Anderson’s charge, came and went without Anderson having a sniff at either of them. Moeen bowled his best and longest spell and removed Jadeja, but England are groping forlornly for some proper rhythm.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...