England vs India report: Alastair Cook finds reason to smile but England face trying summer

India 457 & 391-9d England 496: The first Test ended in a draw

Trent bridge

It ended the way that had looked certain five minutes after it started. There was a fleeting moment yesterday when it seemed that the impossible might happen but that soon passed.

The first Test between England and India was duly drawn. The tourists survived early scares on the fifth day to finish their second innings on 391 for 9 declared, which gave them a lead of 352, when the teams shook hands. Only a timeless Test would have permitted a positive result and nobody would have had the stomach for it.

Alastair Cook, the England captain, was spared the ordeal of batting again, though he had something to smile about at last in the match’s final stage. With proceedings long since done as a meaningful contest, he put himself on to bowl and, lo and behold, took his first Test wicket by having Ishant Sharma caught low down on the leg side by Matt Prior.

It was the last curiosity in an otherwise drab match. Although there were moments of imperishable individual brilliance it was a dreadful advertisement for Test cricket. The pitch invited, nay demanded largely dull play, of which there was an abundance between the alluring passages.

Both sides were left to offer up a prayer that such a stalemate did not tire the players, especially the fast bowlers, beyond repair. The second Test begins at Lord’s on Thursday, with the third at Southampton only six days after that one ends. The toll on minds and bodies will begin to tell.

England (and probably India, it is fair to reflect) were left with as many questions as answers.

Stuart Broad claims the wicket of Virat Kohli on day 5 Stuart Broad claims the wicket of Virat Kohli on day 5  

In an attempt to resolve one of them, they have included Simon Kerrigan, the Lancashire left-arm spinner in a squad of 14 players for Thursday. He will be pulled out of Lancashire’s Championship match in Liverpool. There must be a chance that he will appear in the XI, though how he will be fitted in given the balance of the side will provide the selectors with some difficult choices.

Moeen Ali is clearly not quite up to the task of front-line spinner, though he deserves to keep his place in the side as a batsman. Whether Kerrigan is up to it remains to be seen, though the auspices are not necessarily promising after his fraught debut against Australia at The Oval last year when he was disdainfully smashed out of the attack in no time. It is not England’s only flaw but it is a substantial one. 

This draw has not helped. Perhaps it is correct that Test cricket is as much a trial of stamina as of skill, perhaps that is the intention but this series is taking it to extremes. England have been through it before. In 2004-05 in South Africa they played five Tests in 39 days, which they managed to negotiate by using four of their bowlers, including three pacemen, in all five.

But this summer they have already played three Tests, embracing the two against Sri Lanka and this moribund affair against India. On each occasion the surfaces have been the sort to break bowlers’ hearts.

Of course, Test matches are entitled to end in draws and throughout the 1960s it was more or less a compulsory result. But the game has changed significantly for the better in the last 20 years and while modern mores mean that most of us are probably less tolerant of bore draws,  modern spectators have become accustomed to positive play and results.

Watching events unfold at Trent Bridge, it was difficult to imagine that barely a year ago a match took place that was constantly enthralling and ultimately gripping. England beat Australia by 14 runs but not before a series of gut-wrenching thrills and turns.

This was at the other end of the spectrum. There was glimmer of hope at the start of the fifth day that England could rattle their way through the rest of India’s batting order and leave themselves enough time to pursue something between 200 and 250 to win a famous victory.

In the first hour, Jimmy Anderson, from the Radcliffe Road End, and Stuart Broad, from the Pavilion End, were as effective a pair as they have been for at least a year. The spring in Anderson’s step was doubtless enhanced by his wonderful innings of 81 in a world-record Test 10th wicket stand of 198 on day four.

Perhaps he thought that having salvaged England’s position (aided and abetted by Joe Root’s admirably mature innings of 154no) he ought to try to press home the advantage. Broad, as he is from time to time for no apparent reason, was irrepressible. The pitch was still its old lifeless self but maybe there was something in the air.

Within 14 overs of the start, India’s overnight 167 for 3, 128 comfortable runs ahead, had become 184 for 6, 145 distinctly insufficient runs to the good. Broad removed both overnight batsmen by having Virat Kohli lbw to one that moved in as he played round it and Ajinkya Rahane caught by Prior pushing forward.

Prior continued a match of mixed returns by dropping MS Dhoni to his right. On the first day of this match he had kept with sterling concentration when others might have been much more hesitant, taking a lovely diving catch into the bargain, but this was his second drop of the Test.

He also shelled two against Sri Lanka in Leeds. Unlucky to be given out before his innings was properly underway here, Prior will again be feeling the discomfort of vultures pondering whether to circle on his Test career.

Dhoni, however, did not stay around long, bowled by Liam Plunkett’s first ball of the day. Somehow, Ravi Jadeja survived a blistering working over from Anderson but when soon after lunch Anderson rightly got his man, the door to victory was ajar again. It was soon shut by an upright innings from Stuart Binny and another fifty from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. If the end was mildly amusing it was also merciful.

England squad for the second Test against India, starting at Lord’s on Thursday:

Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, GaryBallance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, Simon Kerrigan, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior, Sam Robson, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.

Shot of the day

Ravindra Jadeja’s charge down the wicket to Jimmy Anderson early in his innings when India were trying to save the match defied credibility. He deserved to  be dismissed but somehow he survived and played an important part in India’s revival.

Ball of the day

Stuart Broad’s morning spell was not quite as irrepressible as some that he has produced down the years, but he wobbled the ball around disconcertingly and his effort to dismiss a hapless Virat Kohli as he played fatally across  the line was from his top vintage.

Moment of the day

By the end everybody needed something to cheer them up and it was Alastair Cook who provided it. He brought himself on to bowl and in his second over of offspin cum slow medium pace filth, produced a legside swinger which Ishant Sharma could only glove low to Matt Prior.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific