Five things Strauss's team must do to keep feet on Indian throats
Ahead in the series and eyeing the world No 1 spot, England must not give talented tourists a sniff
1. Stop grassing their catches
During their unforgettable Ashes triumph last winter, England were so good that they would have caught a bus from 100 yards away. Their standards have remained high but there were some clear flaws at Lord's. Andrew Strauss dropped two at first slip, both of which he would normally have snared with one hand tied behind his back, and Eoin Morgan made a porridge of one above his head at point.
Without wishing to labour the point, as it were, England are still coming to terms with the loss of Paul Collingwood, whose spectacular catches became routine. It has meant a reshuffling of the fielding pack which they are still getting to grips with.
For instance, Ian Bell was at short leg at Lord's instead of Alastair Cook, who was at third slip, but when it was decided that two men were needed close in front of the bat, Cook went to short leg and Bell reverted to silly point. Little things count.
Strauss did not seem unduly worried, although if he is not taking his catches as well as not scoring runs, it may be time for an eye test. He said: "It's important to recognise that we have caught a lot of catches over the last two years or so but you are not going to catch every one unfortunately. We are not getting carried away with that." Still, England's fielding is superior to India's. They are fitter, faster, stronger, better drilled.
2. Tell Stuart Broad to forget about being the 'Enforcer'
One of the finest of many fine things to emerge from the first Test for England was the bowling of Stuart Broad. He pitched the ball up as so many observers had been advising him to do for yonks ("For heaven's sake pitch the ball up, man," people shouted at TV screens as another ball was rammed into the pitch halfway down and failed to take a wicket) and was rewarded with the best match bowling figures of his Test career - 7 for 94.
It was his best sustained bowling for England and a pertinent response to those who been calling for his head (most of those shouting at their TVs).
The fear is that if Chris Tremlett fails to make the side, as seems likely, Broad may be tempted to revert to being a short-pitched enforcer-type figure, though a character less dissimilar in mean looks to Humphrey Bogart in the 1951 film of the same name would be hard to imagine.
As Andrew Strauss said yesterday, he would not expect Tremlett's absence to have a knock-on effect. "You always want bowlers to do what they naturally do," he said. "You don't want to force them to do something that's uncomfortable or unnatural for them."The basis for all our bowlers has been to bang out length consistently.
And when we've done that we've generally taken wickets. So I don't think Tim Bresnan is any different on that.
Chris Tremlett obviously comes from a slightly different trajectory. But they're all doing a similar role really."
This is not quite right given Tremlett's threatening bounce and many of India's smaller batsmen including Sachin Tendulkar would not be sorry to see the back of him temporarily.
They will well recall Tremlett from four years ago and he is much better now. But if Swann, Jimmy Anderson (28 wickets at 15.89 runs each at Trent Bridge) and whoever is the third member of the seam triumvirate find some swing and let the ball do the work from a fullish length, they will be rewarded.
3. Pile on the runs in the first innings
In 33 Test matches since Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss began to guide England's fortunes, they have generally succeeded in piling on the runs in the first innings. On 18 occasions they have made more than 400, on seven of those passing 500 and on three going to 600.
Of those they have won 14 and lost none. The idea of big first-innings runs winning Tests did not become an adage for nothing. After making 474 for 8 at Lord's (and this after being put in) England always felt they were in control of the match. And so it proved.
They understand that they cannot win every match by an innings, as they have done four times lately, but big totals make it at least a possibility. The return to blistering form of Kevin Pietersen is excellent for the team, though it is crucial that Strauss rediscovers his touch.
Nothing undermines a batting side more than the loss of an early wicket and Strauss twice got starts at Lord's only to get out. The depth of England's batting sets them apart and allowed another declaration at Lord's, something else which has become a habit for Strauss's side in both innings.
In each of the last four matches England have lost, they have made under 300 in their first innings, in three of them under 200. QED.
4. Refuse to get flustered by the DRS system
It is clear that England, once doubters themselves, have been converted to the merits of the umpire Decision Review System. And they have the zeal of the convert. Andy Flower, the team's coach, castigated the International Cricket Council for failing to lead on the issue earlier this week and Strauss followed suit yesterday.
"There is a general groundswell of support for DRS, and if there is, then it's important that the ICC lead the game," he said. "As it is, we are playing with a halfway-house situation and we have to do as well as we can with those restraints in place. As Andy said, the ICC are there to lead the game."
But India's intransigence is here to stay and for the moment they hold sway in the corridors of power where more work is to be done, or put out to tender, on the accuracy of predictive technology such as hawkeye.
England were almost denied by incorrect (but forgivable) umpiring decisions on lbw appeals at Lord's, and it will be India's turn before the series is out, make no mistake. The spectre of Sachin Tendulkar being erroneously given out lbw on 99 in sight of his 100th international hundred could loom large.
5. Win the toss (probably)
India won the toss at Lord's and a fat lot of good it did as bad luck and poor play afflicted them thereafter. It represented a continuing comeback for Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the toss front. He has now won four from the last five, having lost 12 of the last 13 including eight consecutively. Still, he has managed to take India to No 1in the world.
Strauss has won 18 of 31 tosses since he assumed the official captaincy – but four of England's last five wins, including three by an innings, have come in matches where the coin came down against him.
Trent Bridge details
England (probable) AJ Strauss (capt), AN Cook, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, IR Bell, EJG Morgan, MJ Prior (wkt), SCJ Broad, GP Swann, TT Bresnan, JM Anderson.
India (probable) RS Dravid, A Mukund, SR Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, SK Raina, Yuvraj, MS Dhoni (capt & wkt), Harb-hajan, P Kumar, I Sharma, S Sreesanth.
Umpires Asad Rauf (Pak) & M Erasmus (SA)
Pitch report Likely to encourage swing bowlers who know their business, but will not entirely discourage batsmen who know theirs. It should provide a proper examination of all the Test skills and an absorbing contest looms.
Weather forecast Cool, dry and overcast until lunchtime, with the possibility of sunny intervals in the afternoon. Max temp: 19C
TV times Sky Sports 1 10am-7pm. Highlights: Channel Five 7-8pm
Odds England Evens; India 3/1; Draw 2/1
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