Inept England still in with a second chance

Cook and Compton unbeaten as tourists are forced to follow on and must survive two days to save Test

Ahmedabad

England's promise that they were ready became a mantra before this Test series began. "We are ready, we are ready," player after player intoned, like brainwashed cult followers lining up on the way to their doom.

What they were ready for remains open to speculation after the third day of the First Test against India. A good hiding? Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding when they get home?

The tourists were still in it after a fashion by the close. Alastair Cook, their captain, and Nick Compton, their debutant, shared in a painstaking, vigilant and, most importantly, unbeaten opening partnership of 111 from 38 overs.

They showed pluck, determination and method, and some other qualities. Unfortunately, it was in the second innings, the first having rather passed the tourists by amid a welter of apprehension and ineptitude in the face of clever but hardly unplayable spin bowling.

This belated endeavour reduced the deficit to a mere 219. England trailed by 330 on first innings, 131 short of saving the follow on, which never looked remotely likely. If they had learned the recent lessons meted out to them in Asia by Pakistan and Sri Lanka it was not immediately apparent.

Starting the day at 41 for 3 and by all accounts in defiant mood, they were all out for 191 with a third of the day left, eight of their wickets falling to spin. If one player must be singled out for embodying all that was wrong – and sadly he must – it was Ian Bell.

There is no doubt that Bell is an authentic Test cricketer, the purest of England's present batsmen with more than 5,500 Test runs. But he has been well short of fulfilment in Asia, where his average is in the mid-30s (and below 30 if Bangladesh is excluded).

He came in after 50 minutes' play yesterday at the dismissal of Kevin Pietersen and danced down the pitch to his first ball, intent on hitting it over the top. It was breathtaking in its audacity and woeful in its execution. He never made it to the pitch and the ball spooned up to deep mid-off, where Sachin Tendulkar had time to set himself to pouch a straightforward catch.

Off trooped Bell for his third first-ball duck in Tests, his second this year. Whatever was going through his mind in the time he was waiting to bat can only be guessed at until he confesses. But all his thought processes were left whence he came.

Bell is flying home after this match to be with his wife when she gives birth to their first child. It is natural that much of his attention is on that – and he will in any case miss the Second Test in Mumbai – but if he was not in the right of state of mind to play in this match he should not have been picked. And if he was not in the right state of mind England, with a retinue that includes coaches, medical men and a psychologist, perhaps should have deduced it.

Nothing quite compared with that in England's sad decline, which was in truth a continuation of their poor form this year. What a fall from grace it has been: a 3-0 defeat against Pakistan, a draw in Sri Lanka after going behind, a victory against an insipid West Indies in cold, cold May, a drubbing by South Africa and now this.

Oh, and a dispute with their star player which virtually brought the game in England to a standstill and which everybody is now trying to pretend never happened. Similar perhaps to the way they think they can now play spin in the subcontinent.

Before Bell's sad demise, Cook and Pietersen had somehow held the spinners at bay. Occasionally Pietersen was sublime, occasionally ridiculous. He was bowled prodding defensively at a straight one from Pragyan Ojha. It was his 21st dismissal in Tests by a left-arm spinner.

Ojha and his spin chum, Ravichandran Ashwin, were both compelling in those morning overs. Four men were usually round the bat, chattering, stalking, waiting. Cook, who had looked in control, edged an off-spinner from Ashwin to slip.

Before lunch, Samit Patel was given out lbw in Umesh Yadav's first over of the match. It was a bad mistake by umpire Aleem Dar, because on first and subsequent viewings it was clearly going down leg. Had the Decision Review System been used in this series it would have saved Patel in normal circumstances.

Then again, DRS would have sent Patel packing when he played across Ashwin on four, only for the appeal to be turned down. There were six poor decisions in all yesterday which DRS might have changed. Dar, the best umpire in the world, had a rare off-day and it was worsened because his mistakes were allowed to stand. But India have a phobia about DRS and simply refuse to play with it.

As the ball grew softer there was belated resistance from England's tail, marshalled by Matt Prior. But Ojha took his tally to five and India wasted no time in enforcing the follow on.

Cook was reprieved when he should have been given out on 41, sweeping, missing and stone-dead lbw to Ojha, but he put it behind him. By the close he and Compo Jnr were rotating the strike, playing comfortably and probably wondering what it would be like if it had still been their first innings.

In hindsight

India's refusal to play with the Decision Review System cost them dear in the First Test yesterday. Four umpires' verdicts went against them which would certainly have been upheld had they been referred to the third umpire.

They were all lbw appeals turned down when England were batting. The most crucial might have been that against Alastair Cook on 41 in the second innings against the left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha.

The balance was slightly redressed because both the lbw appeals upheld against England looked to be missing. India claim that the system is faulty and prefer umpires not to have any guidance.

Their attitude extends to refusing broadcasters permission to use the Hawk-Eye ball-tracking system.

Ahmedabad scoreboard

India won toss

India: First innings 521-8 dec (C A Pujara 206 no, V Sehwag 117, Yuvraj Singh 74; G P Swann 5-144)

England: First innings (overnight: 41-3)

Runs/6s/4s/Bls

*A N Cook c Sehwag b Ashwin 41/0/7/109

K P Pietersen b Ojha 17/0/2/39

I R Bell c Tendulkar b Ojha 0/0/0/1

S R Patel lbw b Yadav 10/0/0/49

†M J Prior b Ojha 48/0/7/100

T T Bresnan c Kohli b Ojha 19/0/2/60

S C J Broad lbw b Khan 25/1/2/23

G P Swann not out 3/0/2/2

Extras (b5, lb12) 17

Total (74.2 overs) 191

Fall 1-26, 2-29, 3-30, 4-69, 5-69, 6-80, 7-97, 8-144, 9-187.

Bowling R Ashwin 27-9-80-3; Z Khan 15-7-23-1; P P Ojha 22.2-8-45-5; Yuvraj Singh 3-0-12-0; U T Yadav 7-2-14-1.

England: Second innings (following on)

Runs/6s/4s/Bls

*A N Cook not out 74/0/13/124

N R D Compton not out 34/0/2/104

Extras (lb3) 3

Total (38 overs) 111

To bat I J L Trott, K P Pietersen, I R Bell, S R Patel, †M J Prior, S C J Broad, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, J M Anderson.

Bowling U T Yadav 7-1-15-0; P P Ojha 14-3-34-0; R Ashwin 14-3-49-0; V Sehwag 1-0-1-0; Z Khan 1-0-1-0; S R Tendulkar 1-0-8-0.

Umpires Aleem Dar (Pak) and A L Hill (NZ)

TV Umpire S Asnani (Ind)

Match referee R S Mahanama (SL)

England trail by 219 runs with 10 wickets remaining

Why we can't use live pictures

We apologise to all cricket fans as we are unable to print live pictures from yesterday's play. This paper, along with other British media groups, is not publishing any live pictures from the First Test in protest at the Indian Cricket Board's refusal to grant access to certain major picture agencies, which we view as a restriction on the freedom of the press.

News
people
Sport
Yaya Sanogo celebrates scoring the opening goal with Arsenal's English midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
champions leagueLive: All the latest from the Emirates and Bulgaria, where Liverpool face Ludogorets
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning