Spat between Trott and Ashwin adds an injection of heat
As the endgame approached, the players grew tetchy. The trouble was that the pitch they were playing on was anything but.
Maybe the closeness of the finishing line or the desperation to score runs somehow, any way exacerbated the mood. If nothing else it put some heat into the afternoon and ensured that the match referee, Jeff Crowe, did not get off lightly.
There were three separate unsavoury but compelling incidents on the fourth day of the final Test, the last two apparently derived from the first. And how the match needed an injection of something that the surface was not going to provide.
Soon after coming in Jonathan Trott received a ball from Ravi Jadeja which he hit for four. All well and good, but this was one of those balls that slipped from the bowler's hand and rolled along the floor.
Some of the India players, including their captain, M S Dhoni, who is not ruffled by much, appeared to chuckle, though maybe it was out of disbelief. Trott was perfectly within the laws of the game, though he might refresh himself with the preamble about the spirit.
A little later, Trott was given not out caught behind, but India were sure he had hit the ball. At the end of the over he was the subject of angry words from a couple of the fielders, with Virat Kohli, a centurion the day before, especially expressive.
A little after that Trott was caught backing up too far by R Ashwin who was bowling at the time and warned him in no uncertain terms. Trott had a word or two back, as Ashwin explained later.
"It was just about the shot he played to the rolling ball," he said. "When you talk about gamesmanship and sportsmanship, then you hold yourself to expect the same from opponents. Nothing else. If it didn't seem obvious to you then it seemed obvious to us."
What was obvious to India was that Trott should not have done what he did, not even with the match and the series on the line. Jimmy Anderson, one of the bowling warriors from earlier in the piece, was sent in to face the music about the "golfing" shot. He made out a case half-heartedly. "I would do the same if I was batting I guess," he said. "I think I saw Dhoni laughing about it at one stage so I don't think it was the catalyst. We are in the middle of a tough and crucial Test match and things are going to get heated from time to time.
"There are two teams wanting to win a game of cricket, with the series on the line as well, so things inevitably boil over from time to time."
Ashwin, too, played it down, probably to put the ref off the scent. "Nothing got out of hand," he said. "It was just one of those things very much. I said I can run him out, if he can hit that ball. He said you might as well run me out. I said I wouldn't. He has got out enough times to actually get him out again." So there boys, so there.
This was all much livelier than the opening to the fourth day, which was peculiar. India showed no inclination to score runs and England none to take wickets. England then batted at a standstill.
"We just wanted to wipe out as much of the lead as possible so whatever they scored after that became a one innings game," Ashwin said. "Strange things have happened. In India we have got six or seven wickets in a session before."
Anderson let them know that they had probably picked on the wrong man in Trott, who does not let these kinds of thing bother him. Trott is hard on himself, but he does not care what opponents think.
"I think he quite enjoys it," said Anderson. "Some batsmen are determined and he is the sort of guy who relishes that battle and will try and get stuck in."
Interpret determined how you like: Trotty was still there at the close, and he had faced 131 balls after his misguided four to show how much it had not bothered him.
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