England's A team batsmen held a dressing-room talk-in last night after narrowly avoiding an embarrassing collapse in Madras.
The subject was Indian spin and how to play it. The A team manager, Phil Neale, staged the discussion after seeing his side slip to 131 for 4 in reply to a Board President's XI total of 333 for 6 declared.
It could have been worse, but Dominic Cork batted through the last 45 minutes of the second day and helped Jason Gallian add 26 for the fifth wicket so far.
Gallian, the 23-year-old Lancashire opener, was the man who kept out the three-pronged Indian spin attack, and showed his team-mates exactly what is required for batting success on the sub-continent.
His unbeaten 36, including four boundaries, has taken him almost three hours, but his unwavering concentration throughout his 145-ball innings was matched only by his judgement and liberal use of the front pad in defence. He is learning fast.
Nick Knight, who played impressively for 41 before skying a catch to mid-off, said: "We have been talking a lot together about the way to play their spinners. It has been very interesting, too, to watch their batsmen building an innings against power spinners. We have to learn from that."
Knight discussed strategy against spin before with the West Indian, Jimmy Adams. "I don't really know him, but Jimmy's a left-hander too and he had a lot of success in the recent Test series out here. We spoke for 45 minutes and he was very helpful, his message was very similar to the sort of things we have been talking about since we got here.
"Play positively but patiently - and put the bad ball away every time when it comes."
India's traditional trial-by-spin, putting pressure on batsmen which builds up when chasing a large total, proved too much of a burden for Graham Gooch's full England side here two years ago. That team lost all three Tests against India, prompting the England manager, Keith Fletcher, to demand an A tour to India in order to prepare as many of the country's new generation as possible for the next senior visit, due in 1997.
(Second day: Board President's XI won toss)
Board President's XI - First Innings (Overnight: 255 for 3)
R Dravid lbw b Cork 84
R Shamshad c Cork b Patel 78
S Bahutule c Piper b Vaughan 4
A Vaidya not out 10
Extras (b8 lb3 w1 nb9) 21
Total (for 6 dec) 333
Fall: 1-25 2-117 3-160 4-278 5-285 6-333.
Did not bat: V Chatterjee, A Kuruvilla, S Ankola, K Singh.
Bowling: Illott 12-3-27-1; Johnson 15-1-42-0; Gallian 8-1-44-0; Cork 22-5-51-1; Salisbury 34-8-77-2; Patel 32.3-10-61-1; Vaughan 5-1-20-1.
England A - First Innings N V Knight c Bahutule b Singh 41
M P Vaughan b Kuruvilla 14
J E R Gallian not out 36
*A P Wells c Rathore b Chatterjee 5
D L Hemp lbw b Singh 5
D G Cork not out 17
Extras (b1 w2 nb10) 13
Total (for 4) 131
Fall: 1-33 2-80 3-95 4-105.
To Bat: K J Piper, I D K Salisbury, R L Johnson, M C Illott, M M Patel.
Bowling: Ankola 6-1-31-0; Kuruvilla 8-1-23-1; Singh 19-4-41-2; Bahutule 14-3-30-0; Chatterjee 11-8-3-1.
Umpires: S Choudhry and N Menon.Reuse content