And welcome to coverage of day two of the second Test between England and India. Having won the toss in 2018 and put India in to bat there, Joe Root went for the same approach but I fear he failed to adhere to the old maxim that you should always look down rather than up when deciding what to do if the spin of a coin gives you the great good fortune of dictating whether you bat or bowl first.
And there’s no doubt England have been stung by batsmen with more patience and better techniques than theirs on the whole, earning and riding their luck in initially tricky conditions before cashing in later to build a truly commanding platform. James Anderson and Ollie Robinson bowled well but to play until 7pm and take only three wickets was utterly deflating.
A lot of the blame has been pointed at England’s lack of red-ball cricket but inspired by a tweet from @stephanshemilt, I thought we should take a look at their opponents:
Here are the dates of the India XI’s last domestic red ball matches (and even these may have come after a couple of years of not playing one):
KL Rahul 29 Feb 2020
Rohit Sharma 7 Nov 2015
Chet Pujara 9 March 2020
Virat Kohli 2 Nov 2012
Ajinkya Rahane 3 Jan 2020
Rishabh Pant 29 Dec 2017
Ravi Jadeja 12 Nov 2018
Mohammed Shami 20 Nov 2018
Ishant Sharma 19 Jan 2020
Mohammed Siraj 12 Feb 2020
Jasprit Bumrah 1 Jan 2017
These 11 men, 10 of whom play all formats (England have seven multi-format players) have effectively been starved of non-international red-ball cricket, playing in a country where they rarely win because of the movement of the Dukes ball in English conditions, yet are making a much better fist of it than the home side who all played some county cricket this season – as well as two Tests against New Zealand. India are showing that while it’s not easy to cope with the international and franchise schedule, not everyone struggles as much as England to cope.
If anything I would argue it’s not that they’re playing too few county matches, it’s that they’re playing too many Test matches in too short a timeframe. Those six weeks between the World Test Championship and the first Test have served India well so far. It’s all about adequate preparation and versatility rather than simply about getting Championship matches under their belts.