A perfect 10: England dive into India

UK based Cricket Froth correspondent John Boon previews the massive upcoming Five Test Series between England and India.

A perfect ten: Haseeb Hameed will need to be when he becomes Alistair Cook’s 10th opening partner since the retirement of Andrew Strauss. At an average of about five tests per partner, the smart money would be on the 19-year-old Hameed making a swift return to county cricket.

The England in India series starts in Rajkot today, six hours from Hameed’s parents’ hometown. Along with Ben Duckett, however, Hameed is being counted upon to provide some extra ballast to a brittle batting line up. These two young batsmen have had stellar county seasons and at least one of them will need to hit the ground running.

But England’s selection lacks planning. If Hameed is ready now, and with Gary Ballance depleted of form and confidence (scores 1,9,9 and 5 in Bangladesh), surely Hameed would have benefited from a couple of knocks under his belt in the recent drawn series with Bangladesh?

He instead faces a tough debut in India and both he and Duckettt, who debuted in Bangladesh with scores of 14, 15, 7 & 56, will be up against it facing the world’s no. 1 ranked bowler Ashwin and his left-arm sidekick Jadeja.

A bit like Australia with Smith and Warner, England have relied too heavily on two world-class batsmen, Cook and Root, and a bevy of all-rounders in the lower order. Cook has previous form in this neck of the woods, and if he can match his output from England’s last visit to India in 2012 (562 runs at an average of 80) that will go a long way towards a positive series result.

The trouble is? No-one has come close to replacing Graeme Swann and the events in Bangladesh provided more questions than answers.

Moeen Ali is a classy all-rounder, but can he take 20 wickets? The ace in the pack is the mercurial Jimmy Anderson. Anderson’s mastery of the swinging ball makes him a threat in all conditions. If he comes back for the second Test in top nick, England’s batsmen put the necessary runs on the board and Ali and co. improve their accuracy, we may have an upset on the cards. There appear to be too many ifs though and India will start as favourites.

Hooray for Harare!

The past few months have been great for Test Cricket.

  • We’ve seen a resurgent Pakistan, at their best since the 1990s
  • Bangladesh recorded an historic Test match victory against England
  • Sri Lanka beat Australia in a series for the first time
  • Even the West Indies have displayed positive signs in their recent series against Pakistan.

Best of all though?

Test cricket has returned to Zimbabwe. The current Test against Sri Lanka in Harare is Zimbabwe’s fourth in recent months and the hosts have not been embarrassed. The greatest format of the game must keep the momentum up in 2017.

John Boon

UK based Cricket Froth correspondent

 

 

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