England was hammered by nine wickets during their first Test against India in Ahmedabad. There was some good cricket in spells from the visitors and some brilliant cricket from the hosts most of the time, but, as always, there are questions to be asked about the state of cricket as well as the performances of certain cricketers. By ANT SIMS.
How long will KP be in denial about his ineptitude against left arm spin?
The story goes that no matter how bad the left-arm spinner, if he is bowling against Kevin Pietersen, he will get the former South African out. KP’s showing against Pragyan Ojha in the first Test in Ahmedabad was abysmal. Pietersen has previously denied that he has any sort of problems against the left-armers, but the evidence is becoming increasingly clear that some sort of mental weakness exists for Pietersen. It might very well be the only weakness he has, but it’s a weakness nonetheless. His shot selection was an abomination, and while there is no doubt that he is an incredibly talented player, whatever block he has against left arm spin needs some work. The first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem, and somebody as stubborn as KP might never come around to admitting that he needs help.
Can Stuart Broad be dropped?
While Ahmedabad was never going to offer much for the fast bowlers, nobody expected England’s pace attack to look quite as poorly as they did against India. Stuart Broad was atrocious, not just with his bowling but also in his general conduct. He’s always had the problem of excessive appealing, but in Ahmedabad, Broad looked like he had never read the leg-before rule in his life. He finished the first innings with figures of 24-1-97-0 and didn’t even bowl in the very short second innings. Steven Finn missed out on the first Test due to injury and if he is fit for the Mumbai clash, he has to play – there’s no question about that. But who makes way? Tim Bresnan is the obvious choice, but with the Mumbai pitch likely to provide assistance for the spinners, England might be tempted to draft Monty Panesar into the side as a backup to Graeme Swann. The question, then, is whether England’s blue-eyed boy and vice-captain can be dropped.
What of Ian Bell, then?
When Ian Bell is in full flow, he is a joy to watch. He is, however, mentally weak and he far too often does far too many stupid things to warrant a place in an international Test side. The shot he played to get out during England’s first innings was, to say the least, baffling. With his side at 69-4, still miles behind India’s first innings lead, Bell walked out to the crease, came down the track ,and skied the ball straight to mid-off – playing one of the dumbest shots cricket has seen all year. He’s gone back home to England to be with his wife while she gives birth, but should Bell be given another chance upon his return? He’s made some handy runs in England colours this year, but with Jonny Bairstow lurking in the wings and looking like a solid replacement, Bell might not deserve another go. If chances were based solely on how he got himself out, he should be banned from cricket for life.
Is Che Pujara the real deal?
Whenever a great cricketer retires, there is always an expectation on the person coming in to replace them to be somewhat magical. Che Pujara has not disappointed since coming in to the Indian side. He’s got the silky wrists so reminiscent of Rahul Dravid and the temperament of a Test match veteran. He’s played just six Tests, but he already averages 71.25. He’s scored two hundreds and a double in his short career, and he looks dead set to have a long future ahead of him. Young cricketers in India, however, are always under the cosh. Pujara looks like the real deal, he bats like the real deal and he certainly has the temperament of the real deal, but he’ll be under the microscope for the remainder of the series to determine whether he can indeed walk the talk.
Should the ICC make DRS mandatory?
The umpiring in the Test at Ahmedabad was a disgrace. There were a number of poor decisions which affected both teams. Many of them could have and would have been rectified if the Decision Review System were in place. It’s a topic that has caused much debate and perhaps it should also be asked whether umpires are now lazy and overly reliant on technology. But the ICC’s persistent apathy towards DRS has left many fuming. As long as the ICC refuses to make a decision on how different cricket boards should approach DRS, the debate will rage on, but after the awful umpiring in the first Test it seems as good a time as any to reignite the debate on just how much sway the ICC should hold over the use of DRS. DM
Photo: India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (R) and his England counterpart Alastair Cook hold the trophy during its unveiling ceremony in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad November 14, 2012. The first test cricket match between India and England will be played in Ahmedabad starting Thursday. REUTERS/Amit Dave