Well done Alistair Cook. OK, so he missed out on making a century, just, but to score 95 when the chips were really down took unbelievable character. The only way he was going to silence the critics was with some runs and hopefully today’s score marks a permanent return to form. The crowd’s reaction when he scored his half century and the ovation when he left the field when speaks volumes as to the support for him amongst the cricket watching public. He’s a good man and didn’t deserve some of the diatribe fired his way.
Geoffrey Boycott has predicted a draw already – and the Rose Bowl pitch looks like it will produce another uninspiring match where the bat rules supreme. How ridiculous. We need pitches that have something on offer for both batsmen and bowlers, one that rewards top exponents of both disciplines. So what if the game is over in four days instead of five? Short term financial thinking risks undermining the entire fabric of the game – and then where will the money come from?
Poor decision I thought today to retain both Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson. Both have had a relatively poor summer by their high standards and no one should be a guaranteed pick (other than the captain). Dropping one of them would have sent a clear message to the rest of the side that they cannot take their place for granted. Healthy competition helps to increase performance – a lack of competition breeds complacency. Broad and Anderson are class performers and will bounce back but a little nudge wouldn’t have hurt. Liam Plunkett can count himself unlucky to miss out but Ben Stokes less so. His bowling has been reasonable but he’s on a rotten trot with the bat. He is another that will bounce back stronger. Good to see Chris Jordan back in the side – he can be a class performer for many years to come. Chris Woakes on the other hand a pick that simply bemuses me. Hopefully I will be proven wrong but I really can’t see him as being of international class. He barely merits a one day pick, let alone a selection as front line bowler in an attack of four.
Someone who has embraced test match cricket with great aplomb is Gary Ballance. Another ton under his belt today means he is rapidly establishing himself in that most challenging of positions, the number three slot. Six tests in, three centuries scored. It’s looking good for the hard-fighting Yorkshireman (adopted). It would be nice to see him go on tomorrow and register a ‘daddy’ hundred. Ballance remains in the middle with Ian Bell who was fortunate to escape being out LBW. It was pretty plumb and should have been given by the umpire but it wasn’t, leaving the Indians perplexed. Every time a decision like that goes against them a little smile runs across my face. After all they are the ones who rejected the Decision Review System (DRS) and so will get decisions going against them. If they refuse to embrace the technology to reduce poor decisions, they cannot complain when one goes against them.
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