0Cook shows his mettle in a Ballanced performance

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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