0India take the initiative into the third test

Two tests in, 1–0 to India. England’s poor sum­mer con­tin­ued apace today with a shock­ing (sorry, appalling) col­lapse after lunch today to hand the vis­it­ors the ini­ti­at­ive going for­ward into the rest of the series. On cur­rent evid­ence it would be hard to see past India win­ning the series.

England’s seni­or pros really need to stand up and be coun­ted. Plenty has already been writ­ten about Cook – I’m not going to add to that here – but Bell needs to score some to help take the pres­sure off his belea­guered skip­per. Pri­or got out to a shock­er today as well – added to a mixed per­form­ance behind the stumps and a nig­gling injury and it may well be his last appear­ance in an Eng­land shirt. The bow­ing from Ander­son and Broad has cer­tainly been bet­ter as well. Michael Vaughan today sug­ges­ted Ander­son or Broad – more likely the lat­ter – be dropped. Per­haps such a ‘nuc­le­ar’ option is needed to take the team for­ward in the longer-term. Cer­tainly some­thing needs to hap­pen.
As I’ve writ­ten pre­vi­ously we appear to have lost the killer instinct. We need to get it back and fast before the sum­mer is defined by losses to both Sri Lanka and India.
Some pos­it­ives to take away from the sum­mer so far? Joe Root appears to be really devel­op­ing into a top class per­former – and someone who scores runs when it really mat­ters. His mar­shalling of the tail (OK on a Trent Bridge pitch rated ‘poor’ by match ref­er­ee Dav­id Boon) was a class per­form­ance. He didn’t score a use­ful half cen­tury – instead he put a 150 score on the board when it really mattered. Moeen Ali is also becom­ing a main­stay of the side – a use­ful twirler with the leath­er and a dogged per­former with the wil­low (although Eng­land need to use him a bat­ting all-round­er and not the main spin­ning option). Gary Bal­ance too has the class and tech­nique to suc­ceed long term at the top of the order.
Oth­er than that Eng­land des­per­ately need a top-class spin­ner – without one the side lacks bal­ance. Can Monty be sor­ted out? Is there any chance Swann could come back, or is his injury just too much? If Cook gets replaced (I think he has one more test) then would that pave the way for a return to the side for bad-boy mav­er­ick (but bloom­in’ good play­er) Kev­in Pietersen to return? And although Stokes is a use­ful bowl­er he is per­haps more suited to a fifth seam­er role rather than being one of only four quicks – espe­cially if his form with the bat is some­what lack­ing. His future, how­ever, lies at inter­na­tion­al level and I for back him to suc­ceed longer term.
All things to con­sider in time for Sunday’s third test…. Not happy times for Eng­land

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