The last test of the summer traditionally at the Oval is a time to reflect on the summer as it passes, contemplate the winter ahead, say farewell and look forward- the sort of place and time the Roman god Janus would love.
We say farewell and thank you to Alistair Cook after sterling service for England as one of the giants straddling the current game. I stress current since it’s unfair to compare current and past players in terms of greatness, the best ever, ‘there’ll never be another one’ so whilst Cook has all the statistics and records, he’s one of many great and good players we have seen at this level of the game. To help put this in context, choosing another ‘great’ at random, say Cowdrey; Cook may have passed his total test runs (12,000 vs 7,500 in round terms), he’s nowhere near Cowdrey’s 42,000 first class runs and won’t get there even if he plays all of the matches in the next three years for Essex. So let’s enjoy the ‘here and now’ and not get too carried away with the hyperbole!
The principle of winning the toss and batting was followed (for once) and the first session was one of attrition and probing- each side probing the other, batsmen playing for their places (Jennings) or just savouring the occasion to put down a decent score. Lunch at 67/1 hinted at slow play, good bowling and the principle of building an innings over time. Jennings looks unconvincing (still) and Ali at number 3 just doesn’t look or feel right at present. But time will tell.
The afternoon session sees the game swinging towards England as the game trundles on with no wickets falling, few runs but Cook reaches his 50 and Ali grafting. The principal and principles! Tea arrives at 130/1. India looking as they have done all day as not wanting to be here but only just more than England who don’t seem to have the heart.
After tea, the principal departs for a fine 70 but then the wheels come off; Ashwin strikes with a series of lbws,root and Bairstow fall for ducks (Joe must learn that reviews are for when you think the umpire has made a mistake! Not the Stuart Broad theory of DRS).
Principles seem to go out of the window for England and 133/1 becomes 198/7 by the close…a veritable procession! But we’ve seen this in the past so we should not be and are not shocked nor does the fact that England can’t play spin come as a surprise.
Perhaps the principles weren’t designed by the company advertising above?
A day the pundits would say for the connoisseur (aka not a lot of runs, action or excitement) but Kohli and India are happier with their days work than England. Take the principal score out of the equation and it looks a lot worse.
And finally…photos to say a thousand words…