India vs England: Battling the beast within

Jul 27 2014, 09:40 IST
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SummaryAfter Lord’s, England need to question the relevance of going ahead with a green track for the third Test.

England captain Alastair Cook, also the team’s opener, is struggling to keep the ball pinned to the turf and his head above water. Surprisingly, it’s an Indian opener, Murali Vijay, who has proved to be the best judge of pace and bounce on these pitches. The home team might be dealing with a ‘short-ball’ trauma after Lord’s, but most visiting team’s batsmen, unlike in the past, have shown they can move away, duck, pull or hook.

Ishant Sharma, not Stuart Broad, has been the fiercest and most successful bowler in the two Tests. And it is Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has adapted to the conditions better than James Anderson. Read the first para again, weigh the facts, and answer the following question. Which team is better equipped to play on a green wicket? It’s as good as asking: Which country houses the Taj Mahal?

So, shouldn’t Cook walk across to the Rose Bowl curator on the eve of this crucial Test and request him to shave off a bit of grass. But to do that he will have to really drag himself, withstand a stomach churn to get the right words out. Since this would mean that the batsman in him, the one who has scored 25 Test tons, would have to swallow his pride. Plus, as a captain, he will need immense courage to tear apart the old, time-tested ‘how to beat India’ template, that after passing through the hands of his predecessors, was handed over to him at his coronation.

Green track, short bowling, that’s what the world did during Indian summers. After Lord’s, though, a rethink is needed. Some time back England took the tough call of showing the door to a match-winner, maverick and, alleged trouble-maker who the world called ‘KP’, but many in the team referred to as ‘The Ego’. With three Tests to go, Cook’s team in transition needs to drive out 11 more ‘Egos’ before they enter the field at Rose Bowl to make a comeback in this series and be a force in world cricket. And this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.

Getting rid of the bloated beast within is the biggest challenge an international athlete faces in a professional career. For a star to acknowledge a weakness and rectify it, all in public view, isn’t easy. It’s painful. Since early days these ‘special players’ periodically take giant leaps from being the best

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