What started off as a tough tour for England is turning into a walkover as they continue to improve day after day. There is no doubt that the preparation that they had has paid them rich dividends. They spent some time in the heat of Dubai before coming down to play three warm-up matches prior to the first Test.
Though they did not play any quality spin in the warm-up games, they applied themselves, looked to get better and were superbly led by Alastair Cook. They are now in a position to do what David Gower’s team did in 1984-85 and win a series in India after losing the first Test.
If the breeze is blowing England’s way, unless there is a gale force to change the attitude and approach of some of India’s cricketers, India will continue to disappoint its huge fan following. There are quite clearly some players in the Indian team who feel that they are untouchable and their approach to representing the country is less than eager to do the hard work that is needed to play at that level.
When they are pushed and tested, they are looking to find the easy way out rather than roughing it out as Cook showed in the first Test. Cook’s example has been followed by the rest of the team as they applied themselves in conditions that they are not used to and the resistance they have shown has surprised the Indians — who have looked dispirited when they have been denied.
Instead of learning from Cook, they have tried to go their own way even when it has not worked in the Mumbai Test and are thus paying the price for it. Even if the much-vaunted batsmen had shown the application and determination of their teammate Ravichandran Ashwin, they would have put up a better performance than they have.
What is disappointing is that despite losing the Mumbai Test and being under pressure for most of the Eden Gardens Test, the Indians were not prepared to go the extra mile and stuck to the old routine of coming on the ground just 45 minutes or so before the first ball was bowled and then playing football for another 10 minutes. That left barely 20 minutes or less for working on the cricketing skills and thereby getting the intensity needed before the first ball of the day is bowled.
This could well be the modern way of warming up, but when you looked at the other side of the ground, you saw the England team, who had arrived at the ground 90 minutes before the scheduled start, in the nets bowling or batting and after that a good session of fielding drills. Kolkata does have an unusually early start, but it was the same for both teams and while one was prepared to do the hard yards, the other wasn’t.
No wonder, we saw the result that we did. If the coach and the support staff agree with this method then Indian fans should be prepared for similar results. India is a good team as could be seen by the win in the first Test, but when the chips are down, extra work needs to be done but that is not happening.
There is still the last Test to be played and India can still salvage the series but not if some of its players are going to treat Test cricket in the cavalier manner as they have the last two Tests.
— Professional Management Group