Thursday, 18 August 2011


'Cook bats in the manner of a farmer collecting eggs in a barn.' 

Cook acknowledges
applause for yet another 100
So writes Peter Roebuck in an otherwise excellently lucid article assessing England's rise to world domination.  Fantasy Bob has reviewed that sentence several times and still cannot fathom what the writer means.  He is pretty sure that farmers collecting eggs do not club anything the hens drop short in the barn backward of point as Cook does, or wait a couple of hours for their first boundary of the day, as Cook did in Birmingham.  The thrust of Roebuck's preceding sentences is that Cook is imperturbable.   FB has no evidence for the inference that farmers collecting eggs in a barn exemplify imperturbability.  FB has never watched a farmer collecting eggs in a barn, although he imagines it will only be a matter of time before synchronised egg collecting will feature in the Olympic programme which, there being a British medal prospect, will dominate the BBC coverage to the exclusion of everything else.  Maybe then FB will be able to understand Roebuck's comment.

England have been world dominators for 1 week.  It is only natural therefore to compare them to the great W Indies and Australian teams of the last 30-40 years each of whom resisted all challengers for 15 years.  (If this was Scotland we'd be saying wha's like us.........but it's not so we're not).  There is a little more work to do before any valid comparison can be made. 

First up is the Fourth Test at the Oval - will they show a ruthless streak and go all out for the whitewash or will the dead rubber feeling permeate allowing India to recover some pride?  The latter has been a more frequent occurrence for past England sides and it would be a mark of progress for them to administer another thumping - tedious though this might be from the spectator's point of view.  A highly competitive contest which goes to the wire is what the crowd would surely like.

Of the English team only Bopara has anything to prove as he plays for a continuing place in future plans. Onions would be a solid replacement for Anderson if the latter's muscle problem doesn't clear.  Everything else is in place - Swann might hope to make more of a contribution than he has had to all summer but the seam bowling conditions have mitigated against that.

The mystery of the noisy lace
 What of India?  Recriminations at home.  The BCCI heavily criticised.  It feels like England of not so long ago.  At least they haven't lost any more front line players through injury and Sehwag will have had a couple of nets so the prospect of another pair should be remote.  Those dismissals really took the stuffing out of India and other key incidents unhinged them.  Dravid's dismissal in the second innings after hitting his shoe lace was typical.  Speaking afterwards he said both he and Tendulkar heard a big noise so didn't make the DRS challenge even though he says he was unsure what caused the noise.  You can bet he'll be tucking his shoe laces in from now on.  Then there was Tendulkar's run out backing up off a deflection by Swann.  FB has never suffered that misfortune (it is perhaps the only cricketing misfortune he has yet to endure) but it seems more likely to happen to the struggling team than the one on top.  No matter what the influence of the BCCI over the scheduling and preparations, former Scottish batsman Raul Dravid summed the situation pretty well when he said, 'We expected England to be good in this series, but we expected ourselves to be better.'  Too right - so did everyone else.

The Oval is India's favourite English ground, they have not lost their on their last 6 visits and it has huge historic significance for them as the site of their first victory in England in 1971.   The youngest player in their side on that occasion was none other than Sunil Gavaskar but the victory was set by their spin trio of Chandrasekhar, Venkat and Bedi.   One team - 3 top spinners - will that ever happen again?

While sentiment is a fine thing and 40th anniversaries are all very well, FB cannot see other than England continuing the slaughter.  Call for the whitewash.

This would be only England's 3rd whitewash - they dumped India in 1959 and W Indies in 2004 so it is a rare achievement for them.  Also worth thinking about is that Strauss has won 20 Tests as skipper - that is as many victories as England managed in the whole of the 1980s.  Impressive?


  1. Oval is also the ground where India 'almost' chase 438 in a day and a session. with gavaskar scoring 221

  2. Yes - and another chase like that would be great.

  3. Please for Christ sake help this poor boy from Haiti