England’s slump a grim reality

Its batsmen lacked the heart and the technique to bat two sessions on a wicket that held no devils

England did not go down in the second Test at Lord’s owing to the ill-advised bouncer barrage at Jasprit Bumrah.

The host certainly blew an opportunity to win on a dramatic last day with its bizarre bowling tactics at the Indian tail that wagged.

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But then, England lost because its batsmen lacked the heart, the will and the technique to bat two sessions on a wicket that held no devils.

Overdose

England’s capitulation for 120 in just 51.5 overs mirrored a disturbing lack of defensive technique that is a direct consequence of an overdose of cricket in the shorter formats.

The batsmen lose sight of their off-stump, push hard at the ball, the feet and the hands no longer move in symphony, there are holes in defence and body balance is a million miles away.

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And the lack of patience to see off spells is often shocking. A batting disaster is waiting to happen.

The Indian bowling was good, not devastating, and once England lost its only fully-rounded batsman Joe Root, there was going to be only one result.

Looking at the carnage in the English camp, India must consider itself fortunate that it still possesses a Test match specialist in Cheteshwar Pujara.

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His 206-ball second innings 45 stonewalling the English pace attack that threatened to make serious inroads was an extremely valuable Test-match innings.

Play as per situation

Batting in Tests is not always about momentum that has become a fashionable term with many. It’s a lot about playing the situation, soaking up the pressure and blunting the bowling. Once this is accomplished, the others can cash in.

It is no coincidence that when the Indians staged a famous jailbreak in the Sydney Test last season, the two batsmen, Hanuma Vihari and R. Ashwin, who bravely batted 42.4 overs to halt the Australian surge for a win, had minimal exposure to batting in Twenty20 cricket.

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Vihari, like Pujara, is a Test match specialist and the chances for Ashwin to bat in IPL games are few and far between.

After the debacle in the 2015 ODI World Cup down under, England made a conscious effort to revamp its white ball teams — it found astonishing success too — but has clearly failed to groom Test match specialists.

England’s batting debacle at Lord’s was in several ways reminiscent of its collapse on the final day of the Chennai Test of 2016.

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England went in for Tea at 167 for four but still ended up being bowled out. And the strokeplay, to put it mildly, was rash.

What England needs is grit, steel and that famous bulldog spirit that appears to have vanished with the likes of Ken Barrington.

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