The Oval Preview: Perspective England

Posted: August 17, 2011 by thecognitivenomad in Cricket, India in England 2011
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, The CouchExpert

17 August 2011


Let us be honest with ourselves here: any attempt to get the competitive mood a little testier than it was prior to the Edgbaston-induced euphoria might be challenging. The margin of dominance might seem to have alleviated the competitive juices that would have existed before statistics played devil’s advocate – but far from all that, England will target a whitewash. With their openers back in form, the solitary glitch of the series up and until Birmingham was resolved in style.

As painful as Cook’s drab innings was, it is hard to argue that he might have ended up playing the role that was expected of him. For the spectator though, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility seemed to govern his innings that day when, at one point of time, the value of every additional run scored decreased, at least virtually, as his individual score piled on.

Nevertheless, England’s neoclassical revival couldn’t have hoped for anything more concrete. The nation’s persistent expectations were finally in congruence with their team’s performances in the middle. And the icing on the cake was to add to the former World Number One’s bundle of misery by ostensibly portraying the visitors’ woes as voluminous and grave as unpaid taxes in India.

Tremlett will definitely miss out due to injury, while Anderson's situation isn't entirely clear yet

The combination of a prospective whitewash and a battered Indian morale could well tempt Flower & co. from fielding their best XI at the Oval. Graham Onions is likely to return if the suspected injury of Anderson stops him from taking any part on Thursday. Tremlett isn’t fit yet, therefore Bresnan, riding on that wonderful form of his, will look to stay in phase with the momentum.

Bopara’s return placed him in the footnote of a scorecard with monumental numbers, an image that would only appear more blurred when he reads newspapers that highlight James Taylor’s great run of late. The Leicestershire wonder kid scored yet another hundred against the visiting Sri Lankan – A team, and is piling runs at the rate at which Cook was doing over the winter.

Bopara, in all likelihood, will be given another run at the Oval to cash in on runs against an attack that seems far from convincing. Some might argue that it would appear a bit premature for Taylor to be given a go now, but keeping a young in-form batsman waiting in the wings for too long has its own set of unpleasant consequences – one which even Ravi Bopara experienced at an earlier stage of his career.

And to imagine the prospect of throwing young Taylor in to a steaming cauldron somewhere within the subcontinent in conditions unfamiliar to him may not be the ideal start to envision. Flower is probably already thinking of this – the thought being hidden somewhere in his mind amidst a collage of numbers that read 4 and 0.

While it is easy to overstate this need, substantive as it might appear, the bigger picture of the Oval being a battlefield that will house the war between a bruised ego and new-found arrogance must not be forgotten. England cannot, and will not, look to hand India the advantage with a lackluster approach knowing that a 4-0 drubbing would lead the Indian media to frantically dig the graves of culprits before the start of the ODI series. This would, consequently, hand England another advantage going ahead.

Having climbed to the top with promising signs of a new era and a mentally tougher unit, the ghosts of England’s past have vanished for good. Hyperbolic as this statement might allegedly sound, only a strong performance – redolent of the visitors’ era under Gary Kirsten – might tilt the scales otherwise.


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