Posts Tagged ‘Stuart Broad’

It is something of an unfortunate oddity that the first test of the 2013 Ashes will be remembered more for dubious umpiring decisions as against the tide of sinusoidal sessions that have tilted the scales back and forth.

Swann’s exploits on a fourth day turner shifted the focus from otherwise folkloristic fervors provided by Bell, Broad and Beer (did you observe the stands these days?) all day. Swann’s delivery to dismiss Phil Hughes tested the very limits of technology, fractional math and yet another umpire’s uncertainty. Though Dharmasena can be absolved of blame in this instance. Technology won, and as many voices echoed, Cook has been the wiser of the two captains in effectively putting the DRS to use.

With a target of 300+ on the cards given the way Broad and Bell closed Day 3, Australia did well enough to restrict the lead to 310. A brilliant fight back followed Bell’s, possibly, match-winning century, and Broad’s fighting fifty. Siddle cleaned off the lower order to take his tally to 8 for the match. On a slow, low wicket, Siddle’s performance has been very commendable.

Australia’s response was reminiscent of the team they once were. Watson’s aggression setting the tone for a combative start, at the same time deriving an unspoken sense of satisfaction through Roger’s solid, defensive methods at the other end. Granted, the reality didn’t turn out to be quite as effective as their yesteryear opening stands. Australia’s top order woes continuously point to how no batsman is ready to proclaim a new dawn of Australian supremacy. The elite always ensure self-perpetuation.

Cowan fell victim to Joe Root’s first wicket in Test Cricket, offering a shot similar to that of the one he played against the pace of Finn in the first innings – only to be caught at slip. Earlier, Watson’s unsuccessful use of the DRS, after being trapped in front off a Broad in-swinger, proved yet another case of the all-rounder’s solid start not being converted in to a bigger score.

Rogers laid a strong foundation with his maiden fifty in Australian colors

Chris Rogers, resembling an old, bespectacled, gritty Lance Corporal looked every inch an effective blocker, notching up his first fifty before chipping Anderson to mid-wicket. David Saker’s dramatics from the pavilion indicated a well framed plan to reduce the pace off the odd ball to make Rogers play a touch early. Or whatever it was, it worked.

With much hope sheltering on the willows of Clarke and Smith, a brief spell of play indicated their resilience towards battling it out in the middle. A slow, but steady, progress towards keeping the scoreboard ticking threw brief light on a slow Australian recovery. But Broad and Swann had different ideas.

Within no time, Clarke, to his dismay, yet again inclining towards the DRS, unsuccessfully questioned Aleem Dar’s decision to declare him out caught behind off Broad. Swann sent Smith back after deceiving Smith with his guile, making him play back to a delivery that spun a mile and caught the Aussie trapped plumb in front.

Swann’s role on Day 5 will be critical towards England taking a lead this Ashes

Hughes followed to a successfully DRS-referred lbw decision by England, with Dharmasena turning the initial appeal down. The Sri Lankan couldn’t have been blamed for thinking that the ball pitched outside leg, for the replays showed a very thin margin that had fifty percent of the ball within the danger zone. A whiff the other way would’ve had pundits lauding the precision of Dharmasena’s eagle eye.

Agar’s dynamic innings with happy dashes of flair earned him a promotion up to number 8 in the second innings. Say what you want about him being a debutant, but he kept a still head to face off 24 balls to close off the last session.

With plenty needed for the Australians, England clearly have the upper hand to take a 1-0 lead. Swann holds the key on a wicket that appears to oddly turn like a minefield. But we all know what happened last innings don’t we?


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

You can carp over England’s performance over the first three days up to a certain point all you like, with a fair sense of justification around loose strokes and a couple of idea-devoid sessions on Day 2. But you can’t accuse them of at least not trying to salvage some morale through responsible batting during the second innings.

Ian Bell, as he’d shown over many an innings post his maturity, finished the day unbeaten on a well-paced 95 – an innings that tilted the scales towards England. He’s mastered the art of wearing down bowlers; waiting for the right occasion to unleash his aesthetic drives through the off-side. He is what the likes of Phil Hughes and Rohit Sharma should become – boys who entered the international scene with immense potential, waiting to grow in to men who can carry the burden of expectations on their shoulders moving forward.

Bell's gritty, unbeaten 95 help steady a ship that otherwise was ready to run off course

Bell’s gritty, unbeaten 95 help steady a ship that otherwise was ready to run off course

Bell’s style is placed on simple principles coupled with a style that pleases the eye. But what he lacked initially was a quality that he’s gained, and gained substantially well over the last three years. The boy became a man with a few match-saving, and winning, innings in South Africa – a fluent 140 followed by a persistent 78 against the likes of Steyn, Morkel and co.

A successful Ashes followed down under, before the perils of the turning ball in the subcontinent raised a few eyebrows over his technique under such conditions. But he’s recovered strong enough to pose as a fulcrum of the middle order at 5 – acting as the meat of the sandwich between the flamboyant, boisterous Pietersen and the exuberant, young Bairstow.

Bell, like Cook and Pietersen earlier, showed a lot of intent towards occupying the crease for as long as he could. So did Broad, who refused to walk after edging one to Clarke at slip off Agar, off a deflection courtesy Haddin’s gloves. Australia had no reviews left.

How Aleem Dar failed to notice that will remain an unsolved mystery. Broad’s deadpan expression following that was a classic. But the notion of walking rarely gets mentioned especially when these two teams meet. England will point to the Hot-Spot blunder that presented Trott his first golden duck in Test Cricket as a karmic equivalence. Clarke didn’t seem too pleased. But the game already has had its fair share of contentious decisions.

Haddin made a nuisance out of himself by dropping Bell in the very next over, a fairly difficult chance though. Australia desperately needed a wicket if their dreams weren’t to feel totally futile. They’d toiled hard to get Pietersen and Cook before lunch, after which Matt Prior threw away his wicket to a needless shot that matched his wicket-throwing first innings stroke.

Australia responded to the doggedness shown by Bell and Broad, but not with too much vigor. Agar got plenty of bounce, showed encouraging signs of proving his mettle as a bowler. It was a shame that his team had no reviews left when Broad smashed one off his edge to Clarke. At the other end, Bell was given plenty of opportunities to commit himself to the expansive drive – a temptation that he intelligently restricted, especially of the bowling of Shane Watson.

He played late, played his shots with soft hands to construct an aptly paced innings given the circumstances. England had plenty of time at their disposal, with an ardent need to keep the scoreboard ticking. Any run rate freeze would’ve exposed them to the risk of a collapse resembling their first innings domino. If a lead of 250 was their first milestone, they got there comfortably with Bell and Broad well stuck in.

The Australians were forced in to redrawing their contingency plans for chasing a score that appeared to cross 300. Not every innings can script a record breaking tenth wicket stand. England’s continued resistance crystallized the notion that they aren’t a weary shadow of the team that clinched the Ashes down under last year.

There was a sense of staleness about the Australian attack when things didn’t go their way. As Broad and Bell ticked on, Pattinson tried every trick in his young repository of skills to reverse the red cherry. His valiant attempts, though, didn’t yield a wicket.

The first session of Day 4 will decide the likely outcome of the first test. Many a skeptics fear of the game unlikely to run on to the fifth day can be buried to rest, unless a dramatic Australian collapse exhibits itself tomorrow. Or if they manage to chase down 300 odd with a series of Agar-ian innings.

 Muthukumar Ramamoorthy

 31 July 2011



As much expected by the fans of India and as much feared by the dressing room of England, the first few hours of the first session went Indians’ way despite the loss of the Very Special Laxman – but before which he made sure that he gave enough support for the Wall to become even taller. It seemed so obvious that Laxman really played into the same kind of delivery that he missed nipping it marginally the previous delivery – from a spectator view it was clear lack of concentration. Following Laxman the master blaster Sachin once again started off with great confidence and middled the ball so sweet. Trent Bridge can supposedly be said as the little man’s English home soil.

Wish Sachin could have played longer than he did before lunch and had scored 40-plus leaving the English bowlers worried going into their dressing room for lunch. It was indeed disappointing to see Sachin having played that shot. Having left the good balls, it was another delivery that he should have probably let go. It was once again the very previous ball after leaving it go, the master went down the track where it was pitched and symbolized the angle of the ball by waving his hands. Knowing the trajectory of Broad’s brilliant swing so well, a champion batsman falling to such a shot would have left those fans holding placards waiting for his 100th 100 annoyed.

Rahul Dravid produced a master class on Day 2 at Trent Bridge

Thus far, it was so magical to see Jammy bat and Stu’s bowling – pitching it up and swinging with only Bresnan pitching a little short of fuller length and hitting the good length area of the partially green deck. As soon as Raina came into the crease all the seamers started targeting the chest area as expected! Raina would still need a lot of patience rather than knowing to duck or hook. His body language was so evident that he was tested with the short pitched deliveries and he desperately wanted to put away anything falling fuller or close. If Mukund played to get out to a sitter by a very first delivery of Anderson, Raina was undone by his own hunger for runs – giving away his wicket for another sitter and brought Yuvi inside the park who is again fighting for a place in the XI.

Besides thanking his seniors, Dravid and Laxman, for having played so well and rubbing off the shine of the ball, Yuvi must also have thanked the nature as the sun was out mostly during his stay in the crease making a better batsman friendly pitch. Having got into the XI only through injuries for others, Yuvi played to his strength and did his best to create confusion for MSD and others to decide the XI for the next test. Dravid’s century was much supported only by the free strokeplay of Yuvi off the old ball. Their century stand not only ensured India going past English’s score but promised a big lead.

All was well for the Indians until the new ball was taken. It required another Laxmanesque technique in Yuvraj to survive the brilliance of Broad and Anderson in their initial spells with the new ball. It was a beauty of a delivery that every bowler would love to ball to a southpaw and what tested the temperament of Yuvi. Broad did so well to get rid off Yuvi who was threatening the Englishmen inching towards the 3 figure mark. But thanks to Yuvi for having got India a slender lead before his exit.

With a hat-trick to blow-away the Indian lower order, Stuart Broad produced magic in front of his home crowd.

It was nothing of a delivery from Broad that sent the Indian captain Dhoni back into the dressing room. With the ball still new, the seamers still doing good using the beauty of the pitch, one would have for sure let the ball go if he had watched from the dressing room what the #2 batsman Dravid had been doing for more than 200 mins in the middle.

It was Dhoni’s reckless shot marked the beginning of the Indian batting collapse falling like 9 pins. Adding to it, Harbhajan’s next ball exit to a very poor decision from the umpire must have ignited the anger of the Indian fans for the reluctance of BCCI on UDRs. Taking lead over it, Broad was so magical on his home turf and claimed the first hat-trick disturbing Praveen’s furniture!

Imagining what could have been the state of mind of a man standing at the non-striker end who had been playing since overnight nobody would. Say the Wall threw his wicket looking for runs with only tail left. Broad finished the formalities thereafter through the reflex of Bell with a mega catch.

Looking back, though the English bowlers were brilliant in their spells, tested, troubled…. It seems more that the Indian batsmen threw away wickets at crucial times. There wasn’t so much of beauty and perfect wicket taking deliveries by the Englishmen. Indian seamers looked much better than English in this regard. Proving this, Ishant bowled a beauty by making Cook go back without sweating at all.

Another day slipped from the hands of India where they could have easily said “Advantage India”; hardworking local lad Broad helped the English side back in the contest making it to be a close contest!

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, CouchExpert

30 July 2011

Dravid’s love affair with the Battle of Survival ascends when the original rationale for the contest between bat and ball – with the additional threat of a Trent Bridge turf war – intensifies. On a wicket that contained enough juice to make even a top batsman’s plight ignominious, Dravid’s approach towards every ball was reminiscent of a gallant soldier’s focus while guarding the borders of an endangered nation.

On a day of engaging Test cricket – involving a world class ton from Dravid, a spell of devastating consequence from Stuart Broad, dropped catches and an Umpiring blunder – it almost made the common fan wonder why five day cricket is still a topic of morose sentiment.

The script couldn’t have been written better: the world’s most technically equipped batsman fighting under the most testing of English conditions, a local hero picking up six that included a scintillating hat trick, and Kevin Pietersen dropping Yuvraj Singh at gully when the latter was on 4. And the third session of play demonstrating cricket’s own version of a Domino Effect.

The Wall’s 34th test ton, equalling the record of the greats Brian Lara and Sunil Gavaskar, adds to his tally of an inert century as an opener, a position that he doesn’t enjoy batting in, yet one which he takes up for the team’s cause. Memories of his purple patch during the tour back in 2002 flooded through the gates of Trent Bridge like a tsunami, commemorating the achievement of this batsman who has faced the maximum number of balls in Test cricket.

Intelligent cricket is often about respecting the conditions, especially for a batsman on conditions like these. Dravid’s willingness to leave and defend under cloud cover on Day One was equally matched by the intent to put the loose deliveries away on a relatively sunny second day – both being offsets of an outstanding technique and immense concentration.

Not to forget VVS Laxman’s contribution in ensuring that his veritable partner was in the right frame of mind to build this valuable innings. If the last fifteen overs of Day One was a lesson on survival, the good news from the middle on first session of Day Two was what the Indians had been touting for, almost entirely due to the excellent complementing efforts of Dravid and Laxman.

Dravid's 117 at Trentbridge will rank alongside his feats at Headingley, Adelaide and Rawalpindi

If Hogwarts School of Wichcraft & Wizardry taught cricketing magic, Laxman’s batting is one which would be invoked by a verbal spell that would read Gracio.  Such was the fluency of this master batsman that it allowed Rahul Dravid, at the other end, to play the game that naturally comes to him.

This new force seemed to transcend traditional Nottingham culture of seam and swing. Both these batsmen emphasized strong responses in difficult situations, using experience and role playing. Even the cruelest of Dementors would have found it impossible to suck these happy memories from an ardent cricket fan – such was their exhibition of batsmanship!

This display is something the current young crop of Indian cricketers must think about if they want to leave a distinctive mark on the sport, inspire a new generation of cricketers and succeed in the largest arena of Test cricket.

It was a shame to see Laxman getting out the way he did – a delivery that he certainly wouldn’t have poked at in the previous evening. While statistics would say that Laxman’s average record in English conditions persisted, the criticality of the knock – one that cannot be quantified – was as immense as any innings one would associate with the stylish Hyderabadi.

England’s bowling included sporadic spells of brilliance from Anderson and Bresnan, who supported a more consistent Broad in their quest to dig through the Indian middle order. Graeme Swann, predictably, with a bandaged left hand and unsuitable conditions for spin, had a day to forget with Yuvraj, back into the Indian test team after a long duration, targeting him in particular. The Indian southpaw’s valuable contribution, ably supporting the solid Dravid, certainly puts him contention for another berth in the starting XI for the subsequent tests.

The Indian lower order batting, once again, failed with the display appearing to be almost criminal, when compared to the value that Dravid put on his wicket. The Indian captain’s dismissal, especially, will evoke a lot of wrath from the fans.

Broad’s hat trick, which included the Indian captain, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar as victims, did not materialize without its own share of controversy. The Indian team’s reluctance to move with a fully fledged DRS back-fired as a Harbhajan Singh inside edge on to his pads went unnoticed by the umpire Marias Erasmus, who adjudged the batsman incorrectly, not for the first time this game, out LBW.

The local boy's hat trick was the first of its kind at Trentbrige

Nevertheless, Broad’s final tally of six wickets painted an image of a man who shared no resemblance with the one who was being victimized by the media prior to the start of this series. His contribution with the bat, as demonstrated at the Lords and the first innings at Trentbridge, did plenty to add to his credentials of portraying himself as a genuine all rounder.

Dravid would have had every right to be disgusted with the batting display of the lower order when he Bresnan had him caught at third-man in an attempt to search for runs, having been left with the tail. In hindsight, a lead of 59, after Dravid’s marathon display, should leave scars of remorse amongst those who didn’t apply their minds as they rightly should have.

With England commencing their second innings, the sport proved that it has a funny way of biting you as a player – as Broad’s presence ascended, the form of the Ashes hero Cook exponentially descended. After surviving a close LBW shout to Ishant Sharma, Cook was the first English batsman to be dismissed when a leading edge flew to Yuvraj at backward point. The law of averages, much to Cook’s dismay, applied itself on the England opener.

The course of this Test could well be decided on Day 3, especially with the injury of England’s talisman batsman Trott, and the fact that he’ll no longer play a part in this test.

But Day Two’s contribution to Test Match cricket will be those vivid images and memories of Rahul Sharath Dravid, battling through a hit on his wrist and later, cramps, to conjure one of the greatest innings of all time. What a champion!