Harbhajan Singh has been on the outer for a while. So long in fact that he found himself back in Division Two County cricket playing for Essex. His career was not over, but with Ashwin taking the main job, and players like Ojha as back ups, it looked like the end for India’s fighter. There are, not unsurprisingly, a lot of English players in that competition. Bhajji played five first class games and five List A matches, he had varying success. It’s doubtful that in all ten of those games he’d ever seen as many bad shots played against spin. It’s fucken doubtful that if Bhajji was playing on this pitch in England, even against division two batsmen, that they’d rush to leave the ground like they did tonight. Or if they did, they’d probably make it prettier.
The pitch was ok for spinners. OK. Not anything more. I’ve seen many pitches in the UK that spin far more than this. For England, it was nothing like what they got sliced and diced on in the UAE. And Far from the one that fell over on at Galle.
Graeme Swann bowled well on this surface, but India simply sat on him and handled him well.
England could barely handle the bat when the spinners came on.
They devolved from sensible cricketers to the crazy families you see on the apocalypse preparation shows. Shooting at imaginary invaders and stocking up for the inevitable mushroom cloud (Ajmal) or global financial global crisis (Ashwin). It wasn’t even one of the obvious players that ended their world. Piyush Chawla is the player Indian fans abuse when they’re tired of abusing Rohit Sharma.
To most of us, these looked like standard non lethal spinners, to England they were the black plague, and the English players ran madly towards the hills with canned food and shot guns.
It was as bad a batting performance as England could muster against on a fairly benign surface against a new bowling attack without their oldest and most reliable bowler and their best T20 weapon.
This is the same Indian bowling attack that has the Indian media permanent state of panic. Some wanting four bowlers, some five, some eleven. Tonight they dismissed England with three as easily as you like, a few nights back they couldn’t get close to Afghanistan.
You need a research grant and a team of technicians to look into who played the worst shot.
Alex Hales didn’t even wait for the spinners. Morgan’s cut shot was to a different ball on a different pitch. Kiesvetter’s flick waft should be burned before any child gets a chance to see it. Bairstow’s slog against the wrong’un defied science. Buttler backed away so far he was at the SSC when he missed his ball. Swann went for a wander. And Tim Bresnan brought back memories of England’s horror winter with a sweep shot.
All this while KP was stuck in a studio with a grin stapled to his face while Dermot Reeve threw a ball at him.
It’s impossible to believe England played this bad, and yet we’ve seen it all before. In their minds, England seemed to be playing on a ghost pitch from their past and not the quicker than everyone though pitches that are actually being prepared at Premadasa.
There are no dead rubbers for a while now and far bigger killers than Bhajji and Piyish Chawla lurk around the corner. Unless England learn to swim against the spin, their fans are the ones who should be heading to the store to buy all the canned food they can carry.
The end times may soon be upon England, and they’ll come slow, but well flighted.
Result: India didn’t make as many as I thought they should have, rested key players, gave some lesser lights a go, and still absolutely beat the fuck out of England with the bat, and it wasn’t like England’s five man attack was having a good day either. Indians might even give Chawla and Shamra a day or two of less abuse.