England v India Lord’s preview

If the Sri Lankan series just concluded was a humdrum, monochrome blur – the equivalent, in televisual terms, of a clapped-out black and white portable from Radio Rentals with a vertical hold problem and half its knobs missing – India are now here with a promise to dazzle us in flat-screen glorious 3D technicolour with a kick-ass sound system.

When it comes to a vision for the future of our great game, we all know it is the BCCI hogging the remote, but clear your viewing schedules now because this shit is going to be more overblown than a Cecil B. DeMille epic – though maybe not quite as long, satisfied as we must be with four Tests.

India are the number one ICC Test ranked nation. Their batting lineup is the stuff of legend, stats-porn and “best of all time” lists. If Sachin doesn’t make your World XI list, then I doubt there is anything else we could ever agree on. Some of these galacticos we may never see in England again.

Of course the talk is all about Sachin. The printing presses of Britain’s newspapers are probably looking at an ink shortage after all the articles written about him in the Sunday sports sections. There’s even been the sly suggestion that The Little Master gave the Windies tour the swerve to give himself the optimum chance of his 100th international hundred coming at Lord’s. Given his highest score there is 37, we could be traversing the realms of wishful thinking rather than the cold hard face of probability, but it is nice to dream.

Just as much as I am looking forward to Sachin chasing that impossible dream, I am looking forward to watching Rahul Dravid, a man who has always laboured in Sachin’s shadow. The fact that both India and England have rock-steady, unflappable accumulators as their number 3s appeals to my sense of symmetry and anticipation of close contest. And if VVS Laxman shows us just a hint of the swivel-jointed wristiness that has made commentators purr and opposing nations weep (Australia in 2008, 2004, 2001 etc.) then that will make me exceedingly happy.

Of course, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see England grab the top spot with a 2-Test margin series victory. The chances of this happening are extremely unlikely, but I believe we have the better bowling attack, and “attack” will be the operative word against a side that will punish anything wayward. Chris Tremlett, with his height and bounce, will be aiming for the jugular. He will be re-entering the arena against some familiar faces. He was impressive against India at Trent Bridge in 2007, albeit in a losing cause, and knows he can give them problems. Graeme Swann, with his flight and guile, has the edge over counterpart Harbhajan, and when the ball swings, Jimmy Anderson is nigh-on unplayable.

As I’m writing this, Andrew Strauss has just scored a century for Somerset against India in the tour match at Taunton. Warm-up matches are of course not the be-all and end-all as far predictors of success go. Taunton’s is the flattest of flat decks, and the Indian bowling is rusty and missing three of its key men. Strauss may not have the strategic nous or the charisma of MS Dhoni, and must reassert his authority after handing over the captaincy reins to Alastair Cook in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, but he is an Ashes winner and one half of the duo, along with Andy Flower, who has built England up to the position of considerable strength they now occupy. He will have to do what Dhoni has rightly become famous for: leading from the front.

The kings of world cricket versus the pretenders to the throne: it is inevitable that proceedings at some point are going to get… tense. Heated, even. On-field decisions will be questioned, there will be trash-talking and sabre-rattling and India’s new coach, Duncan Fletcher, not exactly a “people person”, will no doubt get pissed off at someone. Fletcher has already found himself in the unenviable position of being a staunch advocate of the decision review system while at the same team being national coach for a country that wants fuck-all to do with it. Fletcher’s skill as a coach is almost universally unquestioned, though I can’t help feeling it will all end in tears at some point. In the meantime, I’m sure that a purported pay-cheque of £700,000 is a nice palliative.

The visitors, with much pomp and fanfare, are marching into the valley, but England can gain an early advantage in grabbing the high ground at Lord’s. India have arrived in England on the back of three Tests against the West Indies which many critics think they should have steam-rollered beyond a simple “job done” 1-0 scoreline. Some of their key players haven’t played any meaningful cricket since the IPL, and they are now in the process of chasing 462 at Taunton, with play currently suspended due to rain. As preparation for a Test series goes, it ain’t ideal.

Egos will be bruised, tempers will flare, drama will be ensue, and legends will be written.

Grab your popcorn. Fuck Harry Potter. This is the must-see blockbuster of the summer.

2 Responses to “England v India Lord’s preview”

  1. You do realise that by typing “fuck Harry Potter” you’re going to disappoint a LOT of fangirls doing random HP porn searches…

  2. legsidefilth says:

    Rumbled! – my cunning ploy to get more hits (it was either that or tag every post with “Sachin Tendulkar”).

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