Cow Corner

What the 2,000th Test match showed us

Cow Corner

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It was fitting for the 2,000th encounter of cricket's greatest format to be such a classic, titanic clash between the world's two best sides.

England clinched a 196-run victory in the historic Test to move one step closer to fulfilling their stated ambition of becoming the number one side in the world.

Oh, and anyone doubting the popularity of the format on the world stage should have got themselves down to St John's Wood at around 03:00 in the morning where a long snake of fans had already formed, clutching coffees and Wisden Almanacks in hand.

The atmosphere was absolutely immense at Lord's with a large Indian contingent mobbing Sachin Tendulkar as he sheepishly shuffled towards the nets prior to the day's play, then getting a Mexican wave underway as early as 11:15.

But it was the England fans who were left chanting away in a very un-Lord's like manner as Andrew Strauss assessed a victory which sees his side assume a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

The following points surmise what has been learnt from the 2,000th Test...

Kevin Pietersen can bat patiently on occasions

Day three was all about KP. The underfire, much maligned batsman shed his preening peacock batting style and offered a gritty, stout and determined knock of 202 which effectively set up the victory for England. There's no doubt about it: KP can dig in as well as anyone else in the side when he applies himself to the task.

Matty Prior is the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world

Impeccable work behind the stumps and a crucial century on day four to give England the platform they needed for victory from a very dubious position. And no, Kumar Sangakkara is no longer the Sri Lanka glovesman before any erroneous counter-claims are made. 

Andrew Strauss must set more attacking fields

As much as Strauss should be lauded for his leadership qualities with this group of players alongside Andy Flower, his conservatism still finds his captaincy wanting at times. While he made two perfectly acceptable declarations, Strauss neglected to have a third slip in place for most of the final day and persisted with a pointless deep backward square to the despair of everyone at the ground. 

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MS Dhoni's bowling is very overrated

Dhoni is many things: a very fine batsman, a combative cricketer with a big heart, a leader of distinction and a pretty solid wicketkeeper for the most part. But the India skipper's apparent determination to get on the Lord's honours board with the ball saw his side's over-rate dive to appalling depths as he swapped gloves and pads with Rahul Dravid. It simply was not worth it for a few overs of slow-medium trundle and all looked pretty village.

Stuart Broad is back: both with bat and ball

Two men very unfortunate not to have won the man-of-the-match award were Prior and Broad. The lanky Notts seamer picked up seven wickets in the match and looked England's best bowler in the first innings and for much of the second before Anderson hit his stride. Oh, and he scored a vital 74 with the bat too. Broad is back!

Harbhajan has a lot to prove bowling in English conditions

Despite being one of the best spin bowlers of this generation, Harbhajan's match figures read: 56 overs; four maidens; 214 runs; one wicket. India desperately needed their spinner to perform, particularly after Zaheer Khan was confined to the massage table, but he could not step up to the plate. 

HotSpot does not work. Fact

What's wrong with smearing the edges of your bat with Vaseline so that HotSpot does not pick up the mark made by the ball on impact? Well, nothing as it happens. The simple fact is that HotSpot does not work and the prime example on day five occurred when VVS Laxman nicked one behind with the contact undetected upon England's review. Of course, Snicko was brought out to show that there was clear contact.

Not using the DRS for LBWs is short-sighted and absurd

Do the India Cricket Board wield too much power and clout within the international game? Many would argue that they do. The ICB's refusal to allow DRS to be employed for LBW decisions in this series massively undermines both the umpires and the half-baked usage of the system for other decisions. Given how far the game has come with the use of technology, this series is a strange and unnecessary trip back in time.

Allowing U16s to watch the cricket for free is right and proper

The MCC should be roundly commended for their decision to effectively half their final-day profits and allow U16s to watch the two best sides in world cricket battle it out for free, even without the company of their parents who were probably forced to work. Too often, 'free tickets' prove irrelevant as children cannot always be accompanied to a day at the cricket, but Lord's were sincere about their gesture. The cricketers of the future would have been inspired by the players and role-models on the pitch and their development will be all the better for such an experience.

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England, and Strauss in particular, drop far too many catches

Strauss, without wishing to be unfair to the England captain, spurned two simple catches at slip which could easily have cost the side in their pursuit of victory. Given that Strauss and Flower are unwaveringly determined to focus on improvement following victories, the pair should scrutinise why England squandered so many chances. It's hard enough to take 20 India wickets, let alone 25.

TV having Snicko but not the ICC undermines the white coats

The aforementioned 'not out' decision of Laxman was undermined by the fact that the TV was brazenly showing a Snicko graph proving the edge behind. The ICC say that Snicko takes too long to be used practically, but it seems a short time to wait when you consider how little time it takes for the white coats to be undermined by a series of TV replays to the contrary.

Runners should not be banned

The decision for runners to be banned from international cricket was an eye-catching move from the ICC, but change for change's sake is always dangerous. Consider the absurdity of the situation which would have arisen if Zaheer Khan - unfortunately crocked with a hamstring injury - had been forced to hobble between the wickets exacerbating the problem. Or worse still, he simply could not have come out to the middle at all.

Lord's must increase its capacity

The home of cricket, the Mecca of the sport. This Test match showed the insatiable desire of fans to attend an exciting encounter at cricket's HQ, but unfortunately a huge number of people had to be turned away from the ground having made long round trips from all round the country. While this will always be the case when big sporting events are in such demand, it is about time that Lord's further increased its capacity as the clamour for seats gets ever greater.

This should be a cracking series...

There is no doubt about it: this Test series has it all. The best side in the world, India, now know that their status is under severe threat from their hosts. England will be brimming with confidence following their victory at Lord's and the prospect of leapfrogging India in the rankings will be a challenge at the very forefront of their minds. If this first Test is anything to go by, we are set for three more mouth-watering clashes.

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To mark the 2,000th Test match, each day
Cowers has posed a question to take you back in time - today's is: ''Has there ever been an England side with a better team spirit than the one currently under Flower and Strauss's leadership?" Post your answers and
comments below...


my boss. Unfortunately I will be unable to come into work today as I have
contracted a nasty 24-hour bout of influenza/gout/The Staggers. I will be
particularly ill between the hours of 1100-1300, 1340-1540 and 1600-1900;
please do not contact me during that time. Also, my twin brother/sister (delete
as appropriate) is going to the cricket today, so please give them a wave if you
see them on the telly. Yours sincerely, your loyal employee."
(A sterling effort, Don Pablo. Hope
that works out okay for you).

Steven Finn (@finnysteve): "No
better place than Lord's on a day like today. Looks amazing. Shame I'm viewing
it on a TV screen and not there in person. Come on England! Guess
I'll amuse myself by playing Pokemon on the Nintendo 3ds. Feel 10 again!"

STAT OF THE DAY: Anderson v Tendulkar:
223 balls, 114 runs, six dismissals. Average

TALKING POINT OF THE DAY: "There has been a lot of talk
about a potential 'timeless Test match'
to decide the World Test Championship in 2013 with the ICC admitting their
interest in the idea." What do you think? Post your views below...

SNAP OF THE DAY: The sheer unbridled joy and delirium among the England players was a sight to savour as the final wicket of Ishant Sharma was taken. Even the backroom staff were almost falling off the home balcony in jubilation.

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