It is finally less than three weeks to go until the first Test between India and England (see the spectacular countdown on the top right of my homepage for a generic calendar that you can probably also get anywhere else to show this)! With this in mind, and considerable boredom running through my dull veins, I thought I’d review the likely starting line-ups of both sides and try and work out who shades who, so to speak. Fun fun fun! Fun. Obviously these are not set in stone, I’ve guessed the line-ups and both are far from certain. All I can say is, I’m not perfect.
Gambhir vs Cook – Gambhir and Sehwag haven’t managed to put on a century stand in Test cricket in over two years, but still average an impressive 53 together for the opening wicket. Gambhir is a rare Indian specimen, in that he averages less in India (41) than he does abroad (47). I’d give Cook the slight advantage, but it is tough to tell how he’ll adapt to the captaincy.
Compton – It’s unfair on Compton to be put next to a man who averages 57 in India; Sehwag would wipe the floor with most opening batsmen in this circumstance by a distance. Soz Nick. You lose. Pujara vs Trott – Pujara averages 40 after 8 innings at Test level so is a promising cricketer, but Trott’s ability to grind attacks down has been proven for years now, so he is the comfortable choice. Tendulkar vs Pietersen – A very tough call and not one many Indians will like. Basically, Sachin at his peak > everyone else. KP with a point to prove > a 38 year old Sachin on the wane. The Little Geezer looks quite droppable at the moment, whilst KP has been parachuted in to save the day – the sort of role he thrives on.
Bell – Ian Bell is a favourite of the wrong’un and has the full range of strokes, but Kohli’s form over the last year is simply irresistable.
Morgan – So on the one hand we’ve got a lefty who likes a cut, looks good in the shorter formats but whose technique struggles against top quality pace, and on the other we’ve got a cutting left-hander who technically struggles against pace but is proven in the shorter formats. Neither are inspiring, so I’ve gone for Raina with home advantage. Dhoni vs Prior – A tough call, but Prior in Test cricket is a superb animal. Dhoni is also very dangerous, but I think Prior shades it.
Swann – If India had a couple more left handers in their top order, this could be the other way around. It probably still would be if Swann was bowling as well as he did perhaps 2 years ago. Ashwin looks OK in his career so far, but England’s inability to play spin surely has to tilt this one in India’s favour.
Broad – Possibly unfair on Broad, who has taken the most Test wickets in the last year, but his pace was severely down over the summer, and Khan is no mug. In Indian conditions, I’d probably prefer the left arm option. Ojha vs Anderson – Ojha is the sort of bowler who could turn out to trouble England. You know the type. Gets turn, bowls slowly, English batsman has a breakdown. However Anderson is a quality performer, and even on the sub-continent, I’d give him the edge. Yadav vs Finn – Ok, neither of these two might play…Monty Panesar has got to be a shout, for example. Having watched Yadav in England and also Australia, he bowls well in patches and looks feisty, but in a comical way. He’s a little boy. So I’ve bolded Finn.
So that makes…(struggles to tot up some basic maths)…erm… India 5, England 6? therefore, I predict a close series!
In my next article, I’ll use gut-feelings and whims to eventually decide that bears do indeed, shit in the woods.