From the first England vs India test, there were the following non-surprises:
(1) India bat batter then England on flat pitches.
(2) India’s spinners know how to bowl.
(3) England are terrified of not having (at least) 3 quick bowlers.
(4) England are in deep shit.
There were also the following partial surprises:
(1) Che Pujara is amazing – however good you may have thought he was before this, an unbeaten double-ton is never expected.
(2) Alistair Cook is astounding – we knew he was solid and a grafter, but really, his (almost lone) defiance was as stunning as Pujara’s – especially when you factor in that Cookie faced the better bowling.
(3) The biggest surprise though, was that both of India’s quick bowlers out-bowled ALL three of England’s.
Why Were India’s Quick Bowlers So Much Better?
Think about it.
Put yourself in the mind of one of the England bowlers.
You’ve lost the toss, the pitch looks like a polished airport runway. In front of you are top notch batsmen who have played on flat decks like this all their lives. The heat is already sapping your energy and the bright sun is hurting your eyes. You have about 20 overs of bowling hell to go though. If you get 2 wickets, you’ll be over the moon.
Now let’s try to pry inside the mind of an Indian pace bowler.
You’ve won the toss. Time to put you feet up and laugh at the English bowlers. Ah, we’ve got 500 on the board. This’ll be fun. Our TWO spinners will bowl forever on this deck; it should break up and turn later. I might have a couple of 3 or 4 over spells to bowl today. Gosh, I’ve not had a bowl yet, I reckon I could do some damage. I’m really going to tear in, I’ll show Dhoni that I can do a job; I know how to get wickets on these pitches.
We really should not have been surprised.
But I was supposed to talk about England’s solitary spinner.
But I was.
With a twin-spin attack, the England fast bowler’s minds wouldn’t be so afraid of the heat or bowling such long spells. They might not be afraid of going all-out. They might well try to bowl quicker, not just try to preserve themselves.
Still, what do I know?
I’ve never played cricket.