(Note to readers: 'The Enemy Camp' will be the name for Yahoo! Cricket's coverage of the English press during India's tour of England.)
The first day of the fourth Test between India and England at The Oval yesterday saw only 26 overs being bowled as persistent rain played truant to give the tourists some much-needed respite from what would have been another long day in the field.
Alastair Cook has been praised aplenty for his stellar form this year and though he had a lean start to the India series, he scored a career-best 294 at Edgbaston as England became the No. 1 Test team. And, England’s batting coach Graham Gooch is all praise for Cook as he says:
I try to coach run-making. Not batting, but run-making. Alastair has the four attributes that make up a run-maker: he's got a great attitude, he has great technical ability, his knowledge pool is increasing all the time and he has the No1 attribute – he has massive powers of concentration.
Virender Sehwag made a disastrous comeback to international cricket when he bagged a ‘king pair’ at Edgbaston, and the Indian team management has denied the dashing opener wants to cut short his stay in England.
Sehwag was spotted in conversation on the Oval outfield on Thursday morning before the toss with India coach Duncan Fletcher and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
But India’s tour manager Anirudh Chaudhry responded to the claim by saying: ‘The reports are absolutely incorrect.’
Sehwag’s loss would be a particular blow ahead of the five-match one-day series, but it is understood he has not informed the BCCI of his desire to quit the tour.
James Lawton of The Independent writes if a ‘great’ team like India plays this feebly, one must worry for the future of Test cricket.
India's lack of preparation – and perhaps a deeper attitude to the Test game over which men of the quality of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and V V S Laxman once gave them such a brilliant edge – was reflected vividly in the presence of Singh. He was playing his first Test cricket in three years, having his first exposure to the first-class game since January.
And here was the cricket ground which for all the years had been celebrating the great players and the most competitive cricket, the ground which had cheered Sir Donald Bradman so profoundly and which not so long ago responded to opponents of the fighting quality of McGrath and Warne and Ponting, packed to the seams – and considering in RP Singh not just the language of defeat but absolute defeat.
Paul Newman writes in the Daily Mail that India didn’t show any signs off putting up a fight in the two hours of play on Day 1 and look to be a team that is waiting to be whitewashed.
England here was supposed to be a party at The Oval on Thursday, a celebration of England’s arrival as the best Test team in the world.
Instead there was an almost eerie silence among the capacity crowd to accompany the last rites of a desperately one-sided contest.
The Oval’s discerning customers, who have become used to watching Ashes classics, know a mismatch when they see one.
And the two hours of play possible in the morning before rain brought an almost blessed release were as disappointing as Test cricket can get.
Veteran cricket commentator and writer Henry Blofeld in a column aptly titled ‘Deserters of India’ in Daily Express questions the attitude and intensity of the Indian players.
What really took the biscuit was when on the Tuesday before this final Test, with Indians all over the world dismayed and distraught at what has gone on, the pre-match practice session was declared optional. You would have thought the Indian players would have been queuing up to get into the nets. And what happened? Some of the squad could not be bothered even to turn up.
What sort of message does this send out and how can you any longer respect players that behave in this way?
All right, there may not be a great deal any side can do when they have been outplayed as these Indians have. But this attitude speaks of a sort of smug complacency it is impossible to forgive.
Former England captain Andrew Flintoff criticised India’s “shabby” warm-up routines and poor body language while speaking to BBC Test Match Special.
I've not seen much of the summer, and this morning I watched the two sides warming up.
I saw India, and they looked like they'd got their kit out of the garage. They were all in different gear. England looked really professional next to them. They just looked poles apart.