The Enemy Camp – India come under fire again

Akshay Iyer
Yahoo cricket editorial blogs

(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.)

Ian Bell scored his maiden Test double century and his career-best 235 helped Andrew Strauss declare England’s first innings at 591 for 6. James Anderson dismissed Virender Sehwag in the first over of India’s innings and then Graeme Swann took three wickets to leave India reeling at 103-5 at stumps on the third day of The Oval test as England closed in on a series whitewash.

Ian Bell continued his fine form with a career-best 235 at The Oval.

The Daily Telegraph’s Steve James writes Bell should no longer play Dr Watson role:

On Friday it went largely unnoticed that Bell reached his century before Kevin Pietersen. So he should have done really, as he had been at the crease longer, but we used to fret about such matters. And so did Bell.

After all, it happened on the occasions of his first nine Test centuries that a colleague passed three figures before he did. Bell took some horrible beatings with that stick of a statistic. We called him a mere sidekick; a Dr Watson to Sherlock Holmes.

Often it was unfair. Sometimes it wasn’t. Even when he made 199 against South Africa in 2008, it was not deemed incontrovertible evidence.

There was no missing of that double century yesterday, and certainly no doubting the character of the man reaching that landmark, the fourth double hundred of his first-class career.

Former England captain Mike Brearley says if picking a joint team with the England that won the Ashes in 2005, he would have a balance in favour of the class of 2011:

How good are England? How do they compare with the side that beat Australia in the 2005 Ashes? How many of each team would get into a joint side?

To answer the last question first, I think one would want Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison. Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen were in both sides. The rest of the team would be Alastair Cook, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson. Which suggests a five to four balance in favour of this year's side. Note that such a selection omits Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett and Eoin Morgan.

Leaving out Strauss, Trott and Bresnan would be hard.

India continue to be outbowled, outbatted and outwitted in England.

Unfit and out of chance, India never stood a chance; writes Stephen Fay of The Independent:

India have been undermined by injuries to Zaheer, Harbhajan, Praveen Kumar and Yuvraj Singh, but nobody now believes the result would have been different had they remained fit. Good teams behave as though luck is on their side; losing teams make their own bad luck. This summer India turned up unfit, underprepared and out of touch with their basic skills.

As we now know, they did not stand a chance. You begin to feel a squeak of sympathy for Duncan Fletcher, the old curmudgeon who must have felt he had won the Lottery when he was appointed India's coach. Yet so steep and dramatic has been the descent that it sends anoraks into obscure statistical websites looking forother cases when expectations were so badly dashed – especially when the forecasters get the weatherwrong and it rains on The Oval for several hours.

There is one group that does not share the disappointment felt by spectators who had looked forward to a great series. When one Ben Goldsmith tweeted his disappointment that the contest had turned out so one-sided, Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad both replied that cricket lovers ought to be enjoying England's remarkable victories. But the enjoyment would have been even more profound had the contest been keener.

Daily Mail’s Patrick Collins writes declining India are a team to pity:

There are those who suggest too much has been made of India’s shortcomings, to the detriment of England’s excellence. It is a nonsense. England, to a man, have performed heroically throughout this series, and Ian Bell’s elegant accumulation of extraordinary statistics was the latest example of their collective qualities.

But, while English virtues are readily conceded, the sheer inadequacy of the opposition cannot be ignored. Arriving in this country as world leaders, their accelerating decline has been a thing of wonder, perplexity and, from time to time, pity.

Suresh Raina's struggles are the perfect example of India's woes in England.

Jonathan Agnew in his column for BBC writes India was disappointing yet again:

Another poor day for India began with an awful mix-up after the very first delivery when the slips managed to fumble the ball and ended up having to sheepishly retrieve it from behind the wicketkeeper.

It just went downhill from there and once again they were very disappointing in the field, with lots of fumbles and very little energy.

What really struck me was the fact that during the rain delay not a single Indian came on to the ground to practise. The sun was beating down for the last half hour and England went our there for a good warm-up, but the Indians were nowhere to be seen.

They may have gone into the indoor nets but when the sun is shining like that, you should get out, have a jog and get yourself geared up and mentally focused on what you've got to do.

Former England coach Peter Moores is happy ‘his boys’ have proved a point:

England fortunes were more down than up under Peter Moores but many of those players who celebrated the country’s rise to top slot at Edgbaston have every reason to be thankful to a man whose reign ended in ignominy following a falling out with then captain Kevin Pietersen in January 2009.

Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and Matt Prior were all handed their first taste of Test cricket under Moores.

And Andrew Strauss captained his country for the first time in Moores’ opening match as coach against the West Indies at Lord’s in May 2007.

Now, two years after leaving England under a cloud, the sun is shining once more on a man looking to lead Lancashire to their first Championship in 61 years.

Other interesting reads

Going back to the controversy around Ian Bell’s run out at Trent Bridge and his subsequent recall, Stephen Brenkley says Rahul Dravid played a key role in convincing India to reinstate the batsman.

England ‘keeper-batsman Matt Prior writes in The Daily Telegraph that the No. 1 Test team will strive to improve starting with the sub-continent.

Simon Hughes says yet again England’s bowlers conducted a forensic examination of the Indian batsmen’s technique as they found the right spots at the Oval.

The Guardian’s Paul Weaver on yet another tale of frustration for Tendulkar in search of his 100th century.

David Lloyd writes in The Independent that Bell has made a strong claim for the No. 3 spot in the England batting line-up.