Yesterday may very well have seen the end of Alastair Cook’s reign as England captain, not just because it is now seven defeats and three draws in England’s last ten tests, but because of the manner of this defeat. With one ball to go until the lunch interval England were looking favourites as Joe Root and Moeen Ali were still together, and runs were starting to flow. Then Ali surrendered his wicket to the final ball of the session, meaning that in the afternoon India would have a new batsman at the crease. In the first hour after lunch the self-destruct button was not so much pressed as thumped. Both because of his seniority and the manner of it Matt Prior’s dismissal was the most gruesome, caught hooking with no fewer than three fielders back for that specific shot.
Of course if England’s bowlers had done what they should when they had India 150-7 in the first innings they would never have been in a position to lose the match. That said, full credit to India for being able to press home a winning position when they got one. Three Indian players had outstanding performances in the match, Rahane with a first innings century, Ishant Sharma with seven wickets in that final innings debacle and (for me at least) Man of the Match Bhuvaneshwar Kumar with two fifties and five first innings wickets.
Referring back to my opening sentence, if I relieve Cook of the captaincy who do I give to, and do I keep Cook in the team? Answering the second part first, yes I do keep him in the team and give him a chance to perform by far his most valuable role – making lots of runs at the top of the order unfettered by the captaincy. As for my replacement captain, I think it is a big ask for someone to come straight into the team as captain, and I would not want my new captain to be worrying about their own form over much, so given that he is established in the side, has made several big scores already this season, and appears to have a very good head on his shoulders, I would opt for Joe Root.
After England’s surrender was complete I managed to get some decent photographs from around King’s Lynn…