Test cricket is just that, a ‘Test’. The greatest test between bat and ball, and thus, the greatest test of a batsman’s technique. The English conditions also provide the toughest surroundings for the technique of a batsman, with the prevalence of swing, seam and latterly spin challenging the bat across every ball of a Test match. A flaw in a batsman will often be found out by bowlers, and in the current series between England and India, every visiting batsman seems to have been found out by the quality home bowling attack.
Jimmy Anderson has been the scourge of left-handed opening batsmen throughout his career. With Shikhar Dhawan and his replacement, Gautum Gambhir, both finding themselves on the end of his currently unmatched abilities in this series, India have often found themselves with wickets down early. Both Dhawan and Gambhir have struggled with leaving the ball, and knowing where their off stump is, this flaw is just what Anderson looks for. It is also a flaw that he has been found in the ‘superstar’ of the Indian team, Virat Kohli. ‘The new Tendulkar’ has barely registered a score in double figures this series, with Anderson having him well and truly in his pocket. Kohli, like many of the other Indian batsmen, has found himself chasing the ball and oft edging to the waiting slip cordon. It’s a very simple ploy from England as they play on the Indian insecurity around the off-stump and wait for the reward. But, as Lord’s proved, it takes good bowling to achieve this, not just a pitch.
The “rock” of the Indian line-up was supposed to be Cheteshwar Pujara, but his inability to block straight deliveries has meant that the core of India’s batting is shot. As for the rest of the middle order, Dhoni’s technique is all but non-existent, and the way he has thrown his wicket away is far from what you want from your Test captain. Ajinkya Rahane has proved to be a solid player, and has coped well with the moving ball. But the Lord’s centurion has a tendency to go too hard at the ball, which has found him caught and bowled thrice in this 5 match series. Stuart Binny looks technically sound, but has a Dhoni-esque tendency to throw his wicket away unnecessarily. Ravindra Jadeja had a good eye, but always looked like being a candidate for a wicket.
I think Ravi Ashwin has probably got the best technique of the whole Indian team. Solid going forwards or back, and able to play the moving ball well, his struggles have only come when trying to up the rate. As for the other bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar looks like he could become a very useful bowling all-rounder, while Sharma, Aaron and dear old Pankaj Singh look the epitome of a Test ‘rabbit’.
But it does take good quality bowling to challenge Test batsmen, and the England attack has proved themselves as highly dangerous, especially in the bowler friendly conditions we’ve seen this series.