In the wake of the two-day Test pitch in Ahmedabad being deemed ‘average’ by the International Cricket Council, one has to examine why England and their friends in the media can’t let go of a game and a series in which they simply failed to match India.
On Sunday, the ICC released a pitch report after completing their assessment. They determined that it was ‘average’.
By way of comparison, the pitch for the second Test of the series in Chennai, where India won by 317 runs on day four, also earned an ‘average’ rating. The pitch for the series opener, also in Chennai and which England won by 227 runs, was rated ‘very good’. The pitch for the last game, in Ahmedabad, which India won by an innings and 25 runs, was ‘good’.
The criticism of the Ahmedabad pitch came almost exclusively from those affiliated in some way with England and was scathing. The most vocal of those was former England captain Alastair Cook, who said: ‘We saw a stat that says this pitch has spun more than any other pitch in India.
‘There’s been so many other balls that have gone straight on as well. So that means when it is turning, it is turning miles. When you see the highlights and the ball skidding on you, we don’t see the build-up: when the exact same ball is spinning miles.’
Cook saved his harshest blow for Virat Kohli, who had described the pitch as ‘very good’. It wasn’t, but was probably hyperbole in light of the accusations that were being levelled against the pitch.
Kohli added: ‘It was just, I would say, below-par batting from both teams. Our bowlers were much more effective and that’s why we got the result.’
Cook snapped: ‘Virat Kohli’s come out and defended the wicket almost as if it’s a BCCI thing – it cannot possibly be the wicket. Yet it was so hard to bat on that today. So hard,’ said Cook.
Test cricket is hard. It’s right there in the name.
What Test cricket shouldn’t be is weighted in one team’s favour. It must always remain a fair contest between bat and ball. It was.
Moaning is not a cricket argument. In this context, and based on an assertion that the aforementioned contest was fair, the cricket argument is that India’s spinners were superior to England’s.
28 of the 30 wickets that fell in the Test were taken by spinners. England’s skipper Joe Root took five of those, which instead of being a celebration of his multifaceted cricket gifts and mastery of the pitch on the day, became the foundation of the poor-England brigade.
Just because a task is incredibly hard, doesn’t make it unfair. This victim mentality is juvenile and has no place in professional cricket.
England were comprehensively outplayed for the majority of the series, evidenced by the sheer margin of India’s victories: 317 runs, 10 wickets and an innings and 25 runs.
This suggests to me that England were ill-equipped to meet the challenge of touring India. This challenge comes with no surprises – least of all that pitches will turn, some in ways that demand excellence in technique, unfailing focus and the development of a skills base that will allow you to alleviate pressure by rotating strike.
England’s defeat in Ahmedabad (and more broadly the series) has less to do with the pitch than it does with their deficiencies as it pertains to overcoming these cricketing challenges.
Are there wickets that should be considered unfair to batters? Certainly, and those need to be spotlighted and punitive and/or remedial action taken. The key question here is: was this one of those wickets?
The answer, when you examine the match in detail, including how many England batters got out to deliveries that could have been negotiated through greater mental application and superior technical ability, is no.
Unless a solid cricket counter-argument replaces moaning, I hope this issue rests now.