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Edward Craig: England get set for Sehwag storm

December 9th, 2008 by Edward Craig in England, England in India, Test cricket and tagged , , ,

Finally in the TWC office we’ve stopped discussing security, India and global politics – of which we know nothing – and can talk cricket – of which we know more.

Chennai. If the rain holds off (this is a concern), there’s one player who likes it there – Virender Sehwag. And he’s not exactly short of form, second top-scoring in the ODI series, passing 50 in four of his five innings. The last three Tests at the ground have been draws – due to dead pitch and bad weather – but Sehwag has managed to light up these otherwise innocuous games with run-a-ball blitzes.

He scored that 319 from 304 balls against South Africa here. Back in October 2004 he made a brisk 155, and he averages 123 with a scoring rate of nearly 94 on the ground. Ouch. If I was Amjad Khan, Graeme Swann or Adil Rashid, I’d be hoping to make my Test debut elsewhere.

The second person that springs to mind is that much-forgotten, journeyman of the moor-stamping cliché Matthew Hoggard. England are seam-bowlers light – Anderson’s form has disappeared, Harmison is dangerous but a liability, Flintoff is great but has a dodgy ankle, Sidebottom and Broad are injured.

The one thing bowling in the sub-continent needs is patience. With that comes experience. Hoggard ticks both these boxes and has taken 22 wickets at 23 in six matches in India. Anderson cannot do this job.

Hoggard may now mostly be an anachronistic beer advertisement at English Test grounds but he still wants to play for England. That he doesn’t merit mention suggests his eccentric, loveable persona wasn’t perhaps as eccentric and well-loved in the dressing room as it might first seem.

Also, who will keep wicket? Tim Ambrose is officially the man in possession and Matt Prior had a poor one-day series … England were certainly going to replace Ambrose at the start of the winter but, much like Andrew Strauss last December, Tiny Tim’s stock has risen without doing anything. They might just stick with him.

Finally, thank you England for making the right decision. I don’t believe it was a brave decision – 1.1 billion Indians living without 24-hour commando escorts will testify to that – but it was the right one. Not to tour would have been an insult to a country struggling to mend itself.

And in that regard, another Sehwag triple hundred wouldn’t go amiss.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, England in India, Test cricket | 3 Comments »

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