India vs England Test series likely to be an enthralling contest

2011-07-20 00:00

IT’S been some time since we’ve witnessed really top-notch Test cricket.

There’s been little to draw spectators to the five-day game since England’s surprising victory over Sri Lanka at Sophia Gardens at the start of the English summer.

India’s series win against the West Indies on the lifeless pitches of Jamaica, Barbados and Dominica, was a dull and dreary yawn at best.

The four-match Test series between India and England, which begins tomorrow, promises to be a far more enthralling contest.

India, currently ranked the number one Test team in the world, and England, number three, will step onto the hallowed turf of Lords in the first match of the series.

If you are a Test cricket fan, it doesn’t get much better than this.

England have a formidable bowling attack with plenty of options available between Anderson, Bresnan and Tremlett. The team also has Graeme Swann — the best spinner in world cricket at the moment.

India have a heavyweight batting line up led by the little master Sachin Tendulkar, and dangerous left-arm swing bowler Zaheer Kahn will be keen to exploit English conditions.

The key ingredients to good Test cricket, besides quality teams, are competitive captains and good playing conditions.

Both Andrew Strauss and MS Dhoni are aggressive and positive captains who love and respect test cricket. Inexperienced captains can kill a Test match, but this will not be the case.

Strauss and Dhoni have the backing of superb coaches. Zimbabwean-born Andy Flower and Duncan Fletcher are disciplinarians with a hard graft approach to coaching.

Flower has an excellent record with England, where he has formed a good working relationship with their captain.

Fletcher has his work cut out for him to keep India at number one in the world rankings.

Fletcher, who prefers being in the background, has already found dealing with the media frenzy that accompanies the Indian team a challenge to contend with.

England is known for its ideal playing conditions, immaculate grounds and manicured outfields. It’s only the weather that can spoil things.

There is bound to be something in the wicket for England’s pace attack and lots of runs on pitches that have had a fair bit of sun on them already this summer.

Test cricket in England is always well supported. Knowledgeable English spectators who appreciate all the intricacies of Test cricket, the Barmy Army as well as legions of Indian supporters should fill the grounds to capacity and ensure an electric atmosphere.

The best advertisement for Test cricket is when the top teams like India and England take on each other.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has recognised this and has hinted at the possibility of a timeless Test between the two top test teams to decide on the test champion.

Statistics reflect most Test matches finishing in less than five days, but anything that puts Test cricket more firmly in the spotlight is good for the game.

In the mean time India versus England is just the type of exciting exposure the five-day game needs.

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