When you have a big loss, the only thing you really can do is observe what you’ve done wrong, and if there’s something glaring, try to learn from that. If there isn’t something obvious and you’ve simply been outdone by something you can’t control, it’s pretty tricky.
Own your errors - and fix them
I was in Abu Dhabi in 2012 when Pakistan set us 145 to win and we got bowled out for 72 to lose the series. We were facing a spin bowler with a unique action and none of us could pick him - we could have complained that it was unfair and it was cheating, but instead we had to try to find a way of combatting it. Obviously we didn’t mange it because we lost the third Test as well! But the point remains that England cannot get caught up in blaming the conditions for the heavy defeat.
What I like about this team though is I haven’t heard anyone coming out and blaming the pitch. Most of those complaints have been coming from back home, and by the way I didn’t think the pitch was that bad. It spun from Day One and as a country we always seem to think that is somehow wrong, but there weren’t actually that many wickets that fell to outrageous deliveries. It wasn’t dangerous or anything. The one that got Joe Root in the second innings was pretty unplayable but that was Day Four and I don’t mind that. The fact that an opening bat got 160 and No 8 batsman got a ton takes the wicket out of the equation.
Privately, they might be a bit miffed about it but I like the fact that the team themselves haven’t been complaining and seem to me to be ready to face their shortcomings head on. If England are honest with each other, really honest about the dismissals, they’ll see that they could have dealt a lot better with the pitch in the second innings, barring Root and perhaps Ben Stokes.
This is what Test cricket is all about: going to other parts of the world and being tested. They’re up against spinners of real quality like R. Ashwin and Axar Patel, and some of the top order, particularly the young guys who haven’t played out here before, might need to think about finding a new method.
England must take priority over IPL but currently it isn’t
The rotation policy still really confuses me. The fact that Root and Chris Silverwood have come out and apologised that their words came out wrong about Moeen Ali choosing to go home suggests to me, from the outside, that there are frustrations at the system. It doesn’t seem like everyone is on board with it. I just don’t get it. If you’re back in the England team and taking some wickets, for me that should take priority over the IPL or something like that.
It is difficult being away from family and stuff but your country has to take priority. Same with Jonny Bairstow, who went home because he had spent a long time in a bubble: the IPL is a choice, they don’t have to play in it, and England cannot be the fall guy in my opinion.
Give India both barrels under lights
Before the series, I marked out this game as England’s best chance of winning a Test match. The pink is more like a white ball in some ways, which I always found hard to grip in the first four or five overs, but as soon as the laminate went off, it wasn’t a problem, so for the spinners it should be much the same, but it will give our seamers more of an edge. Jimmy Anderson should be playing as well as, if I had my way, Stuart Broad too, because they are much more potent weapons in this game compared to the other Tests.
It’s a new ground too so the wicket is a bit of a mystery which should level things out a bit. It did actually look a bit green four or five days ago - but taking a picture of a wicket a week out from a Test match is massive misdirect, because it’s barely been prepared at that point! This is still India and just because we haven’t had a Test match there before, doesn’t mean it’s going to be radically different. I can’t see it turning as much as the last pitch though so I think this is a chance for England to get ahead in the series.