Bess and better footwork – lessons ahead of final Test

By Ned Vessey

How can England turn things around for the Fourth Test? It looks likely that the pitch for the last game of the series will be very similar to the one where England (and India, let’s not forget) were blown away in each innings. Unsurprisingly, that means England will face the same problems as last time. There, are, however, some things they can do better this time around.

One of the main talking points of the match was the pitch, but before getting into that, what can England do to improve? The first thing would be to bring Dom Bess back into the side. Unfortunately, Moeen Ali has gone home but, regardless, a frontline spinner to supplement the increasingly impressive Jack Leach is a must. Bess’ return would also add strength to England’s batting tail, which with Jofra Archer at eight was looking very long indeed.

On the batting front, England should look to be positive and not get stuck on the crease. Of the top seven batsmen, only Ben Foakes looked as though he had confidence in using his feet, even if it was just to play defensively. Much has been made of England’s hesitant footwork elsewhere, but as any international batsman who has been successful in Asia would point out, decisive use of the feet whether going backwards or forwards is key to making runs.

England have a talented batting lineup, and they perhaps need to try and have a little faith in themselves. The pitch in the third Test clearly got into England’s heads, and they somehow need to reset.

That is easy enough to say, of course, but actually doing it is much tougher. However, England should take heart from their spirited bowling performance in India’s innings. The hosts struggled too – England were outplayed, but not as much as an Indian victory by ten wickets would suggest.

A frontline spinner to supplement the increasingly impressive Jack Leach is a must

Finally, a few words on the pitch. Or rather, one word: awful. It is undeniable that both sides batted poorly and this certainly contributed to the truncated nature of the match, but for the wicket to behave as it did on day one was not acceptable for a Test match pitch. Ravi Ashwin might have said that have had no problems with it, but I wonder what his thoughts would be if he was to be served up with an absolute road to bowl on where favour was heavily weighted towards the batsmen.

There needs to be a balance between bat and ball in Test cricket to maximise its potential, and while the Third Test was certainly gripping, it is not the kind of match the world game needs very often.

I hope that now they have had the experience of the kind of track they are likely to face again, England can learn lessons and go into the final game with a lineup more suited to conditions and the knowledge of how they can succeed. This England side is a much better one than they had last time they toured India, and Root’s side owes it to themselves to show that in this final Test.

Image: Windies Cricket via Flickr

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