Lewis defends England's day four tactics in Chennai

By Sports Desk February 08, 2021

Bowling coach Jon Lewis defended England's approach after they did little to move forward their victory bid during the final session of day four in the first Test against India in Chennai.

England set an improbable victory target of 420, one that will set a new record in Tests if India are somehow able to knock off the runs from a position of 39-1 at stumps.

It is a match situation that underlines the tourists' unexpected domination of the contest, although they were criticised in some quarters for letting the game drift after tea on Monday.

Ollie Pope was the sixth man out with the score 130 in their second innings, from which point there was a wait for a declaration that never came as all of England's tailenders emerged and they took a further 18 overs to reach 178 all out.

Jack Leach then bowled Rohit Sharma with a beauty, but there were no further breakthroughs before the close.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Lewis insisted England were comfortable with their tactics, pointing towards the potential importance of the second new ball during the last session of the match.

James Anderson and Jofra Archer will also be fresh for a second chance to make inroads with a ball only 13 overs old on the final morning.

"The guys were positive in the way they played and I don't think it's a straightforward pitch to just go and be reckless when trying to score runs," Lewis said of England's dwindling scoring rate following Pope's departure for 28.

"We were very comfortable with the amount of overs we wanted to bowl tonight. That obviously gives us a bit of a bite with the second new ball tomorrow, if required - 20 overs or so.

"In terms of the position of the game, we're really comfortable with where we're at.

"It's the first game of the series. While you want to get off to a really strong start, you don't really want to give India a chance to win.

"Saying that, they've got some fine players. You also want to be able to have attacking fielders the whole day, especially to our spin bowlers, around the bat.

"To get as many runs as we can and keep the rate high for them feels like our best chance to win the game."

Joe Root had the option to enforce the follow-on after England wrapped up India's first-innings for 337 - a deficit of 241.

However, India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who scored 31 with the bat before claiming 6-61, suggested Root's desire to give his attack recovery time was understandable.

"They had two options in front of them. They could have asked us to follow-on," he said.

"The only reasoning I could see is they wanted to give a bit of a rest to their bowlers, which is a part of the game that is sometimes not very well understood on the outside

"Sometimes fresh bowlers can do the trick more than tiring bowlers."

Whether or not England's refreshed bowlers are able to do the trick on day five will ultimately determine how their Monday approach comes to be viewed.

Related items

  • Moeen Ali may be ready to answer England’s call Moeen Ali may be ready to answer England’s call

    Moeen Ali is considering the possibility of reversing his Test retirement after Jack Leach’s injury left England short of an experienced spinner for the Ashes.

    Moeen, 35, has not played red-ball cricket since September 2021 but has found his name thrust back into the conversation after Leach was ruled out for the summer by a stress fracture in his lower back.

    The PA news agency understands Moeen is weighing up whether or not to make a dramatic return over the next couple of days.

    England are not without slow bowling options, with Surrey’s Will Jacks, Leicestershire’s rising star Rehan Ahmed and Liam Dawson all offering different skills. However, none can match the experience of a seasoned Test player with 64 caps and 195 wickets under his belt.

    Head coach Brendon McCullum previously tried to tempt the all-rounder back into the fray for the historic tour of Pakistan but, after initially declaring himself open to the idea, Moeen ultimately decided to stick to limited-overs cricket.

    Now the same offer is back on the table in the form of one last shot at Australia. With the series getting under way at Moeen’s home ground of Edgbaston on June 16, time is short, but the England and Wales Cricket Board are unlikely to rush for a quicker verdict.

    Announcing his decision not to take up McCullum’s offer of taking part in the Pakistan trip, Moeen said last year: “I want to enjoy my cricket and it wouldn’t be fair to reverse my decision and then struggle to give it my all. It’s time to close the door on that side of my career. To play 64 tests for England has been a privilege and a dream fulfilled.”

    He had earlier taken a different tone, hinting that he could be persuaded to re-enter the fray, telling PA and the Guardian last June: “Baz messaged me asking if I was in. Maybe in the future, potential tours or whatever, who knows? I said ‘Call me at the time’. If and when he calls me, we’ll chat.”

    If he did throw himself into the maelstrom of an Ashes summer, Moeen would need to be certain he had the necessary mental and physical energy to take on a side against whom he has some difficult experiences but, perhaps, unfinished business.

    The leadership style of McCullum and captain Ben Stokes may prove a real draw in his deliberations. Moeen’s naturally aggressive style, with both ball and bat, chimes perfectly with the current environment and the chance to make his own mark on the ‘Bazball’ era could be persuasive.

    Stuart Broad, a contemporary of Moeen’s who has been revitalised by the set-up over the last year, can already see a neat fit.

    He told Sky Sports: “We know Mo is a phenomenal cricketer and someone who would fit into Stokes and Baz’s philosophy beautifully.

    “I don’t know if he’s being considered by the selectors or if he would consider red-ball cricket again, but he’s a mighty fine cricketer.”

    England have held off naming an addition to the squad, having originally expected to make an early call, leaving the ball in Moeen’s court.

  • I feel like a different player – Ollie Pope has Ashes warning for Australia I feel like a different player – Ollie Pope has Ashes warning for Australia

    New England vice-captain Ollie Pope has warned Australia they will come up against a very different player this summer.

    Pope endured a torrid time during the last Ashes series and was dropped after two matches before being recalled for the dead-rubber in Hobart.

    The Surrey batter only managed a top score of 35 in six innings and registered four single-figure scores in Australia, but he has flourished since Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum took over last year.

    Pope scored 145 in the second Test of the ‘Bazball’ era and the 25-year-old has continued to go from strength to strength, hitting 205 against Ireland last week in his first official match since being made vice-captain.

    Looking ahead to the opener against Australia at Edgbaston on June 16, Pope said: “I feel good and confident going into the Ashes.

    “I’ve put a lot of hard work into my game. That was my first time in Australia, different kind of pitch, different wickets. That’s one change.

    “But I feel like I’m a different player, mentally and technically, to deal with the challenge of an Ashes series as well.

    “I’m not happy with the way I played in Australia last time, that’s pretty obvious, but I know how the bowlers are going to challenge me.

    “What they’re like as bowlers, their paces, their angles and stuff, so that’s always a benefit having faced them once before.”

     

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Ollie Pope (@opope32)

     

    Pope’s promotion to number three last summer is one of many bold decisions made by Stokes and McCullum which have been handsomely vindicated over the past 12 months.

    While he is determined to deliver with the bat over the next two months, there is a scenario which would see him captain the side during the Ashes.

    Concerns remain over the fitness of Stokes, who has struggled with his left knee since the New Zealand series in February and, despite repeatedly allaying fears, the all-rounder has batted just twice and bowled only six competitive balls in the months building up to the Ashes.

    “It’s a big honour firstly to be vice-captain of your country, especially in Test cricket,” Pope said.

    “From what I was doing before, it doesn’t make a big difference. I’m going to give my opinion and challenge Stokesy when he needs challenging.

    “We’re going to be tested in the Ashes along the way, so it’s not always about going on and agreeing with him. It’s about providing a different opinion to let ponder in his mind as well.

    “Nothing’s really changed. He’s got a pretty clear vision and he’s got 15 guys in that changing room who know our roles now, so that’s helpful for everybody.

    “Fingers crossed Stokesy’s body’s all good. It’s going to take a hell of a lot for him not to be on the pitch even for a day’s play, knowing what he’s like, but if it did happen, I feel confident.

    “We’ve played a lot together as a team over the last year and a bit and he knows a lot how he wants the bowlers to operate, the kind of fields he sets and tries to get players to hit balls in areas that they don’t normally want to hit in.

    “So, I’ve got a pretty good understanding of how he runs things now and if needs be can implement the same ideas.”

  • Colin Graves ends bid to return as Yorkshire chair Colin Graves ends bid to return as Yorkshire chair

    Colin Graves’ hopes of returning as Yorkshire chair have come to an end in acrimonious fashion, with the club accusing the businessman of a “distinct lack of understanding” about the club’s current position.

    The troubled county is still looking for a new chair following Lord Kamlesh Patel’s departure in March and is under financial pressure due to a £15million debt to the Graves Trust.

    That is due to be paid back in full next October, with an initial £500,000 payment due this autumn, while fast rising interest rates have made refinancing problematic.

    Graves, who saved Yorkshire from going under in 2002 and went on to become chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board between 2015 and 2020, had publicly signalled his interest in picking up where he left off at Headingley but indicated that he wanted undiluted control as part of any comeback.

    Graves, who sits independently from his family’s trust, has now walked away and reportedly sent an email outlining his displeasure to interim chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. The Daily Telegraph states Graves accuses the board of acting “negligently” during an “arduous and disappointing” recruitment process.

    The club responded with a stinging riposte, with a board statement reading: “We have been notified that Colin Graves has decided to withdraw his application for chair. We are disappointed that he has decided to do so publicly and are obliged to make it absolutely clear that at no point did Colin make a clearly defined, tangible offer that the board was able to consider formally, unlike other interested parties involved in the refinance process.

    “We have consistently outlined that the new chair would be appointed using a fair, thorough and robust process, which is ongoing. Colin indicated that the terms of his return as chair would require total control of the board and executive.

    “This would run counter to that process, as well as the best practice governance requirements set out in the County Governance Code that were agreed by all counties in 2019. Colin also makes a number of allegations about the board’s actions in regard to finances which are unfounded and indicate a distinct lack of understanding of the current position of YCCC.

    “The short and long-term financial well-being of the club remains the board’s priority, and we will not be distracted by speculation which is unhelpful to our primary objective of securing the future of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and making it a welcoming club for everyone.”

    A host of potential investors have been linked with the White Rose, including former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, the group behind Indian Premier League franchise Delhi Capitals and the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.

    In April, Yorkshire appointed Grant Thornton in the United Arab Emirates to explore investment options in the Middle East and North Africa.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.