Farbrace calls on England to fight to save Lord’s defeat

David Clough 21/07/2014
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Optimistic: Paul Farbrace believes one big partnership could result in an England win on the final day.

Assistant coach Paul Farbrace denied that England’s big names had let the side down as they were left facing a fight to save the second Test at Lord’s.

Asked if England had been let down by the likes of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, and the struggling Matt Prior, Farbrace said: “Not at all. We look at it as a team, you lose as a team and you win as a team.

“Everybody on the team is always looking for better performances. The practice and the work-rate that we’ve got from everybody in the squad is fantastic and everybody’s always looking to improve their game. So it’s a team performance and we’ll look at the team rather than at individuals.”

Cook has come in for the most criticism, but Farbrace is not too concerned about the under-fire batsman.

“He’s fine,” he added. “He’s in there chatting to the two lads who are not out, talking about the day tomorrow and looking forward to the scrap tomorrow. He’s absolutely fine.”

While England’s first job is to avoid defeat, Farbrace believes they need “one big partnership” to pull off victory, and suggested Moeen Ali (15 not out) and Joe Root (14), the two men in at stumps, might be the men to provide it.

“It’s a huge day tomorrow,” he told broadcasters. “It’s been a fantastic cricket wicket for the bowlers and the people that have got stuck in and fought have got runs.

“If you miss your length you get on to the boundary pretty quickly so it really needs one big partnership and a couple of small ones tomorrow and we’ve got a chance of being up there.

“We’ve got to fight hard and get stuck in but we’ve got two guys who love a scrap. We saw it with Moeen at Headingley, only two Test matches ago – there will have been many people on that day thinking we couldn’t bat through the day but he batted all day for a hundred.”

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England up against it as India close in on Test win at Lord’s

David Clough 20/07/2014
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On the march: Mohammed Shami (l) celebrates after taking the wicket of Gary Ballance.

England are in danger of a defeat captain Alastair Cook can ill afford, in the second Investec Test against India at Lord's.

Ravindra Jadeja, an arch rival after the Trent Bridge spat with James Anderson which is yet to play out in a high-stakes International Cricket Council hearing, made his presence felt again to leave England needing their highest run chase on this ground.

To avoid a 10th Test without victory, England were required to replicate their first-innings 319 after Jadeja's career-best 68 from number eight – and yet another half-century from tailender Bhuvneshwar Kumar (52) – helped India to 342 all out.

By stumps on day four, on a pitch providing all bowlers with increasingly variable bounce and Jadeja sharp turn out of the rough, opener Cook was a spent force as England limped to a precarious 105 for four.

The equation was much more favourable when the tourists were 235 for seven, having just lost Murali Vijay for an impressive 95.

But Joe Root dropped Kumar on two, and he and Jadeja punished England in a stand of 99 – especially in 10 overs after lunch which yielded 66 runs.

Jadeja seized the moment, unsettling England by charging the second new ball and scampering extra runs between seven boundaries in his 42-ball maiden Test 50.

It was Anderson who finally accounted for Vijay, and before then Liam Plunkett (three for 65) who got one in the right spot to Mahendra Singh Dhoni for Ian Bell to take a neat catch at second slip.

That ended a stand of 79 with opener Vijay, the India captain gone for an uncharacteristically stoic 19 off 86 balls.

When Cook then took a very good, 'pressure' catch – running back and diving from mid-off with the ball steepling over his head off Moeen Ali – Stuart Binny's counter-attacking intent had come to nought.

Jadeja, demoted a position, immediately went after Moeen – and runs came quickly as the left-hander took on his old adversary Anderson too.

Vijay played perhaps his first false shot, to the 247th ball he faced, when he edged behind.

But Jadeja began advancing against Anderson – and after Kumar's escape, Root missing a very sharp chance off Stuart Broad at fourth slip, he played the perfect foil.

Even after Jadeja fell to a mis-pull at Ben Stokes (three for 51) and another fine catch from Cook running back again, this time from slip, Kumar stayed to complete his third half-century in four innings.

In a series of several notable stumbling blocks already for England, Kumar is pre-eminent – having also taken six wickets in the first innings – and by the time he was last out, he had ensured a major challenge remained after all for Cook and co.

A Dhoni hunch soon undermined England's prospects of bettering the 282 for three they made to beat New Zealand here 10 years ago.

He introduced Jadeja's left-arm spin, for only the seventh over of the innings, and was rewarded with a wicket first ball.

Jadeja hit Sam Robson's front pad marginally in line with off-stump, with an arm ball, and Kumar Dharmasena decided lbw was in order.

Cook was batting perhaps for his future as captain, and found an ally in first-innings centurion Gary Ballance for a stand of 58.

The two left-handers had to be highly-skilled and concentrated to deal with Jadeja especially, with a gaggle of leg-side catchers, on a wearing pitch with claustrophobic cloud cover and thunderstorms passing close by.

They coped admirably in a fascinating passage of play, which featured the curious sight of Dhoni standing back to Jadeja's brisk spin, until another bowling change again brought an immediate dividend.

Ballance perhaps did not have to play, but did, at the first delivery from the returning Mohammed Shami – and edged behind.

It was to be the first of three wickets for two runs, Ishant Sharma taking the others without conceding as Bell was bowled off-stump playing defensively inside a delivery which kept low and Cook himself forward and edging behind.

He had spent more than two hours and 93 balls trying to get himself out of a wretched run of form but ultimately could muster only 22 runs to take his sorry annual tally to 129 in nine innings.

England still had live batting resources, starting with Root and Moeen, yet Cook walked off with the resigned air of a captain who understandably feared this match might just be ebbing away.

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Vaughan joins list of ex-England captains to doubt Cook’s future

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Untenable: Vaughan (c) believes it could be time for Cook to be replaced.

Michael Vaughan has joined the list of former skippers questioning whether Alastair Cook should continue as England captain.

After nine Tests without a win and 26 innings since he made the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds, Cook's position has come under intense scrutiny, with the opener out for just 10 in his side's first innings during the ongoing second Test against India at Lord's. 

The likes of Geoffrey Boycott, Alec Stewart and, most recently, Mike Brearley, have suggested the burden of leading England may now becoming too heavy for 29-year-old Essex left-hander Cook to carry.

Vaughan said England were in danger of doing permanent damage to Cook's ability as a batsman if he was allowed to remain as captain.

"We have reached the stage with Cook when he cannot be enjoying cricket. You don't when you are not playing well and the team is struggling," Vaughan, England's 2005 Ashes-winning captain, wrote in his Telegraph column.

"It is easy for the England and Wales Cricket Board hierarchy to say it is going to stick by him but it has to ask what is best for the team and for Cook.

"The ECB has a responsibility to Cook the person to do the right thing and if that means taking the captaincy away then so be it."

For the 39-year-old Vaughan, Cook's plight was reminiscent of the situation he found himself in when struggling to combine the roles of England captain and opening batsman.

"I went through terrible moments opening the batting and captaining the side. I could not buy a run in my first series against South Africa and really struggled in Sri Lanka. It was killing me going to my room at night hating this job," he added.

Then-England coach Duncan Fletcher — now in charge of India — helped Vaughan regain his form by suggesting he move down the order.

"He looked me in the eyes over coffee and said what about dropping down the order to give yourself space and time to gather your thoughts and make the transition from captaincy to batting," Vaughan recalled.

"That one chat with Duncan saved me as a captain. If I had been stubborn and carried on as before I would not have lasted in the job because my form would not have been good enough to stay in the side."

However, Vaughan said a similar move was not an option for Cook and added the best course of action might be simply to remove the captaincy in the hope it allows him to concentrate solely on his batting.

The new hierarchy at the ECB installed after England's 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia have staked plenty on Cook's leadership, even saying the need to support his captaincy was a reason for sending star batsman Kevin Pietersen into international exile.

But Vaughan insisted any concerns the management had about being seen to perform a U-turn or "give in" to Cook's critics missed the point.

"English cricket has to get him back to batting consistently at the top of the order," Vaughan said. "He needs a bit of honest feedback. The ECB and Alastair cannot be stubborn and just carry on because they fear giving in to his critics.

"Plenty of great players have had to relinquish the captaincy to carry on being a player."

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