India Vs England 2021 Test Series Review: Sharmas, Spinners Overshadowed By Umpiring, Pitch, and Rotation Policy
India Vs England 2021 Test Series Review.
We billed this series as the “Final Before the (WTC) Final” and after overseas victories for both India (vs Australia) and England (Vs Sri Lanka), the series had hype for the right reasons.
Instead this series will be remembered for exactly the wrong reasons—Discussions about the pitches in Chennai & Pink Ball Test, rotation policy & England’s treatment of Moeen Ali, and hasty umpiring decisions (along with Kohli’s priceless reactions).
There were some good days for cricket as well with Ishant Sharma’s 100 Tests & 300 wickets, Joe Root’s 218, Anderson’s dream over, Foakes’ & Pant’s wicket-keeping, R Ashwin’s 100 & 9-fer, Ashwin’s 32 & Axar’s 27 wickets, Sundar’s 85* & 96*, Rohit Sharma’s masterclass, and Pant’s reverse sweep (to Anderson) in a brilliant 100.
Read till the end for my picks for the best moments, emerging players, controversies, and much more! COMMENT BELOW ON YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS.
*Note: Underlined & Bolded links are videos. Underlined without bold are links to other articles.
Results – England Vs India
The reason why I did not enjoy this series as much was due to the lack of competitiveness. 227 runs, 317 runs, 10 wickets, and an innings victory was in complete contrast to the edge-of-the-seat stuff (last session draws/chases) in the Australia series.
Test Series: India Win 3 – 1
* Player of Match
- England Won by 227 Runs *Joe Root
- India Won by 317 runs *Ravichandran Ashwin
- India Won by 10 wickets *Axar Patel
- India Won by An Innings and 25 runs *Rishabh Pant
|Player of Series||England||India |
Ravichandran Ashwin – 189 runs (best of 106, average 31.50, 1 – 100)
|Most Runs||Joe Root – 368 runs|
(best of 218, average 46.00, 100s/50s – 1/0)
|Rohit Sharma – 345 runs|
(best of 161, average 57.50, 100s/50s -1/1
|Most Wickets||Jack Leach – 18 wickets|
(best innings – 4/54, best match – 6/178, 28.72 average, strike rate 53.6)
|R Ashwin – 32 wickets|
(best innings – 6/61, best match – 9/207, 14.71 average, 35.2 SR, 3 5-fers
1. We Miss The Non-Converting Joe Root
At the beginning of 2021, Joe Root’s stats read 17-100s, 49-50s. After the Sri Lanka & India tours, his stats read 20-100s, 49-50s. His last 6 Test matches show:
- 228 & 1 (run-out), 186 & 11, 218 & 40
- 6 & 33, 17 & 19, 5 & 30
Notice something? He converted 3 daddy hundreds, and then followed it up with 3 middling Test matches (mainly due to the intelligent bowling of Axar and Siraj). Now, we should not be too harsh on Root. The law of averages surely catches up, he had additional stress of captaincy, and he even bowled his heart out including a 5/8.
Still, the Joe Root who scored consistent 60s & 70s might have been more than handy on this low scoring tour. The 50th 50 would be cherry on top of his personally successful season.
2. Batting Wins Matches
Catches win matches? Sure. Need to take 20 wickets to secure a Test victory? Maybe.
How about batting with scores of 178, 134 & 164, 112 & 81, and 205 & 135? Definitely Not. This is called batting yourself out of a Test series. Let us dig a bit deeper:
- Pope 153 runs at 19.12 (best of 34), Sibley 134 at 16.75 (best of 87) – 4 Tests each
- Burns 58 runs at 14.50 (best of 33), Bairstow 28 at 7.00 (best of 7, 3 ducks), Crawley 67 at 16.75 (best of 53) – 2 Tests each
For international level cricket, if your Top 5 comprises of these players, barely-in-form Root-Stokes, and Buttler/Foakes, then this is just not going to cut it.
Maybe a certain Joe Denly might have been able to weather the storm better. If not the centuries, at least the Denturies would have come.
3. Anderson, Foakes & Lawrence The Bright Stars
Let us take out the stats for the moment, and look at the bright side.
Winning a Test match is not easy. Winning away even harder. Hence, the 227 run victory in Chennai should be regarded as a huge accomplishment, regardless of the 3-1 margin. (The issue was not the score line. Rather, it was the way they lost the final 3 Test matches).
Jimmy Anderson’s 6/40 in Galle & 3/17 in Chennai should rest the ‘Clouderson’ and ‘poor away record’ claims. That 3/17 included one of the best overs of reverse swing you will ever see. A well set Shubman Gill was bowled through the gate, Rahane survived an umpires call appeal, and then carbon copy bowled. Does not get any better than that.
On the turning pitches, Ben Foakes’ keeping was absolutely magnificent. His split-second stumping of Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant in the 2nd innings of the 2nd Test were quite something. (His batting showed signs of defiance, but could not reach his heights of his debut). Finally with 73 on debut and 46 & 50 in the final Test, Dan Lawrence showed some signs of steel.
Finally Channel 4 coverage was a win-win situation for the fans.
1. Axar Patel Invokes His Inner Embuldeniya, R Ashwin – The Man of the Hour
Just like Embuldeniya troubled England prior to this tour, Axar was the concern this time around. Straighter one, bounce, turn, guile, he had it all.
The best part is that Axar was not even supposed to play this series if not for Jadeja’s injury. 27 wickets at 10.59 with 4 5-wicket hauls & 1-10 wicket haul (best inning – 6/38, best match 11/70). Even got the opportunity to take a five-wicket haul at his home with some crowd. Stuff of dreams.
R Ashwin has got to be the most intelligent player in international cricket. He has a YouTube channel, reads books in his free time, is an engineer, can mess with the batsmen due to the Mankad-threat, talks to the media about a ‘bad pitch’, walks the talk with a 106 on the Chennai turner, and bamboozles the batsmen with skillful bowling.
The dismissals of Ollie Pope (carrom ball, beats the bat, bowled) in the final Test have to be my moments of this series.
2. The Sharmas Come To The Party
Wonderful achievement by Ishant Sharma for his 100th Test & 300 wickets. Just rewards for a brilliant journey over the last decade. Although this series was spin-dominated, Ishant Sharma 4.0 still has several years to offer to Indian cricket.
Rohit Sharma went very much under the radar this time, but India’s series victory was in jeopardy without his contributions. 161 on a tricky pitch was the turning moment of the series, and he followed it up with patient 26, 66 & 25*, and 49. In these low scoring matches, runs on the board provided the cushion for the spinners to dominate.
3. India’s Big 3 Just Not Good Enough, Depth Covers the Spots
Just like many other well-wishers, I had predicted Virat Kohli to come back in this series with a tough 50 at the start and a a double century by the end. The tough 72 in the 2nd innings at Chennai definitely came, but nowhere near the elusive 71st international century. Here are the stats:
- Virat Kohli: 172 runs at 28.66 (best of 72, 2-50s, 2 ducks)
- Ajinkya Rahane: 112 runs at 18.66 (best of 67, 1-50, 1 duck)
- Cheteshwar Pujara: 133 runs at 22.16 (best of 73, 1-50, 1 duck)
I do not remember so many ducks by these 3. Nor do I remember a series where none fired.
Apart from Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, & R Ashwin all outscored the middle order stalwarts. Since India emerged victorious, the cracks are temporarily filled, but questions should be asked.
After that Melbourne innings, Rahane has not done enough. Pujara is doing fine and crucial to India’s line up, but is not converting to daddy hundreds at the moment.
Given India’s depth, is it time to breed in the next generation? Is it time to rotate home/away batsmen as India rotates fast bowlers/ spinners?
The umpiring decisions in the 2nd & 3rd Tests caught the attention of the public. It was not necessarily the decisions made, but the manner in which they were decided (Ben Stokes’ catch – on field out, but turned over quickly). A standard procedure & muting the umpires’ conversation may be the way to go forward here.
By the end of the series, it was easily recognized that England’s lack of batting application led to their downfall, not the state of the pitches. However, 2-day & 3-day matches do not anybody a favor, either. The pink ball Test is supposed to get more public to watch the game, but most of these matches are ending in 3 or 4 days, which is counterintuitive. The first Test may have been the most balanced pitch, even though it was slow & attritional for the first day and a half.
Finally, the rotation policy. England’s rotation policy has possibly extended the careers of Broad & Anderson, given a chance to youngsters fighting for a national spot, and is important in the coronavirus era due to mental health. Rotation is not necessarily a bad thing, but how it was implemented in this series was dodgy.
Archer, Burns, & Stokes were rested for the series in Sri Lanka, while the rest of the squad stayed. However, Buttler left after one Test, Moeen Ali finally playing a Test only to go back home (due to miscommunication), Bairstow played the last two, Woakes left without playing, so on and so forth.
I cannot imagine how much the constant traveling & jet lag, inconsistency in selection & unsettled line-ups, and not having enough practice games might have impacted their minds. I can understand rotation between series, but during a series is a bit much.
And if this rotation was for the preparation for upcoming T20 World Cup & IPL, losing out to the WTC Final spot at home should seriously be questioned.
We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:
India made Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel (greatest understudy of all time), and Washington Sundar into world class all-rounders. England took a world class all-rounder in Moeen Ali and practically destroyed a budding career.
|Emerging Player||Axar Patel||Dan Lawrence, Rotation Policy|
|Surprise Package||Lower Middle Order||Dom Bess’s Full Tosses; Joe Root’s 5-fer|
|Broken Cricket Dream||Shardul Thakur – Did not get a game after a 92 & 4-fer at Gabba|
Dreams Broken For Fans Wanting Ashwin to become the 4th player to do the double of 100 + 10-fer
|Stuart Broad’s Asian Dream, Jonny Bairstow’s Test Career, Moeen Ali|
Where Do They Go From Here?
A 5 match T20I series & 3-match ODI series to follow, preparing for the upcoming T20I World Cup in India. Then, we will have the IPL, England will play a couple of test matches against the New Zealand at home, and finally India Vs New Zealand for the WTC final.
After England’s victory at Chennai, I declared that this English team could rival the 2010-2012 team due to the good mix of youth, experience, & abroad victories. I guess that was a bit premature.
Was this India Vs England 2021 Test series the ‘greatest story of all time’ like the India Vs Australia? Nope.
Was it as controversial as the South Africa Vs Australia scandalous ball tampering series? Not really.
At best, this was just a Meh kind of series. Had its moments, but did not capture the imagination of the next generation. Sums it up for the World Test Championship.
What did you think of the India Vs England 2021 Test Series? Let us know!
Copyright (2021: 3/11/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – email@example.com