Chris Silverwood, England’s head coach, says his players will relish the opportunity for a rematch with India in their own conditions this summer, but added that he was proud of their efforts on tour this winter, despite coming off second-best in all three formats.
After losing the Test series 3-1 last month, and the T20Is 3-2, England completed an unwanted set on Sunday evening, as they fell agonisingly short in their pursuit of 330 in the ODI series decider, despite Sam Curran‘s career-best 95 not out from 83 balls.
It means that England still haven’t won an ODI series in India since 1984, having also lost the corresponding campaign 2-1 on their last tour in 2016-17, although their emphatic six-wicket victory in the second match of the series does at least preserve their No.1 world ranking for now.
“It was a good, competitive game and a good, competitive series throughout,” Silverwood said, after Curran had revived a flagging England run-chase with a stirring fightback, one that only ran out of steam in the final over as India’s T Natarajan held his nerve and nailed his yorkers to secure a seven-run win.
“I’m very proud of them, I’m proud of each and every player who has been out here,” Silverwood added, as the squad prepared to decamp from Pune, with several players due to link up with their franchises ahead of the start of the IPL next week.
“I’m proud of the effort and the attitude that’s been shown towards the game. I think we’ve learned a lot and from that point of view I couldn’t ask any more of them.
“It’s a very difficult place to come and win, we know that. India are very strong in their conditions, but there’s been lots of encouragement. We’ve got valuable experience for the T20 World Cup coming up, and if we look back at the Test series, the amount of experience the youngsters will take out of that from playing in those conditions, the lessons they’ve learned, when they come back again they’ll know what to do and have a better game plan.
“From a T20 point of view it’s been really interesting how India operate in their conditions, what types of balls they bowled. Equally our batsmen have had a look at those conditions. So there’s a lot of encouraging signs out here and a lot to take away. We’ll be working on various things between now and the World Cup.”
More immediately, it will be the turn of India to travel to England for a five-match Test series in August and September, and while the fearless performances of India’s rookies – most notably Rishabh Pant and the spinner Axar Patel – were a feature of their home campaign, Silverwood admitted that his thoughts were already projecting forward to the return series, for which he expected his players would be itching to get their own back in more familiar surroundings.
“These experiences will stand them in good stead moving forward,” he said. “When they play against India in England, that will give them a bit of spice to fight back with. I think they will.
“There’s a little time between now and then, but we’re looking forward immensely to the Test series in England. We always know it’s very competitive, with two very good teams going at each other. It’s an ideal run-in for the Ashes, to play India in five Test matches and pit ourselves against one of the best teams in the world can only be a good thing for us and help galvanize us.”
England’s challenge this winter was especially complicated given the strictures of another bio-secure bubble, in some cases for nearly three months since the Test squad flew out to Sri Lanka on January 2. But given the need to remain competitive on two very different fronts – with the development of the Test squad ahead of that Ashes campaign competing with the more immediate goal of the T20 World Cup in October – Silverwood acknowledged that compromises had had to be made to ensure the mental well-being of his players, most notably in the controversial resting of key multi-format players throughout the Test leg of the winter.
“I would do the same again,” he said. “I’ve said all along the priority has to be that the players are alright. Stepping in before anybody breaks, so to speak, is the best way to go. Prevention is better than a cure. Trying to keep the players fresh in mind and body is key to that, and I think we’ve just about got that right.
Looking ahead to the summer, in which England’s white-ball team will face Sri Lanka and Pakistan in T20Is and ODIs, with Test series against New Zealand and India book-ending the season, Silverwood insisted that both formats would be treated with equal importance, but added that there were no concrete plans yet for how the squads would be prioritised.
“We hope things are going to ease off a bit in the future,” he said of the need for bio-secure environments. “I’d like to think they will. But I think the way we’ve looked after the players this winter has been very good. They have got a lot of cricket in front of them and we’ll look at the schedule moving forward.
“There’s a lot of cricket there and we do have to look after the players. We’ve got to make sure they arrive at big competitions fresh in body and mind. We have to look at all the best ways we can achieve that.”
One player who will be in high demand across formats is Jofra Archer, who is set to miss the start of the IPL after undergoing further treatment on a hand injury, reportedly following an incident involving a fish tank at home prior to the winter tours.
Archer was already receiving treatment for an ongoing elbow problem when the decision to investigate the wound was taken, but Silverwood was confident there would be no lasting complications from the injury.
“Obviously Jofra cut his hand before he came here but when he arrived the wound has closed up,” he said. “It didn’t really give him too much hassle to be honest. The fact is when he’s at home getting his elbow injected it gave us an opportunity to assess his finger as well, and see if there’s any more sort of infection there or anything.
“I’m not quite sure what’s in there,” he added. “Obviously he’ll see the specialist and they’ll make an assessment, but it was just an ideal time for him to get it looked at while he was waiting for the injection to work on his elbow.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
Recent Match Report – Essex vs Sussex South Group 2021
Skipper slams 75 from 44 to help make short work of small chase
Sussex 130 for 3 (Wright 75) beat Essex 128 for 8 (Garton 3-31) by seven wickets
The Blast’s all-time leading run-scorer missed the opening two rounds after splitting the webbing in his hand while practising fielding on the eve of the competition. But he made up for lost time by bringing up his fifty in 33 deliveries as Sussex chased down Essex’s below-par 128 for eight with 36 balls to spare.
Wright looked at home right from the start, with boundaries from his second and third deliveries – two of eight fours.
Opening partner Phil Salt earned a life when he bludgeoned a full toss to mid-on, only to earn a reprieve for the umpire to judge the ball to have been above waist-height, much to Simon Harmer’s chagrin. Salt was run out for 13, after putting on 54 with Wright before Travis Head added 60 together with the skipper.
Wright continued to his 26th Blast half-century, going past 8000 T20 career runs, with a pair of straight sixes and another over cow corner. He departed with six still needed but Delray Rawlins clattered the winning runs over long-off soon after.
Wright’s day had started perfectly as he won the toss and stuck the hosts in – although Will Buttleman struck successive sixes in the fourth over. On a used hybrid pitch, scoring proved difficult for Essex with only Buttleman, Michael Pepper and Jimmy Neesham’s strike rates topping 100, for those who reached double figures.
The strain on scoring was exemplified by the last over of the Powerplay, which saw just one run, as Paul Walter struggled to lay a bat on Chris Jordan – the run rate throughout the innings hovering just below seven an over.
To add to the Eagles’ woes, wickets were a regular occurrence. Tom Westley and Buttleman fell in the Powerplay – the former picking out deep midwicket off George Garton and the latter slapping a Tymal Mills slower ball to cover.
Walter was stumped, Ryan ten Doeschate clubbed old pal Ravi Bopara to long off, Pepper – having scored 38 off 25 balls – drilled to extra cover, Harmer miscued to midwicket, Jack Plom skied to mid-off and Neesham was comprehensively bowled.
Garton ended up with 3 for 31, with Mills, Jordan and Bopara all going at under a run-a-ball.
Eng vs Ind Women’s Test
“Maybe in the coming years it might also lead to a World Test Championship [for women]. You never know.”
“I feel this Test match and even the pink-ball Test, which is in Australia in the coming months, it’s just the beginning of having a three-format bilateral series,” Raj, India’s Test and ODI captain, said on the eve of the one-off Test against England in Bristol. “It probably opens up the channel to have another format added in a bilateral series and that will clearly help the overall standard of women’s cricket.
“Also, the players – I mean, you ask any modern-day cricketer, they still want to play the longer format because they eventually know that the format tests the skill of a player.”
The last time India played two or more Tests in a year was in 2014, which was also the last time they appeared in the format. The Bristol Test, which marks their return to red-ball cricket after a break of 2401 days, carries four points for a win under the multi-format system for the tour, which also includes three ODIs and three T20Is.
A draw will fetch the teams two points apiece and one point will be awarded for a no-result. Wins in the white-ball games will be worth two points each. The Ashes, which has been the only occasion that has involved Test matches in women’s cricket since 2014, follows the same grading system.
“It’s good to have the Test match in a series,” Raj said. ‘We [already] had the one-dayers and the T20Is. Maybe in the coming years it might also lead to a World Test Championship [for women]. You never know. This is just the beginning. I hope we continue to have bilateral series where all three formats are there.”
The announcement of both the Test against England and the pink-ball game against Australia, scheduled for September-October, was an unexpected development in Indian women’s cricket. On the international circuit, the ODI World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, to be played in the T20 format, both scheduled for next year, and the 2023 T20 World Cup remain the focal points of India’s long-term preparations. In domestic cricket, no red-ball tournaments for women’s cricketers have been held in India since the 2017-2018 season.
“There were a few sessions that we tried to have in the whites so that the girls don’t get [intimidated] when they walk into the ground tomorrow because for most of them it’s their first time getting into the ground in the whites,” Raj said. “That is one thing [Powar] tried to get into the sessions. There were four-five sessions where we trained together as a team in the whites, so we get a feel of it in the nets sessions and it doesn’t feel alien for the girls when they get onto the ground.
“He also got the seniors to speak to the other players who are less experienced about the format about the last time we played a Test match, so there was a lot of communication with Jhulan talking to the fast bowlers and I’m talking to the batters. So, I think when you have this communication going, it sort of gets the team get collectively prepared for the Test match.”
“In terms of marketing the sport, I think it is great to have a Test match live on television because clearly, a lot of people will follow, now with the pandemic [on] and there’s partial restrictions everywhere [because of lockdowns], so a lot of people will be watching the game,” she said. “As far as the players are concerned, it is equally important [to play well in this Test match]. Seven years back, the scenario was very different for women’s cricket.
“Having said that, that team never really thought whether the match is [covered] live or not; it never really crosses a players mind as long as we get in there and we put forward our best performance. Whether it is covered live or not, that’s [not] the players’ lookout. We are there to get there and give our best standard, and if it’s covered live, nothing like it because that’s how the sport will grow being viable.”
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
Warwickshire close to signing Che Simmons, 17-year-old dubbed ‘new Jofra Archer’
Barbadian fast bowler has UK passport and impressed on trial with 2nd XI
Having made an excellent impression, Simmons is expected to be offered a deal which might well include some type of scholarship in order that he can complete his education in the UK. He currently attends Combermere School, which has a rich history of producing top players. As well has current West Indies Test captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, Wes Hall, Clyde Walcott, Frank Worrall and Chris Jordan also attended the school. So did the singer, Rihanna.
A fast bowler with a beautiful smooth run-up and action, Simmons has represented Barbados Under-15s and came to prominence by claiming all 10 wickets in an innings while playing for the Franklyn Stephenson Academy. He finished with the remarkable figures of 10 for 16 from 5.3 overs. Only two of the runs he conceded came off the bat.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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