Cook ponders selection with Monty on his mind
08:20 20 November 2012
PA Wire/Press Association Images
England will doubtless avoid dwelling on their nine-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad, but know too they must learn its lessons if they are to fight back in their four-Test series against India.
Where they went wrong at the Sardar Patel Stadium is self-evident.
A four-man middle-order engine room of Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Samit Patel mustered just 68 runs in their eight innings.
A three-man pace attack took one wicket for 245 runs - and after conceding a first-innings deficit of 330, even captain Alastair Cook’s marathon feat of defiance in a near nine-and-a-half-hour 176 could not salvage a stalemate.
The facts beg obvious questions about the right balance and personnel for the next Test, starting in Mumbai on Friday.
Time is short and precious to come to the right conclusions - and although Cook had yet to start the process when he conducted yesterday’s post-match press conference, he hinted even then at changes.
One will be enforced - Bell is already back in England to attend the birth of his first child, and will return only for the third Test in Kolkata - but at least one other seems highly likely too.
Asked specifically whether England may consider picking Monty Panesar as a second specialist spinner alongside Graeme Swann, Cook said: “Clearly we’re going to have to look at our selection.
“There are some good people making decisions in this England team, and we thought we were doing the right thing for the side.
“The result showed that we might have got it wrong.
“We’ll have to look at our squad - we’ve got some good players - for the next game.”
Should slow left-armer Panesar return for the first time since the defeat against Sri Lanka at Galle in March, England - who are averse to picking five bowlers - will have to decide which seamer must make way.
“Clearly, when you get beaten by nine wickets, you have a look at a lot of areas - what we could have done better,” added Cook.
“There will be a lot to ponder.
“If we’re going to win series out here, everyone in the game has to contribute.
“There’s absolutely no doubt about that. We need everyone to stick their hands up at certain times.
“The lads who haven’t performed as well as they would have liked in this game will be very disappointed.
“But that’s cricket, and we’ll have to bounce back strong as a team on Friday.”
Cook’s opinion, or that of coach Andy Flower for that matter, will not be swayed by input from the opposition.
But India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni nonetheless offered intriguing advice for the tourists.
Two specialist spinners appear to be a basic requirement for the hosts - but asked whether England ought to put less emphasis on their pace attack, Dhoni said: “That’s their strength...they need to back their strength.
“I think it was the right decision. They have a very good bowling attack.
“Swann is one of the best off-spinners in the world; they’ve got a good balance in the attack.
“You could say this was one off-day for them. They have the right kind of talent.”