The story of the block…

Considered it for a while, then thought no it isn’t worth it. But then came across this news article titled – why Aggers drew daggers in which the author tries to explain why Jonathan Agnew was having a hard of time in Twitter and why he’s had to block folks. The reason’s given in the article is laughable, and I was one of the blokes Agnew refers to here

So here goes in pictures all the exchanges I’ve had with Agnew.

I’ll admit the first ever tweet wasn’t ideal , but Agnew had this piece where in addition to (rightly) praising England ( even if a bit OTT), he get’s derisive about India.

In addition to that tweet also sent him a link to this article

to which he replied so :

Nothing further, until next morning when I tweeted this to another fellow tweeter, purposely tagging along Agnew’s twitter handle :

Then Agnew replied back to me :

and we started having a discussion :

this bit about him being condescending I chose to ignore then and continued the discussion

Wasn’t the greatest reply back and he could have ended it here, but didn’t :

put my points across and the discussion ended fine with the above tweet.

The next day of the Oval test, Alaistair Cook get’s out in the first over caught by Sehwag at first slip and Agnew tweets this :

and he immediately follows it by this one :

I of course don’t let this moment go, and tweet this :

Agnew’s next tweet :

And then this silly reply to me :

to which I replied so :

Then for a couple of days things were fine. Rahul Dravid’s dismissal in the second innings by the third umpire had the following tweets from Agnew , the one below as the third umpire was shown the same technology as the rest of us watching on TV :

To which I asked this :

Agnew’s reply below :

Followed by a few tweets from me to him :

Then Agnew tweets this :

A few hours later comes the conclusion to the whole thing. He starts of with this general tweet :

Then comes the next two tweets addressed to me :

Funny isn’t it. He goes ahead, makes a dig at me in a tweet and then when it’s proven to be wrong replies with an innane tweet. Then when I don’t agree with his views and explanations on the Dravid dismissal, he says I’m rude, disrespectful.
Whether the England team act’s boorish or not, folks like Agnew and the British media will ensure that their attitude would make the team the most loathed #1.
As to the block itself, make your judgement folks.

Stages of the series..

Chennai 1998, Chennai 1999, Amstelveen 2004 , three matches and at the end of all three the team I was rooting for at the stadium lost. Come Ashes 2009, had tickets for day four of the Headingley test and didn’t see any play. The Australians walloping England within three days. With such a dire track record, I didn’t give much thought about the England – India test series. But thanks to twitter my interest was piqued enough to try and get tickets.

What then followed was a curious tale of my own emotions on what to expect when I went for the tests at Lords, Trent Bridge and Edgbaston.
I was initially meant to be at Lords for days three and four (Saturday and Sunday), but due to reasons out my control wasn’t there. Was anyway meant to be at London for some personal business the following Monday, so ended up queueing early Monday morning at Lords along with Subash (who had flown in from the US the previous day to watch the first two tests) to get tickets. Which we did. He ended up watching the whole day, while I joined him after the first session.
My expectations for the day was for India to comfortably bat out the day and leave Lords unscathed even though England had the upper hand for most of the test. When I had got to the ground eventually just before the first session was finishing, India had lost half their side and were up against it to save the test. Truth be told I wasn’t full of hope on finding out the score and it duly panned out that England wrapped up the win an hour after tea. At the ground and watching the remaining batsman bat, I was not overtly impressed with what I saw. Just trying to defend with over two sessions to play was a tactic fraught with risk, and no one exemplified it better than Tendulkar, who eventually got out after 40 minutes without a run. The loss was bad enough to view, but there was enough fighting talk from lots of folk around that India would be back at Trent Bridge. Quietly I was also expecting the team to turn it around at Trent Bridge.
The Trent Bridge test started well enough for India with England being bowled out on day one inspite of the Broad/Swann partnership that took their team score beyond 200. Watched the morning session of day two and saw Laxman and Dravid comfortably negotiate all what England threw at them and score at a decent clip. It got me saying – right things are starting to fall in place and I’ll have a good third days play to look forward to. On my way down to Nottingham , it went – Dravid century, Yuvraj looking good and then a Broad hat trick.. India going from 270 odd for four to 280 odd all out. In the train was dumbstruck but hope arose again when Cook got out cheaply in the second innings.
So there I was at Trent Bridge day three, a test match to be set up for a win. India still having a lead of around 50 to play with, England had 9 wickets left. Sat down with Subash and we set about setting small targets – England to be two minimum, ideally three down before the lead was erased and take it from there. Strauss was duly claimed by Sreesanth early enough, and I again went – right a few more wickets and test set up for India to win it.
Mini session by session England went about erasing, accumulating and eventually trashing it around. Even then, there was this chance with the second new ball with England ahead by over 250 but six wickets down, and crying for one burst from either Ishant or Sreesanth to clean up the tail. Never happened. End of day – score card shone brightly , England scored 417 for loss of five wickets. Any hope of the test being won was eliminated, again was a case of batting out a draw. Least said about what followed the better.
So it came to pass, I had tickets for days four and five at Edgbaston. The way the test had shaped up, India were right up against it. A minimum of 193 overs to bat out and draw the test (again !) and save their number one ranking for one more test. Set off early Saturday morning expecting to see the famed batting line up grit it out, fight for it and initially take it into day five, and then do it all over again. Yes I still had that optimistic thoughts running through, and repeated it many a time on twitter as well.
Within the first hour, the entire optimism wasn’t just dented, it was blown to smithereens. Sachin’s 40 was a treat to watch, and cruelly cut short in the worst possible manner – run out while backing up. Gambhir lasted one ball, Dravid went without referring a caught behind, and Laxman didn’t look all comfortable in his stay. Made for deflating viewing at the ground. Amit Mishra initially, and then Praveen Kumar and Dhoni hit out in a futile show of aggression. Was extremely small succour for the Indian supporters on the ground. It was more a case of when England would clean up the rest and the entire ground was in one party atmosphere. Duly arrived an hour and bit after lunch. England thrashing India to win the series and claim the number one ranking.
I was at Lords only for day five, and saw the third days play at Trent Bridge, and the fourth days play at Edgbaston. Each time I was at the ground mentally it was from – confidence at Lords, to huge expectations at Trent Bridge, to hoping for a miracle at Edgbaston.
Just wonder if the Indian team’s thinking went along similar lines…

Pictures from England – India, day 3 at Trent Bridge

Half an hour for play to begin, players having their nets session

Fox Road stand filling up

Hound Road stand and players pavilion

Another view of Fox road stand

Players on field at start of play

Opening delivery by Sreesanth

Pie chuckers at play

Harbhajan in his delivery pose – the maximum turn he got on the day

The double that took Ian Bell to his hundred

Ian Bell acknowledging crowds applause

By mid afternoon, these folks were creating quite an atmosphere

Ian Bell reaching 150

Floodlights switched on at the ground

Final delivery of the day

Replay screen showing the end of days play. 417 runs scored. Misery complete.

Mid series thoughts

In my preview of the England – India series, I had predicted a 1-0 series win for India. Two test matches down and that prediction hasn’t just fallen flat on it’s face it’s gone a few hundred meters below the earth.

India have had the odd sessions of good play – the opening session and bit after lunch at Lords, the fourth morning at Lords when Ishant’s three wicket burst left all thinking of a 330 odd chase, and four of the initial six sessions at Trent Bridge. Crucially though in each test when the pivotal moments appeared, England ensured that the test moved decisively in their favour. That to me has been impressive to watch.
I didn’t think this English squad were as good as their media made them out to me. They then went to Australia and comprehensively won the Ashes , which made me to reconsider my views on the team. These two tests later, and the view of them being more than a decent squad holds water. England ensured that India’s bad luck with injuries and absentees of their main X1 were fully capitalised upon. Good teams do that.
No denying that India has been hard done by the injury to Zaheer Khan mid way through the first day at Lords which meant the whole test was down to three main bowlers. Without him, the pace bowlers looked bereft of ideas. Didn’t help that Harbhajan Singh has had two shockers – he has neither looked like taking wickets, or containing the runs. To not be able to do one is bad enough, but the combination of them meant Dhoni was virtually left hoping that lady luck would smile on him. She didn’t and it showed.
They then went on to lose Gambhir for the second test due to the blow he took while fielding. While one would argue that perhaps Gambhir should have gritted it out and played through the pain barrier, I was fine with him not playing. After the Zaheer Khan debacle that left India with only 10 fit players, it would have been madness to take the risk again in the second test.
That said what was disappointing to watch was that the team seemed to be mentally shot. There didn’t seem to be much of the fighting spirit coming through barring the odd spell. That wasn’t what the reputation the team had built. How much of that is due to the crazy schedule that saw them land in UK a week before the first test, and due to the injuries/absentees is hard to decipher. In truth it’s most likely a combination of both.
The nine day gap between the second and third tests should and will settle the team down. I’m not getting too high over the fact that Sehwag is heading to UK. He hasn’t played a competitive game in about two months. To expect him to then come and turn things around is touch foolhardy. What I’m more interested in is if Zaheer and Gambhir are fully fit. Get the two of them back in the eleven and I’m quietly confident that the series can still be salvaged.
England are on a high, their media praising them to the sky , deservedly to a fair extent, albeit talk of aura building, and comparing them to the Australian team of the previous decade is just delusional. They are a long way away from reaching those levels. The team though will be hard to beat, but equally they aren’t unbeatable. They have a few kinks in their armour and an Indian eleven back to almost their full strength is more than capable of exposing it.
Can’t wait for the Edgbaston test…