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Nothing technical, it is art of making runs

cricket Updated: Aug 20, 2011 00:25 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times
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In their flight to the No 1 position, England's bowlers have hogged the limelight but it's their batsmen who have put in the hard yards. Conditions were tailormade for pace bowlers; batsmen had to work for each run.

Their batting guru, Graham Gooch, is naturally a proud man. The England batting stalwart of the 1980s and 90s has been the key to the turnaround in their fortunes. After he took over as batting coach in 2009, the batsmen have scored six double hundreds — the same number they scored in 15 years before Gooch came in.

In the current series where famed Indian batting line-up has yet to manage a total of 300, England's scores read: 474 & 269 for 6 at Lord's; 221 & 554 at Trent Bridge; 710 for 7 decl at Edgbaston.

No let-up in intensity
The appetite English batsmen have shown for runs is most impressive. Having sealed the series and risen to the No.1 ranking, England would have been excused for some complacency in the fourth Test. However, there has been no let-up in intensity. The top four batted as if the series hinged on the outcome of their batting in the first innings here. Openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook couldn't repeat their success of the third Test, but did their primary job of playing out the new ball.

Gooch attributes it to understanding the art of run-making. The England legend says there's a difference between having a good batting technique and run making. A fine example of his coaching mantra was seen in the way Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen went about their job after lunch on Day Two against India at The Oval on Friday.

Counter attack
When India was on top, Pietersen and Bell went into a counter-attacking mode and put the pressure back on the opponents. Pietersen was walking almost outside the off-stump and looking to work the bowlers towards the leg side.

At the cost of looking ugly, he attacked leg-spinner Amit Mishra's flighted deliveries with wild heaves over midwicket. Bell was standing almost square when Mishra was bowling round the wicket. The leg spinner didn't have an answer to Pietersen and Bell's ploy and all of morning's hardwork by the Indian pace bowlers was neutralised.

"When you play you do what you think is right for you, and everything in good faith. That is certainly what is happening now, and everyone buys into the system.

"Everyone knows what they need to do. Being fit, mentally strong and having character goes side by side with having a good technique and the natural ability to score runs and take wickets," said Gooch.