As a team, England have never enjoyed a reputation as the world’s best fielding side, and so it is particularly satisfying to have won a match in which we were evidently the better fielders. Of course, that is to take nothing away from Ian Bell’s superb knock, or Jimmy Anderson’s solid bowling, not to mention Chris Tremlett’s dismissal of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid after being taken for 20 runs off his first two overs. But I feel it was our sharpness on the field that finally got to the Indians, and made the difference between the two sides.
Plenty of people had said that Andrew Flintoff’s absence would cost us, but I thought Stuart Broad and Anderson handled the bowling quite beautifully. To rein in a batting line-up like India’s on a pitch that had no devils in it was a great achievement, and we’re going to carry the positive feeling with us into the next ODI at Manchester on Thursday.
I believe Rahul Dravid has come under fire back home because of his decision to bat second once again after winning the toss, but I suppose he was banking on some early movement for his seamers because of the early start. However, given the kind of weather we’ve been having in England over the past few days, the morning moisture doesn’t last very long because of the strong sunshine, so the seamers were going to have a tough time.
The fact that our bowlers fared as well as they did was due in large measure to the fielding. And I think the game really turned for us when Matt Prior pulled off the catch to get rid of Sourav Ganguly and Ian Bell ran out Yuvraj Singh. To reiterate a cliché, we showed at Edgbaston that catches do really win matches.
As Dravid said after the match, good fielders can sometimes make bowlers look better than they really are.