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Pawar right in telling Chappell to shut up

England may not exactly be celebrating but they will be pretty content with the way things turned out on Sunday, writes Geoffery Boycott.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 19:31 IST
Geoffery Boycott
Geoffery Boycott

England may not exactly be celebrating tonight but they will be pretty content with the way things turned out on Sunday. At the beginning of the match, they had everything going against them, but they have come out of the ordeal with a whole lot of positives.

Paul Collingwood played the innings of his life, Monty Panesar got three big wickets in Tendulkar, Kaif and Dravid (do they get any bigger?) and Alastair Cook played superbly for his half-century and century in his debut Test.

The record books will tell you that he is only the fifth cricketer to have scored a 50 and 100 on de but in each innings, but mere statistics cannot do justice to the significance of his performance.

Above all, however, England can take great encouragement from Matthew Hoggard's performance. On a batting track -- I will have more to say about that later -- he was the only bowler who looked like troubling the Indian batsmen.

That he richly deserved the man-of-the-match award goes without saying. And incidentally, that story about me teaching Hoggard to bat in my living room is only partly true. All I wanted to show him was the way we batsman think.

I told him that if he knew where a batsman was expecting him to bowl, he could bowl anywhere but there! In the process, I also told him that he would have to learn to bat someday, hence the batting lessons. Well, he must have taken those lessons to heart, because he's become a pretty good night watchman too, a stubborn bugger to get out.

Coming back to the match, I know everyone will be on about how India made a dash for the runs and how it livened up the draw, but it was always going to be a one-in-a-hundred chance, frankly. There may have been a thought that promoting Irfan Pathan up the order would enable India to go for it, but it was bound to be only a passing thought, because I think Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid, in playing sensibly and laying the platform for a late assault if required, made sure of a draw.

And that brings me to the pitch. I believe the pitch at Nagpur was the only thing that kept Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble from playing a larger part in the proceedings.

It is not the best thing for cricket if matches are played on pitches that hardly break even on day five, and on which batsmen invariably dominate bowlers. It is like asking people to play billiards on a bumpy table.

We cricketers always prefer result pitches, and such pitches are made in many other parts of the world. We need pitches on which bowlers can potentially get a team out twice - pitches with more bounce and pace. I think that is down to the groundsmen, and India on their own turf should be brave enough and back themselves enough to ask the ground staff for result pitches.

What have they got to be afraid of ? After all, as I said earlier, hardly any team has won a match, let alone a series, in India. I don't believe anyone in their right minds would ask a groundsman to lay a flat pitch, so it is up to Messrs Chappell, Dravid and the Board to get a suitable pitch at Mohali.

Talking of Mr Chappell, I think Mr Pawar was right in asking him to shut up and get on with the game, because India have a talented pool of youngsters right now, like Sreesunth and Jaffer, and unless he stops making comments to the media, the Sourav issue will fester and cause unnecessary unease.

First Published: Mar 06, 2006 13:00 IST