Duncan Fletcher handled the toughest transition phase in Indian cricket post the retirement of stalwarts and he should be given due credit for shaping of the pace of attack of the current team, former England opener Nick Compton.
Indian pacers took 19 out of 20 wickets at the Trent Bridge where India beat England by 203 runs to peg the series at 2-1.
Compton feels that just like James Anderson and Stuart Broad were guided by Fletcher in their formative years, the current lot (Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar) has benefitted from the inputs of the respected Zimbabwean coach.
“India’s pace attack hasn’t come together all of a sudden. It has taken time and it has happened one by one, as all of these bowlers took their time coming off age. India didn’t have so many pacers at once earlier, but now they do. And all (most) of them, at some point have played under Fletcher, so it is a credit to him. This process (of building a pace attack) started long ago and it has come together for India now,” Compton told PTI.
Asked what’s the difference, he finds now, Compton says: “The difference from the past is that these bowlers do not compromise on pace. Like James Anderson and Stuart Broad, they retain the ability to move the ball at pace.
“Pace. That’s the keyword. You have to consider why the likes of Anderson and Stuart Broad have been so successful in their careers. They have a thousand wickets between them in Test cricket because they move the ball at pace. And it is no coincidence that both of them started their England careers under Duncan Fletcher,” Compton said.
Grandson of the legendary Dennis Compton, the former international believes that the Indian team management should allow other personalities to grow in the dressing room, especially the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, who could provide a different mood or direction of thought.
“They (Pujara and Rahane) should be allowed to grow into stronger personalities in that dressing room. Now that Pujara and Rahane have scored runs, things will get easier for them. India won in Nottingham and hit upon a good team balance. There is no further reason for change. It will be interesting to see if Virat make any changes (for the fourth Test),” Compton said.
Compton feels that Kohli’s too much of chopping and changing does create problems for likes of Rahane and Pujara.
“But in terms of selection, Virat makes too many changes. For example, it was a baffling decision to leave Pujara out of the first Test and it showed poor insight from the team management to allow that decision.
“When Virat makes so many changes as captain, it cannot always be easy for other players, like Pujara or Rahane for that matter. They do not have alpha-male personalities and such players can sometimes struggle to cope with extreme methods.”
However it won’t be easy for India to make it 3-2, feels Compton.
“I don’t think England are out of this series just yet and winning three Tests on the bounce here is very tough for any visiting side. There will be some good, competitive cricket in the remaining matches, but I do not see India winning the series,” Compton said.
Compton also feels that Joe Root isn’t a natural No 3 and that is creating issues.
“The top order is a mess because they haven’t got their batting order right. Joe Root isn’t a number three batsman, and he isn’t batting at his best position. He should be batting at number four and controlling the innings. He didn’t handle Jasprit Bumrah very well.
“Bumrah bowls at pace and moves the ball into batsmen, working that angle. I think someone like Root should be able to work it out better on his off stump. But the fact that Bumrah is still able to cause problems to Root says a lot about his quality.”
Captaincy is also an added burden, said Compton, who played last of his 16 Tests for England in November, 2016.
“I also think captaincy is burdening him a bit as well. At times, I think he should be left alone to be England’s best batsman because he certainly is. However, it isn’t like England have another option at the moment. They certainly do need to rethink their batting order, especially if they continue to not get good starts.”
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