Staying positive will be the key for India against England
As India prepare for the first Test against England, the experts in London are observing with interest how Fletcher's new team reacts to a similar situation. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports.
No one would be more aware of the importance of a good start than Duncan Fletcher. His 2007 England team had fared badly in the build up to the Ashes series in Australia. They lost both their opening fixtures and, consequently, went on to lose the series 5-0. It cost Fletcher his job.
As India prepare for the first Test against England, the experts in London are observing with interest how Fletcher's new team reacts to a similar situation. Somerset upset India's preparation plans with a dominating performance in the only three-day game before the first Test starting on Thursday.
The fear is it can sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of some players. The seasoned Indian outfit has in the past shrugged off such situations. But the key in achieving that will be how they utilise the next couple of days before the Lord's Test to recharge mentally and weed out negativity.
Finding ways to keep his players in a positive frame of mind will be Fletcher's challenge going into the series.
"It does affect you if you go into the first Test thinking you haven't played well; you are low on practice, low on confidence. The people I have spoken to in Test cricket tell me don't allow time to drag when in this situation. "Keep yourself occupied; if you are not training, go for a walk, do something interesting, as long as you are not sitting and thinking about it. The more you think about it, the more the pressure builds," said former England batsman and Somerset's Director of Cricket, Brian Rose.
"You do things each individual does to release pressure, different people have different ways of doing it," added Rose, who captained the great Somerset team of the late 70s and early 80s which included Ian Botham, Viv Richards and Joel Garner.
The England players' comments have grown aggressive as the countdown to the Lord's Test gets closer. The big talk has increased after India's Somerset somersault. But most experts have no doubt India will be a different kettle of fish come the big day. "It's (series) going to be very close, there is no doubt. India has an extraordinary batting side. It will be the bowling which will be tested, whether they will be able to bowl England out twice in a Test match, because their batting has improved," the veteran observed.
The hosts know they are up against a batting line-up that is experienced enough to cope with such hiccups. It is India's lacklustre bowling effort which should have delighted them. While Ishant Sharma will lend a lot of teeth to the Indian attack in the Tests, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Amit Mishra's poor show has certainly decreased their options.
A timeless Test could be played to decide the champion team in future, according to the International Cricket Council CEO Haroon Lorgat.
"That is work in progress. We still got to decide how we determine a winner in case of a draw, or if the draw will be the end result. I would favour a winner because you want somebody to be a Test champion," he told a news conference on Monday.
"But I'm confident that as we produce context in a (world) championships for Test cricket and we get better contests, as we have seen in the last few series, you will get back the interest and then see what the World Test Championships can do for us. People back winners when they see challenging matches."
A committee headed by ICC general manager-cricket, Dave Richardson, is looking into it. "You have got to determine a winner, whether it is on the basis of the first innings, or runs in the game. They will come up with a viable formula. The final may well be a timeless Test."