Former fast bowler Steve Harmison feels like England’s young bowlers lost the plot in trying to seek revenge for James Anderson, who was earlier peppered by bouncers from Jasprit Bumrah. Harmison opined that England bowlers got pre-occupied with the short stuff, which allowed Bumrah and Mohammed Shami to settle in.
Shami (56 not out) and Bumrah (34 not out) featured in an unbroken 89-run stand for the ninth wicket as India declared on 298 for 8 and set England a target of 272 in a little under two sessions. England lost both their openers for ducks in the chase.
Reviewing England’s surprising tactics with the ball in the first session of play, Harmison said on ESPN Cricinfo:
“They completely lost the plot. That half an hour period after getting Rishabh Pant, what on earth happened to the England cricket team? They didn’t have any slips, no catchers in any position while bowling at numbers 9 and 10. A good ball to Virat Kohli is a good ball to Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. When the verbals were coming round, it was good entertainment. You want to see two passionate groups going head-to-head. But England just seemed to get one eye off trying to get Jasprit Bumrah out by bowling bouncers at him. India though played fantastic cricket.”
The former pacer added that England’s young bowlers did not need to stand up for Anderson, who has played over 160 matches. According to Harmison, England’s focus drifted from the original plan once Bumrah walked out and the game completely changed. He explained:
“They decided that we were going to have six men on the boundary, bowl bouncers at Jasprit Bumrah. You can get caught up in the emotion of Test cricket. Sometimes, you just have to step back and take a couple of deep breaths. The inexperienced characters were trying to sort of stand up for Jimmy Anderson. But Jimmy’s played 160 Test matches, he can stand up for himself. He is a big boy and I thought that is where it changed.”
England should have kept Anderson on instead of Wood: Steve Harmison
Harmison further added that the best answer England could have given Bumrah was to send him back to the pavilion instead of having a go at him. Questioning England’s bowling changes, the former pacer said:
“Anderson came off and Mark Wood was came on. When Wood came on, it was like how we are gong to inflict pain by bowling bouncers as opposed to Anderson staying on and making a statement that ‘you can bowlers as many bouncers at me, but I am going to nick you off and send you on your way’. That would have been a better course of action for the England cricket team. They just completely lost focus and England were all at sea for about half an hour. It gave Shami and Bumrah a chance to get in and, since that half an hour, they have not once looked like getting out.”
England began Day 5 at Lord’s on a high, as Ollie Robinson had Rishabh Pant caught behind for 22. The same bowler trapped Ishant Sharma lbw for 16. At 209 for 8, England were on top but they could not get past Shami and Bumrah.