England's dizzying defeat in Ahmedabad has left us bewildered, as the headlines are all bad and the finer detail worse still. The last time a Test was completed this quickly was in 1935 when Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister and storm clouds were gathering over Europe. There are several clouds on England's radar now, of which by far and away the most disturbing is the fact that since we racked up 578 in Chennai, India have taken 50 English wickets at a cost of just 13 apiece. These batting inadequacies have no easy fix and Root shuffling the pack ahead of next week offers no guarantees; suffice to say you could make a case for/against five of the top seven. Bairstow's pair ensured the worst possible return and though I could see the logic behind him playing at #3 for this series given the inexperience elsewhere at the top, how strong is the case for discarding him immediately? More fuel to that fire is the fact he has scored just 24 runs in his last 7 Test innings v India. England's misfiring young batting guns have spent most of the winter on a steep learning curve against one of the best in the business and while each has flickered, none has consistently taken the pressure off the captain and his glittering form cannot be relied upon every innings.
Somerset have been penalised in the past for the quality of wickets at Taunton - Ciderabad if you please - but a case can surely be made that it helps England in the long run for county batsmen to experience different conditions ahead of international call ups; the same can be said for formerly fast surfaces at the Oval and Old Trafford. If given the blessing from the powers that be in St John's Wood, would it be such an outrage if these three grounds were spin and pace friendly on a regular basis? Would it not help England in the long run for promising young batsmen to encounter diverse conditions to ready themselves for Test matches in Johannesburg, Perth, Mumbai or Galle? The dominance of white ball domestic cricket - a massive money spinner - in the height of summer and the marginalised CC fixtures at each end of the season indicate that the above proposal is far from imminent.
On the subject of pitches, to see thirty wickets fall in just over four sessions of this Test was breathtaking. If a part timer can snaffle 5-8 (we love you Joe) then the balance must surely be out of kilter. Having gone one nil down in the series, two spinning pitches have gotten the hosts back in front and we can expect more of the same next week. It would take a brave (or deranged) man to bet against a home win in the fourth Test. Whilst England fans are accused of sour grapes after defeat, I feel sure that if the boot were on the other foot and India had stumbled chasing 175 there wouldn't have been much of a delay before there were "concerns" raised. The compelling spectacles are a fine balance and even contest between bat and ball and no one can surely claim we have seen that this Test. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and a second spinner was a necessity as the seam heavy attack was largely neutered despite everyone's excitement about the pink ball swinging under the lights but perhaps England just misread the cards and the gamble backfired; certainly it ensured the tail started at #8, and gave me flashbacks to the home tail at the Oval in 1999.
Much to ponder.