On August 1, 2018, cricketing enthusiasts will witness one of the most awaited cricketing contests of this year. India and England will face off in a much-awaited Test series. Having won the Twenty20 International series 2-1, India conceded the One-day Internationals by the same margin but this will be the centrepiece of the tour —the five-match Test series.
England will step out at Edgbaston in Birmingham for another momentous occasion. Overall, the first Test of the series is set to be their 1,000th Test. Obviously, they will be the first side to achieve this remarkable feat.
While England played the first Test in 1877, India were a late entrant, as late as 1932. And they played England, in their first Test, at an iconic Lord’s. The match started on June 25.
In addition, the Edgbaston Test will mark the 118th Test between the two nations, which means England have played close to 12 per cent of their Tests against India in the longest format.
England Vs India – Head to Head:
|Tests||England won||India won||Draw|
The teams have dominated in their respective homes. India haven’t won a Test series in England since 2007. So much so, in 2011, they were humiliated 0-4 and went on to lose their No.1 Test ranking to England. Three years later, India did manage to go 1-0 up after winning the Lord’s Test but ended conceding the series 1-3.
However, India returned the favours in 2016-17 when England were routed 4-0 by Virat Kohli’s men at home.
India, despite being the No.1 Test side, won’t start as favourites in the contest. England are a force to reckon at home and in Joe Root, Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, they have the right resources matching the conditions.
While both the camps gear up for the much-anticipated series, how about chalking out the best English team against India and vice-versa. We will come with the Indian side in part two.
Let us start with the hosts, taking into count players’ performance in both the countries — England and India.
England Vs India – Openers:
Graham Gooch (1975-95)
Against India: M 19 | R 1,725 | HS 333 | Ave 55.64 | SR 53.6 | 100s 5 | 50s 8
Graham Gooch loved playing against India. In 1990, he scored 456 runs (333 and 123) against India in the Lord’s Test. This remains the highest score by a batsman in a Test.
In the 33 innings that Gooch has played against India, he has crossed the 50-mark 13 times, out of which five times he registered a hundred. Across six seasons, Gooch averaged 66.70 at home against India, whereas he maintained an average of just over 42 in India.
Alastair Cook (2006 – ) — Captain
Against India: M 25 | R 2,104 | HS 294 | Ave 50.09 | SR 45.2 | 100s 6 | 50s 8
Known for his brilliance, Alastair Cook makes the cut due to his experience. He is set to play his eighth series against India and more often than not, he has delivered the goods for the side.
Southpaw Cook made his debut in India. England managed to draw level that series. He later starred in England’s series win in 2011, 2012-13 and 2014 respectively. As a captain, Cook won a series apiece in India and England. Cook will also lead this side.
Elegant Cook has scored at 48.27 against India in England, whereas his average shoots to 51.45 in India. The former England skipper will be one of the key players in the English camp for the upcoming series.
Notable misses: Geoffrey Boycott, Len Hutton, and Michael Vaughan
Joe Root (2012 – )
Against India: M 11 | R 1,102 | HS 154* | Ave 68.87 | SR 53.3 | 100s 3 | 50s 8
England skipper and the best batter in the side, Root, has phenomenal numbers against India. Root debuted in India in 2012-13 series and showed immense maturity in his first innings.
The Three Lions’ batting mainstay Root amassed 518 runs at 103.60 in England’s 2014 home series win over India. Root also averages 53.09 in India, having registered six fifty-plus scores from just 12 innings.
Kevin Pietersen (2005-14)
Against India: M 16 | R 1,581 | HS 202* | Ave 58.55 | SR 61.4 | 100s 6 | 50s 6
It’s a shame that Kevin Pietersen missed out on playing the last two Test series against India following his axing from the national side on disciplinary grounds.
Well, one of England’s finest batters, KP was a force at home against India, averaging almost 80. KP was more than what could be effective in India too. He averaged 44 in India and one of his finest knocks came in Mumbai in England’s 2012 win. That counterattacking 186 swung the series towards England.
Ken Barrington (1955-68)
Against India: M 14 | R 1,355 | HS 172 | Ave 75.27 | 100s 3 | 50s 9
Ken Barrington’s numbers tell a startling story of his dominance over India. He played in four series against India and the lowest he averaged was 59.50. He averaged 62 against India in England. The numbers propelled significantly when he toured India. Barrington averaged 96.28 from the six Tests he played in India.
Notable misses: Wally Hammond and Mike Gatting
Matt Prior (2007 -14) — Wicketkeeper
Against India: M 15 | R 730 | HS 103* | Ave 38.42 | SR 56.5 | 100s 1 | 50s 5 | Dismissals 51
Gloveman Matt Prior had two excellent series against India — in 2011 and 2012-12. He averages 32 in England, and close to 50 in India. He remained a safe bet behind the stumps — against the Andersons and Broad in England, and also the Swanns and Panesars in India.
Notable misses: Alec Stewart
All-rounders (Pacer and Spinner)
Ian Botham (1977-92)
Against India: M 14 | R 1,201 | HS 208 | Ave 70.64 | SR 72.3 | 100s 5 | 50s 5 | W 59 | BBI 7-48 | Ave 26.40 | Econ R 2.77 | SR 57.1 | 5wI 6 | 10wM 1
It never mattered to Ian Botham if he was playing in England, or in India. He simply cherished the opposition. Five of his 14 Tests hundreds came against India. He scored at 81 in England at a strike rate of 80, and in India, he got the runs at 62.
In 1979-80, at Mumbai, Botham produced one of the finest Test performances ever. He starred in England’s 10-wicket win, claiming 13 wickets in the Test and slamming 114.
Botham featured in four series against India, winning three of them. But this was Botham the batsman. The bowler took 29 wickets in England at 27.3 and 30, in India at 25.5. Botham was far from his best with the ball in the 1981-82 and 1982 series but still bagged a five-for in each series.
Hedley Verity (1931-39)
Against India: M 6 | W 38 | BBI 7-49 | Ave 16.18 | Econ R 2.26 | SR 42.9 | 5wI 1 | 10wM 1 | R 193 | HS 66* | Ave 64.33 | 50s 2
Hedley Verity, the Second World War claimed this great cricketer. Prior to that, he featured in two series against India — one in England and the other in India. His left-arm orthodox skill was equally effective in both.
Verity claimed 23 wickets from three Tests in India in the 1933-34 tour at 16.82. Two-and-half years later, in 1936, when the Indian team toured England, Verity claimed 15 wickets from the three Tests at just over 15.
He was more than handy with the bat in both the series, scoring a fifty each on both the tours.
Chris Old (1972-81)
Against India: M 11 | W 43 | BBI 5-21 | Ave 19.09 | Econ R 2.62 | SR 43.6 | 5wI 1 | R 205 | HS 52 | Ave 17.01 | SR 28.9 | 50s 1
Accurate and with the lethal outswinger, Chris Old troubled India. He always raised the bar against this opposition. Old played eight of his 11 Tests against India in India. He picked 25 wickets in them at 22.90.
In the one series, he played against India in England, he was amongst the standout performers, claiming 18 wickets from three Tests at 13.83. He was consistently brilliant against India.
Old loved batting in Eden Gardens, Kolkata. His defiant 33* and 17* couldn’t prevent England’s defeat there in 1972-73, four years later, his workman-like 52 there contributed in the side’s famous win at the venue.
Notable misses: Stuart Broad (pacer all-rounder) and Derek Underwood (spinner)
Bob Willis (1970-84)
Against India: M 17 | W 62 | BBI 6-53 | Ave 23.24 | Econ R 2.93 | SR 47.4 | 5wI 3
Bob Willis played 10 Tests in India and returned with 32 wickets at 22.37. In England, he was no less effective, taking 30 wickets against India at just over 24. Willis made an impact in all the five series he played against India.
James Anderson (2003- )
Against India: M 22 | W 86 | BBI 5-42 | Ave 28.17 | Econ R 2.94 | SR 57.3 | 5wI 3
England’s highest wicket-taker is also England’s highest wicket-taker against India. James Anderson has played seven series against India starting 2005-06 and made an impact in at least four of them. Anderson will hold the key to England’s fortunes in the upcoming series.
Anderson’s numbers may not wear the best look but he has consistently bowled against India’s premier batsmen and more often thrived. In England, he has 60 wickets against India at 25.90. He has had his good days in India too, taking 26 wickets at 33.50. His lack of form in the 2016-17 series saw England go down 0-4 in India. Eventually, his personal numbers took a hit.
In the contests between England Vs India, Anderson has dismissed India’s premier batsman Sachin Tendulkar nine times in Tests — the most by any bowler.
Anderson also has dismissed Kohli five times in Tests, four of them in the 2014 series in England where India went down 1-3.
Anderson’s success against the best batters makes him one of the most dangerous bowlers with the red ball.
Notable misses: Fred Trueman and Alec Bedser
Also, England’s Greatest XI vs India:
Graham Gooch, Alastair Cook (c), Joe Root, Kevin Pietersen, Ken Barrington, Matt Prior (wk), Ian Botham, Hedley Verity, Chris Old, Bob Willis, James Anderson