Nottingham: England assistant coach Paul Farbrace has asked his top batsmen to take a cue from Indian skipper Virat Kohli and show guts and gumption in the third Test here. After being bowled out for 161 in the first innings, hosts England now face an improbable 521-run target going into the final two days at Trent Bridge.
“I’m a big believer in players learning from players, and I think ours will be watching the way Kohli lets the ball come, and almost takes third and fourth slip out of the game,” Farbrace said. “You’re looking for the best players to learn from the best players, and try to adapt their game to suit – and I think there’s no better exponent of that at the moment than him.
“Having had such a poor performance yesterday, you would expect your batsmen to show some gumption and some guts and get stuck in tomorrow and show that they are the best players” he added. Kohli scored 103 yesterday to notch up his 23rd Test century. It was his second hundred of the series, following the 149 in the Edgbaston Test and Farbrace said the India skipper deserves the runs he has scored in England.
“You would be hard-pressed to argue against him (Kohli) being seen as the best player in the world at the moment. The way he’s developed, played through this series, has been absolutely fantastic. I like the way he plays the game – it’s fantastic to see,” he said.
“He’s a high-quality player, and has shown he’s learned a lot on this tour alone. The way he’s tinkered, practised and obviously worked at his game – fantastic – and he thoroughly deserves the runs he’s scored. Our bowlers might argue that we’ve perhaps given him a few too many chances – but the bloke has shown that he is high-quality.”
Farbrace was critical of the English batsmen and hoped that the batsmen would improve in the second innings, taking the lead from James Anderson who bowled fantastic spells on day three. “I thought Jimmy Anderson showed why he is the best seam bowler in world cricket. On the first day he didn’t quite get it right, but today he got it spot on and bowled really well,” he said.
“He kept challenging the stumps and the outside edge. You’re looking for (Alastair) Cook, (Joe) Root and (Ben) Stokes to get stuck in and show they are top quality players.” But Anderson didn’t get his due with Cheteshwar Pujara dropped on 40 and Virat Kohli on 93.
England have now dropped 15 catches in slips during this series and Farbrace pulled up the fielders for their ‘soul destroying’ drops. “We’ve said that we practise hard. Our fielding coach works exceptionally hard over the two practice days. We think we’ve got some good catchers, but you can’t keep shelling chances the way we are,” Farbrace said.
“That comes down to two things – concentration not being good enough, or confidence. When you start to miss chances that stars to eat away at you. “Our bowlers stuck at the job really well. 70 runs scored in the first session, and we keep plugging away. When bowlers are creating opportunities and catches are being dropped, that can be soul-destroying. Nobody means to drop a catch, but we are shelling too many.”
Already facing an uphill task, England could be without the services of Jonny Bairstow, who suffered a fracture on his left middle finger whilst keeping wickets yesterday. The coach, however, said Bairstow would bat if needed. “There is a fracture in the tip of his finger, and the doctor’s been working on him this evening to relieve a bit of pressure in the nail, so hopefully when needed he’ll be okay. A lot will depend on how the next few days go, and the soreness in terms of catching balls on a consistent basis. We’ll have to see how he goes,” he said.
“I’m no expert on broken fingers, but because it’s not a displaced break, then he should be okay, and it’s just a case of managing the pain level as opposed to doing any further damage. “There’ll be a big bit of plastic stuck over his glove. Let’s see how he goes over the next couple of days. If there is a risk of making it worse, he wouldn’t bat,” Farbrace signed off.