EMERALD HEADINGLEY (fourth day) India 78 (Anderson 3-6, Overton 3-14) and 278 (Pujara 91, Sharma 59, Kohli 55; Robinson 5-65, Overton 3-47) lost to England, 432 (Root 121, Malan 70, Hameed 60, Burns 61; Shami 4-95) by an innings and 78 runs
Should England’s cricketers need her Headingley rarely lets them down. And should they need lifting spectators on the Western Terrace put aside regional loyalties and yell for anyone wearing the crown and three lions. So it was barely remarkable when the fierce support that sustained the late Bob Willis in 1981 and Ben Stokes just two summers ago was also in evidence on this perfect late summer morning in Leeds as England’s bowlers swept aside India in less than a session to win this Test match and square what is already a great series.
At this point it would be easy to say no one predicted the tourists’ loss of their last eight wickets for 63 runs but that would not be quite true. Quite early this morning the former Middlesex and England bowler Mike Selvey tweeted the following: “Hope for another intense day of Test cricket but have a feeling the new ball will pretty much put the game to bed.” As things turned out there was no “pretty much” about it. Selvey is as well-qualified as anyone to understand and discuss the virtues of James Anderson and Ollie Robinson but even he may not have expected England’s new-ball pairing to wreak quite so much havoc in less than two hours.
From the moment Cheteshwar Pujara padded up to Robinson in the fourth over of the morning and was sent on his away after a review without adding to his overnight 91 England’s bowlers were barely one notch down from irresistible. And let it be noted that Anderson and Robinson were equally responsible for India’s collapse. Although the Lancashire bowler collected only the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane, caught behind by Buttler for 10 when beaten by late movement off the seam, his interrogation of Virat Kohli’s judgement outside the off pole offered us some of the best cricket of the summer. A few moments later the Indian captain was similarly beaten by Robinson and Joe Root moved smoothly to his left at first slip to take the catch. Kohli made 55, his first half-century of the series, and his dismissal caused more than a few spectators to wonder for the first time when India would lose rather than if they would do so.
The answer was not long coming. Before the corporate lunchers in the Emerald Stand had sat down to their first course England had clinched their first victory over these opponents at Headingley since 1967. Robinson slanted the ball across Rishabh Pant who edged to Craig Overton’s bucket hands at slip. Anderson completed a magnificent spell of 7-3-12-1 – his caught behind decision against Kohli was overturned on review – and gave way to Moeen Ali, who bowled Mohammed Shami through the gate with a classic off-spinner, full of drift and turn.
That left India on 254 for seven and there was little left for England’s bowlers to do but tidy things up. They did so with perfect efficiency. Robinson collected his fifth wicket and his best Test figures when Sharma edged behind before Overton removed Ravi Jadeja and Mohammed Siraj courtesy of catches by Buttler and Bairstow. It did not pass unnoticed that a Yorkshireman had a hand – two actually – in the final action.
But this game has also been a triumph for Overton. Without anyone paying much attention the giant Devonian picked up six wickets, an impressive achievement that can be added to his ability to field well at slip and score useful runs. Having looked in some disarray at Lord’s England suddenly have a decent top order and a well-balanced bowling attack. All this without Stokes, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and a few others. Root must be the happiest of cricketers this late summer Saturday but England’s captain deserves every good thing that comes his way.
The final words of praise should go to Robinson. It is not so long ago since the Sussex bowler was not enjoying the best of times at Yorkshire; indeed, at one stage there were doubts whether he would make a professional cricketer. But Jason Gillespie, the coach who released him at Headingley, also recognised his qualities at Hove and Robinson has repaid in full the trust of those who believed in him. No one would begrudge him a beer or two this afternoon but that should probably be where the celebrations stop. The next Test begins at The Oval on Thursday so both teams, from their different perspectives, will be grateful for an extra day’s rest. There are ten days left in this utterly memorable series but they will do well to match the last four days in Yorkshire. As for those being entertained in the Emerald Suites they can settle down to the longest lunch even they have enjoyed. There is no shortage of suitable toasts.