Rajkot Test loss has to be a wake-up call for Stokes & Co: Vaughan

February 19, 2024
Michael Vaughan believes that the heavy 434-run defeat to India in the third Test at Rajkot has to be a wake-up call for Ben Stokes and his players.

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes that the heavy 434-run defeat to India in the third Test at Rajkot has to be a wake-up call for Ben Stokes and his players. In what was also Stokes’ 100th Test match, England conceded a 126-run lead to India and were put under the pump in all departments to lose the match by 434 runs inside four days at the Niranjan Shah Stadium. England are now 2-1 behind in the five-match series against India.

“This England team are a bundle of energy and have already brought us huge excitement and joy. But surely a defeat this heavy has to be a wake-up call for Ben Stokes and his players. The way they played this week has gifted India a victory. I couldn’t believe my eyes the way they batted on day three, especially Joe Root’s shot,” wrote Vaughan in his column for The Telegraph.

He was also taken aback by opener Ben Duckett’s comments on how England should be given the credit for Yashasvi Jaiswal’s explosive batting style while making 214 in the second innings of the match.

“Ben Duckett said ‘the more the better” in terms of their target this week, but they fell 434 short. Duckett also reckons they deserve credit for the way Yashasvi Jaiswal is batting, as if no player in history has ever played an attacking shot.”

Vaughan also urged England to come out of their bubble of playing aggressively in Test cricket. “This England team are hell bent on doing things their way, and “saving Test cricket”. They are giving Test cricket a shot in the arm because they are so exciting. But ultimately they have to be better than that now.”

“They didn’t win in New Zealand, they didn’t win the Ashes, and if they carry on like this, they are going to lose in India. As a team, you are judged on series victories. Listen to them, and you would think nothing is ever wrong.”

“They have to be careful that people around don’t think they are smug, or above their station. Root’s shot was another reminder that they are in a bubble. All that matters is their dressing room, and fun. There is a bit more to Test cricket than that.”

Vaughan signed off by urging England to learn from India’s batters at Rajkot and improve their overall batting returns ahead of the fourth Test starting at Ranchi on February 23. “If England are honest, their batting has been poor on this tour. They have made two of the best hundreds I have ever seen, from Ollie Pope and Duckett.

“Let’s not let them paper over the cracks: two incredible innings do not define a batting unit’s tour. Root is struggling, Bairstow looks all at sea. Stokes is getting starts and playing with control, but not going on. That’s another thing that confuses me about Root’s shot. The captain doesn’t Bazball until he’s with the tail, so why does the best batsman feel he needs to do it?

“They need to look at the way Jaiswal and Shubman Gill played on day three. They soaked up the pressure for 30 or 40 balls, and then they started to get boundaries. That is what Test batting is about. India have scored 875 runs in 228.5 overs. No one can tell me it’s been boring watching India bat here.

“England make out that everything is positive but they need to be having conversations about how to bat better. This was the worst defeat under Stokes and Brendon McCullum, and one that exposed their method. They cannot take the aggressive at every opportunity, they have to pick their moments.”

“From the position England found themselves in on day three, India, with all their absentees, were there for the taking. Now, unless England change, India will dominate the rest of the series.”


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