Pitch set to serve up more of the same but back Robson to tuck in


WITH any luck James Anderson’s spat with Ravi Jadeja will add a little spice to the second Test at Lord’s between England and India, following an opening encounter which resembled the blandest of chicken kormas.

The main ingredient at Trent Bridge was a moribund wicket that promised more for the Nottinghamshire chief executive than either bowling attack.

In an effort to liven things up, the MCC has promised to do everything possible to produce a pitch offering bounce and carry.

Their last effort against Sri Lanka in May looked green on the first morning before proving to be as flaccid as some of its elderly members, however, so supporters should travel in hope rather than expectation.

One man who knows the playing surface better than most is England batsman Sam Robson.

Much was expected of Robson’s debut that week, coming as it did almost 10 years to the day since his Middlesex predecessor Andrew Strauss took his bow.

Unlike Strauss, who made a century in the first innings and might have done in the second had Nasser Hussein not run him out, Robson flopped too.

Scores of one and 19 proved underwhelming for a man tipped up throughout England’s winter of discontent Down Under.

But closer scrutiny of his county scores this summer, which include fifties against Lancashire and Yorkshire and a century against Nottinghamshire, reveals he loves batting there.

He also hit a ton against Sri Lanka at Headingley and 59 last week, suggesting he’s no flat track bully and is international quality.

It is perhaps surprising, therefore, that Robson’s runs are quoted at 70-77 by Sporting Index. For my money, that is as good a buy as Alastair Cook is a sell at 78-85, given his wretched form of late.

I’m tempted to leave Cook, however, assuming that a player with 25 Test centuries cannot continue in his present rut indefinitely.

What is certain is that both men will want to bat first and stamp their authority on the series.

The weather looks good for the two opening days before rain rolls in over the weekend. It could be a good toss to win before racking up 500 runs or more and bowling the opposition out twice in between the showers.

Not that I’m sure either team is capable of doing that.

As the dust-up between Anderson and Jadeja proved, both sets of seamers left Trent Bridge fractious and frustrated.

Anderson, Stuart Broad, Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes all got through more than 50 overs each, leading to Broad missing net practice at Lord’s on Tuesday.

As much as I admire Moeen Ali’s batting, I’m not convinced his bowling fits the large, Graeme Swann-shaped hole in the team which, like the Great Wall of China, is now visible from space. And if Peter Moores thinks Simon Kerrigan is a talented young spinner then he can’t have worked with many good ‘uns, as Geoffrey Boycott would say.

India’s attack bowled far fewer balls in Nottingham, of course, but I’ve seen nothing so far on this tour that would suggest they’re capable of taking 20 wickets on a regular basis.

If, as expected, they name an unchanged team it will include Stuart Binny, whose father Roger, played in India’s last Test win at Lord’s in 1986.

But sentiment seems the only reason to back a win for the tourists over the draw, which should be backed at a top price 6/4 with internet bookmaker 666Bet.

Sporting Index’s nattily-titled ‘hey, hey for the Monkeys’ market does hold some appeal, on the other hand.

It awards a point for every run either team scores over 500 throughout the series, with the spread set at 120-135.

England and India weren’t far off challenging that at Nottingham and I see more runs coming so it’s worth a small buy, particularly if the going is easy again.

If nothing else, it will hopefully ensure fans from both countries have something to feast on in the remaining four matches.

Buy Sam Robson runs at 77 with Sporting Index
Back the draw at 6/4 with 666Bet
Buy runs at 135 in Sporting Index’s ‘Hey, Hey for the Monkeys’ market