The challenges that await England as the Test series against India approaches hogged the headlines in India and England on Sunday(November 6).

On the off-field front, the Lodha-BCCI tussle seems to have no end in sight even as turmoil takes over DDCA vis-à-vis changes to the selection panel.

Elsewhere, it has come to light that half the umpires at competitive levels encounter verbal abuse.

Cook and Bayliss face unplayable lie in trying to get England back on course (The Guardian)

 

All is deceptively serene. A hazy Saturday morning a hundred yards from the ocean and England practise at the Cricket Club of India on true pitches with a touch of grass upon them. It is the Indian equivalent of a net at the Nursery End at Lord’s. Everything is pristine perfect.

If England’s top order fails again against India, this could be the end for Alastair Cook (The Telegraph)

 

England’s tour of India starts on Wednesday in Rajkot, a most fitting stage for the rivalry between two batsmen bidding to become their country’s finest – England’s Joe Root and the Indian captain Virat Kohli.

Neither England nor India have played a Test before in Rajkot, which lies in the centre of the Kathiawar Peninsula, that ear which sticks out from the head of western India. Yet the region has produced some of the world’s finest cricketers, for three countries.

Alastair Cook’s Indian recipe versus Virat Kohli’s master plan (Hindustan Times)

 

Among England’s top five Test run-getters, skipper Alastair Cook is the only batsman to make his debut in India.

That probably explains his love for batting in India, 866 runs in just eight Tests at an average of 61.85, making him a constant threat to Virat Kohli’s ambitions. The numbers the England skipper has stacked up — crossing 10,000 runs in 135 Tests in a decade — stand out even more by the fact that he has opened in 230 of his 243 innings.

Familiar grounds beckon Haseeb Hameed as he gears up for series against India (Hindustan Times)

 

As Haseeb Hameed prepares to impress the English think-tank to get a look in to open the innings with skipper Alastair Cook, one of his elder brothers Nuaman is all set to tie the knot in his hometown Bharuch, Gujarat.

The excitement of touching down in Mumbai was palpable from his tweet as soon as he boarded the flight from Bangladesh after the drawn two-Test series. “Onto India now, always a special place to travel to. Incredible country with an amazing passion for the game,” Haseeb tweeted on Sunday.

Thakur, Shirke throw the ball back in Lodha Committee’s court (The Hindu)

 

A day after their deadline to submit a compliance report about the “the steps adopted for securing compliance with the remaining recommendations” of the Lodha Committee that have been converted into a Supreme Court order, the Board of Control for Cricket in India president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke continued to be in a defiant mood.

Fight over selectors erupts within the DDCA (The Indian Express)

 

The differences between the two factions of the Delhi and District Cricket Association are out in the open again, after the Executive Committee, in a meeting attended by 18 out of the 24 directors, decided to shake up the senior and junior selection panels. Sarandeep Singh and Chetnya Nanda were appointed senior and junior selection committee chairmen respectively with immediate effect while the name of Rakesh Shukla was added to the senior panel. Former India cricketers Maninder Singh, Nikhil Chopra and Atul Wassan were removed from their respective panels.

Sense of security boosted my performance: Saha (The Hindu)

 

Like his wicket-keeping and batting, Wriddhiman Saha loves to keep his mind uncluttered.

Saha, who stepped into the big shoes of M.S. Dhoni after the latter relinquished his Test spot, took some time to prove his worth as a batsman. The 32-year-old, who made significant contributions with the bat on the tour of the West Indies and in the home series against New Zealand, said being assured of his place in the Indian side helped him play freely and give some good performances.

Administrators have created the fourth form of cricket: John Buchanan (The Hindu)

 

“I think we have the fourth form which is the second long form of the game, simply because of the pink ball as against a red ball. It’s played under lights which affects the conditions. It’s played with black sightscreens and one of the biggest thing is the physical demands on players. It’s about recalibrating your whole physical system and also the umpires have to deal with day-night cricket over a longer period. Actually it’s a one off game and you have to transition back into red ball cricket.”

Digging the data: When it comes to cricket tosses, New Zealand win their fair share (Stuff.co.nz)

 

Sometimes it seems there is nothing that enrages New Zealand cricket fans more than the toss. And it’s true that of late, there has been good reason to be angry.

Since the start of the year, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have taken part in 31 tosses, and won just 10 of them. That’s a 32 per cent success rate, well down on the 50 per cent that should be expected, given that that’s the chance of winning any given toss of a coin.

Taste of vintage cricket for English couple in India (The New Indian Express)

 

Even for a cricket enthusiast, chances of dropping in for a Ranji Trophy match are slim, unless there are names powerful enough to draw fans. But an old couple from England has been doing something for years that could put ‘cricket-crazy’ fans to shame.

Powered by passion for the ‘pure form of the game’, Ian Jones and his wife Sue Jones have been visiting India every year since 2001.

Maxwell admits shock at Shield snub (cricket.com.au)

 

Allrounder Glenn Maxwell says he was shocked by Victoria dropping him in the Sheffield Shield, declaring that his first-class record speaks for itself. Maxwell was named 12th man for Victoria’s opening-round win over Tasmania last week, despite being among the best-performed batsmen in the competition last summer. The big-hitter was recalled for Victoria’s clash with Queensland and scored a poised 81 as the hosts closed in on victory on day two at the MCG.

WACA to Perth Stadium transition begins in earnest (abc.net.au)

 

But the progress of the new Perth Stadium project has given Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland “cause for optimism” in the 60,000 seat facility becoming a Test venue in as early as 13 months’ time.

“We would like to think that the first ever sporting event at this new Perth Stadium can be an Ashes Test match. We have considered all of the days in order to give ourselves the best chance of meeting all of the (key stakeholders’) requirements,” Sutherland told Grandstand.

Why McGrath was so hard to lead: Ponting (cricket.com.au)

 

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has cheekily claimed Glenn McGrath was the most difficult player he had to handle in his time as skipper, simply because the pace legend would fume whenever he was taken out of the attack.

Cricket’s emigration culture and the new kids on the block (Sunday Times, Sri Lanka)

 

When I saw the new Lankan fast bowler Lahiru Kumara operating during the first Test against Zimbabwe I was impressed. In Lahiru, we have discovered a young cricketer who has most of the ingredients that a true fast bowler should possess. Now that he is on the stage it is up to Ford and company to see that he is made to perform.

Kumara possesses the ideal build for a fast bowler – I mean talking of international standards. He has the right physique and quite a fluid action and he hits the deck hard.

Half of cricket umpires face verbal abuse – research (BBC)

 

The University of Portsmouth gathered data from hundreds of umpires about the abuse they receive. Around 50% said abuse, such as swearing and aggressive confrontations, had increased in recent times. Cricket chiefs said umpires were vital to the game and the findings were ‘disappointing but not surprising’.

South African paceman Dale Steyn vows to return after shoulder surgery (Fox Sports)

 

So certain was South Africa’s leading wicket-taker Shaun Pollock that Steyn would overtake his record of 421 Test scalps at the WACA this week, he even went out and bought an expensive bottle of champagne to present to him when the moment occurred.

However, that bottle is still sitting in Pollock’s Perth hotel room and will remain on ice for at least six months as Steyn (416) prepares to undergo shoulder surgery that will determine whether the 33-year-old can bowl again.

Steve Smith walking a perilous tight rope as he struggles to find his identity as a captain (Fox Sports)

 

It’s no crime for a young captain to have a formulative period where he works out who he is and what he stands for.

Some leaders like Mark Taylor knew from the moment he was appointed who he was and what he wanted to do (it helps if you have Warne and McGrath).

Taylor barely changed in the five years he had the job.