England captain Alastair Cook admits his side would be taking a step into the unknown if they played Simon Kerrigan against India at Lord’s next week – but the hosts could be ready to take that gamble after drawing the first Test.
The series opener at Trent Bridge petered out to a farcical end as, with neither side able to press for victory, Cook decided to bowl himself and rest his frontline attack.
Improbably, he managed to snare the wicket of Ishant Sharma with his rag-tag collection of mimicry and loopy tweakers but a more serious spin option is in the frame for Thursday’s second Test.
Kerrigan has been added to the squad for that game having been present this week as a net bowler and could get the chance to put his nightmare Test debut behind him.
He played against Australia in the final game of last year’s Ashes at The Oval and came perilously close to getting the yips, bowling eight overs of dreadful deliveries and being pummeled for 53 runs.
His record for Lancashire, where England coach Peter Moores mentored him, shows he is better than that but Cook concedes there is an element of risk in the selection.
“Simon is a very tough kid, he had a tough eight overs against Australia and he’s fought his way back,” said Cook.
“Until you make a contribution for England you never quite know if you belong in international cricket at Test level but from what I’ve seen as a character and with the talent he’s got with the ball, I think he’ll be fine.
“We didn’t see the best of him at The Oval in that one game and quite rightly he could have been nervous, he didn’t know many of the lads and that kind of stuff can come in. We will only know when Simon does play Test cricket again. I’m sure he’ll be nervous when he bowls again, but weren’t we all when we first started?”
For a few minutes of a cloudy morning, after Stuart Broad took two of three wickets to fall, there was just the outside possibility England could end their nine-game winless streak.
Binny put paid to that fanciful theory, however, in stands of 65 with Ravindra Jadeja for the seventh wicket and then 91 with Kumar for the eighth.
After rain caused a delayed start, from the apparently untroubled resumption point of 167-3, India lost three wickets for 21 runs.
Broad, as so often for England, was the catalyst.
He began by having Virat Kohli lbw toppling over in defence, and it was swing too that then made Ajinkya Rahane edge behind.
Broad should also have had Mahendra Singh Dhoni caught at slip – where Cook, necessarily advanced to mitigate against the lack of carry, could not hold on.
Broad, bowling in tandem with Anderson, nonetheless served up an impressive spell of 2-6 in six overs – and when his replacement Liam Plunkett ensured Cook’s drop would not be costly by defeating Dhoni’s loose drive and bowling the India captain with a touch of inswing, it seemed England might just have a shot at victory after all.
Jadeja, however, was in the middle of a curious but valuable innings and his partnership with Binny took critical time out of England’s attempts to force the pace. The left-hander played and missed numerous times, and needed 38 deliveries to get off the mark – which he eventually did by walking at Anderson and smashing a four back over the bowler’s head.
He and Binny stalled England until after lunch when, with the second new ball in his armoury, Anderson had Jadeja pushing slightly away from his front pad and edging another to Matt Prior.
Binny found a second ally in Kumar, however – and as it doubtless dawned on Cook that this game was up, the best he could do was ensure no further pointless exercise for Broad and Anderson with another four Tests to come in the next 37 days.
Binny took advantage, as he and Kumar milked the runs on offer at a rate of more than four-and-a-half an over and he passed his maiden Test 50 in 86 balls.
Moeen Ali (3-105) turned one from round the wicket to beat Binny’s forward push and win another lbw verdict.
But by tea the only remaining interest centred on whether India would engineer a situation in which opener Cook batted with time left only to fail again.
They opted against an early declaration, and instead the contest concluded with a series of comedy impressions from Cook with the ball – and, in only his third Test over, his first wicket when Ishant Sharma was nonchalantly caught by Prior down the leg-side.
It was perhaps fitting, in circumstances which had often precluded conventional entertainment and left the crowd having to make their own fun, that in the end the players had to do likewise. For England, and Cook in particular, the serious stuff will be starting again soon enough – at Lord’s on Thursday.