The series is all over and England have only gone and won it! But who wants a boring trophy anyway? Here’s the list of the real award-winners.
THE BONNIE TYLER AWARD FOR TURNING THINGS AROUND
What a difference a few weeks has made for the Essex choirboy. At the beginning of the series he was about as popular as Katie Hopkins – a Katie Hopkins who’s tactically naive, at that – but like a lost haulage truck aiming for Portsmouth, it turned around in Southampton. Runs, beautiful runs, and wins as well! He’s proven a few people wrong, but he’s far too polite to gloat about it. This famed inner steel is clearly pretty impressive.
THE CHOCOLATE TEAPOT AWARD FOR POINTLESSNESS
If Stuart Binny doesn’t bat, bowl or retrieve a ball, is he still playing cricket? The unfortunate allrounder played three Tests in the series without ever really doing anything. Picked to offer a fourth seaming option and a bit of lower-order resistance he was never really trusted by anyone. His highlight was probably catching Joe Root at long-leg as the Lord’s matched tumbled into an anti-hooking highlights reel and India clinched the win. Not sure he’ll play another Test.
THE OLIVER REED AWARD FOR LETTING YOUR HAIR DOWN
“I’m not a cricketer tonight. I’m just a drunken b*****d,” roared (presumably) a hoarse Gary Ballance as he had the temerity to drink some alcohol in his free time. England’s new No.3 has had one hell of a summer and even this indiscretion was largely embraced by England’s cricket fans. He even aped his nightclub fun as the players completed their lap of honour after their victory at The Kia Oval, borrowing Moeen Ali’s jumper to wave above his head.
THE TOYOTA PRIUS AWARD FOR GOING GREEN
After the Trent Bridge pitch took an almighty hammering from pundits for a Gobi-esque dryness that sent the first Test towards a slow and dismal death, the Lord’s groundsman did the necessary to ensure HQ would suffer no such criticism. So much grass had been left on the top that you had to squint to pick out the playing strip from the outfield on the first morning at NW8: England would have home advantage! And they would squander it to go 1-0 down in the series. Still, pitches that offered a bit to the bowlers made for more interesting cricket as the five-match tussle went on and certainly helped the cause of Jimmy and co as they began to take a grip of the contest.
THE SINEAD O’CONNOR AWARD FOR ISOLATION
Poor Murali Vijay – his was essentially a lone stand throughout the series. The opener scored 402 runs at 40.20 and only his skipper MS Dhoni was close to him in terms of putting his hand up, getting stuck in, standing up to be counted, mixing his metaphors and scoring runs. He was also the only Indian player who was regularly got out instead of just giving away his wicket.
THE KENNEDY-KHRUSHCHEV AWARD FOR NOT QUITE FIGHTING
James Anderson and Ravi Jadeja (joint award)
Alastair Cook claimed it was a “tactic” by India to try and get Anderson banned. MS Dhoni reckoned Jimmy – unpleasant so-and-so out on the pitch – needed dealing with. But while events in the Trent Bridge corridor remain shrouded in grassy knoll-mystery – was there a bit of a shove and who gave it? – what became clear was that, if it was an Indian tactic, it didn’t seem to be working. With a bit of ooing and booing every time the Rav and Jim show started up on the field, most of us were left pleased that we were just watching some cricket rather than reading about complaints, counter-claims, sentences and appeals in the middle of a Test series. Having got off the charge, then bowling England to victory – while Jadeja was fined and then eventually dropped – it’s fair to say Jimmy had the better of the ‘scrap’.
THE SIMON LE BON AWARD FOR NEW ROMANTICISM
Stuart’s got a new partner – as the Daily Mail was at pains to point out in the afterglow of England’s series win – and maybe, just maybe, Bealey Mitchell is particularly fond of the 1980s New Romantics era – which would maybe explain the England bowler’s insistence on applying such retro eye make-up for the final Test of the summer. The bruising was of course caused by the Gatting-esque blow that Broad took in the fourth Test but his new Panda-eyes look was something a bit different and didn’t stop him taking the wickets of Pujara, Dhoni and Rahane as England hammered the tourists in the final match of the series.
THE DYLAN THOMAS AWARD FOR RAGING AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT
With conditions conducive to swing bowling, Kumar was India’s most consistent exponent, producing demanding spells throughout the series to end with 19 well-deserved wickets at 26.63. With the bat, too, he showed himself to be more than handy, making 247 runs at 27.44 and seeming, by the end, like one of the only Indian players still fighting.
THE COALITION AWARD FOR U-TURNS
Michael Vaughan and Piers Morgan (joint award)
The queue of ‘commentators’ lining up to call for a change in England captaincy after Lord’s was longer than the one for the press box lunch buffet, but credit where it’s due to Vaughany: he came clean once the turnaround was complete. Having recommended a switch to Eoin Morgan as Test captain, he later admitted: “I was wrong”. Even the expert Piers Morgan tweeted supportively: “Have my issues with Alastair Cook re KP, but impossible not to admire his resilience in recovering from the abyss of Lord’s.” Truly England had completed something pretty special.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI AWARD FOR CULT HERO STATUS
Even before the series began, news that a 29-year-old 6ft 5in fast bowling metronome with a hard-luck selection story would be joining India’s touring party had piqued the curiosity of the AOC team. Word of his debut at Southampton also brought delight – finally the guy with the best first-class record of the tourists’ bowling stocks would get a go! But the sorry tale of misfortune continued as dropped catches and missed edges saw the big man have to wait 415 balls, 274 runs and almost two whole Tests for his first wicket. But, running in again and again before being dropped for the returning Ishant Sharma at The Oval, he won plenty of warmth from those watching his first – and possibly last – two Test performances.