What the papers say about England's loss

The reaction to England's nine-wicket loss to India was swift and brutal from former players and current pundits, as most media outlets gave voice to frustration at England's poor selections and dire batting performance.

The reaction to England's nine-wicket loss to India was swift and brutal from former players and current pundits, as most media outlets gave voice to frustration at England's poor selections and dire batting performance, save Alastair Cook's century.

Former England skipper and <i>BBC</i> pundit <b>Alec Stewart</b> said after the game: "There's no point hiding the harsh facts and just saying everything's fine and it was just a blip, you've got to be brutally honest and try to do something about it.

"There are a lot of good cricketers in that England team, but in truth only three players really performed in this first Test match – Cook, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann. Very rarely do you win a Test match when only three people put in what I'd call international class performances."

Another former England captain, <b>Michael Atherton</b>, warned of further humiliation for the Three Lions, writing in the <i>Times</i>: "India have had their problems in recent times, but, worryingly, it has become apparent that England's spell as a force to be reckoned with in Test cricket has come to a halt.

"They have now lost seven Test matches during this calendar year, five of those in Asia. Given that there are three more Tests before Christmas, and that England have never lost more than eight Tests in a year before, another kind of record awaits them if they do not improve quickly."

He added: "India is the worst place in world cricket to go 1-0 down, given the degree of difficulty touring teams have had here in forcing results. Legend recalls Keith Fletcher's tour of 1981-82 when England went 1-0 down, flat pitches were ordered thereafter, the over-rate declined to a crawl and five boring draws ensued.

"Times have changed, and it will be a surprise if India do not go for the kill in Mumbai and Calcutta, but England's task is no less daunting now than then."

<b>Stephen Brenkley</b>, for the <i>Independent</i>, pulled no punched in his assessment of the batting, writing: "The suggestion, nay the promise, that they were ready for India in the first Test, which duly ended in defeat by nine wickets yesterday, was a teeny-weeny exaggeration. Almost nothing that most of their batsmen did in the match indicated conviction, belief or confidence.

"It has been the story of virtually the entire year. England's middle order has been seriously short of form and runs as it was in this latest defeat, the seventh in 12 Tests this year, which they started as the world's No 1 side. How long ago that seems.

"Here in Ahmedabad, the middle order, from three to six, contributed 68 runs but it was merely prolonging a dismal sequence. The collective average of those crucial run-scoring positions this year is below 30 and in no individual position is it above 40."

Former England batsman <b>Geoff Boycott</b> advised Kevin Pietersen to admit his shortcomings against left-arm spin, after he went out twice to Pragyan Ojha. Boycott wrote in the <i>Telegraph</i>: "Twice in this Test match KP got out to poor shots against the left-arm spinner.

"He has got out 25 times to left-arm slow bowlers in his Test career. His ego will not let him admit he has a problem starting against them and until he puts his hand up and admits it then every time he comes into bat the opposition will put the left-arm spin bowler on and we will all hold our breath waiting to see if he survives or does something daft."

Boycott was full of praise for skipper Alastair Cook though after his wonderful 176, adding: "The reason Cook is so good is because he does not try to play every shot in the book. He has marvellous stamina, a strong mind and self-belief and it is hard to get him out of his comfort zone.

"He is probably the most effective player in world cricket. He might not be the most pleasing on the eye – that is KP – but I know which one I would like to bat for me in my team."

<i>The Guardian</i>'s <b>Vic Marks</b> feels that Monty Panesar will be included for the next Test, writing: "Cook acknowledged that "there is a lot to ponder" before the Mumbai Test, which starts on Friday. "Clearly we will look at selection. There were some intelligent men involved in that process. We thought we got it right here but the result showed we might have got it wrong."

"This was far from being the worst example of English selection on Indian soil. Calcutta 1993 still takes some beating, when Graham Gooch led out an England side with four seamers and a callow leg-spinner (Ian Salisbury) 24 hours after India had announced that they were playing three specialist spinners at Eden Gardens. The result: defeat by eight wickets.

"The subtext of Cook's remarks is that we can anticipate that Monty Panesar, whose stock as a spinner has risen immeasurably over the past five days, will be in the side at Mumbai.

"No one knows for certain what the conditions will be like at the Wankhede Stadium, but we have a damn good idea. There is more chance of Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen embarking on a family holiday together after the tour than England being greeted by a carpet of green grass on the pitch in Mumbai."

<b>James Lawton</b> in the <i>Independent</i> suggested that Ian Bell should have considered sitting out the entire tour, rather than be distracted by impending fatherhood, opining: "Bell may indeed have the unequivocal right to attend the birth of his first child but does this have to be at the expense of the vital continuity of effort so necessary to the success of his team?

"Analysis of Bell's performances thus far suggest that his mind may have been wandering back to England and the imminence of arguably the most profound of all his experiences, the onset of fatherhood, when the challenge of dealing with the Indian spinners was a huge professional imperative.

"Certainly some very hardened observers believe that the shot which brought him a first-ball duck a few days ago was arguably one of the most ludicrous ever seen at the Test level.

"This invites again the question of whether England would have been wiser to have relied on such undistracted contenders as Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan rather than a potentially preoccupied Bell."