Ben who? England did not miss their absent friend in the least at Lord’s where they moved to the brink of a series win against the best team in the world by dominating an utterly one-sided second Test.
Not even rain that washed out the whole of the first day and reduced the second to just 35 overs could stop England winning on the fourth on Sunday as India were again completely out-classed in English conditions.
In fact, with India being bowled out twice in just 82.2 overs and England batting for 88 this was a Lord’s Test that in effect lasted for less than two day’s play. No chance yet, then, of burn-out caused by five Tests in six weeks.
England wrapped up an innings and 159 run win over India on day four of second Test match
Jimmy Anderson celebrated his 100th Test wicket at Lord’s with the dismissal of Murali Vijay
He and Stuart Broad both claimed four wickets each as India were bowled out for just 130 runs
And a thumping victory by an innings and 159 runs that leaves England two up with three to play was achieved while their talisman in Ben Stokes was preparing to continue his attempt to clear his name at Bristol Crown Court.
The contrast, then, between a criminal trial on a charge of affray for England’s highest profile player and a second Test that has showcased Joe Root’s team at their absolute finest could hardly be greater.
This, in the form of the sublime bowling of the master craftsman in Jimmy Anderson and an all-round performance of considerable substance from Stokes replacement in Chris Woakes, was the perfect antidote to Bristol.
It has been sorely needed too by an England Test team who were without a win in seven away games last winter and were on the brink of crisis when they were defeated by Pakistan here at Lord’s in the first Test of this summer.
Vijay registered an unwanted pair as he fell to Anderson for the second consecutive innings
India captain and talisman Virat Kohli could only make 17 and struggled with a back strain
His fitness will be a massive concern ahead of a must-win third Test for India at Trent Bridge
Now, after a narrow victory in a thrilling first Test at Edgbaston and a display of superiority here, England will head to one of their happiest hunting grounds in Trent Bridge confident of rapidly wrapping up this Specsavers series.
Surely India must now regret their totally arrogant and unprofessional approach to preparations for this series that saw them cut short their only warm-up game in Essex by a day and just go through the motions for three days.
Yes, India have traditionally struggled against the moving ball in England and had the very worst of conditions here from the moment Root won an important toss but this was a brutal defeat for a proud captain in Virat Kohli.
The best batsman in the world ended it restricted by a back complaint that will be a huge worry for India in the five days leading up to a Test they now cannot lose and Kohli will now have the weight of the world on his shoulders too.
There are no such worries for Root other than what fate might befall his great friend in Stokes who now looks sure to miss the third Test and quite probably the whole series even if he is found not guilty in the next few days.
Frankly, it is impossible to see who could be left out even if Stokes were available after this display reminiscent of the days when they were No 1 in the world even though England consider the erstwhile vice-captain irreplaceable.
Dinesh Karthik fell straight after Kohli for a golden duck to leave rampant Broad on a hat-trick
Woakes made a pretty decent stab of replacing him here with his maiden Test century and two second innings wickets to add to his two from the first that earned him the man of the match award ahead of Anderson.
There was a second mature performance in a row too from another all-rounder in Sam Curran while any thoughts of Stokes playing instead of a batsman would surely be ruled out by a debut of promise from Ollie Pope.
Sunday followed the same pattern of English domination as Friday and Saturday with Root, who appears to have visibly grown as a captain in the last two games, understandably deciding to extend England’s first innings.
There were those who felt he should declare overnight but, with two days left and an improved weather forecast, the England captain had every right to wait until Curran became the seventh wicket to fall before calling his side in.
By then Woakes, a good enough batsman to make his Test debut at six five years ago, had reached an unbeaten 137 while Curran had again shown his batting promise by adding 40 that featured an extraordinary six hit in tennis-style off the unfortunate Mohammed Shami.
Chris Woakes also played his part with the ball, removing Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma
The only question then was whether India could take the game into a final day but the answer emphatically was that they could not, with Anderson again magnificent in going past 100 wickets at Lord’s and Woakes again superb.
But the pick of the England attack this time was their other thoroughbred in Stuart Broad, who galloped in from the Pavilion End to take four wickets in a brilliant seven-over spell only ended by another untimely rain delay.
If Broad’s rhythm had not been interrupted it could easily have gone down as another of his fabled match-winning spells but instead it was confirmation of his absolute return to his best, summed up by a late inswinger to bowl Cheteshwar Pujara as good as anything Anderson managed in the match.
Thankfully the late resistance of Ravi Ashwin and Hardik Pandya that took India to 130 was ended before the umpires, who had set a precedent by taking the players off for bad light under floodlights on Saturday, could do so again.
That was the only complaint about a display of officiating that Aleem Dar and Marais Erasmus could be proud of in difficult conditions for umpires, with the first 10 of their 12 decisions that were reviewed upheld by technology.
Before England’s declaration, Woakes (L) reached 137 and Sam Curran (R) went from 22 to 40