Tuesday, December 11, 2012

England's Test Schizophrenia

It's been quite a 2 years for the England Test team, a dominant win over Australia on their own patch was backed up by a trouncing of India at home two Summers ago. Then just when it was all looking so rosy came an awful performance against Pakistan, scratchy ones against Sri Lanka and West Indies before an absolute hiding at home to South Africa where England barely looked competitive.

With a ominous tour to India looming, the retirement of Captain Andrew Strauss as well as the whole KP debacle, things were not looking good for the recent World No1 team.

England duly looked off the pace as they were well beaten in the first test in Ahmedabad and the signals for a whitewash were already looking ominous. In the bowling Broad looked out of form and Finn was injured.

The batting line up looked even worse with the inexperienced Compton being followed by a horribly out of touch Trott, a seemingly madcap KP and an iffy Ian Bell. Only Captain Cook and Matt Prior were offering any respite, the tour looked like becoming a disaster.

And then England picked Monty Panesar in Mumbai and it all changed. From absolutely nowhere, England produced a stellar performance to see India off comfortably before showing up in Kolkata and doing it all over again. Even were England to lose in Nagpur, a creditable draw would have been seen as a great outcome at the start of the tour whereas England have genuine hope of winning the series 1-3.

Much of England's success is down to Alastair Cook who has been absurdly good since taking the captaincy. The reintegration of KP threw up what most impartial bystanders had suspected, that the good far outweighed the bad.

Monty Panesar in particular and Graeme Swann were inspired in Mumbai and Jimmy Anderson and Steve Finn worked wonders with the seam in Kolkata. England have put in genuine team performances in the way they were doing 18 months prior with Alastair Cook being ably backed up by Trott and KP with the bat. Their fielding was sharper again also.

The hammering at the hands of South Africa put some serious doubts in supporters' minds over next years' Ashes double header - especially with Australia unearthing some new bowling talent. A win in India followed by a good tour to New Zealand would do much to restore confidence before the year of all years against Australia - No Nonsense.