Anorak | England On A Winning Run

England On A Winning Run

by | 29th, July 2002

‘UNLESS something goes badly wrong today, England will go 1-0 up in their four-match Test series against India and underline the progress they have made under Duncan Fletcher and Nasser Hussain.

England on a better wicket

The fact that it has been achieved in this match without the services of four first-choice members of their starting XI only emphasises the increased strength in depth of the team and the confidence that comes with winning Test matches regularly.

Neither Sri Lanka or India have the strongest bowling attack in the world and too much can be made of England’s recent batting performances which have seen them score over 450 in an innings in each of the last four matches.

However, what has been impressive is that, even when a couple of the top-order batsmen have failed, the others have shouldered the responsibility and posted big scores.

In those four matches, England players have posted no fewer than nine centuries and ten 50s.

In Test match cricket, even against somewhat anodyne attacks, players are always vulnerable at the start of their innings. The key for Test players is to make the most of the opportunities when they get in – and this is one of the big changes from a couple of years ago.

Another is the contribution of the middle and lower order. With Andrew Flintoff batting at No.7 and Craig White at No.8, the pressure on the top order is reduced. Both players have the talent to score runs against better attacks than India and Sri Lanka, if required – and they will be required in the winter when England tour Australia.

However, it is the bowling that has been the real revelation. Both Sri Lanka and India are good batting sides and the fact that they have been bowled out by a depleted England attack on good batting tracks is testament to the discipline and skill of players who might be expected only to play a bit part in England’s fielding performances.

It is by no means a great attack. Matthew Hoggard is no Glenn McGrath, Ashley Giles is no Muttiah Muralitharan and Simon Jones is not Shoaib Akhtar, but by sticking to a plan and concentrating on what they do best they have proved they can be a match for the world’s top batsmen.

What is more, the competition for places in this England side is (in most areas) now more intense than it has been for years. Players who underperform know that reputation will not save them in the long run.

This can only augur well for the future. ‘

Posted: 29th, July 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink