England legend Geoffrey Boycott has warned the current crop of players not to get carried away following their recent upturn in fortunes.
Boycott, who played over 600 first-class matches for Yorkshire and England, told The Daily Telegraph that their recovery is not yet complete, even though they are leading the series with India 2-1.
Dependency on seamers
Chiefly, Boycott highlighted the Three Lions’ overreliance on their two star bowlers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
That dependence could be brutally exposed in the coming months. Broad is expected to play the rest of the series in a face mask, after suffering a broken nose in the fourth Test. However, he will then undergo treatment for tendonitis in his right knee, which could rule him out for some time.
Lack of options
Moeen Ali has admittedly been instrumental in their last two wins, staking his claim as England’s lead spinner. However, in Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes, their back-up fast bowlers pose nowhere near as great a threat.
Both were brought into the first team mid-way through the series, while Ben Stokes, a seemingly better option, was ousted. Stokes appeared to have been dropped largely on account of his failings with the bat. Had England’s top order been playing at their best, his shortcomings at the crease would not have been seen as a problem.
Now that Ballance, Cook, and Bell are hitting form again, that could alleviate some of the pressure on the all-rounder, whose chief responsibilities for England should be with the ball.
Robson under pressure
Although India’s bowlers have toiled of late, not all of England’s batsmen can be sure of their places. Sam Robson has also come under fire from Boycott, though defenders of the Middlesex opener will insist he needs more time to adapt to Test cricket.
His century against Sri Lanka at Headingley makes up almost half of his runs for England, and consequently, for the 25-year-old, there is a huge amount riding on the fifth and final Test at The Oval. Only time will tell if that proves too much for him to handle, but Alex Hales’ performances for the Lions suggest he will soon be breathing down his neck if he does not improve quickly.
Elsewhere, Ali and Cook have looked particularly vulnerable against the short ball, but it is a far wider problem within the England setup. For head coach Peter Moores and David Saker, his bowling coach, this should now be a priority in training.
While these issues can be ironed out, complacency will now become the main enemy. India look deflated and half beaten. England must not give them the chance to salvage the series in Surrey, and once it is over, the ECB should have seen enough to know their best eleven.