England have the backbone of a very experienced and successful side but as the going gets tough for our international side it is time for these players to stand up and be counted when it matters the most.
To say the old guard are struggling is quite an obvious statement to make but it is now time that their performances complement some impressive displays from England's lesser experienced players.
Gary Ballance has perhaps been the stand-out performer during England's tough spell in 2014, his century on day one of the third Test against India was his third in just six Test matches.
There have also been some impressive displays, in spells, from bowlers such as Chris Jordan and Liam Plunkett, as well as impressive knocks from Sam Robson. Despite his recent poor form Ben Stokes has shown signs that he can be an international player for years to come.
Joe Root, still a relative newcomer in the England ranks, has also had a very good 2014 and, despite being part of a poor-performing side, has held his head high with some outstanding knocks.
These youngsters, who are making their way in international cricket, will not necessarily be as consistent as we would like and this is why the older, more experienced players need to support them with their own performances.
However, they have been sadly lacking so far this year. Captain Alastair Cook's 95 in the first innings of the third Test was more than welcome by both him and England's supporters. To have your captain on-form makes a real difference to any side and hopefully this innings is the reversal in fortune that he has been hunting for for quite some time now.
Matt Prior has decided to take a break from international cricket in order to sort out the injury problems that are clearly affecting his form. Cook often uses Prior and Jimmy Anderson to guide him on the pitch but with their form not at the levels we have come to expect Cook's captaincy has suffered as a result.
Stuart Broad is another who has suffered with form, partly due to injury niggles. When he and Anderson set the tone for England they have very few rivals in the world but unfortunately this has been lacking for some time now.
Change in fortunes
Hopefully the third Test against India is going to be a change in fortunes for all the senior players. Day one has enabled Cook to gain some confidence and day two provides an opportunity for Ian Bell to build an innings which could lead to a change in his fortunes. There is no doubting the quality of these senior players but they now need to prove themselves again.
The young guns, whilst showing a lot of promise, now need their senior players to help them in order to help the team arrest a severe slide in fortunes over the last nine months.
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