So, after the debacles of the last Ashes series in Australia, the West Indies tour and the World Cup, suddenly all is well in English Test cricket?
The early summer series against New Zealand suggested that things were on the up, and that we had some good players coming through in all forms of the game.
But nobody would seriously have backed us to win back the Ashes with a match to spare. Not even Geoff Boycott with a stick of Rhubarb! The Aussies were ranked second in the world, big favourites, and the media hoping, not expecting, miracles.
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So, the second test aside (and what went wrong there?) England trounced the baggy green caps. We all know that pace bowlers win matches all of England’s have had a truly great spell in this series – Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes, Steve Finn and James Anderson have all bowled match winning spells. Once Jimmy the Burnley Lara is back from injury, who makes way?
Added bonuses are that Broad is regaining batting confidence and Wood showed he can can play some shots, which meant the usual middle collapse was less significant.
But our batting is still a worry, other than Root who can do no wrong. Buttler has been poor with the gloves too and may need a rest. Is a solution to move Moeen up the order? Do James Taylor, Gary Ballance, Nick Compton get a recall or do we go for the likes of Vince Roy or Reece Topley?
We will also need a better spinner in the subcontinent, as competitive as Moeen has been – Zafar Ansari or Adil Rashid may be the answer.
The key is finding a reliable opener to take the pressure off Cook, whose captaincy has been bolder this time, for example the morning declaration in the last test is something his confidence would not have allowed a few months ago.
For the Aussies it was strangely sad to see Clarke so out of form, and surely his decision to go after the current series is right. Smith had one good innings and didn’t look like the number one batsman in the world whereas – Root did and now is. Starc bowled OK at times and spinner Lyon was seemingly under bowled? No doubt they will rebuild and reshape the team for when we next visit.
So, we need to consolidate and win the last test, then follow up with good one day and 20/20 series results. Then the next big test is the Ashes return down under.
Let’s celebrate the series win, then in the words of Eric Morecambe it is “Bring me sunshine” for “the little urn, weh-hay.”
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