Monday, 17 March 2008

England Show Bouncebackability

It’s a curious fact, but under Michal Vaughan has never lost two test matches in a row as England’s captain. That record may have been put under threat had he been fit to lead the team to defend the Ashes last winter, but it’s also probably fair to say that the defeat wouldn’t have been so marked had he been in charge rather than Andrew Flintoff. This seems to suggest that while he is very good looking to “take the positives” and “learn from our mistakes”, his platitudes to the press are actually being taken on board.

Certainly England batted with more purpose in Wellington than they had in Hamilton on a pitch that was giving much more help to the bowlers. However, they were indebted to Paul Collingwood and the increasingly impressive Tim Ambrose to take them to a score probably a hundred runs above par. The reshaped bowling unit, however, was the most impressive aspect for England, with James Anderson in the first innings and Ryan Sidebottom in the second taking five each and Stuart Broad bowling much better than his figures gave him credit for. It is also encouraging that Vaughan is confident enough to turn to Collingwood to fulfil a role as the fourth seamer giving the side a much better balance

So England go to the final test with renewed confidence and some momentum. I would expect the team to remain unchanged, although Andrew Strauss needs to convert his starts into a major score if he is not to be jettisoned at the start of the English summer.

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