Tuesday, 23 December 2008

What Did We Learn From That Then?

I’ll leave others to do their marks out of ten, but there are other issues that the Test part of the tour have thrown up.

1. Two tests is too short for a tour. Both teams were settling into what could have been a highly competitive series. The first test had one of the finest run chases in history (although not the finest of the last month, bizarrely). The second had a tightly fought draw, which could have been much more interesting had India wanted to make it so.

2. England’s persistence with players is paying off. Strauss and Collingwood both paid back the faith that the selectors had in them during the first test. Both have been teetering on the edge of losing their places, but with three very gritty innings, they got England into a winning position in the First Test. Ian Bell should take comfort from this, although it is only 5 tests since his 199 against the team that is now widely believed to be the best in the world.

3. Alistair Cook needs a long chat with his mentor Graham Gooch. His fifty and out habit is becoming both embarrassing and a problem for the team. I suspect it may be linked to the want to turn him into a One-Day player, or that Andrew Strauss is not the quickest of scorers at the other end. He needs to learn to be patient and build the big innings that England need of him.

4. Kevin Pietersen needs to think more as the captain. His spat with Yuvraj, entertaining as it may have been, nearly cost him his wicket at the start of an excellent hundred. Targeting a player is a well worn tactic, but given Yuvraj’s performances, it is likely that it only spurred him on.

5. England’s bowlers need to learn from history. Or at least have talked to those who have done well on the sub-continent. All out pace isn’t the answer and Flintoff apart, they didn’t pose a threat in those conditions.

6. Matt Prior will be England’s wicket-keeper for the Ashes series. Tidy enough behind the stumps despite the testing conditions and a good 50 in the first test. He looked at least a match for Dhoni in the two matches if not better

7. Monty Panesar may not be England’s spinner for the Ashes series. He was comprehensively out-bowled by Graeme Swann, who must be considered the number one option when England revert to one spinner. The emergence as Swann as an attacking force should also dampen the cries for Adil Rashid to be rushed into the test team.

8 England need to remember how to win matches. In the last two series against SA and India, they have played the best two teams in the world at the moment and have not managed to capitalise on their periods of dominance. At Lords and Edgbaston, England were in winning positions but couldn’t see it through. Likewise in Chennai. They need to discover a ruthless streak and a Plan B.

Overall, and reverting to Vaughan-speak, England can take a lot of positives out of the test series, while being disappointed in the result. After the pounding in the One-Day series and the uncertainty about the security implications, they probably should have won the decisive first test. India are an excellent side, probably second in the world on current form. England have a lot to work on before the Ashes series, but the nucleus is in place.

4 comments:

Penguinissimo said...

1. Agree, absolutely 100% - it's a mockery, and was no doubt caused by Stanford and the (cancelled) 20/20 World Whats-its-face.

2. Agree, with the exception of Bell who seems to be getting worse. Bear in mind that his 199 was in a match where there were five other hundreds on an absolute featherbed.

3. Agreed again. To not have scored a hundred in 2008 despite having reached fifty eight times is dreadful.

4. He needs to learn more - I think his biggest error was the in-out fields he set on day 5 of the first Test, where he allowed the spinners to go for four an over at practically no risk to the batsmen.

5. We missed someone like Sidebottom, who is just relentlessly accurate even if the ball is doing nothing for him. And someone who can reverse it...

6. Agreed.

7. Agreed. I think he needs a season in county cricket to try to find his mojo again and to develop his game away from the glare of Test cricket.

King Cricket said...

Two Tests practically means there's nothing to play for after the first match.

It's unspeakable gashness.

Tim said...

Can't argue with any of that...except on Ian Bell! He has the class to be a great, but being dropped could provide him with the steel he lacks.

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