December 10, 2012

England in India 2012

England join great sporting year

There have been some fantastic sporting moments for Britain this year, but until recently few had come from the cricketers. Now, though, that has changed. Victory in Mumbai has been followed by defeating India at fortress Eden Gardens. It is the theme taken up in the Daily Mail where Patrick Collins says people can believe in the team again.

To appreciate how far England's cricketers have travelled, it is necessary to remember where they started. In late March, Andrew Strauss sat in a bleak back room in Galle and attempted to rationalise England's fourth consecutive Test match defeat.

In the same paper, Paul Newman has his version of England's late-year resurgence and the amazing achievement that is within their grasp.

They were under a new captain in Alastair Cook, who had to replace one of the most successful and popular men to have held the post in Andrew Strauss. Not only that, but the series initially followed a depressingly predictable script when India won the first Test in Ahmedabad with contemptible ease. But what has happened since is extraordinary. Even though Cook has called incorrectly for all three tosses, England have played cricket that must rank with the best they have ever produced overseas.

As mentioned above, Alastair Cook has been at the centre of everything for England on this tour. What he could achieve in the rest of his career is hard to comprehend. In the Guardian, Rob Smyth tries to crunch some numbers and find context.

If Cook is surely the best opener in the world right now, it is not so easy to judge him in a historical context. All modern batsmen have to put up with the accusation that they never played on uncovered pitches, or against West Indies' four horsemen of the apocalypse, or in the golden age of fast bowling around the world in the 1990s. Yet Cook is so resourceful that he would surely have found a way to score runs in any era. For now he is, depending on your viewpoint, England's best opener since Gooch, Geoff Boycott or perhaps even Sir Len Hutton. His average as an opener (49.80, a fraction down on his career average of 50.02) is England's highest since Dennis Amiss in the 1970s.

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