England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day August 1, 2011

Robust England are beginning to develop an aura

Despite losing Chris Tremlett to injury a dominant England surged to a 2-0 lead and must now consider the fantastic opportunity that lies in front of them

Lord's was a "near perfect" display in the words of Andrew Strauss, but England's crushing victory at Trent Bridge to go 2-0 against the No. 1 team in the world was, ironically because of its faults, an even better performance. There is an aura developing around this England team. They are finding ways to win from difficult positions, not just edge their way to victory but change 50-50 scenarios into overwhelming successes. It's the type of cricket Australia used to play.

At various junctures throughout the first two-and-a-half days this match was on a knife-edge and it was England who won the major moments. The final session on the first day when the last two wickets added 97; the same time on the second when Stuart Broad took his hat-trick; the first session on Saturday when England still trailed, then when India took the second new ball.

Had any of those gone India's way so, too, would crucial momentum in the match. It's how Australia stayed on top for so long. Often they would dominate from the start, as England did at Lord's, but sometimes their opponents would provide a stern contest only for Australia's greater belief and depth to shine through. That's why England have the makings of a No. 1 team. One more victory in this series will put them there.

Strauss was keen to stress after Lord's that there was room for improvement and did so again here. He had more of a point about this match, where England were 124 for 8 and dropped three catches, yet the win was by an even greater margin. India had problems - an injured Harbhajan and a reshuffled batting line-up the biggest of them - but they were brushed aside by a team gaining some fearsome, ruthless momentum.

To emphasise the current health of the England team you need to look no further than the star of the fourth day at Trent Bridge. Tim Bresnan wouldn't have played if Chris Tremlett hadn't suffered a hamstring injury; he ended the game with 90 and a career-best 5 for 48. All-round performances don't come much better and he produced it on "Yorkshire Day" for good measure. He did more than a passing impression of Tremlett, too, as he roughed up Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh with short balls to make them seem like novices.

Then there was the skill to switch immediately to the inswinger to remove MS Dhoni. Bresnan is now a quality Test bowler, far removed from the youngster who was plucked out of county cricket by Duncan Fletcher in 2006. The confidence he gained from his performances at Melbourne and Sydney during the Ashes has not diminished despite an injury-hit first half to the season.

We'll never know what would have happened at the start of this summer against Sri Lanka if all England's bowlers had been fit because Bresnan was the man in possession, not Stuart Broad after his own injury problems. Now both have been matchwinners in the same Test. Bresnan may not play at Edgbaston so he must be the best reserve in the world game.

It would be cruel to leave him out, but if Tremlett is fit then the only way Bresnan plays is if England finally bite the bullet over a five-man attack. Now, though, is as good a time as ever to try. Jonathan Trott's injury could give them the perfect window. Bresnan and Broad are scoring runs, while Matt Prior is in the form of his life.

Clearly, England's current balance is serving them well and in English conditions there is no pressing need for a fifth bowler but in the coming months and years they will come across some flat pitches. It feels as though the next level for this team is to at least know they can play with a different balance even if it is only used on occasions rather than as the norm. Still, if Trott is fit they are unlikely to make that call in this series.

Given how key he has been to England's rise it is remarkable to see the scale of their victory with such a quiet display from Graeme Swann, who struggled after a blow to his left hand in the first innings. He had one of his worst matches with the ball, going at more than six-an-over in the first innings, and the closest he came to a wicket was when Sachin Tendulkar nearly failed to clear Kevin Pietersen at mid-on. Still, he played his part, because his 28 in the stand with Broad changed the complexion of match.

There are some batsmen also having a quiet series. Alastair Cook's record-breaking form has been snapped by swing, Strauss is making starts but not converting them and Eoin Morgan, despite his 70 in the second innings, is vulnerable against the movement. Throw in a rare lean match for Trott and it adds further weight to the performances of those who won the match.

England will expect India to come back strongly having regrouped themselves, but nothing will worry this team. In the last two weeks they have set themselves a new level yet will still be striving to get even better. A couple of hours after the match finished those players who use Twitter were busy planning their evening in Nottingham. The short break before Edgbaston will allow them to celebrate properly what they have achieved in the first half of this series. It may also be a chance to consider the fantastic opportunity that lies in front of them.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sikandar on August 4, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    Let us get one thing clear! England beat us by 300+ runs that too in the presence of fab/fake 3 - Sachin, Laxman and Rahul. Except Rahul and to some extent Laxman no one wanted to stick around! Yuvi tried a bit and Sachin! we all know this guy can't deliver when mattes most!! others ???! I am still surprised why Dhoni is the captain of a test team when this guy has no clue how to play against quality team in foreign pitches, at best he is a good ODI captain! Coming to England, i believe they have the best attack in the world [at this moment] and they are committed to win for their country and were preparing for this series sincerely[unlike Indians who love to show their so called talent in this nonsensical game called IPL]! well RESULT is evident!! Aura! yes, after what they have gone through in the last decade with so many failures, I believe this Team has it all except that they need to find a quality spinner to assist Swann ...else it will be difficult in sub-continent pitches!!

  • Dre on August 4, 2011, 1:16 GMT

    @Napally. Cook and Trott, injured or not have NOT been making runs have they? Did that stop the likes of Prior and KP (supposedly out of form) from stepping up and playing innings that their Ind counterparts failed to do? Wasn't Tremlett out injured? Wasn't Swann as injured as any so called "injured/recovering" player that you mentioned? If the likes of Yuraj and Tendulkar are desperately undersong because they are returning from injury, why did they score 50's without looking hampered by injury. Yuraj has had probs vs quicks in tests before, during and after his injury and clear analysis will prove that its his technique that has never been adjusted, not his fitness. Note I never agreed about Eng and their aura, I don't know about that. What I will say is, its the best Eng team I've ever seen. What I will say is that I'm tired of this half-strength theory that keeps on popping up every time Ind is missing 2-3 players, key or not. The thing about Eng is that EVERY player becomes key.

  • Tiger on August 3, 2011, 13:18 GMT

    Test Match is about playing consistently for 5 days and not for 1-2 sessions. Rankings are about playing against all oppositions over a period of time and not for 2 matches. India and England have reached 1st and 2nd rank by playing and winning over a period of time. If England achieve the No 1 status then we should agree they have played well to achieve it. Let them achieve the 1st Ranking. Look at Strauss, Cook and Trott, they have been sorted out in both the matches. Let us do the same in the next test and get Peterson out quickly before he settles down then we will have another opportunity to go at them hard. Guys nothing is over till it is actually not over. Don't get desperate and criticize. Remember the 2003 World Cup when India bounced back after couple of defeats and reached the final with some sterling performances. Keep ur fingers crossed.

  • Dummy4 on August 3, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    england deserved to win the 2 matches....i have to say india were just not good enough...(im an indian by the way)....sometimes you just have to accept the facts and stop bitching around mindlessly when the truth is plainly written on the wall...hope we play well in the last 2 tests...although drawing the series is a little too much to ask with this team...looks like dhoni's luck has run out.

    hopefully we can do better in the next series against australia in australia... nice playing england

  • Doug on August 3, 2011, 8:57 GMT


    You say that "The cream of Indian side - Tendulkar, Gambhir, Sehwag, Zaheer, Yuvraj are either not available due to injuries or coming from injuries."

    That's a poor argument. Tendulkar's fine. He just hasn't been playing well. Zaheer got injured in the first test, but if you pick injury prone bowlers you need back up. Gambhir was fine to bat in both innings in the first test and made no difference. Yuvraj wasn't picked for the first test, because he wasn't seen as one of the top players. So that only leaves you with Sehwag. And his average on swinging pitches is distinctly mediocre. He's a class batsman, so may come good, but I wouldn't rely on him making all the difference.

    The fact is that just as English players struggle on the flatter pitches of the subcontinent, so Indian players struggle on faster, swinging pitches. It's how well they manage in alien conditions that determines the quality of a team.

  • Dummy4 on August 3, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    @Master01 Oh well. At least Team England can bowl at all. Unlike Team India...

  • Sriram on August 3, 2011, 7:48 GMT

    England could win 4-0 and go on to be No.1, the question is how long can they hold on to it, 2.5 yrs like India or for a decade like Australia..i doubt both.

  • bhargav on August 3, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    England played really well, there is no doubt about that. India played horribly for a #1 team, that is also quite clear. But there is just too much being made out of it from just two tests. The series isn't over yet. India were a much depleted side. Not a single English player is playing in the IPL, so they're quite fresh. Of course, that should not come as an excuse for a poor display, and India need to sort out their programme to avoid such situations.

    Ever since India became a #1 side, people have just been questioning it. If England were to become a #1 side tomorrow, so be it. Whatever the criteria are, will apply, and they apply to all teams equally, so why all the questioning. The era of neutral reporting and commentating is over. I guess the former cricketers who now make the majority of this crowd, are not properly educated in neutrality and start crying foul when things don't seem to go their way. Individual egos also just come into play far too much.

  • Tiger on August 3, 2011, 3:10 GMT

    Is it not stupid to question whether we deserve to be No 1? There is no place for opinions. It is just points which determine whether a team is No 1 or not? Though India have won World Cup didn't get them No 1 status. Arguing beating a team at home and away is all just opinions/arguments. If at the end of the series England emerge as No 1, then they are No1, there will not be any room for opinions. When England visit Sri Lanka and get beaten and they will lose their No 1 status again people will say they don't deserve to be No 1. Status as No 1 is just decided by points they have and nothing else. One more point, If Sachin had been run out like Bell, would Strauss have ever called him back? No way. If Laxman's so called nick not detected by Hot Spot and that stupid Vaughn says Vaseline? Have they forgotten real Vaseline John Lever incident?

  • Nat on August 3, 2011, 2:59 GMT

    @MartinC - Beating SA you could only dream about. Go there and win at least 1 test match and tell your experience. At least India have won a test there consistently on the last few tours. With a new captain (watch out AB for the next 2 years) and a very good coach (Gary) and bowling coach (Donald), I bet my money on Proteas any day to be next #1. Not the whining Poms. Plain simple reason - Proteas play better cricket and have beaten both India and Australia at home. Agreed, they choke at big tournaments like world cup, but to me they are the next #1 that can sustain the title for a good period. England is simply incapable of winning in India, Pak, SL, SA. Forget a series - win a test there and tell me if you are #1. And by the way, did you remember the whitewash at Aussies the last time you've been there? Beating #5 Aussies at home is not a big achievement.

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