England v India, 3rd Investec Test, Ageas Bowl, 5th day July 31, 2014

England find their upward curve

There will doubtless be tough days ahead but England appear to have turned a corner. ESPNcricinfo assesses where the team is after levelling the series
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#politeenquiries: Is India being bowled out by Moeen embarrassing?

At long last, after many storms, many rainy days and many sad departures, the sun emerges from the clouds. Victory over India at the Ageas Bowl was not only England's first Test victory for almost a year, but their best performance in far longer. Arguably, not since the Mumbai Test of 2012 have they put such an impressive display together.

There will, doubtless, be more dark days as the team develops. There will be more days when the young players make errors and the senior players fail. Progress will not be smooth.

But, for the first time, there was evidence that this new-look England team could work. There was evidence that the energy and skill of the new players could reinvigorate those who have been battered and bruised by previous campaigns. There was evidence that the senior players - the likes of James Anderson - still have the ability to perform at this level. And there was evidence that Peter Moores, the coach, is the man to oversee the journey.

It was Moores who persuaded the senior players to put the scars of Australia behind them and rediscover the simple joys of playing cricket and representing their county. And it was Moores who has helped create an environment into which new players - the likes of Moeen Ali and Gary Ballance - can enter and quickly feel comfortable and accepted.

It would be foolish to read too much into one performance. England enjoyed a large slice of fortune in this game and they have only levelled the series. But they needed this win. They needed it for their own self-confidence as players, to shore up faith in the 'new era' and to draw a line under the past. While it would be wrong to forget about Mitchell Johnson et al - we will be in the middle of an Ashes series this time next year - England can, for now, focus on the rebuilding operation rather than dwelling on what has been lost.

Here we assess the state of the side.

The positives

The manner in which Gary Ballance has taken to Test cricket - and to the No. 3 spot - has been hugely encouraging. While his solidity early in his innings is reassuring, he also has the ability to change gear when required. He may face tougher challenges on turning wickets or against greater pace, but he could hardly have contributed more at this stage. He scored almost 200 runs in this Test despite being incorrectly given out in both innings.

The return to form of the senior players - Ian Bell, Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and James Anderson - was perhaps the most significant improvement for England. Bell and Cook both scored more than 150 runs in the game, while Anderson enjoyed his first five-wicket haul in more than a year and Broad lent excellent support.

It might seem churlish to point it out, but England did enjoy some luck in this match. It is impossible to say how things might have progressed had fate taken a different turn

Cook had a fine match as captain. So well did England bat in their first innings, it may be forgotten that many were suggesting this was a bowl-first pitch, so Cook deserves credit for his choice. He was also rewarded for his faith in Moeen, as well as some of his field placings - a catch was taken at gully the delivery after he placed the man there on the final day - while so well did his manage the acceleration and the declaration in the second innings, that he was able to rest his bowlers a little and still secure victory with two sessions to spare.

Chris Woakes bowled with skill, consistency and no little pace at the Ageas Bowl. The scorecard might not have shown it, but if he continues to bowl so well, it surely will.

We are only five Tests into Moeen Ali's Test career, but he has already produced outstanding performances with bat (against Sri Lanka in Leeds) and ball (in Southampton). Cook remarked he had never known a bowler improve so quickly and there should be plenty more to come. It will amuse Moeen to know his figures in the second innings, 6 for 67, were better than any recorded by Shane Warne against India.

Jos Buttler enjoyed a fine debut. Not only did he thrash a selfless 85 - some players would have played for a century on Test debut in such circumstances - but he claimed six catches in the match and looked increasingly comfortable with the gloves.

Joe Root is in the middle of a wonderful summer. While he failed in the first innings here, his second innings half-century (from 38 balls) helped England set-up the declaration and underlined what a fine, adaptable player he has become.

After two losses and two draws from his first four Tests as coach, this was an important milestone for Peter Moores. Not only were the selections of most of the younger players vindicated, but Broad credited the coach for a change of mindset that helped those players beaten in Australia leave the past behind and rediscover the vibrant, positive style of play that rendered them such a fine side in 2011. For creating an environment where young players can flourish and older players can renew themselves, Moores deserves credit.

The decision to drop - or rest - Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes was not due to any dissatisfaction with their bowling. Both will, no doubt, return before too long, underlining the impression that, alongside the current team, Steven Finn and a few others, England are starting to build a decent stable of seamers. Bearing in mind the international schedule in 2015, that may prove essential.

There is impressive batting depth to this England side. With the potential to have Broad, the maker of a Test century, at No. 10, England should prove increasingly hard for opposition sides to finish off and have the potential to accelerate as innings progress.

Not only was Cook given a rousing ovation when he walked out to bat - he said he had never experienced anything like it and would never forget it - but a crowd of around 9,000 battled against awful traffic and long queues to see the moment of victory. It was a sign that, with just a little encouragement, the English cricket-loving public can be won back. They just need not to be fleeced or patronised by the authorities and something of which to be proud and supportive.

The concerns

It might seem churlish to point it out, but England did enjoy some luck in this match. Cook, Bell and Buttler all enjoyed reprieves - either from the umpires or the fielders - early in their innings. It is impossible to say how the match might have progressed had fate taken a different turn.

Both Bell and Cook have struggled for runs for much of the past year. While their return to form was pleasing for England, they will need to contribute more consistently if the side is to sustain an improvement in results. The concerns about Cook's batting, in particular, have not gone away.

At the start of the summer, Chris Jordan bowled with pace, skill and control. Perhaps as a result of being dropped after two Tests, he currently looks a nervous cricketer and struggled for both pace and control here. Neither he or Woakes claimed a wicket in the match, suggesting England still remain uncomfortably reliant on their two frontline seamers. That increases anxiety at the thought this may have been Anderson's final contribution of the series. Having just reasserted his worth to the side, he now faces a disciplinary hearing which could result in a four-Test ban. In such form, he is very hard to replace.

It is only three Tests since Sam Robson scored his maiden Test century, but his frailty outside the off stump is becoming a concern. It is an area on which he will need to improve if he is to survive at this level.

The conclusion

These are early days in the rebuilding of the England side. Inexperienced players are sure to make mistakes and there may be days when Buttler struggles with the gloves, Moeen struggles with the ball and Root and Woakes are unable to replicate the deeds of those that preceded them.

There will be days, too, when Cook cannot find all the answers as captain. He will never be a beautiful batsman; he will never be a great orator. But he can be calm and sensible and lead by example. If he can maintain his improved form with the bat, there is no reason he cannot continue to lead as well as he did in India in 2012.

There is a long way to go and England remain, at present, a mid-ranking Test side with plenty of room for progress. But for the first occasion in a long, long time, they can be said to be heading in the right direction.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SICHO on August 2, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    @thozar, is there actually a series that you couldn't have won? Seems to me you 'could've won' everything you played; England 2011: we could've won it if all players were fit, Australia 2011/12: we 'could've won' if the pitches weren't hard and our batsmen weren't off form (and being able to play anything on the throat), SA 2014 we 'could've won' if Faf didn't save SA... And our bowlers not being able to bowl out a SA 10-man team with more than 130 overs and a lead of 458, instead having fielders all over the boundary. NZ 2014, we'could've won' had McCullum being out. Last Test, we could've won had I. Sharma being fit. You could've won everything!!! But interestingly you keep losing all of them

  • thozar on August 1, 2014, 17:33 GMT

    @PrasPunter, it is easy to win a short 2 test series than it is to win a long 5 test series, especially away from home. This is common sense and everyone would agree. Your team almost lost the first test and barely won the second. We won the Lord's test by 95 runs. If it were a 2 test series, we would have won the series by now.

    Re: NZL series, I don't know how long non-Indian fans are going to bring it up. We should have really won that series, at least drawn it. We were just unlucky and to be honest, McCullum played the knock of his life.

  • superfreddie3 on August 1, 2014, 17:32 GMT

    So glad for Cookie, he's not the perfect captain but he's the best choice at the moment and this looks like the beginning of a good new side. I would be happy for us to just compete with the top teams for a couple of years.

  • MarkTaffin on August 1, 2014, 14:48 GMT

    @ YorkshirePudding. Happy Yorkshire Day to us both. Not really aiming at Buttler's individual performance - runs v byes - rather that he relieved the team of the Management's self-inflicted indulgence in Prior and how much Prior's rapidly declining form and need for self-preservation limited the team's performances.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 1, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    @MarkTaffin, and one innings doesn't a test player make, little is made of the 20 BYES buttler conceded, if that had been prior there would have been hell to pay in the media. Lets wait and see how hes doing in 10 tests, which should be about half way through the next ashes series.

  • KuPulok on August 1, 2014, 11:40 GMT

    Go ahead England. Better days has come again.

  • Ragav999 on August 1, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    Some how the oft repeated wisdom of landl47 regarding youth keeps reminding me of a trader holding onto a sinking stock in a bear market and believing that it will turn and be the front runner in the next bull market.

  • MarkTaffin on August 1, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    I wonder how much of the freshness and renewed enthusiasm in England's performance can be attributed to the arrival of Buttler? For four games the Management were intend on preserving Prior and going along with his scheme of self preservation at all costs. Carrying that bogged the team down mentally, expecting something from a player who was clearly shot in Oz. Buttler has removed that obstacle and replaced it with youth, form, fitness and crackerjack enthusiasm. Reflects on the Management they waited so long.

  • jackiethepen on August 1, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    India also had chances in their favour, the difference is they failed to capitalise on them. It is rare in a Test match that chances don't occur. Players are often dropped at crucial times. Think of KP dropped by Warne in 2005. It didn't lessen the greatness of his innings. Neither did it reduce Amla's innings of 300 in 2009 when he was dropped 3 times. I think to keep harping on the starts of Cook and Bell is to try to redress a balance that isn't there. It's how you play afterwards that counts in any cricket. There are few long innings that don't have elements of luck however 'chanceless'. The chop on that missed the stumps by a whisker. On another day the batsman would be bowled. Cricket is full of near misses all the time. Bell had three freak dismissals among recent ones. Nobody bothered to count them just the score.

  • xtrafalgarx on August 1, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    @Landl47: That's the Australian way. Every good Australian side i can remember has always only had 2 or 3 young players in the team. Hayden, Langer, Gilchrist, Hussey, Martyn, S. Clark, Symonds - keys cogs of the great Australian side of the era gone by - all cemented their spots in the international side at 28+ years of age. The only time a young player came in was when they were a prodigious talent, a la Warne, Mcgrath, Ponting, Clarke.

    The good thing about Australian players though, is that they last long. Even though guys like Gilly, Lang, Haydos all came in 28+, they still all played around 100 tests because they last till 37/38 years of age. English players usually burn out at 34/35 like Strauss, Collingwood, Swann, Pietersen, Trott, Prior - they all went before 35 years of age.

  • SICHO on August 2, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    @thozar, is there actually a series that you couldn't have won? Seems to me you 'could've won' everything you played; England 2011: we could've won it if all players were fit, Australia 2011/12: we 'could've won' if the pitches weren't hard and our batsmen weren't off form (and being able to play anything on the throat), SA 2014 we 'could've won' if Faf didn't save SA... And our bowlers not being able to bowl out a SA 10-man team with more than 130 overs and a lead of 458, instead having fielders all over the boundary. NZ 2014, we'could've won' had McCullum being out. Last Test, we could've won had I. Sharma being fit. You could've won everything!!! But interestingly you keep losing all of them

  • thozar on August 1, 2014, 17:33 GMT

    @PrasPunter, it is easy to win a short 2 test series than it is to win a long 5 test series, especially away from home. This is common sense and everyone would agree. Your team almost lost the first test and barely won the second. We won the Lord's test by 95 runs. If it were a 2 test series, we would have won the series by now.

    Re: NZL series, I don't know how long non-Indian fans are going to bring it up. We should have really won that series, at least drawn it. We were just unlucky and to be honest, McCullum played the knock of his life.

  • superfreddie3 on August 1, 2014, 17:32 GMT

    So glad for Cookie, he's not the perfect captain but he's the best choice at the moment and this looks like the beginning of a good new side. I would be happy for us to just compete with the top teams for a couple of years.

  • MarkTaffin on August 1, 2014, 14:48 GMT

    @ YorkshirePudding. Happy Yorkshire Day to us both. Not really aiming at Buttler's individual performance - runs v byes - rather that he relieved the team of the Management's self-inflicted indulgence in Prior and how much Prior's rapidly declining form and need for self-preservation limited the team's performances.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 1, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    @MarkTaffin, and one innings doesn't a test player make, little is made of the 20 BYES buttler conceded, if that had been prior there would have been hell to pay in the media. Lets wait and see how hes doing in 10 tests, which should be about half way through the next ashes series.

  • KuPulok on August 1, 2014, 11:40 GMT

    Go ahead England. Better days has come again.

  • Ragav999 on August 1, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    Some how the oft repeated wisdom of landl47 regarding youth keeps reminding me of a trader holding onto a sinking stock in a bear market and believing that it will turn and be the front runner in the next bull market.

  • MarkTaffin on August 1, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    I wonder how much of the freshness and renewed enthusiasm in England's performance can be attributed to the arrival of Buttler? For four games the Management were intend on preserving Prior and going along with his scheme of self preservation at all costs. Carrying that bogged the team down mentally, expecting something from a player who was clearly shot in Oz. Buttler has removed that obstacle and replaced it with youth, form, fitness and crackerjack enthusiasm. Reflects on the Management they waited so long.

  • jackiethepen on August 1, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    India also had chances in their favour, the difference is they failed to capitalise on them. It is rare in a Test match that chances don't occur. Players are often dropped at crucial times. Think of KP dropped by Warne in 2005. It didn't lessen the greatness of his innings. Neither did it reduce Amla's innings of 300 in 2009 when he was dropped 3 times. I think to keep harping on the starts of Cook and Bell is to try to redress a balance that isn't there. It's how you play afterwards that counts in any cricket. There are few long innings that don't have elements of luck however 'chanceless'. The chop on that missed the stumps by a whisker. On another day the batsman would be bowled. Cricket is full of near misses all the time. Bell had three freak dismissals among recent ones. Nobody bothered to count them just the score.

  • xtrafalgarx on August 1, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    @Landl47: That's the Australian way. Every good Australian side i can remember has always only had 2 or 3 young players in the team. Hayden, Langer, Gilchrist, Hussey, Martyn, S. Clark, Symonds - keys cogs of the great Australian side of the era gone by - all cemented their spots in the international side at 28+ years of age. The only time a young player came in was when they were a prodigious talent, a la Warne, Mcgrath, Ponting, Clarke.

    The good thing about Australian players though, is that they last long. Even though guys like Gilly, Lang, Haydos all came in 28+, they still all played around 100 tests because they last till 37/38 years of age. English players usually burn out at 34/35 like Strauss, Collingwood, Swann, Pietersen, Trott, Prior - they all went before 35 years of age.

  • PrasPunter on August 1, 2014, 5:38 GMT

    @thozar , on similar lines, I can say for sure that had it been a 10-test series vs NZ early this year, india would have 8-1 !!! But you know what, the one that counts the most is what has actually happened and not what you want to happen !!

  • PrasPunter on August 1, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    @SICHO , appreciate it - exactly my thought as well - landl47 is free to dream !!!

  • SICHO on August 1, 2014, 5:27 GMT

    Continuing.... To dominate world cricket, you need sides that can bowl teams out, bat everywhere and to some extent, FIELD. As we have all noticed, all of India's next stars seem to dropping match after match (Pujara, Kohli, R. Sharma, Dhawan), the only genuine "youngster" from India who seems to be here to stay is Rahane. Vijay isn't young, but he's very good, too bad the Indians don't like him because "he scores too slowly". The less said about the bowling the better

  • SICHO on August 1, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    @landl47. More often than not I respect your views and opinion, but the whole idea that you have a young side, therefore you will dominate world cricket is just rubbish. All those young stars didn't look like int'l cricketers in Australia not so long ago. Lets be honest here, anyone can score runs against India, and when you find yourself losing a Test because you were bounced out by I. Sharma, then you really need to worry. After Anderson and Broad, there seems to be no life in the fast bowling department for England. I remember back in 2012, you had the same idea that England were going to dominate world cricket because they had few youngsters coming up the ranks (Compton, Bresnan, Finn, Bairstow et al), all of those names couldn't cut it at the highest level.... To be continued

  • landl47 on August 1, 2014, 4:17 GMT

    The encouraging thing this Summer has been that the young players have done well. In this game England had 6 players 25 or under, Cook, Broad and Moeen at 29,28 and 27 respectively and the two 'old men', Bell and Anderson, at 32 (Anderson turned 32 yesterday). India is also a good young side with only Dhoni and Murali over 30. Compare that with Australia, who have 6 players older than the oldest England player and South Africa, whose remaining 3 stars, Amla, ABD and Steyn are all over 30. Those sides, currently 1 and 2 in the rankings, have only 1 good young player each in their sides, Smith for Australia and de Kock for SA. Sri Lanka is in even worse shape with Mahela about to retire, Sanga and Herath now 36 and only Mathews looking like a test player otherwise.

    In a couple of years India and England will be the two dominant sides and we should see many epic battles between them.

  • thozar on July 31, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    Jordan is one of the worst seamers I have seen. Pankaj also went wicketless but that is because of bad decisions and fielding. But Pankaj bowled really well. Jordan was just bowling tasty, juicy pies. I am surprised why England would select him instead of Finn. Same question why India keep selecting Jadeja ahead of Ashwin.

  • thozar on July 31, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    After reading the title, I thought that this article would be usual drivel about how great England are after just one test win. But, as I read through the article, George has clearly highlighted the concerns and the fact that England are still an ordinary side. For heaven's sake, this is a team that lost a series to Sri Lanka!!! Can you believe that? The same Sri Lanka that has not won a single test in India or Australia (and don't like they will win one in the near future). Tbh though, Sri Lanka were lucky that they caught England when they were really down in the dumps and yet managed to win only one test and almost lost the other. Were it a 5 test series, I am sure Sri Lanka would have lost. India, on the other hand, are a way better test side than Lanka and will win this long series. Anderson will not be playing the last 2 tests but even if he were to play, India will win. If Ishant was there, I would say it is 3-1 but now I should say 2-1.

  • niazbhi on July 31, 2014, 23:42 GMT

    You are an amazing writer. I love your writing but you are making me confused.. did not you just write aweek back that cook & Co have less of of chance in the series because they lost at the easiest ground (for England) and indian batsmen will get even more confident and Kumar will get better? You did not expect them to come back strong.. did you? Now you are saying England will only better?

    Bell is a good batsman, it was expected he would be back. Anderson was always getting to 3 to 5 (sometimes more) wickets. Broad only got 3 wickets in this match. He can be inconsistent. Moeen always got wickets, Cook did not use him muich. I still ve doubts on Cook's batting.

  • Puffin on July 31, 2014, 22:36 GMT

    Upward curve? Well, it seemed to me that getting lower was going to be difficult.

  • liz1558 on July 31, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    Fair points. It looks like the old pros have shaken off the 5-0 drubbing and got back to playing good cricket again. It's hard to place a more damaging series to any side in the history of the game than the last Ashes series. It had as much to do with fatigue as anything else. England made a big error in agreeing to 2 Ashes series in one year. But to lose Trott, Swann, Prior, KP - and nearly everyone else. Astonishing. It's only in this Test that the remainders - Cook, Bell, Anderson and Broad - have shown that they can still compete.

  • __PK on July 31, 2014, 21:28 GMT

    LOL. Broad has gone from a genuine allrounder to a bowling allrounder to a handy no 9 and now is rather desperately described as being part of "batting depth" and a "maker of a test century" as he slumps down the order further and further. And regarding the profitable reprieves - "It is impossible to say how the match might have progressed had fate taken a different turn." Why is it impossible? It's very possible to say how the match might have gone, that's what "might" means. And I think we all can take a guess at that.

  • on July 31, 2014, 19:58 GMT

    If the senior players can play consistently well then this side can win the series and regain the ashes next summer. The bowling attack is exciting - full of pace and potential and a wicket taking spinner. Woakes was very unlucky not to pick up a wicket this game, and he bowled with pace and movement. I've liked the look of Stokes bowling as well - I thought he was unlucky to have been left out of the side. He's bowled quick, accurately and he picks up wickets. His temperament will improve overtime which will help develop his batting. Ali has bowled well and taken his chance. What I like is he genuinely gives it a tweak which will give you a chance on any surface as the odd one will always grip and you'll get drift through the air. Greater control will come. A key thing is he doesn't mind the batters coming after him which will be important next summer as the Aussies will surely look to take him on. Having a five man attack also allows broad to attack and that's when he's at his best.

  • eggyroe on July 31, 2014, 18:50 GMT

    After nearly one year without a Test Match win,as an Englishman this is sooner rather than later.What is required is a clear head after the severe thrashing handed out to India at the Rose Bowl,after all is this the finished IX,personally I do not think so,I'm of the opinion that Nick Compton should be opening the innings.I do stand corrected with the inclusion of Moheen Ali in the side as the principle spinner,I would personally never had him any where near the side,but after watching the so called World's best players of spin bowling being sent back to the Pavilion in a procession I think he deserves his place on merit.We now get to the presence of the captain,Alistair Cook,in my humble opinion even after my scathing assessment of his abilities of captaining the side,I must say that his performance in the just completed Test Match has been much better than efforts since the trip to Australia last winter and beyond.

  • on July 31, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    really impressed with England's performance. Cook and Bell are excellent batsmen and I don't think they will fail again after seeing the performance in this particular test. Moen Ali has asked a lot of questions to many of the Indian batsmen who are good at playing spin. Jos Butler seems to be a very good batsman-wicketkeeper. Anderson and Broad really bowled well. It is interesting to see if Anderson is given a verdict, then who is going to replace him for the remaining of the test

  • on July 31, 2014, 17:54 GMT

    excellent article by George Dobell.Every English cricketer must read this article to get energised.After an frustrating year English men could taste some victory after this test at rose bowl

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on July 31, 2014, 17:54 GMT

    excellent article by George Dobell.Every English cricketer must read this article to get energised.After an frustrating year English men could taste some victory after this test at rose bowl

  • on July 31, 2014, 18:06 GMT

    really impressed with England's performance. Cook and Bell are excellent batsmen and I don't think they will fail again after seeing the performance in this particular test. Moen Ali has asked a lot of questions to many of the Indian batsmen who are good at playing spin. Jos Butler seems to be a very good batsman-wicketkeeper. Anderson and Broad really bowled well. It is interesting to see if Anderson is given a verdict, then who is going to replace him for the remaining of the test

  • eggyroe on July 31, 2014, 18:50 GMT

    After nearly one year without a Test Match win,as an Englishman this is sooner rather than later.What is required is a clear head after the severe thrashing handed out to India at the Rose Bowl,after all is this the finished IX,personally I do not think so,I'm of the opinion that Nick Compton should be opening the innings.I do stand corrected with the inclusion of Moheen Ali in the side as the principle spinner,I would personally never had him any where near the side,but after watching the so called World's best players of spin bowling being sent back to the Pavilion in a procession I think he deserves his place on merit.We now get to the presence of the captain,Alistair Cook,in my humble opinion even after my scathing assessment of his abilities of captaining the side,I must say that his performance in the just completed Test Match has been much better than efforts since the trip to Australia last winter and beyond.

  • on July 31, 2014, 19:58 GMT

    If the senior players can play consistently well then this side can win the series and regain the ashes next summer. The bowling attack is exciting - full of pace and potential and a wicket taking spinner. Woakes was very unlucky not to pick up a wicket this game, and he bowled with pace and movement. I've liked the look of Stokes bowling as well - I thought he was unlucky to have been left out of the side. He's bowled quick, accurately and he picks up wickets. His temperament will improve overtime which will help develop his batting. Ali has bowled well and taken his chance. What I like is he genuinely gives it a tweak which will give you a chance on any surface as the odd one will always grip and you'll get drift through the air. Greater control will come. A key thing is he doesn't mind the batters coming after him which will be important next summer as the Aussies will surely look to take him on. Having a five man attack also allows broad to attack and that's when he's at his best.

  • __PK on July 31, 2014, 21:28 GMT

    LOL. Broad has gone from a genuine allrounder to a bowling allrounder to a handy no 9 and now is rather desperately described as being part of "batting depth" and a "maker of a test century" as he slumps down the order further and further. And regarding the profitable reprieves - "It is impossible to say how the match might have progressed had fate taken a different turn." Why is it impossible? It's very possible to say how the match might have gone, that's what "might" means. And I think we all can take a guess at that.

  • liz1558 on July 31, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    Fair points. It looks like the old pros have shaken off the 5-0 drubbing and got back to playing good cricket again. It's hard to place a more damaging series to any side in the history of the game than the last Ashes series. It had as much to do with fatigue as anything else. England made a big error in agreeing to 2 Ashes series in one year. But to lose Trott, Swann, Prior, KP - and nearly everyone else. Astonishing. It's only in this Test that the remainders - Cook, Bell, Anderson and Broad - have shown that they can still compete.

  • Puffin on July 31, 2014, 22:36 GMT

    Upward curve? Well, it seemed to me that getting lower was going to be difficult.

  • niazbhi on July 31, 2014, 23:42 GMT

    You are an amazing writer. I love your writing but you are making me confused.. did not you just write aweek back that cook & Co have less of of chance in the series because they lost at the easiest ground (for England) and indian batsmen will get even more confident and Kumar will get better? You did not expect them to come back strong.. did you? Now you are saying England will only better?

    Bell is a good batsman, it was expected he would be back. Anderson was always getting to 3 to 5 (sometimes more) wickets. Broad only got 3 wickets in this match. He can be inconsistent. Moeen always got wickets, Cook did not use him muich. I still ve doubts on Cook's batting.

  • thozar on July 31, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    After reading the title, I thought that this article would be usual drivel about how great England are after just one test win. But, as I read through the article, George has clearly highlighted the concerns and the fact that England are still an ordinary side. For heaven's sake, this is a team that lost a series to Sri Lanka!!! Can you believe that? The same Sri Lanka that has not won a single test in India or Australia (and don't like they will win one in the near future). Tbh though, Sri Lanka were lucky that they caught England when they were really down in the dumps and yet managed to win only one test and almost lost the other. Were it a 5 test series, I am sure Sri Lanka would have lost. India, on the other hand, are a way better test side than Lanka and will win this long series. Anderson will not be playing the last 2 tests but even if he were to play, India will win. If Ishant was there, I would say it is 3-1 but now I should say 2-1.

  • thozar on July 31, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    Jordan is one of the worst seamers I have seen. Pankaj also went wicketless but that is because of bad decisions and fielding. But Pankaj bowled really well. Jordan was just bowling tasty, juicy pies. I am surprised why England would select him instead of Finn. Same question why India keep selecting Jadeja ahead of Ashwin.