India in England 2014 August 1, 2014

England get their mind right


There was no ticket-tape parade, no open-air bus ride, no ICC mace or MBEs for the victory at the Ageas Bowl but, in years to come, we may just look back on it as the first step in a journey that led to a resurgence in England cricket.

There is, no doubt, a great deal of room for improvement in the England team. They need to find greater consistency, they need greater contributions from all areas of the side and they will know that, at the Ageas Bowl, had Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Gary Ballance and Jos Buttler all been dismissed early in their innings - as they so nearly were - the result might well have been different. One good game does not end the legitimate concerns about Cook's - or Bell's - form and there will be times, as the likes of Buttler, Moeen Ali and Sam Robson learn their trade at the highest level, when patience is required.

But it would be wrong to dismiss England's success as simply a change of fortune. From the moment Cook won the toss and elected to bat - a weaker captain would have put off his moment of truth and chosen to bowl first - England played positive cricket, with Ballance, Bell and Buttler providing acceleration with the bat; James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes providing probing seam bowling and Moeen effective spin. They deserved their win.

It was a change of mindset rather than a change of tactics that was behind this performance. There was a little more belief, a little more intent, a little more enjoyment apparent in this side. While the impact of an energetic new keeper should not be underestimated - however raw Buttler's keeping, there is nothing more dispiriting for a side than seeing edges dropped and Buttler held on to those offered to him - the key change was instigated by the coach, Peter Moores.

Moores is still getting his feet under the desk in his second term as coach. Taking charge of this England team was akin to trying to turn an oil tanker. Defeat and disappointment was becoming so ingrained, that it was always likely to take a while to rediscover the energy and optimism that are the characteristics of the better sides.

Moores, recognising this in the run-up to the Test, made a point of talking to several of the senior players and encouraging them to put the pain of Australia behind them and "reconnect" with the methods that first rendered them successful international players.

"When you are with players for a certain period of time, you get to know them a bit better," Moores said. "One of the things that we were trying to move away from was a mindset that was more defensive, where you are just trying to hold on to things. When you are under pressure, there is always a danger that you are looking to be careful.

"We're trying to look to play cricket where you are on the front foot and you are trying to put people under pressure.

"I think Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad were fantastic in this Test. They have reconnected to what the game is about: it's about getting out there and playing for their country. I think that's made a big difference. It's certainly made a big difference to the whole bowling unit. On the last day, it was great to see us come out with the same level of intensity and create some theatre.

"We have to find out as a team how we can apply pressure, how we can keep each other going and what makes people tick. When somebody gets a little down, how are we going to make sure we can pick him up?

"The dressing room has never been dispirited. And I never expected it to be easy. But provided we have everybody totally committed and driving it forward, we will get to where we want to be."

Whether that last comment was a veiled reference to the decision to "move on" from Kevin Pietersen is open to debate. But Moores did reiterate that the new-look team would take time to build and asked for patience from England supporters who are understandably frustrated at the decline over recent months.

"It's a case of growing and understanding each other as a team," Moores said. "It doesn't matter what you do: if you put ten people together, they have got to get to know each other. It is the same as with a cricket team.

"We know, because of so much change and so many new players, that we have to work really hard. This series is brilliantly poised but the development of a Test team takes time.We are rebuilding, no doubt, and at times we will get things wrong.

"But I'm hoping the public are getting excited about some new faces and the development of a new team. That might mean that results are a bit up and down but, providing they see the right level of commitment and the talent that is coming to fruition, that is where we will try to get to."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on August 3, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    DRS should start ASAP.I don't understand why India is against it.

  • rob on August 3, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    @ Anyone who'll listen. Re. the 5 Test series.

    Traditionally Test cricket was as much about endurance and stamina as it was about the skills of the game. It was supposed to be a hard grind that tested everything about your game, even the strength you have on your bench. I think that aspect of the game has been been partially lost in the modern era. We see a lot of 2 or 3 Test tours and while they're better than nothing, I think they water down the endurance side of the game a lot. .. I know we have ODI's ad T20's instead but in many cases it's a different group of players for each format. There are very few players who play all 3 formats. ... Anyway, that's my little whinge. .. Bring back the grind!!

  • rob on August 3, 2014, 2:43 GMT

    @ vkias_vkumar. "@Phil Katon What are you talking? you don't understand that pain in our hearts!!! We want to be the NO 1 team in the world and with this team we are not going anywhere..."

    I wouldn't say you were going nowhere. You won your first Test o/s for three years just a couple of weeks ago. That's definitely a step in the right direction. You do have a young team with a lot to learn about winning away from home, but there's no denying there's some exciting talent in your ranks. .. It's 1/1 with 2 to go. If Arun Bose is right and momentum counts for nothing in cricket you could conceivably still win this series. That would be another giant stride in the right direction. I can't believe I'm saying this, but have some faith mate. They might surprise you.

  • Bernard Arthur on August 2, 2014, 16:11 GMT

    What an unbalanced distribution of Test Matches this summer! Surely it would have been more reasonable to have alloted Sri Lanka three matches.

  • Cam on August 2, 2014, 15:28 GMT

    After a 10 test losing streak, losing is the norm. One win does not make a champion side and although these things do ebb and flow, had the umpires done their jobs well and India taken a few chances the game would have had a very different outcome. All we can judge by this result is that if all the luck goes England's way they have the potential to beat mid and lower table sides. There's not a chance in hell this team could beat Australia or SA, not a chance.

  • Hamish on August 2, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    @vkias_vkumar: Historically the granting of a five test series by England to a visiting team is a sign of the respect with which that team is held internationally. Are you saying that India aren't up to supporting a five test series in England?

  • Roderick on August 2, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    @vkias_vkumar. has a point @Phil Katon, "OK" doesn't win sufficient test matches to get to #1. India needs a new captain, a new coach and a clean sweep of the dead wood in the team.

  • kumar on August 2, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    @Phil Katon What are you talking? you don't understand that pain in our hearts!!! We want to be the NO 1 team in the world and with this team we are not going anywhere...

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2014, 11:04 GMT

    Indian fans shouldn't be too hard on their team. They have already won one test with many players who find English conditions completely alien. Kohli, Rohit and Dhoni need to accept the fact that they can't feel bat on ball as much as they will in every other country. It was the same on the last tour. Every player failed except Dravid, who had the patience to leave a lot against the prodigious swing sometimes found here in England. Vijay and Rahane have played very well, and the others in the top 7 need to learn from them if possible. Accepting DRS might be a good move for India too, but so far this Indian team has done ok.

  • kumar on August 2, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    If we come to the real world deep inside us we know that we cannot win the next two matches. Indian team is not used to play 5 test matches. Not even 3 test matches. The injuries have started to struck us and after the test matches we need to play ODI's too.

    Our team is keep on failing and as a Die hard Indian fan I cannot bear this anymore. From Eng to Aus to SA to NZ and again in England how long can we wait to see an Indian win???- Utterly Disappointed Indian Fan

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