England v India, 4th Investec Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day August 9, 2014

England jigsaw coming together

England's upswing has been pleasing for a number of reasons - but there are still ways in which the system could work better
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Any victory would have been welcome. After the disappointment of Australia and the drubbing at Lord's, any sign that England had turned a corner was going to be greeted with relief.

But for England to win so convincingly, for England to win consecutive Tests for the first time since July 2013, for England to win within three days after losing the toss and with their younger players contributing so significantly, represented a genuine and heartening step forward in the development of this new-look side.

We should be cautious about reaching too many conclusions. That India lost nine wickets in 23 overs after tea on a blameless pitch spoke volumes about a side that was mentally broken. That a captain as experienced as MS Dhoni would charge down the pitch and slog to midwicket when he must have known that poor weather was forecast for days four and five was a dereliction of duty that will prove hard to justify.

Not since 2005 have India scored fewer runs in a Test and not since 1967 have they been defeated by England in three days. Whatever the rights and the wrongs of the Anderson-Jadeja incident, it appears to have distracted India and they have, arguably at least, won only one of the last 21 sessions of cricket between the sides. Suffice to say, England will face far tougher opposition.

But it is not long since England were thrashed by this India team at Lord's. And it not long since England bemoaned their lack of spin options and their lack of keeping options. It is not long since the doubts over Alastair Cook's future and the remnants of the Kevin Pietersen debacle dominated coverage of the team. So it now seems safe to conclude, albeit with some caveats, that a few pieces of the jigsaw are coming together for England.

The most pleasing aspect of this performance is not that Stuart Broad and James Anderson were close to their best with the ball. And it is not that Ian Bell looked something close to his best with the bat. While the contribution of such senior players was welcome, it should also be expected.

No, the most pleasing aspect was the contribution of the younger players who continue to deliver under pressure and continue to offer huge promise for the future.

The final day of this Test presented a significant challenge for them. The lead was still small at the start of the day and the experienced batsmen had already been dismissed. But Joe Root and Jos Buttler, two 23-year-olds with bright futures, first saw off the bowlers at their freshest and then accelerated against the second new ball and a seam attack lacking experience.

After showing his aggression at Southampton, Buttler showed his ability to defend here. It was not faultless - he was dropped on 34 and should have been run-out on 44 - but he has now contributed exactly the sort of innings required for his team in both his Test innings. It will be worth remembering such achievements when he has the inevitable less bright days.

Root, too, may face tougher challenges on quicker pitches and against better attacks. But he is fast developing into England's middle-order rock: capable of defending or accelerating as required and blessed with the change of gear to render him immensely value. He has already enjoyed a golden summer and there seems no reason it should be an aberration.

Then, with Broad unavailable, Anderson unwell - he was off the pitch for more than half an hour - and there being little lateral movement available for the bowlers, there was some pressure on the attack. They knew that the weather forecasts were poor and they knew that they might have only two sessions available in which to win this game. And, largely, they delivered.

It was not a perfect performance. While Chris Woakes produced a fine delivery to account for M Vijay - those who suggested he could only bowl the outswinger must have been surprised by the one that nipped back - and Chris Jordan ended the game with a nice bouncer-yorker combination, both young seamers struggled for the requisite consistency. England were blessed that Anderson, despite his illness, was able to take two top-order wickets: he has now bowled 30 balls at Virat Kohli in this series and dismissed him four times for a cost of seven runs.

But Moeen Ali continues to improve and impress in equal measure. The pace at which he bowls, the drift he achieves and the turn he can generate should render him an asset on any surface. He remains a work in progress - and continues to work on his doosra - but he has now become, in terms of days, the quickest England offspinner in history to 20 Test wickets: it took him 58 days. For a few minutes in mid-afternoon, his bowling average even dropped below that of his friend and mentor, Saeed Ajmal.

It is customary to only look for areas in which to improve in times of defeat. But if England really want to improve, if they want to make success the norm and not the exception, there are several areas in which they need to improve to give it the best chance of success. They are:

  • The Championship needs to be trusted and valued. It has, once again, produced a side that has taken to Test cricket quickly. But if the ECB keeps diluting it with Lions games, young player incentives and the like, the production line could be jeopardised.

  • The Championship schedule needs to be amended so that there are games throughout the season, not just at the start and end. This will provide more opportunities for spinners and test batsmen and bowlers in a variety of conditions. Domestic T20 could still be played on Friday nights; domestic List A cricket could still be played on Sundays. County squads need to be deep enough to play Championship cricket from Monday to Thursday.

  • Groundsmen need to be encouraged and trusted to produce pitches that offer pace, bounce or spin at times. At present, with groundsmen facing judgement from assessors every day, they tend to play safe with slow, low surfaces which provide assistance to modest seamers and bear little comparison to international cricket.

  • Unorthodoxy needs to be encouraged. What England still call "mystery" spin is a mystery no longer in most of the Test-playing world and, while a bowler like Lasith Malinga has proved good enough to win global events for Sri Lanka, such a young bowler emerging in England would probably still have the genius coached out of him.

  • The new ball is currently due after 80 overs in Championship cricket. It may well encourage spinners and make seamers work a little harder, if that was pushed back to 90 or even 100 overs.

  • The schedule of individual players needs to be monitored. While it may well be unrealistic to expect a significant cut in the international schedule - the game is dependent on a certain level of income - the current demands on the top players are unsustainable. Those of the squad required in all three formats are expected to spend around 300 days a years in hotels in 2015. There is no way they can be expected to be at their best for that period.

  • In an attempt to encourage young, English-qualified players, the ECB lobbied for tougher work permit criteria for overseas, Kolpak registrations and the like in county cricket. Combined with the incentives brought in to encourage younger players, this has resulted in a dilution in the depth of quality of county cricket. That risks creating a larger gap between domestic and international cricket and may well need changing. As the example of Saeed Ajmal at Worcestershire shows us, there can be great value for England in the appearance of overseas players in county cricket.

  • In the longer-term, the lack of cricket on free-to-air television represents a serious threat to the development of new talent in England. Already, England are uncomfortably reliant on players from the private school system or those brought up, in part at least, abroad. With so many other sports competing to capture the imagination of young people, it is essential cricket finds a way to appeal more widely. A domestic knockout T20 competition, perhaps incorporating the minor counties, might be one method to appeal to areas currently left untouched.

The last couple of weeks have been hugely encouraging for England cricket. But the sense remains that, all too often, victory is in spite of part of the system and not because of it.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | August 9, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    I can only hope that this article is read by some of the powers-that-be within ECB. Excellent analysis, George! All the points are strong ones. To pick on a couple: CC cricket is doing a superb job, but seems to get little recognition from those who focus almost exclusively on the internat. sides. The real surprise find of this season, Mooen Ali, has been quietly plying his trade for Worcs -- in the 2nd Division! He's a superb advert for the county game. If Swann hadn't retired, it's unlikely he'd have got near the Test side. All the newcomers, (with the poss exc. of Robson) have performed throughout the summer, have shown the way to the senior players who have now caught up, at last! The Lions' fixtures need rethinking. To illustrate: what do the selectors not know about Bopara, Bairstow & Finn? If it's the 2nd XI, say so, if not, let the untried have the encouragement of a Lion's cap. They seem to me to be pointless fixtures. Let junior tourists play some counties. ECB over fussy!

  • POSTED BY on | August 9, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    Excellent article George. One more recommendation - a change in the mindset of selectors. Only a little while ago Jos Buttler was considered "not ready" for Test cricket. He clearly is. The same should apply for selections of players like Alex Hales, because England needs to balance solid with dynamic. Robson may come good but ideally the opening partnership needs a dasher to complement Cook at the other end. And while Jordan and Woakes are not Anderson and Broad they will benefit from the increased responsibilities of this Test.

  • POSTED BY Antidisestablishmentarianism on | August 13, 2014, 15:23 GMT

    How about this? 1. England and the counties to have entirely separate squads for 1-day and longer-form cricket. Overlap only to happen in case of injuries. Counties allowed one overseas player for each squad per season. 2. Amalgamate England Lions, Performance squads etc. into England A and England B teams which play exclusively longer-form cricket. Similar system for 1-day cricket. 3. Championship matches spread throughout season. 50-over competition to cover first half of season, T20 in second half with finals day on the last day of the season - a fitting finish. 4. Partnerships between counties and local schools, where counties offer tickets at reduced rates to allow school parties to attend championship matches and have practice games. (Lancashire recently allocated Test Match tickets to local schools). This already happens to some extent, but every county needs a solid partnership with the schools to find talented youngsters and encourage general interest in the game.

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | August 11, 2014, 17:35 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding,you are 1 hundred percent correct,County Cricket doesn't require overseas players,all it requires is England qualified players.England qualified players should and must have first crack at County Championship Cricket irrespective of the available overseas players and their calibre.It all boils down to England qualified players should and must be at the head of the queue to play County Championship Cricket for the betterment of the England Test Side.

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | August 11, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    @Yorkshire Pud, Such a move certainly didn't happen in the 80's. Most of the leading players in world cricket played in the county system back then, Hadlee, Imran, Kapil, Richards, Garner,Holding, Marshall, Greenidge to name but a few. Most counties were also tied down to only playing 1 O/S player in each game when many had 2 players contracted to them. For instance I remmember Patrick Patterson & Wasim Akram both being at Lancs for the whole season, with only 1 allowed to play the other had to have a run out in the second XI. I also don't think it was too medicore in the 90s. Although it became more diffcult to get the big stars on long term contracts, there were some fantastic Aus players who cut their teeth here, such as Symonds, Hayden, Lehman & Langer. I don't think the reason Eng were doing badly in those days was because of the overseas players. IMO I would be happy to see more overseas players allowed per county providing they are of a certain calibre.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 11, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    I disagree with the article on one main point and that is about increasing the number of overseas players, we tried that in the 80's and 90's under the auspice of making England qualified players better, it didn't work in fact it did exactly what we see happening with the English football team, mediocrity winning because clubs would rather bring in ready made talent rather than investing in developing that talent from the grass roots.

  • POSTED BY nair_ottappalam on | August 11, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Fielding especially slip catching had been a big headache for India during this tour. At the same time one should take a leaf out of India "A' tour down under where the fielding was superb and India won the quadrilateral tournament. The coach Abhay Sharma did an excellent job in grooming the fielders. As the say is "Catches win Matches". We should seriously think upon paying special attention to the fielding in order to compete internationally. Given the present situation, it would be the most appropriate period to hire Abhay Sharma as the fielding coach. Given the way Indian batsmen succumbed to he English bowlers and treating Moeen Ali as Muralitharan, it would be nice to have a seasoned batting coach. The meek surrender of seasoned players like Kohli and Pujara points fingers at the necessity of more application at the centre. This would be possible only through specialised batting coach. Lalchand Rajput would be the best option under the given circumstances.

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | August 10, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    @ Mark1Mod0 ,while I appreciate your opinion that as County Members you wish to go back to the days of top rated overseas players because you want to watch the best.Alas I must disagree because even these top rated players are unfortunately going to take the place of England qualified players and this is the crux of the matter when you have 18 County Chairmen wanting what is best for their individual county and the E.C.B.wanting the best for England.I do understand County Members saying that once one of their players becomes Centrally Contracted to England they are hardly if ever available for their County,but surely by not allowing overseas players access to the County Scene it allows the next generation of England players to gain valuable playing experience in the next tier down from Test Match Cricket.Alas I'm afraid that this thorny problem will not be sorted in my lifetime because of the polarization of all sides of the coin.

  • POSTED BY mensan on | August 10, 2014, 17:05 GMT

    England should not get any false signals from these 2 test wins. India is obviously not the best team. So defeating them is not so big achievement. England still need improvements and have weak links. Robson need to be replaces (possibly with Compton). Moeen Ali's batting need improvement. Pace bowling support (Woakes, Jordan) is not good.

  • POSTED BY Toon-Harmy on | August 10, 2014, 16:44 GMT

    Some excellent points made in this article, not least the way the County Championship is book-ended into the summer schedule. It annoys me that a large chunk of the English domestic season is now ring-fenced for T20 and 40/50-over matches, leaving the bulk of four-day games played in April/May and September. As a result, players in and around the England test side now have fewer opportunities in the midst of a series to get valuable match practice in the longer form of the game. The likes of Sam Robson, Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan could certainly have done with a county game in recent weeks.

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | August 9, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    I can only hope that this article is read by some of the powers-that-be within ECB. Excellent analysis, George! All the points are strong ones. To pick on a couple: CC cricket is doing a superb job, but seems to get little recognition from those who focus almost exclusively on the internat. sides. The real surprise find of this season, Mooen Ali, has been quietly plying his trade for Worcs -- in the 2nd Division! He's a superb advert for the county game. If Swann hadn't retired, it's unlikely he'd have got near the Test side. All the newcomers, (with the poss exc. of Robson) have performed throughout the summer, have shown the way to the senior players who have now caught up, at last! The Lions' fixtures need rethinking. To illustrate: what do the selectors not know about Bopara, Bairstow & Finn? If it's the 2nd XI, say so, if not, let the untried have the encouragement of a Lion's cap. They seem to me to be pointless fixtures. Let junior tourists play some counties. ECB over fussy!

  • POSTED BY on | August 9, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    Excellent article George. One more recommendation - a change in the mindset of selectors. Only a little while ago Jos Buttler was considered "not ready" for Test cricket. He clearly is. The same should apply for selections of players like Alex Hales, because England needs to balance solid with dynamic. Robson may come good but ideally the opening partnership needs a dasher to complement Cook at the other end. And while Jordan and Woakes are not Anderson and Broad they will benefit from the increased responsibilities of this Test.

  • POSTED BY Antidisestablishmentarianism on | August 13, 2014, 15:23 GMT

    How about this? 1. England and the counties to have entirely separate squads for 1-day and longer-form cricket. Overlap only to happen in case of injuries. Counties allowed one overseas player for each squad per season. 2. Amalgamate England Lions, Performance squads etc. into England A and England B teams which play exclusively longer-form cricket. Similar system for 1-day cricket. 3. Championship matches spread throughout season. 50-over competition to cover first half of season, T20 in second half with finals day on the last day of the season - a fitting finish. 4. Partnerships between counties and local schools, where counties offer tickets at reduced rates to allow school parties to attend championship matches and have practice games. (Lancashire recently allocated Test Match tickets to local schools). This already happens to some extent, but every county needs a solid partnership with the schools to find talented youngsters and encourage general interest in the game.

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | August 11, 2014, 17:35 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding,you are 1 hundred percent correct,County Cricket doesn't require overseas players,all it requires is England qualified players.England qualified players should and must have first crack at County Championship Cricket irrespective of the available overseas players and their calibre.It all boils down to England qualified players should and must be at the head of the queue to play County Championship Cricket for the betterment of the England Test Side.

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | August 11, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    @Yorkshire Pud, Such a move certainly didn't happen in the 80's. Most of the leading players in world cricket played in the county system back then, Hadlee, Imran, Kapil, Richards, Garner,Holding, Marshall, Greenidge to name but a few. Most counties were also tied down to only playing 1 O/S player in each game when many had 2 players contracted to them. For instance I remmember Patrick Patterson & Wasim Akram both being at Lancs for the whole season, with only 1 allowed to play the other had to have a run out in the second XI. I also don't think it was too medicore in the 90s. Although it became more diffcult to get the big stars on long term contracts, there were some fantastic Aus players who cut their teeth here, such as Symonds, Hayden, Lehman & Langer. I don't think the reason Eng were doing badly in those days was because of the overseas players. IMO I would be happy to see more overseas players allowed per county providing they are of a certain calibre.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 11, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    I disagree with the article on one main point and that is about increasing the number of overseas players, we tried that in the 80's and 90's under the auspice of making England qualified players better, it didn't work in fact it did exactly what we see happening with the English football team, mediocrity winning because clubs would rather bring in ready made talent rather than investing in developing that talent from the grass roots.

  • POSTED BY nair_ottappalam on | August 11, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Fielding especially slip catching had been a big headache for India during this tour. At the same time one should take a leaf out of India "A' tour down under where the fielding was superb and India won the quadrilateral tournament. The coach Abhay Sharma did an excellent job in grooming the fielders. As the say is "Catches win Matches". We should seriously think upon paying special attention to the fielding in order to compete internationally. Given the present situation, it would be the most appropriate period to hire Abhay Sharma as the fielding coach. Given the way Indian batsmen succumbed to he English bowlers and treating Moeen Ali as Muralitharan, it would be nice to have a seasoned batting coach. The meek surrender of seasoned players like Kohli and Pujara points fingers at the necessity of more application at the centre. This would be possible only through specialised batting coach. Lalchand Rajput would be the best option under the given circumstances.

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | August 10, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    @ Mark1Mod0 ,while I appreciate your opinion that as County Members you wish to go back to the days of top rated overseas players because you want to watch the best.Alas I must disagree because even these top rated players are unfortunately going to take the place of England qualified players and this is the crux of the matter when you have 18 County Chairmen wanting what is best for their individual county and the E.C.B.wanting the best for England.I do understand County Members saying that once one of their players becomes Centrally Contracted to England they are hardly if ever available for their County,but surely by not allowing overseas players access to the County Scene it allows the next generation of England players to gain valuable playing experience in the next tier down from Test Match Cricket.Alas I'm afraid that this thorny problem will not be sorted in my lifetime because of the polarization of all sides of the coin.

  • POSTED BY mensan on | August 10, 2014, 17:05 GMT

    England should not get any false signals from these 2 test wins. India is obviously not the best team. So defeating them is not so big achievement. England still need improvements and have weak links. Robson need to be replaces (possibly with Compton). Moeen Ali's batting need improvement. Pace bowling support (Woakes, Jordan) is not good.

  • POSTED BY Toon-Harmy on | August 10, 2014, 16:44 GMT

    Some excellent points made in this article, not least the way the County Championship is book-ended into the summer schedule. It annoys me that a large chunk of the English domestic season is now ring-fenced for T20 and 40/50-over matches, leaving the bulk of four-day games played in April/May and September. As a result, players in and around the England test side now have fewer opportunities in the midst of a series to get valuable match practice in the longer form of the game. The likes of Sam Robson, Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan could certainly have done with a county game in recent weeks.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 10, 2014, 16:34 GMT

    Ali has won my respect . At the beggining of the series I really thought he wasnt upto test standard bowling .He still may not be gpod enough to be a strike spinner but 15 + wickets in the series are good enough to keep him in the team as the main spinner till Riley takes over and if he improves his batting he can be a good allrounder for eng .

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | August 10, 2014, 16:27 GMT

    George, as usual an excellent assessment. My own impression is that the turnaround happened in that lost 2nd Test v Sri Lanka when, finally, with the match appearing lost, the side started to show some steel. Admittedly there have been one or two bumps on the way and some horrific sessions since then, but that was when I started to feel that things were beginning to turn around.

    Chris Woakes seems to be an unlucky bowler. He has bowled so much better than his figures. However, a bowler of ours called Fred had a similarly disappointing start but, when he got the confidence that he belonged, rapidly became unstoppable. He needs a big performance, as Moeen did, just to convince himself.

    Jos Buttler has, I admit, proved me wrong. I thought that it was too early, but he has taken his chance so well.

    In general, the youngsters need time to learn their trade on the job. Keep the faith with Robson & Jordan - they can only learn by playing & better in a winning side than cooling their heels.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | August 10, 2014, 15:52 GMT

    I've only read this article now (and some of the comments), so have no choice but to parrot a bit and agree that this a great, down-to-earth article. Rather than argue some of the points like some of the other posters, I would just like to add one new point that perhaps ties in all other points/arguments: England (and I guess every international team) should employ a 'horses for courses approach' much more. Attacking openers like Warner have not done well in U.K. so my fear is that the likes of Hales might struggle as well against test line-ups in moving conditions (short formats are rather different). But elsewhere (Australia; South Africa) even I can't deny how cool Warner has been. Pick players/teams based on conditions/opponents. Spinners, be they orthodox or not, are a must in sub-continent. Is Ali (alone) really up to that?

  • POSTED BY Prodger on | August 10, 2014, 15:19 GMT

    I have welcomed the policy of starting Championship games at the weekend, usually Sunday. It gives the opportunity for working people to watch some games, to revert to mid-week fixtures would be a retrograde step, increasing the average age of the crowds to pensionable age. I agree CC matches should be spread evenly through the summer

  • POSTED BY Puffin on | August 10, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    It seems quite astonishing that India capitulate so easily yet SL did so much better against the same opposition, maybe one could learn from the other? India's care for their bowling attack is poor and their batting just seems to give up so easily.

    England's future seems brighter than it did recently. But I think the tests will get tougher in future. They need to sort out the 3rd/4th seamers urgently, Anderson and Broad clearly cannot do it all.

  • POSTED BY CodandChips on | August 10, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    @Mark1Mod0 Thanks for the compliment. I hope it wasn't sarcastic, but you can never tell without face to face conversation

  • POSTED BY CodandChips on | August 10, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    @Mark1Mod0 "re showing faith in the youngsters: The same youngsters that you have been criticising over the past weeks?"

    Please qualify this comment. Please explain it and give examples. I find it grossly unfair. I generally say things as I see it. With the youngsters I'm pretty sure I've said the pros and cons that I've seen. Your comment suggests that all I've done is criticise the youngsters, something I find unfair and hurtful.

  • POSTED BY OhDearieMe on | August 10, 2014, 13:34 GMT

    (continued) @CodandChips: Keep up the good work! Your thinking is always interesting and usually spot-on IMHO.

  • POSTED BY OhDearieMe on | August 10, 2014, 13:12 GMT

    @CodandChips:

    Re Dobell working for the ECB: Merely being employed by a bureaucratic organisation does not, "ensure sense."

    Re showing faith in the youngsters: The same youngsters that you have been criticising over the past weeks?

    Re the lack of quality overseas players: The current controls were put in place to curtail what was seen to be the block on developing England talent due to an excess of overseas players. We can't have it both ways. To point to 'our' county, I would love to have another Marshall and Greenidge combination to challenge bat and ball alike but it won't happen again.

    Re cricket needs to be more accessible to the public: Agreed.

    Re the idea of a T20 cup featuring minor counties: I'm afraid it would go the same way as the qualifying stages of the FA cup; big boys win out.

    Re most county members are older. I sympathise totally. My wife and I are older Hampshire members, but we choose to sit remote from the overly opinionated, exclusionist, bigoted members.

  • POSTED BY on | August 10, 2014, 12:56 GMT

    I think it is too early to get carried away by this success. True England have won comprehensively. But the the real test will come when they play strong test teams like South Africa and Australia and even New Zealand for that matter than this third rate Indian team . This Indian team doesn't not have the attack to take 20 wicket and struggles against both pace and spin. After 0-10 test match losses and a definite 1-3 against an upcoming England side I am afraid test match cricket is dead in India. RIP

  • POSTED BY njr1330 on | August 10, 2014, 12:11 GMT

    "...should Murray Goodwin be playing county cricket at 41..." Of course he should, because the 18 and 19 year-olds at Glamorgan are going to learn a lot more by batting with Murray Goodwin and Jacques Rudolph, than they will batting with their mates from the 2nd Xi !!

  • POSTED BY on | August 10, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    The only free to air live cricket is the IPL right? When was the last time English cricket was played out on TV for all to see? Test cricket on Channel 5 do I recall?

    I agree it needs to happen. But I doubt it will.

  • POSTED BY CodandChips on | August 10, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    Another great article. I wish Dobell worked for the ECB. Would ensure sense.

    The recent results have been encouraging. However things are certainly not perfect. But I believe England have benefited from showing faith in the youngsters.

    Structurally there are issues. The lack of quality overseas players is a huge issue. Take the short-ball troubles. Would they be as big a problem if there were more quality 90mph+ fast bowlers in county cricket? Arguably county players are not exposed enough to different types of cricketer.

    Also cricket needs to be more accessible to the public. As a youngster I was captured by the Ashes 2005 on channel 5. I'm sure many others were the same, but would not have been able to experience it had it been on sky.

    I like the idea of a T20 cup featuring minor counties as the current county setup alienates many eg Berkshire.

    Also most county members are older. I feel increasingly alienated by the lack of people my age at games. Is there youth interest?

  • POSTED BY on | August 10, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Bring On Nick Compton. He is a good bat and an opener to boot. You need a god fast bowler and a nice allrounder like botham. Moeen Ali should improve his batting. What about a full time spinner,oh yes you need one then only team is complete. What about a bat in the mould of KP or Ken Barrington.

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | August 10, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    @leedsloiner,it would appear after reading your comments that you and I are off the same age group,I totally agree with your comments.On the field all aggression but after play best of mates. @Chris1881,although a lot of overseas players do play in the County Championship etc,I agree that it should not become a finishing school for overseas players,who in future years come back to haunt England.I'm not sure but I but think that Ian Botham was the last England Player to play Sheffield Shield Cricket and that must have been about 25 years ago. We also read comments about young players not being ready to Play Test Match Cricket.These players are added to initial squads and have net practice etc.all they like,but unless they actually play and are given a series of games nobody is going to find out if they have the aptitude for Test Match Cricket.If these players fail then at least they can go back to County Cricket and sort their shortcomings out.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 10, 2014, 8:23 GMT

    @dunger.bob, I dont think that was the problem in the 1990's, at the time there are 3-4 players PER county (some excepted) that were overseas players, either full internationals, or retired Ex-Internationals, that included those that used historic ties to play as non overseas players.

    This seriously diluted the talent pool to pick from, we are seeing the same effect in English football, where there is a very limited pool to select from so mediocrity wins.

    England didnt go around the world cherry picking players, KP for example applied to play in Aus first, when refused he used EU rules on parentage to play in England, the UK was powerless to prevent this, So should he (Like Robson and others) not be available for England?

    It should be noted that a lot of the academies shrank in the 90's as money dried up, but the ECB has reversed that over the last 15 years, including the creation of an national academy.

  • POSTED BY ruester on | August 10, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    I get very frustrated at commentators who spout on about players that come from county cricket to the test side and they have clearly never seen them play. Moeen is a classic example, lots of commentators derided his bowling and his batting, saying he is a part time spinner and only has made runs in the second division. Worcestershire are a a yo yo side they regularly play in the first division but are not quite good enough to remain for more than one season. Moeen has made runs and taken wickets against players in both divisions. Woakes was described on the radio as someone who can't move the ball back in to the right hander! The ex England captain who stated this obviously has not watched any county cricket for a long time. County cricket is worth watching as there is a lot of talent out there, I do get frustrated though at seeing some very old players taking a place in a side. Murray Goodwin was a great player but should he still be playing county cricket at 41?

  • POSTED BY St.John on | August 10, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    Amazing how swiftly the pendulum swings. A short while ago it was all about Cook's failings as a batsmen and captain. Now it's all about how useless India are. Earlier it was all about Mo Ali being a part-time spinner, now it's all about his quick, bouncy and great spin! Still all said and done the English Jigsaw may be finally coming together and the Indian wagon wheels coming off totally.

  • POSTED BY ydoethur on | August 10, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    I agree with everything George Dobel has said apart from this one thing:

    'the lack of cricket on free-to-air television represents a serious threat to the development of new talent in England... A domestic knockout T20 competition, perhaps incorporating the minor counties, might be one method to appeal to areas currently left untouched.'

    Surely the fastest and easiest way to deal with a lack of cricket on TV is to sell the rights back to a free to air broadcaster?

    We hear all the time about how money from Sky has benefitted the English game - but I'm not convinced. I see vast backroom staffs who fail to produce consistent matchwinners, administrators who appear to have no function, and worthy county pros on very high salaries that their own performances don't justify. I also see a game dying at the grassroots from a lack of interest, and I remember the parable of the goose and the golden eggs.

    High time to put cricket back on the box for everyone - then see England take off.

  • POSTED BY on | August 10, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    i don't understand the fascination with "embracing unothodoxy" Aside from Malinga, Narine and possibly Ajmal, all the other "unorthodox" bowlers around are pretty much breaking the rules. Are we going to embrace a rule change to simply allow chucking? In the top 20 bowlers in test cricket, there is only ajmal who you would view as unorthodox.

    For batting, there's still no substitute for raw talent complimented with good basic technique. nothing has changed there.

    I think the focus should be more on embracing raw talent, rather than insisting on fitness and technique at an early age - those two things can be worked on and developed, talent can't.

  • POSTED BY Kingman75 on | August 10, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    The two worst teams going around at the moment. That is why it is a thrilling contest. Even Zimbabwe are doing better than England and India.

  • POSTED BY leedsloiner on | August 10, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    This is a great article ,but preaching to the converted.I have watched England through good and bad from Truman,Tyson Statham in the 50s through Snow,Illingworth, Gorilla to the latest batch and all have the same problem,The establishment is always there ready to sink the boot in for even a minor infraction. Most fast bowlers have a big mouth but a bigger heart ,so why not try the Australian method I.E if you can play well, let the player have his head and forget some of the mr nice guy traits and go all out to WIN. Aussie players hate your guts (when on the field) and play accordingly and this applies to all grades in oz ,I know after 30 seasons here .but all mates after WHEN THEY HAVE BEATEN YOU!!

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | August 10, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    I love this article as well but probably for very different reasons to most of the other posters. My reason is because it sort of says something I've thought for a long time. I even said it sometimes but they usually didn't get published. The thing is this: In the mid 90's England seemed to lose faith in their home grown players. Maybe they lost confidence in the system that produced them or maybe it was something else but, whatever the reason, the hunt for the foreign born saviour seemed to begin in earnest. .. at first I thought it was just rude but I'm well over that now. It's just business these days, I realise that now but I still think it undermines the confidence of your domestic players. .. I'm sorry if this seems rude but I think it's the single biggest mistake England have made in the last 20 or 30 years. It was as if your selectors were convinced that almost ANY Aussie or African was, by definition almost, a vastly better player than any of your home growns. .. crazy imo.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 10, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    I agree with most of this article, except perhaps the paragraph on unorthodox bowling. 'Mystery' spinners like Ashwin, Mendis and Narine haven't had much success against England. I would prefer that we not encourage bowlers like, say, Senanayake, whose action is now having to be remedied again. Malinga is a one-off and neither England nor anyone else has produced anyone like him. Bowlers like Anderson, Broad and Swann have been pretty successful with orthodox methods.

    I agree with the need for better cricket wickets, not lifeless dead wickets such as Trent Bridge in this series. I'd also like to see young players, especially bowlers, kept out of T20. It breaks my heart to see a brilliant prospect like Reece Topley taking 0-35 in 4 overs of T20 with no slips or other close catchers. I think many of the Indian side's problems are caused because they don't know how to play long-form cricket.

    England has a good crop of young players. With care, they could become a great side.

  • POSTED BY Sexysteven on | August 10, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    I think there's one thing the selectors need to do to make England abetter team a change of captain has to happen if they want to be competitive in next years ashes cooks tactics may work against India but there captain is pretty much similiar so one of them had to come out on top someone with amore positive mindset needs to captain if they want to combat the Aussies with success and pitches like old Trafford need to be produced for the ashes sure that might help the Aussies but you got to believe and trust that your team is good enough to beat the Aussies on any pitch slow and low pitches won't help long term they may get results short term but the next time England go to Aussie it would be another hiding so you might as well prepare fast and bounced pitches and get use to them cos if you won't to be considered agood team you should be able to adjust to any pitch and be capable of beatin any team on any pitch

  • POSTED BY Chris1881 on | August 10, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    The right pitches & embracing unorthodoxy are fundamental.

    Not sure about the Kolpak point. In the 70s many of the best players on the planet played in the CC (all season & for several seasons) & the England team was generally moderate. Incorporating the Saffer D team in the early 00s didn't raise standards.

    More important is to take the Oz route & ensure the intensity of the CC game.

    Having CC role models such as Moeen break through can only raise aspirations of county players & make CC a tougher & more fertile breeding ground.

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | August 10, 2014, 1:06 GMT

    Great article difficult to disagree with anything George has said here

  • POSTED BY rickyvoncanterbury on | August 9, 2014, 23:41 GMT

    George with a flogging away to Australia and a home series loss to Sri Lanka how does leading the worlds worst touring test side 2-1 mean the jigsaw is coming together.

  • POSTED BY Dunross on | August 9, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    Always like you articles George, this is what I have to say:

    Why is the cricket world scared of India?

    If this is the quality of their test team than i don't understand why the rest of the world should bend over backwards? The captain of India is not interested in TEST cricket..let's be fair and just help him get it our there!

    India has a so called 1.2 billion cricket lovers/players and this is what they produce ( at test matches) than something is wrong.

    I'm getting worried about the quality of test cricket coming out of India at the moment. Why is there talk about a big 3?

    The quality of the ashes, the interest in it is also going down thanks to overkill of greedy boards.

    You are absolutely right in advocating county cricket: Just pick a team for a summer/life and follow that one. at least your helping the locals ( fools).

    All the best!

  • POSTED BY Dunross on | August 9, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    Always like you articles George, this is what I have to say:

    Why is the cricket world scared of India?

    If this is the quality of their test team than i don't understand why the rest of the world should bend over backwards? The captain of India is not interested in TEST cricket..let's be fair and just help him get it our there!

    India has a so called 1.2 billion cricket lovers/players and this is what they produce ( at test matches) than something is wrong.

    I'm getting worried about the quality of test cricket coming out of India at the moment. Why is there talk about a big 3?

    The quality of the ashes, the interest in it is also going down thanks to overkill of greedy boards.

    You are absolutely right in advocating county cricket: Just pick a team for a summer/life and follow that one. at least your helping the locals ( fools).

    All the best!

  • POSTED BY rickyvoncanterbury on | August 9, 2014, 23:41 GMT

    George with a flogging away to Australia and a home series loss to Sri Lanka how does leading the worlds worst touring test side 2-1 mean the jigsaw is coming together.

  • POSTED BY SirViv1973 on | August 10, 2014, 1:06 GMT

    Great article difficult to disagree with anything George has said here

  • POSTED BY Chris1881 on | August 10, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    The right pitches & embracing unorthodoxy are fundamental.

    Not sure about the Kolpak point. In the 70s many of the best players on the planet played in the CC (all season & for several seasons) & the England team was generally moderate. Incorporating the Saffer D team in the early 00s didn't raise standards.

    More important is to take the Oz route & ensure the intensity of the CC game.

    Having CC role models such as Moeen break through can only raise aspirations of county players & make CC a tougher & more fertile breeding ground.

  • POSTED BY Sexysteven on | August 10, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    I think there's one thing the selectors need to do to make England abetter team a change of captain has to happen if they want to be competitive in next years ashes cooks tactics may work against India but there captain is pretty much similiar so one of them had to come out on top someone with amore positive mindset needs to captain if they want to combat the Aussies with success and pitches like old Trafford need to be produced for the ashes sure that might help the Aussies but you got to believe and trust that your team is good enough to beat the Aussies on any pitch slow and low pitches won't help long term they may get results short term but the next time England go to Aussie it would be another hiding so you might as well prepare fast and bounced pitches and get use to them cos if you won't to be considered agood team you should be able to adjust to any pitch and be capable of beatin any team on any pitch

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 10, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    I agree with most of this article, except perhaps the paragraph on unorthodox bowling. 'Mystery' spinners like Ashwin, Mendis and Narine haven't had much success against England. I would prefer that we not encourage bowlers like, say, Senanayake, whose action is now having to be remedied again. Malinga is a one-off and neither England nor anyone else has produced anyone like him. Bowlers like Anderson, Broad and Swann have been pretty successful with orthodox methods.

    I agree with the need for better cricket wickets, not lifeless dead wickets such as Trent Bridge in this series. I'd also like to see young players, especially bowlers, kept out of T20. It breaks my heart to see a brilliant prospect like Reece Topley taking 0-35 in 4 overs of T20 with no slips or other close catchers. I think many of the Indian side's problems are caused because they don't know how to play long-form cricket.

    England has a good crop of young players. With care, they could become a great side.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | August 10, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    I love this article as well but probably for very different reasons to most of the other posters. My reason is because it sort of says something I've thought for a long time. I even said it sometimes but they usually didn't get published. The thing is this: In the mid 90's England seemed to lose faith in their home grown players. Maybe they lost confidence in the system that produced them or maybe it was something else but, whatever the reason, the hunt for the foreign born saviour seemed to begin in earnest. .. at first I thought it was just rude but I'm well over that now. It's just business these days, I realise that now but I still think it undermines the confidence of your domestic players. .. I'm sorry if this seems rude but I think it's the single biggest mistake England have made in the last 20 or 30 years. It was as if your selectors were convinced that almost ANY Aussie or African was, by definition almost, a vastly better player than any of your home growns. .. crazy imo.

  • POSTED BY leedsloiner on | August 10, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    This is a great article ,but preaching to the converted.I have watched England through good and bad from Truman,Tyson Statham in the 50s through Snow,Illingworth, Gorilla to the latest batch and all have the same problem,The establishment is always there ready to sink the boot in for even a minor infraction. Most fast bowlers have a big mouth but a bigger heart ,so why not try the Australian method I.E if you can play well, let the player have his head and forget some of the mr nice guy traits and go all out to WIN. Aussie players hate your guts (when on the field) and play accordingly and this applies to all grades in oz ,I know after 30 seasons here .but all mates after WHEN THEY HAVE BEATEN YOU!!

  • POSTED BY Kingman75 on | August 10, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    The two worst teams going around at the moment. That is why it is a thrilling contest. Even Zimbabwe are doing better than England and India.

  • POSTED BY on | August 10, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    i don't understand the fascination with "embracing unothodoxy" Aside from Malinga, Narine and possibly Ajmal, all the other "unorthodox" bowlers around are pretty much breaking the rules. Are we going to embrace a rule change to simply allow chucking? In the top 20 bowlers in test cricket, there is only ajmal who you would view as unorthodox.

    For batting, there's still no substitute for raw talent complimented with good basic technique. nothing has changed there.

    I think the focus should be more on embracing raw talent, rather than insisting on fitness and technique at an early age - those two things can be worked on and developed, talent can't.