England v India, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 3rd day August 17, 2014

England emerge from the darkness

Having been in chaos three Tests ago, England can take credit, pride and encouragement from this result
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#politeenquiries: Do India need more Test cricket?

Perhaps the darkest hour really is right before dawn. Exactly a month since England succumbed to one of the more depressing Test defeats of recent years at Lord's, they clinched the Investec series with a crushing victory at The Oval. It is their first series victory in a year.

Any celebration must be tempered by the knowledge that India offered painfully weak opposition. We knew before they arrived that their away record was poor, but to succumb to a second successive innings defeat - this victory was the fifth biggest, in terms of innings margins, England have achieved - to be bowled out within a session's worth of cricket, to fail to reach 200 in any of their last five innings, tells a sorry tale of a side ill-prepared for a Test series in these conditions and chronically lacking in confidence. England will face far tougher challenges.

Until they alter their priorities, until they start to value Test cricket more than the revenue they make from other formats, India are unlikely to provide healthy competition.

Such an impression is confirmed by the rankings. England are likely to be placed third when the new list is announced, a long way behind South Africa and Australia and only just ahead of Pakistan. They face all three teams in 2015, with the series against Pakistan and South Africa to be played away from home. By the end of next year, we will have a far clearer indication of England place in the new world order.

Nobody thinks this is the end of the journey. Nobody think England have arrived. Nobody think Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson are quaking in their boots.

But there is sometimes a temptation to downplay England's successes. To explain them away. To suggest that they are hopeless when they lose, but that their victories only come against hopeless teams.

That is a little unfair. This victory has come against an India team that played beautifully at Lord's; that harnessed English conditions better than England. An Indian team that is the best financed in world cricket; that represents the most populous cricket-playing nation. A team that contains several highly talented batsmen - the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli - who most expect to go on and enjoy wonderful careers. A team that contains two other technically excellent batsmen - Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane - and a seam attack - Varun Aaron, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma, in particular - who performed admirably without support from their awful slip fielders.

So, from where they were, at the end of the Lord's Test, England can take credit, pride and encouragement in this performance. After Lord's, England had lost seven of their previous nine Tests. They had won none of their last 10. There were doubts about the position of the captain, the wicketkeeper, the spinner and a couple of the seamers. There was growing clamour for the resignation of Alastair Cook and the recall of Kevin Pietersen. They were in chaos.

They have learned a great deal since then. They learned that their young batsmen - Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Jos Buttler - have what it takes to flourish at Test level. While they will face sterner tests, it would be no surprise if that trio spent a decade in this side. Their slip catching may also win a few games.

They were reminded of the value of continuity of selection. They found that Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes all began to perform more consistently once they felt a little more established within the side. They learned that Moeen has the skill and character to prosper, that Woakes and Jordan, excellent on the final day, can offer the support James Anderson and Stuart Broad require.

They were reminded, too, of the value of using home conditions. After the first three Tests of the summer were played on slow, low, lifeless surfaces, England squandered more benevolent conditions at Lord's. But from then they dominated in conditions offering movement and just enough bounce to test the opposition batsmen's technique and temperament.

While there may be a temptation to prepare more lifeless surfaces ahead of the Ashes next year - the sort of surfaces designed to negate Mitchell Johnson et al - it must be resisted. For their morale, if nothing else, England need to feel they can hurt opposition with the ball. If the ball swings or the pitches offer seam, they have a chance next summer.

And they learned, if there was any doubt, that their captain is a man of rare determination.

Some questions remain. Not least, the form of the opening batsmen. Cook has not made a Test century in 31 innings and, even after three half-centuries in four innings, the sense remains that it is his luck that has turned rather than his form. He and Sam Robson will have to contribute far more if England are to continue to climb back up the Test rankings.

There will be some bleak days in 2015. There will be days when Buttler drops chances that Matt Prior, at his best, might have caught. There will be days when Moeen struggles to retain control, when Woakes struggles for potency and when the middle order show their relative inexperience.

But England have shown in the last month that they are heading in the right direction. If they hold their course, if they stick to their plans and retain faith in one another, this need not be the high point on their journey.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Speng on August 20, 2014, 19:40 GMT

    I disagree with saying Ballance, Cook and Robson are the same kind of player. The things that impresses me most about Ballance is his ability to adjust his play to the circumstances which for a #3 is really important (as it is for a #5 and #6). The only reason to move him to 4 is so he bats with Root more which is a combination I really like for England. What England need is a more dynamic opener. I don't think Robson is the answer and while Carberry played relatively well in Australia he seemed stodgy (he may be totally different in County cricket - I don't know). Nick Compton maybe? I guess that was the idea with trying Root at opener but I think he's doing well at 5 so why fiddle. I don't think England need someone who'll smash it about but they need somebody who can get opening bowlers off their plans: scamper some singles, get it into spaces etc.

  • Speng on August 20, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    "They learned that their young batsmen - Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Jos Buttler - have what it takes to flourish at Test level. While they will face sterner tests, it would be no surprise if that trio spent a decade in this side. Their slip catching may also win a few games. "

    While I like George Dobell especially on video this sort of hyperbolic tripe is too common in his writing... Be realistic, ten years of International cricket at the pace England play is 150+ Tests and probably 250+ ODIs, who does that? In the case of Ballance and Buttler that's on the strength of less than a season of cricket. I do think Ballance and Root are fixed in people's minds but in a couple years they may be retiring from burnout or chronically injured.

  • jb633 on August 18, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    @Yorkshirepudding, I am precisely the England fan you speak about and this side has done little to change it. Lets be honest, India were woeful and we did enough. The bowling looked ok but for us to really compete with the big boys we need Finn fit and firing and Woakes or Jordan need to go for Stokes. As for Ali whilst his bowling looked ok I still don't see him consistently taking wickets but we can't grumble too much given he did a good job. I still think we need an out and out spinner especially when we go to play in the sub continent. In terms of batting Cook and Robson both look to have techincal deamons. Ballance was excellent but I worry about his technique against off spin on the sub continent. I watched him play Senanyanke and thought he looked very leaden footen. Bell, IMO will come good he has a track record of success but needs to find form somewhere. Root, I have no issue with too I think he will succeed wherever he plays.

  • on August 18, 2014, 16:00 GMT

    @cricketmonster Erm...Duncan Fletcher isn't English.

  • on August 18, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    Cricket monster.. did u ever notice indian batsmen has major technical flaws which the media tries to hide and over-glorify the team rather? did you notice india wanted a two tier test not too long ago, even losing the worst possible ways in last three years? dont blame foreing coaches for which india themselves are incompetent of.

  • VillageBlacksmith on August 18, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    @yorkshirepudding… Bell is a senior player and has 1 (fortuitous) ton in over 12 months, 22+inns, that's just not good enough… you mention a couple of 50s… Big deal.. Blimey Jimmy nearly has that this summer !! Bell is not doing his job and so needs to be replaced, especially as the younguns are doing so well… Not scarred (or scared) after the winter… You mention JT's average… We all know that if coaches/selectors went by county aves (luckily they don't) then we would not have seen superb players like Vaughan & Tresco at test level but to name 2 so pls don't bang on about county aves… JT should replace Bell asap, and it's Emperors New Clothes to think otherwise…

  • on August 18, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    Let's face it England didn't really learn a great deal from one of the worst touring performances of all time after the Lords test as was worse than England themselves during the Ashes. Point being that yes Cook , Robson , Ballance got a few runs at the top 3 but the problem lies where they are all basically the exact same type of player. And against the top attacks like SA and Aus well they simply won't get anything to hit and will just get bogged down which will just lead to pressure. I'd swap Ballance to 4 and Bell to 3 like everyone in the media was asking for. Plus Cook will be stumped again once plan A isn't working as he didn't have to do any captaining at all the Indians were that bad. Trying not to take anything away from England winning well as suppose you can only beat what's in front of you.

  • neo-galactico on August 18, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    Perhaps one does not tinker with a winning combination. That said, the caveat to that is unless it's to improve the team. Thus, England need a new opening partner for Cook, Robson has a couple of technical faults to sort. Ballance will be tested by better attacks, looks a lbw candidate. Root will be tested with the fuller outswinger forcing him to play on the front foot which he doesn't seem as keen but he's a wonderful talent and will probably pass that test. Moeen's bowling and batting are still works in progress. Buttler has a lot of work with his keeping and there'll be tougher assignments with the bat. As good Jordan and Woakes are surely Stokes and Finn should to be the bowlers to support Jimmy and Broad. Cook's form needs to improve and he seems to have less shots @ his arsenal than during the English tour of India when he was sweeping, so he needs news shots can't survive with just 3. And looking forward to the "coming-of-age" of Bell for the umpteenth time.

  • on August 18, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding on (August 18, 2014, 14:12 GMT):

    Yes; I have to concede to your point. W/K-batsmen, who can hide their flaws in keeping, with their stroke play, are wielding double edged swords. They can cut opposition bowling to shreds. But, the same swords can cut the other way, if and when the flow of runs dries up. Media would be the first one to grab those swords. Fans who are looking for the glitz and blitz of stroke play will follow suit.

    I thought, Bairstow wasn't given enough chances, for lack of runs. I may be wrong. If right, I don't agree with the policy of giving priority for batting over keeping... even if teams are looking for two-in-ones. I am part of the old school craving for specialist wicket-keepers, especially in tests. I do miss the Allan Knotts; a rare species now!.

  • Charlie101 on August 18, 2014, 14:53 GMT

    All very interesting for the future and even the ODI series will be extremely important. Finn will surely get his chance in the ODI series to show what he can do which gives yet another option and also Hales may put down a massive marker to open in all formats .

    Other news is that Monty has taken some wickets today which is great news if he can sustain it.

  • Speng on August 20, 2014, 19:40 GMT

    I disagree with saying Ballance, Cook and Robson are the same kind of player. The things that impresses me most about Ballance is his ability to adjust his play to the circumstances which for a #3 is really important (as it is for a #5 and #6). The only reason to move him to 4 is so he bats with Root more which is a combination I really like for England. What England need is a more dynamic opener. I don't think Robson is the answer and while Carberry played relatively well in Australia he seemed stodgy (he may be totally different in County cricket - I don't know). Nick Compton maybe? I guess that was the idea with trying Root at opener but I think he's doing well at 5 so why fiddle. I don't think England need someone who'll smash it about but they need somebody who can get opening bowlers off their plans: scamper some singles, get it into spaces etc.

  • Speng on August 20, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    "They learned that their young batsmen - Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Jos Buttler - have what it takes to flourish at Test level. While they will face sterner tests, it would be no surprise if that trio spent a decade in this side. Their slip catching may also win a few games. "

    While I like George Dobell especially on video this sort of hyperbolic tripe is too common in his writing... Be realistic, ten years of International cricket at the pace England play is 150+ Tests and probably 250+ ODIs, who does that? In the case of Ballance and Buttler that's on the strength of less than a season of cricket. I do think Ballance and Root are fixed in people's minds but in a couple years they may be retiring from burnout or chronically injured.

  • jb633 on August 18, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    @Yorkshirepudding, I am precisely the England fan you speak about and this side has done little to change it. Lets be honest, India were woeful and we did enough. The bowling looked ok but for us to really compete with the big boys we need Finn fit and firing and Woakes or Jordan need to go for Stokes. As for Ali whilst his bowling looked ok I still don't see him consistently taking wickets but we can't grumble too much given he did a good job. I still think we need an out and out spinner especially when we go to play in the sub continent. In terms of batting Cook and Robson both look to have techincal deamons. Ballance was excellent but I worry about his technique against off spin on the sub continent. I watched him play Senanyanke and thought he looked very leaden footen. Bell, IMO will come good he has a track record of success but needs to find form somewhere. Root, I have no issue with too I think he will succeed wherever he plays.

  • on August 18, 2014, 16:00 GMT

    @cricketmonster Erm...Duncan Fletcher isn't English.

  • on August 18, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    Cricket monster.. did u ever notice indian batsmen has major technical flaws which the media tries to hide and over-glorify the team rather? did you notice india wanted a two tier test not too long ago, even losing the worst possible ways in last three years? dont blame foreing coaches for which india themselves are incompetent of.

  • VillageBlacksmith on August 18, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    @yorkshirepudding… Bell is a senior player and has 1 (fortuitous) ton in over 12 months, 22+inns, that's just not good enough… you mention a couple of 50s… Big deal.. Blimey Jimmy nearly has that this summer !! Bell is not doing his job and so needs to be replaced, especially as the younguns are doing so well… Not scarred (or scared) after the winter… You mention JT's average… We all know that if coaches/selectors went by county aves (luckily they don't) then we would not have seen superb players like Vaughan & Tresco at test level but to name 2 so pls don't bang on about county aves… JT should replace Bell asap, and it's Emperors New Clothes to think otherwise…

  • on August 18, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    Let's face it England didn't really learn a great deal from one of the worst touring performances of all time after the Lords test as was worse than England themselves during the Ashes. Point being that yes Cook , Robson , Ballance got a few runs at the top 3 but the problem lies where they are all basically the exact same type of player. And against the top attacks like SA and Aus well they simply won't get anything to hit and will just get bogged down which will just lead to pressure. I'd swap Ballance to 4 and Bell to 3 like everyone in the media was asking for. Plus Cook will be stumped again once plan A isn't working as he didn't have to do any captaining at all the Indians were that bad. Trying not to take anything away from England winning well as suppose you can only beat what's in front of you.

  • neo-galactico on August 18, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    Perhaps one does not tinker with a winning combination. That said, the caveat to that is unless it's to improve the team. Thus, England need a new opening partner for Cook, Robson has a couple of technical faults to sort. Ballance will be tested by better attacks, looks a lbw candidate. Root will be tested with the fuller outswinger forcing him to play on the front foot which he doesn't seem as keen but he's a wonderful talent and will probably pass that test. Moeen's bowling and batting are still works in progress. Buttler has a lot of work with his keeping and there'll be tougher assignments with the bat. As good Jordan and Woakes are surely Stokes and Finn should to be the bowlers to support Jimmy and Broad. Cook's form needs to improve and he seems to have less shots @ his arsenal than during the English tour of India when he was sweeping, so he needs news shots can't survive with just 3. And looking forward to the "coming-of-age" of Bell for the umpteenth time.

  • on August 18, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding on (August 18, 2014, 14:12 GMT):

    Yes; I have to concede to your point. W/K-batsmen, who can hide their flaws in keeping, with their stroke play, are wielding double edged swords. They can cut opposition bowling to shreds. But, the same swords can cut the other way, if and when the flow of runs dries up. Media would be the first one to grab those swords. Fans who are looking for the glitz and blitz of stroke play will follow suit.

    I thought, Bairstow wasn't given enough chances, for lack of runs. I may be wrong. If right, I don't agree with the policy of giving priority for batting over keeping... even if teams are looking for two-in-ones. I am part of the old school craving for specialist wicket-keepers, especially in tests. I do miss the Allan Knotts; a rare species now!.

  • Charlie101 on August 18, 2014, 14:53 GMT

    All very interesting for the future and even the ODI series will be extremely important. Finn will surely get his chance in the ODI series to show what he can do which gives yet another option and also Hales may put down a massive marker to open in all formats .

    Other news is that Monty has taken some wickets today which is great news if he can sustain it.

  • Cricket_Monster on August 18, 2014, 14:29 GMT

    Did anyone notice? Foreign coaches have never helped indian team to win against their own native countries. From john wright, Gregg Chappell, Gary Kirsten and now fletcher. Gary made indian team to win oversese but India could not win against SA in South Africa and even India against them. Even in WC 2011 India lost a game against SA. Now with fletcher, India have had their worst nightmare. They lost terribly in England in all formats in 2011. I understand that India also lost against Aussies, but this coach is just terrible. By 0-4 against Aussies. Now again in England India lost terribly with English coach.i also blame IPL too. Question is that can't BCCI afford an indian coach which can help indian team to win in all formats in Aussies, England and SA?

  • YorkshirePudding on August 18, 2014, 14:12 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta, I know, the problem is if his batting departs as bowlers and analysts pour over his technique then try various plans, what else has he got to back up a space with. Look at how the media shredded Priors career, ultimately blaming him for the lords loss, when it was a collective failure. At the moment Buttler is the media's darling, he wont be after a run of low scores.

    Over the next few years I expect we will see a lot of Bairstow vs Buttler debates just as we saw the Prior vs Foster/Read debates, with oneset of fans denigrating a player in favour of their own.

  • cricket-india on August 18, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    with due respect to all the good performances and the camaraderie brought about by the series win, england will do well to note this was always on the cards. the more practical indian cricket followers (who flooded cricinfo's live commentaries with predictions that cook was only an india series away from striking form) were as surpised as happy when india won at lords and what followed was not totally unexpected, even if depressing and humiliating. england will do well not to get carried away...cook lives to die another day, but beating an uninterested india at home hardly merits the kind of euphoria it seems to be generating now. i don't want to take anything away from england, just want to point out whatever was found to be not ok with english cricket after lords by every learned commentator (george dobell, are you listening?) still exists, and needs to be taken care of if england want to be a test cricketing nation that prides itself on being one.

  • ChrisMarx on August 18, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    Well done to England for showing some true fight in the face of adversity. I still don't think Cook has suddenly become a good tactical captain, but he has emerged from this as a much stronger leader. It bodes well for English cricket that almost everybody contributed in the latter tests and some of the youngsters showed some real class. So a bit of optimism isn't such a bad thing right now. The engine isn't running at full capacity yet, but at least it isn't lying in pieces on a mechanic's bench in the Aussie workshop of Johnson & Co anymore. India should also not panic too much. Yes, the way the Indian batsmen crumbled without a fight is disheartening and nobody likes to see their team humiliated like that, but there are still some very good cricketers in that side and with a bit of introspection and hard work they will be back.

  • on August 18, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding on (August 18, 2014, 12:04 GMT):

    I agree with your assessment of Buttler with his big gloves. Unfortunately, the days of 'pure' wicket keepers seem to be over. Every team is looking for wicket-keepers doubling up as a batsmen. The days of Allan Knotts & Syed Kirmanis are over. Everyone is looking for a Gilchrist. The natural corollary is the fall in the pure 'keeping' part of that composite role. Given the trend, I hope Buttler keeps working on his keeping. He has to. The right attitude is there; the right techniques hopefully will follow. Certainly a big improvement over the Keiswetters!

  • JDPP on August 18, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    Well, for all the intellectual discussions we had on this forum, we now know that the best team from South Asia is Sri Lanka. That score is also settled, for a time to come. No amount of excuses would suffice to do away with that stark reality.

  • Roshan_P on August 18, 2014, 13:01 GMT

    The reason this was worse for India than the 2011 whitewash is because they actually won a Test and looked good before plummeting. They didn't even bother putting up a fight in the last three Tests. There must be changes in players and backroom staff before the next series.

    India need to give up with trying to play an all-rounder as the best they have is Binny. Be aggressive and pick Yadav instead, as Ashwin and Bhuvi's batting should make up for the loss of an all-rounder.

    The opening spot is a puzzler. I don't think Dhawan or Gambhir can lay claim to that opening spot, so why not try someone totally different? Lokesh Rahul is a young opener who was the second highest scorer in the last Ranji season, and apparently he has a good technique. He didn't do very well in IPL, but that's irrelevant. Try him, or maybe someone else who has promise. Identify the specialist Test match players and try to get them to play in the County Championship or Sheffield Shield instead of IPL

  • on August 18, 2014, 12:32 GMT

    England has a perfect mix, for a smooth transition into an excellent test team. This is even after conceding that India did not provide any credible template for an accurate assessment.

    Ballance, Root & Buttler will form the core of England's future, no doubt about it.

    Ballance, in no way, will pale in comparison to Trott, who held the No 3 slot with distinction in the past. In fact, with experience he may turn out to be even better.

    Even before Stauss retired, I had posted a few times that England has a ready replacement, in case if Strauss quits. I feel Root can play well in any position you give him. If he has found cozy comfort at No 5, let him be there.

    Buttler, may not yet be in the class of Prior at his peak; but is far better than the Prior we saw in recent times. He will be England's Gilchrist, soon.

    Both in batting & bowling England have a pair each of experienced guys to break in fresh talents. Cook & Bell (despite their recent slumps); and Jimmy & Broad.

    Congrats.

  • TATTUs on August 18, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    Yes, this England team along with Ballance and Root will rule the roost, 3rd place for now, as long as there are teams like India with absolutely no quality players in the team are masquerading as top 5 test teams.

  • woody3 on August 18, 2014, 12:10 GMT

    Moeen may be of more use as a bowler than a batsman unless his technique against the short ball can be totally changed. Buttler for Prior has been a massive improvement. Jordan has the X factor. Anderson owes Dhoni and Jadeja a big thank you for pissing him off so he actually bowled at his best again. Root and Ballance look like 80 test bankers. Cook got some form (luck?) back. Broad pitched it up a bit after the second test which transforms him into a wicket taker. Sorry but Robson has blown his chance. Bet Carberry wishes Robson had gone to Aus and Carberry had had the last two series to make a mark. But the Aus/Saffer attacks are more potent than Englands on a range of wickets by a margin. Anyone who rates Anderson avg about 30 above Steyn average about 21 knows nothing.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 18, 2014, 12:04 GMT

    @dunger.bob, I think its way too early to think of him as Swanns replacement, hes done well with the ball, but I don't know if that's because India played badly or Moeen bowled well. Against SL he took 3 wickets at 60, against india he took 19 at 23.

    I think only time will tell, it might be we have hit a genuine gold nugget. I'll refrain from making out that hes channelling Laker from the great beyond, and say hes done well.

    The same goes for Buttler, nice aggressive batsman, BUT he needs to work on the gloves as that's where he seems to have a weakness.

    The 'new kids' seem to have injected some vitality at least, I checked the average age of the squad for the it test, it was around 24-25, which makes it on of the youngest, and they will fall on their face occasionally, but we need to stick with them.

  • Roshan_P on August 18, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    Well played England. They were fantastic. Questions do stillremain though - I thought the support bowlers were not great. Even in this Test when Woakes and Jordan bowled quite well and took wickets, it was helped by some poor shots and decision making. Neither bowled too many genuine wicket-taking deliveries. I hope Finn gets his chance soon, and Plunkett is a good bowler too if he pitches the ball fuller. Stokes is someone I rate too as he is a wicket-taking bowler and a good batsman. Despite playing on the awful Trent Bridge surface and in the Lord's Test, when India played very well, he still got 7 wickets and looked dangerous.

    I am still not convinced by Moeen either. He may have taken wickets but again this was a lot to do with the Indians' inept performances. Eventually I hope to see Stokes become the long-term inhabitant of the all-rounder spot and for Finn to become a key member of the bowling attack, and for a specialist spinner to be chosen.

  • karthikpisapati on August 18, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    The Problem lies in the set up of cricket , The first reason is BCCI , who are interested in just money , second reason is IPL , where the bowlers and batsman just want to contain and score boundaries , third is tour preparation , no simulation of conditions or pitch . Also long rope for coach and the captain who dont have any imagination or strategy . one simple strategy is to use a different person for toss ,as dhoni keeps losing tosses most of the times . Indian team should learn from srilanka , who are producing world class spinners and good breed of fast bowlers . spin used to be strength of indian team , but visitors have proved wrong in our back yard, now again proved by a part time spinner , gone are the days where we used to have world class spinners - the purist spinnners , who can tease the batsman with there flight and loop. India should restrict the no of IPL Matches ,prepare pitches - which will simulate the conditions across the world for tour purpose.

  • Vilander on August 18, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    Its good now, India is poor team thats set, now they can try to build a good test team. Best of luck to India, hopefully promising spinners from a team and ranji can be blooded more spin oriented tracks can be made in India. Some test only players can be released for playing county and be picked when touring England. Would love to see rank turners and dust bowls when Eng come touring as they no longer have Swann.

  • Westmorlandia on August 18, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    The darkest hour is not before the dawn, obviously. The darkest hour is at midnight or thereabouts (depending on how closely the clock is following the sun).

    Better to say that the COLDEST hour is right before dawn, because that is generally true.

  • on August 18, 2014, 10:12 GMT

    England seem to have some reserves of seam bowling (assuming the coaching staff don't ruin them) and the middle order looks OK. I would hesitate to go on a tour of the subcontinent with only Moeen as spinner, though. Can't see Robson lasting. I think there will be a "beauty parade" on the A tour of South Africa for another opener. I only hope Alex Hales is included in that.

  • on August 18, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    England can show their colors only on weak teams such as India, Zimbabwe etc. But can't win against best cricket teams such as Australia,Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South africa.

  • dunger.bob on August 18, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    @ YorkshirePudding: I'm way past stirring for it's own sake. It gets a bit tiring and like yourself, and a growing number of others, I'm more interested in discussing the cricket than pushing my national wheelbarrow. I'm still a proud Aussie but I don't see the need to shout about it.

    Anyway, what I actually wanted to say concerns Moeen Ali. He's an enigma imo. He's averaging 5 wickets per match and that's not chicken feed. That's frontline spinner stuff. At the moment he's a stand out spinner who bats a bit. .. My question is, is that actually right? .. Have England actually found their replacement for Swann already? .. If so, it's an awesome stroke of luck and or management. .. What's your opinion YP?

  • CodandChips on August 18, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    This team is definitely moving in the right direction.

    Ballance and Root have been excellent this summer. While there will be tougher tests ahead, they have still shown ability to score plenty of runs.

    All the players have chipped in this summer. At the start the youngsters carried the senior players. Now almost everyone is performing.

    Concerns do remain. Robson is an obvious one. He's got plenty of time before the next series. Perhaps let him open on the Lions tour, with Adam Lyth, who's had a phenomenal season for Yorkshire.

    Ali's batting is a concern. And will his bowling be enough on certain West Indian pitches? Will a second or a reserve spinner be needed?

    The support bowlers bowled well this test but struggled earlier. Jury is still out on then.

    Next year the biggest test will be the schedule. Cricket every month. At least 56 matches. Players like Buttler and Root who play all 3 formats will be in high demand. But Buttler must at least play his best formats.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 18, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    @VillageBlacksmith, yawn again with the anti Bell Rhetoric. Avg 42, a ig hundred when England needed it at Southampton, you cant read too much into the second innings as he was told to flash the bat to get runs quickly for a Declaration. At Old Trafford he was the 3rd highest England scorer, in the other two he failed, even against SL he scored a couple of 50's.

    Lyth is a possible alternative to Robson, and Taylor is waiting in the wings for his chance, though hes not really stating a case at Notts at the moment with an average of 37.

  • kesaraca on August 18, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    Captain Cook. The way he responded to criticism from media, his own people and third party moral breakers like Warne. He has a great personality. And precept for others players and common public. Good Luck to him.

  • MasterBlaster100 on August 18, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    Alistair Cook has been in charge for eight series. India have been thrashed home and away. The Ashes were retained 3-0 at home. Two series have been won in Asia. That doesnt sound like a bad start...

  • pragmatist on August 18, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    One of the most revealing things said in the post-match discussions was Broad when he said that after Lord's, they decided to forget the plans for individual batsmen and just focus on what they were strong at - pitching the ball up, getting movement etc. This is one of the most refreshing - and sensible - things I've heard said, and probably the biggest single change from Southampton onwards. Well played England.

  • VillageBlacksmith on August 18, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    Well turned around England… BUT… No mention of the senior player IR Bell in this article, which begs the question why?? ….. Because it's yet another insipid ineffective un-noticeable series for Bell, even taking in to account the flukey 1 ton in 12 months (when DRS gave him out on 0)… But plenty of mentions of the new boys who are putting in for their Capt and team… Taylor must come in for Bell & Lyth for Robson… Lyth & Taylor in the Lions to RSA & then in the XI in the Windies then the jigsaw is starting to take shape… Time to move on from bell…

  • Ramansilva on August 18, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    The pathetic team of international cricket in 2014 was made heroes by an even more pathetic team.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 18, 2014, 8:36 GMT

    @Balladeer, to be honest I'd forgotten about Plunkett, though I have my reservations and if Finn is in the groove he would get the nod.

  • Rajeshj on August 18, 2014, 8:12 GMT

    Congratulations to England for the huge win.. But I would be skeptical about this English win and feel they have lots to improve before they can be called as a team on their path towards glory... Cook has really not hit form and did not look entirely convincing in this series.. the same with Bell.. Ballance and Root appear to have quite a bit of flaws in their techniques and will be quite exposed by quality fast bowling.. To me the whole series appears quite similar to the Ashes last year when the Aussies were humiliated.. the pitches were too tailor-made for England bowlers with prodigious swing .. The England team appeared unstoppable after the Ashes in England in 2013, but were poorly thrashed wherever and whenever they played after that.. If India can be accused on playing too much on spinning tracks, so to can be England.. their sufferings outside England will definitely re-occur.. they will be exposed in days to come..

  • Balladeer on August 18, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    @YokshirePudding: "The first change bowlers need to improve, and we need to determine who from Finn, Woakes, Stokes, and Jordan will take the permanent 3rd Seamer spot..."

    Plunkett, surely.

  • YorkshirePudding on August 18, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    @dunger.bob, I think most fans are still a little raw after the 2014/15 ashes and the national psyche is to down play the results, and its good to get a neutrals perspective (especially yourself and Chris_P who are objective).

    I have fears for Ballance against high class fast bowling he takes a huge step back to the stumps so his front foot is almost on the popping crease, this leaves him open to LBWs and Hit wicket.

    The first change bowlers need to improve, and we need to determine who from Finn, Woakes, Stokes, and Jordan will take the permanent 3rd Seamer spot, and back up for Moeen Ali, he took 19 wickets this series but his batting has suffered.

  • on August 18, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Congratulations england on this grand success. Thrashing india by a huge 3-1 margin in this 5 test series is a fantastic achievement because england had lot of youngsters and inexperienced players, senior players like cook & bell etc were not in form, just before this series lost the test series against srilanka at home soil so on and so forth and then bouncing back from 0-1 after lords loss to 3-1 victory is indeed a stupendous achievement! Wicket keeper playing very first test, moin ali a part time spinner, 3rd and 4th pace bowlers very new, batsmen like root, ballance very new, cook, bell, price, robson all off form but despite these constraints winning series by 3-1 margin is an extraordinary achievement really!

    Now the main question - test series emphatically won by england and can they win the ODI & T20 series too against india? If england could win these shorter version serieses too then it will be an Icing on the Cake and we will enjoy it thoroughly. Good lucks england!

  • YorkshirePudding on August 18, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    @george204, a kindred spirit, I like you never believe until the last wicket is taken, except for a brief period in 2010-2012, then the UAE happened and brought me down to earth.

    Since then I've been highly sceptical, and don't expect too much of the team, so my advice to fans is, sit back, relax and enjoy the game no matter who wins.

  • dunger.bob on August 18, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    This is a first for me I'd say, but damned if I don't agree with everything George Dobell has said here.

    Of course there's cause for optimism for the England fans. You'd have to be a harsh task master not to be at least mildly enthused by a recovery like that! Let's make no bones about it, England were on the edge of the cliff having lost 2 and drawn the other 2 of their last 4 home games. Losing overseas is one thing but losing at home is something else entirely. .. Winning 3 games on the trot from that position is a tremendous effort and worthy of a bit of self back slapping.

  • Balladeer on August 18, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    It's like some of the commenters haven't read the article! Plenty of downplaying England's success, explaining it away, here. And one gets the feeling that it's from the same people who will criticise England in every test series coming up. What if (n.b. IF) they defeat the WI? "Well it's the WI, they're not very good." NZ and/or Aus? "Home advantage." Pakistan? "Mercurial at the best of times." SA? "...Fluke."

    I don't think they'll defeat SA next year, for what it's worth. I'm heavily unsure whether they'll defeat Pakistan or Australia. But one shouldn't deny that there is hope now. These wins (Pak and Aus anyway) are distant possibilities rather than impossibilities. The team is showing signs of regrowth, even if it's far from being a dominant force in global test cricket.

    Next year will be the acid tests. For now, none of us can say anything more or less than, "This team has weaknesses, but also areas of potential."

  • george204 on August 18, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    "But there is sometimes a temptation to downplay England's successes. To explain them away. To suggest that they are hopeless when they lose, but that their victories only come against hopeless teams." Yes - absolutely. I suspect it's because those of us who endured the period from 1987-1999 still haven't got used to the idea of England actually playing good cricket. I still don't believe England are going to win until I see the captain actually holding the trophy - and even then I wait until the evening highlights just to make sure!

  • Abaa on August 18, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    India is only better than Bangladesh in the test rankings based on merit so England must not get carried away by these crushing victories ... They were massacred by Johnson only a few months ago!

  • YorkshirePudding on August 18, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    As others have said its a start, and you can only play against the team that is in front of you, its a pity there arnt any more tests before April next year as there are still some areas that need to be looked at, the 3rd bowler for instance. Hopefully Finn will be more than a water boy in the West indies, it might even be time to look at Chris Overton on next years WI's tour.

    What was apparent yesterday was that the team seems to be enjoying their cricket again, which is important, though they will have tougher tests with series against Aus and SA next year.

    Give the ODI captaincy to Morgan, and let him build an ODI team, then release those players that arnt going to feature in the ODI side back to County cricket so that they can help out their counties for the remainder of the season.

  • FlatTrakBully on August 18, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    Team should move on. 3-1 is similar to 4-0 loss, but its better than England's record of 5-0 loss,. (Practicing county without IPL, BBL)

  • Sexysteven on August 18, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    I wouldn't give England to much credit here they did there job against an a average Indian team but it won't be like that in the ashes and they need to find anew opener prob hales for me cooks captaincy not convinced still India made his captaincy look better then it actually is moeens batting a worry but has to stay cos his bowling is decent the support cast for Anderson and broad are coming on ok Jordan woakes with Finn stokes Bresnan gurney onions in the back ground so there's good competition there so yes England are making decent progress I think

  • PrasPunter on August 18, 2014, 3:52 GMT

    @landl47, yes the same old bunch that handed you a 5-0 drubbing ?

  • landl47 on August 18, 2014, 3:02 GMT

    I said before the season started that this was a very young side, it would start slowly, but if the approach was right it would improve and that's what happened. The most encouraging thing was that this side finished the test series happy, enthusiastic and buzzing with energy. Peter Moores must take credit for that. To have not one but two under-25 batsmen finish a 5-test series in which they only batted 7 times with run aggregates of over 500 apiece is mind-boggling. Jordan and Woakes took 11 of the 18 wickets to fall to the bowlers in the last test. Moeen got 19 wickets at 22 runs per wicket in the series. Buttler's lowest score in his first 3 test innings was 45. The senior players kicked it into gear after Lord's and Broad and Anderson at last saw their bowling averages, inflated by having to learn their skills in the national side, finally drop into the 20s.

    We'll talk about the Aussies next year, when we see how many of the old guys make the trip. For now, well done England!

  • on August 18, 2014, 0:30 GMT

    For 2000 read 2014. Very similar situation then. England at a low ebb (home defeat to NZ, away defeat to SA, only victory against Zimbabwae). Thrashed at home by West Indies in opener of 5 test series.

    Then came back to win the series 3-1, opposition increasingly ragged as the series went on, especially batting. And onward and upwards from there (with the exception of a couple of ashes wobbles against the best side of all time)

  • amit_e33 on August 18, 2014, 0:26 GMT

    Little early to say that for England, considering India as worst (should be ranked 10th) test playing team on list. But current results warrant accolades to some players of this team for the way they fought.

  • Chris_P on August 18, 2014, 0:12 GMT

    Good review, no doubt many of my English friends agree there are still boxes to be ticked before getting to the their goal, but surely such turnarounds as this series provided gives one more than a little hope for the future. Good comeback by the Poms.

  • BustIPL on August 17, 2014, 23:14 GMT

    Offcourse, till Lord's it looked like india will survive despite the fact runs came from tailrounders and ishant bowled may be the strangest spell to collect that many wickets.

  • PeerieTrow on August 17, 2014, 23:12 GMT

    Articulate, honest, unbiased journalism; four words that are not always comfortable bedfellows in relation to such a potentially emotive analysis of recent events. Good piece George!

  • on August 17, 2014, 22:39 GMT

    Great article but you forgot to mention Liam Plunkett who, until his injury, performed equally as well as Moeen, Woakes & Jordan. He is the pace spreahead England will need against South Africa and Australia in 2015.

  • JJJake on August 17, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    When England have the ball moving around they are a very dangerous side to face.however India faired about as well as they did in NZ.

  • __PK on August 17, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    "...at home against India." Put those four words at the end of a dozen sentences in this article and you get the true picture.

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  • __PK on August 17, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    "...at home against India." Put those four words at the end of a dozen sentences in this article and you get the true picture.

  • JJJake on August 17, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    When England have the ball moving around they are a very dangerous side to face.however India faired about as well as they did in NZ.

  • on August 17, 2014, 22:39 GMT

    Great article but you forgot to mention Liam Plunkett who, until his injury, performed equally as well as Moeen, Woakes & Jordan. He is the pace spreahead England will need against South Africa and Australia in 2015.

  • PeerieTrow on August 17, 2014, 23:12 GMT

    Articulate, honest, unbiased journalism; four words that are not always comfortable bedfellows in relation to such a potentially emotive analysis of recent events. Good piece George!

  • BustIPL on August 17, 2014, 23:14 GMT

    Offcourse, till Lord's it looked like india will survive despite the fact runs came from tailrounders and ishant bowled may be the strangest spell to collect that many wickets.

  • Chris_P on August 18, 2014, 0:12 GMT

    Good review, no doubt many of my English friends agree there are still boxes to be ticked before getting to the their goal, but surely such turnarounds as this series provided gives one more than a little hope for the future. Good comeback by the Poms.

  • amit_e33 on August 18, 2014, 0:26 GMT

    Little early to say that for England, considering India as worst (should be ranked 10th) test playing team on list. But current results warrant accolades to some players of this team for the way they fought.

  • on August 18, 2014, 0:30 GMT

    For 2000 read 2014. Very similar situation then. England at a low ebb (home defeat to NZ, away defeat to SA, only victory against Zimbabwae). Thrashed at home by West Indies in opener of 5 test series.

    Then came back to win the series 3-1, opposition increasingly ragged as the series went on, especially batting. And onward and upwards from there (with the exception of a couple of ashes wobbles against the best side of all time)

  • landl47 on August 18, 2014, 3:02 GMT

    I said before the season started that this was a very young side, it would start slowly, but if the approach was right it would improve and that's what happened. The most encouraging thing was that this side finished the test series happy, enthusiastic and buzzing with energy. Peter Moores must take credit for that. To have not one but two under-25 batsmen finish a 5-test series in which they only batted 7 times with run aggregates of over 500 apiece is mind-boggling. Jordan and Woakes took 11 of the 18 wickets to fall to the bowlers in the last test. Moeen got 19 wickets at 22 runs per wicket in the series. Buttler's lowest score in his first 3 test innings was 45. The senior players kicked it into gear after Lord's and Broad and Anderson at last saw their bowling averages, inflated by having to learn their skills in the national side, finally drop into the 20s.

    We'll talk about the Aussies next year, when we see how many of the old guys make the trip. For now, well done England!

  • PrasPunter on August 18, 2014, 3:52 GMT

    @landl47, yes the same old bunch that handed you a 5-0 drubbing ?