India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 5th day December 17, 2012

England renewed but problems for old India

Jonathan Trott's return to form echoed a triumph for his team that came in spite of conditions, precedent and circumstances

The contrasting fortunes of two men told the story of this game and the current position of their respective sides. While one, Jonathan Trott, finished a difficult year with a series-clinching century, the other, Sachin Tendulkar, ended it in the dressing room suffering from a sore neck and shoulders. When you have carried the hopes of a nation for two decades, these things will happen.

It was fitting that Trott should seal the result. His difficulties have reflected those of his side throughout the year. Starting 2012 with a big reputation, he was brought down to earth in the UAE and struggled against Dale Steyn in the series against South Africa. But the selectors stuck with him, he worked hard and he overcame. This was his eighth Test century and his first since Galle in March. He also passed 1,000 Test runs for the year during this innings.

The hour after lunch was a golden one for England. To see two batsmen stretch their partnership past 200, answer the questions about their form and slam the door on any lingering Indian hopes was to see the rehabilitation of this England side. This success does not make up for a disappointing year and England are not the finished article but they, at least, back on track.

For this series victory represents one of the finest in England's history. It will not make the impact of an Ashes victory - it does not have the history or capture the British public imagination in the same way - but, in the circumstances, this is as least as impressive an achievement as winning the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 24 years in 2010-11 and winning the World T20 in the Caribbean in 2010.

Everything was weighted against them: India's home record; England's record in Asia and India in particular; England's record against spin; the loss of Steven Finn; the loss of three important tosses; the preparation of the pitches; the lack of spin provided to them in the warm-up games; and defeat in the first Test of the series.

And yet England won. They won a series in India for the first time since 1984-85; they won a series in Asia (excluding those in Bangladesh) for the first time since 2001; they won in a country where they had won just one Test since 1985; their batsmen showed they had learned to play spin; their bowlers proved more adept than the hosts' on pitches made to suit India; and they showed the spirit to fight back from the loss in Ahmedabad. A series that began under the cloud of Pietersen-gate, ended with a unified team dealing calmly and positively with every obstacle placed in their way. In stark contrast to earlier tours, not once did an England player complain about the pitches, the hotels, the heat or the tactics. They simply embraced a no-excuse environment and got on with it.

It was Alastair Cook that led the way. His century in Ahmedabad, in vain though it was, showed his colleagues what could be achieved. Gradually more players contributed in each Test. In Mumbai, Kevin Pietersen played an innings laced with genius and Monty Panesar - described by Cook as "a captain's dream" - showed his quality. In Kolkata, Trott rediscovered his form, James Anderson - who took three times as many wickets as the next most successful seamer and was described as "the major difference between the sides" by MS Dhoni - his nip and Steven Finn demonstrated his value; then in Nagpur Joe Root showed his promise and Ian Bell provided a reminder of his class. Through it all, Cook, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann performed with understated excellence.

Bell recovering his form saw one of the final pieces fall into place in England's jigsaw. It had been 25 Test innings since his last century and, before this, he had averaged 18 in India on his three tours. While the latter portion of his innings was somewhat soft, the initial part was important: had he or Trott fallen early, India would have had an opening. It would be wrong to diminish the importance of this, his 17th Test century.

Andy Flower will, quite rightly, gain many plaudits. But it is worth recalling the influence of Peter Moores, too. It was Moores who gave big breaks to Swann, Anderson and Prior and Moores who first called-up Trott into the England limited-overs set-up. It was Moores, too, who set-up the Academy and Lions systems that have helped the likes Finn and Root move seamlessly from the county to the international game. He really is one of the unsung heroes of England cricket.

Perhaps it was fitting, too, that Tendulkar should finish the series on the treatment bench, figuratively if not literally. He now represents the old India. A team that, whatever their past excellence, is now tired and in need of refreshing. He deserves to depart on a grander stage than this drab draw on an awful pitch at Nagpur, but 'deserve' has little to do with it. His reputation, as a player and ambassador for the game is assured, but time defeats us all. The success of Cheteshwar Pujara has shown there is talent and dedication available in India. It just requires a culture change to realise it.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on December 20, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    @SamuelH on (December 18 2012, 18:36 PM GMT) I'm not sure what will happen but I think Lyon is better than many think

  • John on December 19, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    @edgie on (December 18 2012, 10:21 AM GMT) Don't get so carried away there. Beating England was the 1st time SA beaten a top 4 side for several years and Australia got the better of SA in the 1st 2 tests recently so while SA are deservedly number one they are not head and shoulders above everyone else

  • Yasir on December 19, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    india in Australia,won 5 test matches ever india in England won 5 test matches ever india in SA won 2 test matches ever

    Pakistan in Australia won 4 test matches ever Pakistan in England won 7 test matches ever Pakistan in SA won 2 test matches ever

    Look at this record...Pakistan is ahead..This is the record of all test matches India & Pak played in 3 overseas countries..Pakistan is not that bad.Our record is slightly better than India..Similarly pick up India vs Pak match records,Pak is miles ahead.In recent times Pak might have lost against India.But overll Pak record is much better..Thanks to that 90's era

  • Yasir on December 19, 2012, 6:57 GMT

    @g.narsimha->Our last tour was in 2010 when we visited England.. On the same tour we won a match..though we lost the series 3-1.. We also played against Australia in England 2010 & we again won a was 1-1 draw series.. Your last tour to SA was rather good..It was a draw but I'll give that to you..

  • Yasir on December 19, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    Just a series win in 2007 against England gives you an advantage..But saying that India's performance was far fat better than Pakistan,well i dont agree

  • Yasir on December 19, 2012, 6:20 GMT


    Its been 65 years,India never won a series in Australia.. Been 20 years & still India got none series win in SA Record in England is rather good no doubt.

  • narsimha on December 19, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    SOLIDSNAKE-Ever since INDIA became no-1 in tests , wc win, u people left no stone unturned to brand INDIA STAGE MANAGED THOSE ACHIEVEMENTS, SAURGRAPES , u cant stomock ipl , bccis domination ,u got opportunity after our meserable performances in recent times , no denieng, we are worse at present , based on present loses u cant rubbish our cricket as worthless , now come to the stats - iam happy by seeing that at least some has taken pain to go to stats even thoug u conviniently avoided mentioning overall performance of both the teams VRS- SA, AUS, WI , ENG,VRS-SA- IN SA BOTH WON 2 TESTS ,where as in overall we are ahead -7 wins where as pakhas only 3 test wins at home & away, IN AUS- IND 5 TEST WINS PAK 4, OVER ALL IND-20, PAK -12 ,WE both won 3 series each in ENG, BUT u r last series win in ENG was in 1996, in 2006 it was atotal white wash 3-0, no series win vrs WI in WI till date so which team fared better against these top teams , these stats substantiates it so no more aurguments

  • Samuel on December 18, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    @JG - I'd say SA were massively out of sorts in those first 2 tests against Australia, especially at the Gabba - the fact that Australia still found ways to lose early wickets doesn't bode well for them. The difference between Australia & England in these conditions are the spinners - Australia will struggle with Lyon & Beer, whereas England had Swann & Panesar to call on. Clarke & Hussey aside, the batting line-up, judging by their performance against Herath in Hobart, looks pretty flaky against spin too. Need to find someone to perform like Cook has at the top to stand any chance, otherwise I fancy India to win. Not easily, but they should be able to. We said that here though...

  • Prashant on December 18, 2012, 18:13 GMT

    I doubt this will bring any changes. As usual there will be excuses. They may make a couple of changes, but the core of the team will remain the same. They will go through the same training regimen. Nothing will change and we will lose again, this time in SA. But once again, it's foreign, it's against #1 team so there is "no shame in losing", you can't judge anyone based on one series, etc, etc. And the story will go on. India has had success in the past not because of a change in culture but because every once in a while a player or two comes along who is able to perform at a level that overcomes these challenges. Players of exceptional talent. India has been fortunate that in the recent past, we had 4 exceptional batsmen in the Test team, and a couple of exceptionally talented players in the LOI team. The WC wins, the Test #1, etc were achieved by these players playing at their very best out of their own. Until we get the next Dravid or SRT of the old, nothing will change.

  • Dru on December 18, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    I couldnt see a way how Eng would come off with anything but a loss in this series and its full credit to them for the remarkable series win. They didnt just win they humiliated India at home - something thought to be impossible till now. I think the last team to humiliate India was probably the Windies of the past and even then I am not sure if things were this one sided in favor of the visitors. As the writer points out it was a perfect storm scenario for Eng with important contibutions from all. I thought Eng may get somewhere on KP magic but when Bell, who has been terrible against spin, also gets a hundred you know things are going well.

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