India v England, 2nd ODI, Kochi January 14, 2013

Complacency should not be an issue

Alastair Cook is well aware that all England have done so far in the one-day series is win a single match

It says much for the shifting balance of power that the England captain, Alastair Cook, was even asked about the dangers of complacency ahead of the second one-day of the series against India.

A year ago, as England licked their wounds after a humbling 5-0 ODI whitewash such a question would have been unthinkable. Even now, with one victory in the last six years, it seems laughably premature to raise such a thought. Whatever England's challenges in the coming months, guarding against complacency should not be among them.

As the only major Test-playing nation not to have won a global 50-over event and with a record in Asia that, despite recent improvements, remains grim, England know they have plenty of hard work ahead of them if they are to fulfil their lofty ambitions. They are heading in the right direction, but they have a long journey ahead.

Nor is complacency the way of this England side. Cook did not become the youngest man in history to 7,000 Test runs through any sense of self-satisfaction; Ashley Giles has not just been promoted to an international coaching role to see his unit coast; Ian Bell has not won an ODI recall only to waste it and the likes of Craig Kieswetter, Samit Patel and Tim Bresnan are all under pressure to justify their continuing selection beyond their series. Wherever you look in this England squad, you will find motivation. Just about every one of them has a question to answer.

It is worth remembering how tight the margins between success and failure were in the first ODI, too. England were reliant on Patel thrashing 38 from the final two overs and Joe Root delivering nine relatively frugal overs to deliver a narrow victory. Such exceptional performances cannot be relied upon as the norm.

Root is a talented cricketer with a strong work ethic, but it is asking a great deal of him to make the leap from part-time county bowler - he claimed one wicket in the lower division of the 2012 County Championship - to becoming the man to fill holes in an international attack.

Cook knows all this. He has admitted on several occasions that England have been somewhat flattered by the speed with which they assumed the No. 1 ranking in ODI cricket and he knows that, until that global trophy is secured, his side's improvements - pleasing though there are - will count for little.

"Let's not get too carried away," Cook said ahead of Kochi encounter. "We've played one game in this series. We enjoyed the other night because we won. But it's a game of fine margins. We are going to have to do the same in the remaining games.

"India are a world-class side and statistics show how hard it is to win here, but we're prepared for that. We will have to keep up our skills and our standard of performances if we want to win this game and the series."

One area where England have dominated through most of the Test series and in the first ODI was in spin bowling. While the success of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar in the Test series might have been grudgingly accepted by the hosts, to see England's stand-in offspinner, James Tredwell, maintain the dominance will have stung.

Tredwell, in many ways the antithesis of the glamorous superstars that abound in Indian cricket, produced the sort of disciplined, skilful display he has so regularly for Kent to claim four top-order wickets and the Man-of-the-Match award. Rarely has substance trounced style so convincingly. As Cook said, "It just proves that that experience you gain in county cricket can bode well in international cricket."

Perhaps India may reflect on that. County cricket provided valuable experience for the likes of Kapil Dev, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. More recently Zaheer Khan owed his international revival, in part, to a spell with Worcestershire. No doubt all would have 'made it' without the county game, but every one of them also credits it for helping their development. The BCCI might do well to take note with regard the new generation of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara et al.

India are far from out of this series. England remain too reliant on part-time bowlers for comfort and the hosts will surely attempt to target Root and, perhaps, Tredwell in the rest of the series. But if England's spinners continue to out-perform India's, it may prove tough for the hosts to claw their way back.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on January 15, 2013, 22:16 GMT

    @itsthewayuplay on (January 15 2013, 10:10 AM GMT) Mate "Ye of little faith" for a reason as shown today. Cheers for the comms though

  • Cricket on January 15, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    @JG2704 (January 14 2013, 21:32 PM GMT) Oh ye of little faith. I think you're underestimating England and giving India way too much credit. This is a poor poor Indian side that is only for it collectively when they think they've a good chance they're going to win. England are hungrier, more organised, more disciplined and more skilful. Dhoni is the Indian batsman England has to worry about and although I'm a fan of Raina he hasn't proven he has worked out the short ball yet so I'm surprised England so far hasn't tested him consistently with the 2 bouncers per over now allowed. With Cook, Trott and Bell, England are steady if unspectacular at the top of the order with Pieterson followed by Root, Morgan and Patel, England being the impact players, England are favourites.

  • John on January 15, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    @Shan156 on (January 14 2013, 22:03 PM GMT) As much a case of us rarely scoring that amount of runs in an ODI inns as anything else

    @Nampally on (January 15 2013, 01:51 AM GMT) Indeed. I'm not saying Patel wasn't a big factor but even within Patel's innings the last 4 overs (inc at Kieswetter) went for 59 runs. Sharma went for 33 in 2 overs. Now would you say that those overs were all because of Patel/Craig's brilliance or might that also have had something to do with Sharma's bowling. To me when you have a slow bowler going at 3.6 (1RPO less than any other bowler on either side) and Yuv (who the side have had probs against before) and a team (Craig in particular) who are not so comfortable with spin it seemed strange not to give Raina some more overs or give Yuv a bowl. Also on a flat deck one can also cite Ind batsmen for not getting after a young part time slow bowler a bit more. Also Tredwell going at less than 5 and taking 4 should not be overlooked

  • Venkat on January 15, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    Indian fans, please don't disturb the team India. Don't whine about Pujara not getting included in the team. The team India is using these matches as preparation for the more important IPL. So, why do you keep complaining about Pujara not getting selected? Is he representing any major IPL franchise? BCCI will select only those players who play for rich IPL franchises who are actually paying BCCI for keeping them in the team even if they score only "0". So stop complaining and enjoy what you can. Again, don't worry about the outcomes of these International matches. IPL is the main thing for us. These are just warm-up to the great IPL, we don't care about nation's pride. Money is what we care about.

    ESPN please post.

  • Senthil on January 15, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Nice to see all the gloating while India is going through a tough phase. India can up their game a couple of notches. Let's hope his happens and England can keep up to make this an interesting series. As always, warm weather fans of India are asking for heads to roll. There were calls for removing Raina too! Whatever happened to bowling short balls to him? What happened to his weakness? Give this bowling unit some time to settle down, and they will do just fine. It's just a game, everyone. How important can it be? Just to make it interesting, I'd like to see how England bounce back after one hammering. Glad Kochi won't have any temperature issues. Nice and warm there!

  • biju on January 15, 2013, 2:44 GMT

    There is no solution if you don't sack dohni out from the skipper job,what a negative captain,Gambir a world class player and showed his captaincy skill and 100% victory during his time. Dohni's team selection,field placement is horrible.I have to admire him as a player . Yuvi should open the innings along with rahane,followed by gambir,pujara,kholi,dhoni,raina,Jadeja,Bu.Kumar,shami and irsant for kochi game.

    for next team selection,jadeja,aswin,irsanth,dinda,rohit should be out from the team. insted ambadirayidu,abishek nayar,rahulsharma,sreesanth,muralikarthik should be in the team b.philip

  • Ashok on January 15, 2013, 1:51 GMT

    @JG2704: Without Patel's knock @ S/R200, England may not have scored 300, a total attainable by the India on a batting wkt. All England batsmen played well but their S/R was half that of Patel. This is what I meant by Patel's knock. Add to India's woes, Yuvraj & Raina were out to poor strokes after they were well set. I expected them to carry India thru'. India gave too many runs because what Dhoni calls "part time bowlers", are actually better than so called specialist bowlers - 3 Seamers. I felt that Yuvraj & Raina can easily do 5th bowler job to accomodate Pujara at #3.Ashwin, Jadeja, Kumar & Shami can bowl 10 over each.Kohli should NEVER bowl his up & down rubbish.@Shan 156: Kohli has played poorly in last 4 ODI's- main cause for Indian batting failure vs.Pak.This makes it essential to get hot Pujara IN. Kohli's great form in ODI helped India win in the past. Kohli & Pujara @3 & 4 needed by India. This can omly happen if Dhoni uses Raina & Yuvraj to bowl & goes with 2 seamers.

  • dinesh on January 15, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    Did some one mentioned inclusion of Nohit? That guy is good for nothing. Sorry he is best in the net and makes getting out very elegant. Selectors are nuts if they pick him up. Pujara however should play instead of Gambhir.

  • Ramesh on January 15, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    India waiting for another close shave ;) !! with current performances/form of the great Indian batsmen, I am afraid they might lose most of the games in this series. I hope at least they win in the colder locations (Mohali/Dharmashala).

    For now, I m just looking ahead towards next IPL ;) !! nothing there for Indian team this year....ha ha ha...