India in England 2011 August 24, 2011

How good are this England side?

Andrew Strauss leads a ruthlessly competent outfit but it currently lacks the genius that underpinned the all-time great teams of the past
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On the eve of the fourth Test, Statsguru dug out a factoid that made even Andrew Strauss raise his eyebrows in acknowledgement. In the whole of the 1980s, England's cricketers scraped together a total of 20 victories in 104 Tests. One more win at The Oval - which was duly delivered on Monday by an innings and eight runs - and Strauss's men have now amassed that same tally in just 31 games, dating back to Andy Flower's official appointment as England coach in May 2009.

The weight of those numbers cast England's current excellence in an extraordinary historical light, but there's still a temptation to scoff at the findings. In the press box shortly after Strauss's press conference, a former stalwart of the 1980s (now a broadsheet journalist) denounced the statistic as entirely spurious. "How would Alastair Cook have got on against Malcolm Marshall?" he thundered. "Do you think Graham Gooch was ever served up these sorts of pies?" It's hard to deny he had a point.

At some stage in the next handful of years, most of the men who currently reside in England's top five are likely to surpass the England record for Test hundreds (22, held jointly by Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoff Boycott), and at least three of them - Cook, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen - should overhaul Gooch's record tally of 8900 Test runs. Few would dispute the worthiness of such achievements, but in an era suddenly stripped of many of the greatest bowlers of all time - from the recent losses of Warne, McGrath and Muralitharan, to the more distant retirements of Wasim, Waqar and Donald - it's hard to contextualise the success that England are currently enjoying.

It's an issue that thrusts right to the heart of the ongoing debate about the future of Test cricket, a debate that has been intensified by India's frighteningly poor showing, particularly in the absence of their one cutting-edge bowler, Zaheer Khan. England are clearly top dogs on merit, having won eight and drawn one of their past nine series - and that draw came on a hard-fought tour of South Africa, the only other true contenders to their World No. 1 title. But, as their players soar to the top of the world rankings (four of the top ten batsmen, three of the top five bowlers), the extent of their dominance seems improbably absolute.

And yet, it has ever been thus. If there is a single lesson to be taken from the long and illustrious history of Test cricket - and certainly in the past four decades since professionalism took hold of a formerly amateur sport - it is that those teams who climb to the top through their own endeavours tend to cement their position for a long, long time. England's 25 months' of outstanding results might not be considered a representative sample to place alongside the great West Indian and Australian teams of recent vintage, but the parallels are already striking.

In September 1984, in the aftermath of their 5-0 whitewash tour of England, West Indies boasted three of the top five batsmen in the world (Richards, Greenidge and Lloyd) and three of the top six bowlers (Garner, Marshall and Holding). In February 2002, around the time that Warne and McGrath were crushing South Africa in five out of six back-to-back fixtures, only Mark Waugh of Australia's top seven batsmen was ranked outside the world's top ten.

Unlike most sports, in particular football, in which one team can batter a goalmouth for 90 minutes, only to concede defeat through a careless breakaway goal, there's little place to hide in the course of a full five-day Test match. That means that, short of extraordinary individual feats or a spate of injuries and illness, few opponents escape a beating when the top teams start to stretch their legs.

Can England really warrant a mention in the same breath? That the current side is stacked with talent is not in question. Kevin Pietersen has been a class act for years, while Ian Bell is suddenly playing like the game's next all-time great - which in itself is a staggering turnaround in fortunes. However, the team's over-arching strategy amounts to little more than the pursuit of ruthless competence - epitomised by Cook's mind-over-matter style of run-harvesting, and Anderson's transformation from wayward purveyor of magic balls to teak-tough line-and-length merchant.

There's no mystery in England's methods - Graeme Swann has no doosra, for instance, and for all his Warne-esque confidence, it's too late for him to put an entire nation under his spell, in the manner that the Ball of the Century in 1993 settled not only that Ashes series but almost every other England fixture up to and including the Adelaide Test in 2006-07. Nor is there a great deal of menace, either. Stuart Broad's bouncer has regained its effectiveness now that he's remembered to pitch the rest of his balls up, but Holding at Old Trafford or Patterson at Sabina Park he most definitely is not. And while Anderson is adapt at swinging the ball conventionally, the team rarely conjures up moments like this.

It was the onset of professionalism that drove the West Indians to greatness, firstly through the need to justify Kerry Packer's wage bills, and then through the realisation that their heightened fitness gave them a mental and physical edge over the flabby amateurs that made up the rest of the Test-playing world. Thirty years on, it is now England's heightened professionalism that's pulling them away from the pack, in a fixture-congested era in which mental flab at Test level is all too apparent. With Twenty20 driving the global agenda, too few individuals have the staying power to match a Cook or Rahul Dravid.

When competence encounters genius, there's usually only one winner, which is one very good reason to believe England will not last at the top. The trouble is, where are all the genius bowlers?

It is said that the acid test for this England team will come when they are faced with Asian pitches in the UAE and Sri Lanka this winter, though it's hard to believe that's really the case. If any side has the ingredients to triumph in such conditions, it is England - the fittest squad of international cricketers on the planet, whose batsmen have demonstrated the dedication required to grind out big scores in attritional passages of play, whose bowlers build pressure by strangling runs, and whose spinner, Swann - for all that he falls short of true greatness - is indisputably the best in the game at present.

There is a historical precedent as well. Pakistan and Sri Lanka were the opponents in England's most unanticipated triumph of the past 20 years, their back-to-back series wins under Nasser Hussain in 2000-01. A decade on, the personnel have changed beyond recognition, but the mantra to which England operate is scarcely any different to Hussain's great battle-cry: "Stay in the game at all costs". Keep your focus from first ball to last, Hussain demanded, and at some stage over the course of a five-day Test, the moment will come when the intensity of your opponents falters - or, to judge by England's recent tally of seven innings victories in their last 13 Tests, entirely vanishes.

There may have been an exponential growth in England's expertise in the intervening ten years, as the merits of central contracts and the wisdom of experience have taken a hold on the squad mentality, but the basic approach under Strauss and Flower is undeniably similar to that instilled by Hussain. What, though, does that say about the standard of Test cricket in the 21st century that a tactic that used to be the minimum requirement for competitiveness now offers a route to utter dominance?

India's flaccid performance in the recent Test series was shocking but instructive - not least on that final day at The Oval, when the inspiration provided first by Rahul Dravid's epic first-innings defiance, and then by the utter composure of the nightwatchman Amit Mishra, was not enough to coax the rest of the team into a similar show of defiance. It ought to have been an occasion such as South Africa produced at Lord's in 2008, when Hashim Amla and Neil McKenzie gritted their team to safety. Instead, India shipped seven wickets for 21 in an appropriately miserable denouement.

Passages of play such as Mishra's stand with Sachin Tendulkar prove that England are not unstoppable, but given that no team in the world can replicate their current levels of desire, it's going to take something extra to derail their ambitions. In fact, that something extra has already been witnessed on three occasions in the past 18 months - Dale Steyn at Johannesburg, Mohammad Amir at The Oval, and Mitchell Johnson at Perth. Three devastating bowling spells that not even the best-drilled batsmen in the world could handle.

When competence encounters genius, there's usually only one winner, which is one very good reason to believe England will not last at the top. The trouble is, where are all the genius bowlers? Amir and Mohammad Asif will be suspended when England face Pakistan this winter, while Murali and Lasith Malinga have retired from Test cricket for Sri Lanka. Of England's forthcoming opponents, only Steyn and his sidekick Morne Morkel appear, at this precise moment in time, to have the necessary skills to rattle the most resolute, but without a third seamer to match the perseverence of a Tim Bresnan, England's batsmen will doubtless back themselves to see out the tough times, and thrive later on.

England's current dominance may well be on merit, but in an era of flat decks and stretched priorities, it's perhaps not as hard as it used to be to get top grades. In the meantime, India have a year in which to digest that point and plan for the rematch on home soil. No cricketing nation has more scope to unearth the type of matchwinner that is needed to unsettle England's artisans, but if competence is cricket's new gold standard, don't bet on the BCCI getting their act together in time.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • maddy20 on August 27, 2011, 22:42 GMT

    @Satyajit Exactly and to add to that they need to win atleast 2 worldcups as all great teams of the past have done, one at home and one away. Until then they are just gonna be a good side, not a great one!

  • SatyajitM on August 27, 2011, 18:37 GMT

    We need to be objective before going ga ga over this England team. I would say this England side is very good. Are they a great side? We need to wait more time to figure that out. If they continue to be no 1 after two years and continue to beat all teams the way they have done in last years or so. The second part of it is Eng are an average ODI team. The last two great teams (WI of 80s and Aus of mid nineties to 2007) dominated ODI format as well. ODI format is well establised for last four decades and if some team wants to be termed world champion in cricket it must excel in ODI as well. For now I would say Eng is a very good test team and currently no 1, period.

  • maddy20 on August 26, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    @5Wombats "except that India were unfit to play Test cricket. Sickening and difficult to accept." Every team has downtime dude. Not so long ago England were thrashed 5-0 by Aus. They were beaten in WC by Bangladesh and Ireland, lost to SL by 10 wickets chasing a total of over 200. Did we then say that England did not deserve to play test and ODI cricket? English fans on this forum are going from cocky to arrogant! Its a real shame that you guys cant respect an opposition team after beating them, for I always thought that the English fans were true gentlemen!

  • getsetgopk on August 26, 2011, 19:59 GMT

    Pakistan will give England the toughest challenge they will ever face as a world no 1 when they face Ajmal, Gul, Junaid khan and wahab Riaz. At home their biggest threat will come from touring SAF.

  • on August 26, 2011, 18:26 GMT

    Why compare any era ? It won't make a difference so it is pointless. There is always a dominant team in each era so why compare different teams and players all the time and give some credit for once. This England side apparently lacks genius which is ridiculous, Swann and Jimmy amazing bowlers and great personalities, also Strauss and Flower these two have masterminded a quality side one of genius. So give credit when its due for once, England have just knocked over possibly one of the greatest batting line-ups of all time yet they still don't get credit and are compared to Marshall Holding etc. Stop comparing and give credit.

  • gujratwalla on August 26, 2011, 17:17 GMT

    This is a good article Andy but i think it is not fair to compare the achiements of past sides with the current one.A lot of things have changed during the last 20 odd years not the least that our cricketers play all -around the year and more often than not they are under physical stress.Cricket has become a lucrative game with a lot of money bouncing around and this has streched the players fitness to a limit.No need to moan great bowlers many of the present giants have iti them to be great but their work is cut short by being overworked.Cricketers of the past had the advantage of complete rest in winters and therefore they performed better.

  • on August 26, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    this England team lack geniuses apart from kevin peterson but from my point of view they are playing very well as the team which is essential. The best I have seen all my life. Good luck to them

  • swarzi on August 26, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    This article said all the correct things about England bowlers until the paragraph that gave the impression that they may not have been able to break the Mishra-Tendulkar partnership. Mishra did present some difficulty but wasn't Tendulkar missed four or five times by the English fields men? In addition, he survived a few LBW shouts that the English boys would have had overturned successfully if the DRS was in use. Hence, the fact that the use of the DRS would be universal in the future, I don't see teams like India and Australia dominating in a hurry again. It is not that the umpires is ever genuinely on their side when the DRS is absent, but there is a tendency by umpires to give them the benefit of the doubt - due to a specially acquired great names respect. This bein said, I don't see any team in the world stopping England right now. The only weapon that they need to be perfect for this era of their reign is a 'Left-armer' close to the qualities as a Wasim Akram, the best ever.

  • RohanMarkJay on August 26, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    People should give this England team their due. Its not England's fault that other sides are not putting quality sides to challenge them, they can only beaten what's in front of you. Obviously there were better quality cricket teams in previous era's. I wouldn't say this England team is anything special. But they are determined to do well in test cricket for their country. They are not as talented as say India or even Australia even now. But their training methods, selection policy and the hard work they put in before and during matches is the reason they are beating their more talented opponents. They have the right attitude for test cricket in particular and they make the most of their limited talents. Can the same be said of other teams today. Who would rather now play for big money 20/20 comps like IPL and others rather than play for their country in test cricket like in the past. India in this series looked like they would rather much prefer to be playing for money in the IPL.

  • RohanMarkJay on August 26, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    @ChrisRa I agree your correct on all three points. Especially the bowling around the world has gone down. Only England and South Africa seemed to have decent hard working attacks, nothing special just good disciplined bowlers who put pressure on the opposition batsman all day, who would now rather prefer the quick hit and biff, slam bank thank you ma'am. Can I collect my big paycheque now please Sir?!

  • maddy20 on August 27, 2011, 22:42 GMT

    @Satyajit Exactly and to add to that they need to win atleast 2 worldcups as all great teams of the past have done, one at home and one away. Until then they are just gonna be a good side, not a great one!

  • SatyajitM on August 27, 2011, 18:37 GMT

    We need to be objective before going ga ga over this England team. I would say this England side is very good. Are they a great side? We need to wait more time to figure that out. If they continue to be no 1 after two years and continue to beat all teams the way they have done in last years or so. The second part of it is Eng are an average ODI team. The last two great teams (WI of 80s and Aus of mid nineties to 2007) dominated ODI format as well. ODI format is well establised for last four decades and if some team wants to be termed world champion in cricket it must excel in ODI as well. For now I would say Eng is a very good test team and currently no 1, period.

  • maddy20 on August 26, 2011, 23:19 GMT

    @5Wombats "except that India were unfit to play Test cricket. Sickening and difficult to accept." Every team has downtime dude. Not so long ago England were thrashed 5-0 by Aus. They were beaten in WC by Bangladesh and Ireland, lost to SL by 10 wickets chasing a total of over 200. Did we then say that England did not deserve to play test and ODI cricket? English fans on this forum are going from cocky to arrogant! Its a real shame that you guys cant respect an opposition team after beating them, for I always thought that the English fans were true gentlemen!

  • getsetgopk on August 26, 2011, 19:59 GMT

    Pakistan will give England the toughest challenge they will ever face as a world no 1 when they face Ajmal, Gul, Junaid khan and wahab Riaz. At home their biggest threat will come from touring SAF.

  • on August 26, 2011, 18:26 GMT

    Why compare any era ? It won't make a difference so it is pointless. There is always a dominant team in each era so why compare different teams and players all the time and give some credit for once. This England side apparently lacks genius which is ridiculous, Swann and Jimmy amazing bowlers and great personalities, also Strauss and Flower these two have masterminded a quality side one of genius. So give credit when its due for once, England have just knocked over possibly one of the greatest batting line-ups of all time yet they still don't get credit and are compared to Marshall Holding etc. Stop comparing and give credit.

  • gujratwalla on August 26, 2011, 17:17 GMT

    This is a good article Andy but i think it is not fair to compare the achiements of past sides with the current one.A lot of things have changed during the last 20 odd years not the least that our cricketers play all -around the year and more often than not they are under physical stress.Cricket has become a lucrative game with a lot of money bouncing around and this has streched the players fitness to a limit.No need to moan great bowlers many of the present giants have iti them to be great but their work is cut short by being overworked.Cricketers of the past had the advantage of complete rest in winters and therefore they performed better.

  • on August 26, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    this England team lack geniuses apart from kevin peterson but from my point of view they are playing very well as the team which is essential. The best I have seen all my life. Good luck to them

  • swarzi on August 26, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    This article said all the correct things about England bowlers until the paragraph that gave the impression that they may not have been able to break the Mishra-Tendulkar partnership. Mishra did present some difficulty but wasn't Tendulkar missed four or five times by the English fields men? In addition, he survived a few LBW shouts that the English boys would have had overturned successfully if the DRS was in use. Hence, the fact that the use of the DRS would be universal in the future, I don't see teams like India and Australia dominating in a hurry again. It is not that the umpires is ever genuinely on their side when the DRS is absent, but there is a tendency by umpires to give them the benefit of the doubt - due to a specially acquired great names respect. This bein said, I don't see any team in the world stopping England right now. The only weapon that they need to be perfect for this era of their reign is a 'Left-armer' close to the qualities as a Wasim Akram, the best ever.

  • RohanMarkJay on August 26, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    People should give this England team their due. Its not England's fault that other sides are not putting quality sides to challenge them, they can only beaten what's in front of you. Obviously there were better quality cricket teams in previous era's. I wouldn't say this England team is anything special. But they are determined to do well in test cricket for their country. They are not as talented as say India or even Australia even now. But their training methods, selection policy and the hard work they put in before and during matches is the reason they are beating their more talented opponents. They have the right attitude for test cricket in particular and they make the most of their limited talents. Can the same be said of other teams today. Who would rather now play for big money 20/20 comps like IPL and others rather than play for their country in test cricket like in the past. India in this series looked like they would rather much prefer to be playing for money in the IPL.

  • RohanMarkJay on August 26, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    @ChrisRa I agree your correct on all three points. Especially the bowling around the world has gone down. Only England and South Africa seemed to have decent hard working attacks, nothing special just good disciplined bowlers who put pressure on the opposition batsman all day, who would now rather prefer the quick hit and biff, slam bank thank you ma'am. Can I collect my big paycheque now please Sir?!

  • on August 26, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    Fantastic point, MrCricket1983! I remember both WI and Aussie eras of dominance. Both dominated tests and ODIs in their pomp. Australia's run in world cups is unprecedented in all major world sports. England do have the best bowling team at the moment, but they are unlikely to dominate ODI's, or remain dominantly on top at length the way WI or AUS did.

  • cricketandroofing on August 26, 2011, 8:31 GMT

    Harking back to the good old days is all very well but England can only play who is put in front of them. The great Aussie and Windies teams of the past did well against poor England sides so you can't have it both ways. Cricket is a team game and whilst individual contributions grab the headlines it is the group ethos and winning mentality coupled with hunger for success that ultimately prevails and England have this in abundance. Strauss & co are top on merit and may stay there a while yet. Without overlooking their winter schedule, England's series against South Africa next summer will be a cracker.

  • on August 26, 2011, 6:12 GMT

    Well get To know when they play against 3 sub-k teams i guess they havent played well there from ages but this is better of eng side , only time will tell

  • harshthakor on August 26, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    In terms of pure performance the best English team I have seen in my lifetime for 4 decades who dispalyed overwhelming superiority over the best team in the World and conquered Australia in Australia with the superiority dispalyed only by Clive Lloyd's West Indians in the last 4 decades.I am reminded ofIan Chappell's Aussies conquering Clive Lloyd's WEst Indian team 5-1 to win the unofficial test championship world title.In spite of lacking the man to man talent of great all time teams this team has displayed exempelary temperament and young talent.It could well transform itself into an all-time great team .In my previous comment I was only talking of England's man to man talent and not discrediting their great achievement.No post-war Englsih team has played better.Keep it up England!

  • LePom on August 25, 2011, 21:59 GMT

    @tjsimonsen - Good points about how the current England side would cope on the uncovered pitches of the 80's with 80's protection and no bouncer limitation against that fantastic W.I. side. However, to counter that, you have to ask how effective the W.I. side would be under current rules and conditions? They would still be great and dangerous, but some of the edge would be gone. I doubt too that the W.I. batsmen of the 80's would score as freely against this England bowling attack as they did against the much less disciplined English lineup of the time. (Yes I did watch those series of the 80's) It is really difficult to assess how dominant teams of different eras would perform against each other because a team becomes dominant by being the ones that have the best strategy and technique to beat their opposition under the current rules and conditions. But the rules, opposition and conditions change with every era.

  • Roger_Allott on August 25, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    Grammatically, the title of this article should be "How good IS this England side?"

  • John-Price on August 25, 2011, 19:12 GMT

    An era of flat pitches and poor bowling; I tend to agree, but the surprising thing is, far fewer matches end in draws. Why is this?

  • Shan156 on August 25, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    "80s pakistan or indian team of few seasons back with all matchfit."

    80s pakistan, yes. But Indian team of few seasons back? LOL. The Indian team is over-rated. It had 2 great batsmen and a few good ones and one good bowler. How are they being mentioned in the same breath as the great teams of the past is beyond me? While they managed to stay undefeated (because of their strong batting) they didn't win too many either (because their bowling was mediocre at best). India are the draw specialists.

  • Shan156 on August 25, 2011, 17:12 GMT

    @Nampally, Sehwag has been less of a factor outside the sub-continent and even less against England. Before the series, he was averaging just over 30 against England from 18 innings. He has had but two innings of substance against England in the past - one was a century at Trent Bridge and the other was at Chennai in 2008. Sehwag flayed Steyn and Morkel in India not in SA. He is always suspect against the moving ball. It was not England's fault that he (and Zaheer) wasn't fit. Kumar was gone for one test and while he is skillful, he had played only a handful of tests before the last test (by which time, the series and the #1 result were already lost for India). To quote his absence is really clutching at straws. Harbhajan has been useless for a long time and Yuvraj is mediocre in tests. These guys hardly matter. And, if you remember, Cook failed in 5 out of 6 innings and Strauss was pretty average too. England still won. Yuvraj is a bowler? Really? You must be desperate.

  • CollisKing on August 25, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    Not counting "flat-track bully" 50-over cricket, or "canon-fodder bowling" IPL... This English batting line-up has looked vulnerable on only two occasions in the last 18 months. Against Steyn and Morkel in Johannesburg and the Perth third test in Australia. Both wickets were very fast and bouncy, opposition bowling able to exploit the conditions. From memory of the two matches mentioned: the test cricket on these track's was VERY EXCITING.

  • Nampally on August 25, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    @Shan: You forget that Gambhir & Sehwag are one of the best opening pairs in the world. Sehwag was brought in despite his half baked shoulder and Gambhir played with concussed head in the 4th test and opened the innings only once before injury. If you remove Strauss & Cook, England's middle order batting would have failed just as badly.India's batting rely heavily on good start which always happened in the past thru' Sehwag & Gambhir. This was the deciding factor in the series. A fit Sehwag has flayed likes of Steyn & Morkel - best pace bowlers in the world.Sehwag lifted India in their grit & strong mental strength by his batting.If India misses one of their regulars from their average bowling,it is too much. But when Zaheer, Yuvraj, Harbhajan & Kumar are gone, there is hardly any bowling left. India's bench strength in bowling is poor at best. These factors combined in making India look a disjointed side.India at full strength is still a formidable team capable of beating England.

  • vallavarayar on August 25, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    Having watched a number of test matches at the grounds in the Subcontinent, I can say with absolute confidence that a test match win is the toughest of them all. The sheer beauty of the bat & ball contest can only be seen in a 5 day game. Not to demean the other formats, but the 5 day game lends itself to the sole purpose of the bowlers; that is to take wickets and the batters, to get runs while surviving the hostile bowling. In the shorter versions the bowlers are far too often restricted by the circumstances. My point is, to whitewash a team 4 nil takes unbelievable amounts of toil and courage. Therefore, hats off to England, the deserved World number one.

  • vichan on August 25, 2011, 14:51 GMT

    @mani_narayan "Only recently in the World Cup, England lost to Bangladesh and Ireland with pretty much the same team. It shows that the England bowling will struggle and the batting will also struggle" -- England also lost the one day series in Australia 6-1 just before the World Cup. In Australia. The same place where they had humiliated the home side a few weeks earlier, in Test cricket. Which goes to show that England have been mediocre in ONE DAY INTERNATIONAL cricket everywhere, REGARDLESS of conditions. But when it comes to TEST cricket, they are currently peerless. Hence using evidence of a couple of one day losses in India as proof that they cannot win TEST cricket in India is, frankly, foolish.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 25, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    @Harmony111, thanks for clarifying. Ok, let us put it this way - At the end of the day Bell may or may not reach the lofty levels of Kallis and Dravid but Bell is too good a player to not to be loved by cricket fans crossing country borders and he is already showing his exemplary qualities in batsmanship. @Nutcutlet, no. Nobody in India sees Test Cricket as the last vestige of imperialism, especially the powers that be. Cricket, in all its forms, was invented by Brits and we still follow it like a Nation that has gone mad over cricket. If it was imperialism that's holding us back in Test Cricket, then it has to be in all forms of the game as well. Isn't it? So, your comment is plain lame and backhanded; you just fail to acknowledge that IPL's scope is way bigger than Indian Test Cricket, for India, at least.

  • mrhamilton on August 25, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    i think the indian commentators and sanjay mangrerkars whinging in particular has obscured the debate......this england team deserves credit and so does nasse3r hussein it is very insulting the way some uninformed persons talk of the vaughan-fletcher axis being the groundwork for the flower/strauss era, thats nonsense it was nasser hussein/Fletcher and central contracts that paved this era. In Husseins era the pakistanis had 5 genius bowlers in akhtar,sqlain, mushtaq ahmed &,the admittedly fading waqar & wasim...the windies were probably stronger too, the Aussies a hell of a lot stronger and NZ too with Bond....but people forget this england team also faced warne and mcgrath, a strong south africa, a strong pakistan last year...people forget if the pakistanis had had a half decent batting line up that series would have been epic with the bowling they had......I am sure the aussies and pakistanis and indians will conjure new genius bowlers within the next 2-3 years

  • on August 25, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    I grew up on and fell in love with cricket because of a certain RJ Hadlee and watching Anderson bowl makes me purr ...

  • MrCricket1983 on August 25, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    I was too young to rem the WI era, but what I rem abt the great Aus side is that they were unstoppable and managed to win in all situations- both Test and ODI (3 world cups!). As great as test cricket is, it is won by the team with the best bowlers. And this article estblishes that Englands bowling attack is great but since the rest of the world is so bad it is hard to determine how good of a side this really is.

    However, in ODIs its a different game- teams can bat their way out of poor bowling displays (as India does often and did with the WC). Winning the game is also less reliant on bowling consistencies and is subject to more volatility. Despite this, the AUS dominated ODIs as well and it just showed their aura, mental strength and overall team brillinace to win no matter what.

    If england really wants to be compared to the AUS side, they need to dominate the world in ODI as well.

  • Clive_Dunn on August 25, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    I think saying "would Cook have got the runs against Marshall" could be answered by asking how many runs Viv Richards got against Derek Pringle, or Steve Waugh against Phil Tufnell. You can only play the bowling you face, and qualifying stats or records because of quality is a dangerous business. Unless it's Jason Gillespie's double ton vs Bangladesh of course.

  • Truemans_Ghost on August 25, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    @harshthakor- i think you risk lionising players of the past because they are past. I don't think it is fair to say that England don't have a gooch- he was an expression of the current work-over-genius type of player Miller is talking about. Pieterson and maybe even Bell will I think be remembered in the same terms of some the past English batsmen you have mentioned. The missing "genius bowler" could appear from anywhere in any nation very quickly- look at Amir, but the sort of team England has built doesn't. You are better building a strong team which would be suplamented by a genius bowler thanhoping one will come along to save your mediocre team.

  • 5wombats on August 25, 2011, 10:58 GMT

    @buntyj; impressive knowledge. Do you live anywhere near London - we could go for a drink! I'm betting you have spent a lot of time scoring! A good post - thanks. @Lmaotsetung; agreed - Bell was always going to come good. I just wished he hadn't displaced Thorpe in the 2005 side. I always thought Thrope was a brilliant servant for England and he definitely deserved to be in a side that won The Ashes. During the 2005 series I growled like mad when I saw Bell struggling - but Thorpe might not have done any better. We'll never know. One thing is clear now - Ian Bell is the real deal.

  • zaragon on August 25, 2011, 10:56 GMT

    I think this article is fundamentally right. I have watched and supported England since 1972 - and for most of that time we've been undone by bowlers we had no clue against. Lillee, Marshall, Donald, Warne, Muralitharan and many more. If you look around now, there are no bowlers who have that kind of aura - not even Steyn. This England team has nobody to fear. Over all this time I do not think England had any bowlers like that though Willis, Botham and Gough had their days. In fact the only bit of England bowling I remember with that kind of fear factor was Devon Malcom taking 9-57 against South Africa at The Oval in 1994 - with a batsman as good as Hanse Cronje looking visibly scared at the crease - but it was a one off performance. The reason I think this team is prospering is although there are no true greats in the team (except maybe Pietersen) every single player is at least very good - there are no weak links. If you look at England sides down the years you couldn't say that.

  • harshthakor on August 25, 2011, 10:40 GMT

    In terms of man to man talent I consider the Mike Brearley led English team and the teams led by Illingworth,May and Cowdrey superior.This team still does not have players like David Gower,Ian Botham,Graham Gooch,Derek Underwood ,John Snow,Dennis Ammis, Colin Cowdrey,Ted Dexter ,Fred Trueman ,Tom Graveney etcEven the bowling attack is not the equal of the 2005 Ashes winning one..Nor does it have half the talent of the great West Indian teams led by Worrell,Lloyd and Sobers or the Aussie taems led by Bradman,Waugh and Ponting.Even the top Pakistani taems posessed more talent with the likes of Zaheer,Miandad,Imran,Wasim,Qadir etc.However in pure performance they are comparable to the great team's performances if you asses the degree to which they vanquished reputed teams like India and Australia.

    This team has proved that temperament is the most vital factor which enabled them to perform on par with a Clive Lloyd led West Indian side!

  • on August 25, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    Yes, very correctly said Andrew Miller. England is indeed a team of performers, and not cricketing greats (not as yet). And to say the least, England are not a steady ODI side. All said and done, i however do see England dominating the test arena for the coming few years atleast. I am not so sure about the ODI arena.

  • Herbet on August 25, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    I forgot to mention Ameer and Asif but seen as they are banned anyway it doesn't make much difference. I would suggest that Pakistan would provide a threat to any team on any surface with their bowlers, they just dont get the chance and dont help themselves by getting banned! Their batsmen are a bit less than solid but its taking 20 wickets that counts in tests. I like the look of their left armer at Lancashire, Junaid Khan is it?

  • on August 25, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    Nice article to read, but is anyone else irritated at the appalling grammar of the title?

  • on August 25, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    Great Last line Andrew .. sums up every Indian Fan's mood ... It is high time the cricketers show some moral and say no the the excesses of BCCI else India will become the laughing stock of world cricket ....

  • Nutcutlet on August 25, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    @bunty. Why did England lose 4-0 in Oz '58-'59? Two points offered in explanation. Benaud outcaptained May (repeated in England in '61, of course); Oz bowlers Meckiff threw (but he might have got away with it today, god help us!) and Rorke dragged so that he was delivering from 19 yards! Both bowlers had a significant effect on the series, but that shoulsn't eclipse the overwhelmingly-shared opinion that Alan Davidson was the outstanding bowler of the series. Demoralisation set in after 2nd test at MCG when England were dismissed for 87.(Meckiff, on home ground. 6-38) Some of the umpiring was wretched (by common consent) - Mel McInnes making several howlers which significantly disadvantaged England. That's a third point!

  • Herbet on August 25, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    It is the lack of decent bowlers that undermines test cricket at the moment. There are only 2 outside of the England team that cause any sort of fear, Steyn and Morkel. Steyn is a cut above everyone at the moment, and Morkel is good and hostile but no better than any of England's pacers. But that's just 2 and nobody else has any! I think 2 things should be done to liven up test cricket and even out the difference between bat and ball; get rid of the rule that restricts the number of bouncers in an over and ban the rolling of pitches during the course of a game.

    To describe Bell and Pietersen as artisans however is offensive in the extreme! Also nobody seems to deride Kallis and Dravid for being defensive, why is that such an offence for Cook and Trott?

  • Harmony111 on August 25, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas:

    You fail to understand my point fully. I did not say that Cook or Bell or KP WILL not reach the club 9k or higher. All that I said is that one just cant use the current performance level to make a solid prediction about player X reaching at a certain level. These 3 players could very well go on to reach even 10k or 11k or more. But it remains to be seen if they are able to maintain their current levels or not. For eg, there was a point when Ponting was almost neck and neck SRT for Test 100s and Test runs. But then Ponting suffered a bad fall in form and SRT pulled away. Now, Ponting is still stuck as 38-39 and SRT is at 51. SRt has a margin over him in Test Runs too. So I hope you get my point. Dont think that I am having a grudge against These 3 Eng players. In fact, I had said months before that Bell would the player to watch more than Cook or KP since Cook scores too slowly and KP is well KP. I love Bell and his impact. But from 5k to 9k is SOME distance still.

  • liz1558 on August 25, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    Let's talk boxing. South Africa under Graeme Smith put me in mind of a powerful heavyweight boxer: he is big, muscular, powerful, fast, light on his feet for a big man and has an ability to floor opponents swiftly. His desire is to be the most aggressive and destructive force in boxing, and he really does look the part. However, over the past five years he has proved to have one fatal weakness: a glass jaw. Move quickly enough, avoid the ropes, avoid the haymakers and uppercuts, frustrate and annoy him, land a good enough blow and he goes down like a sack of spuds. India have been the reverse - a giant defensive heavyweight, lumbering about the ring, absorbing punishment on the ropes, getting knocked down and looking out for the count. But from some hidden place he musters up the will to get to his feet and, although his punches are slow, he keeps coming at you until you're on the canvas. He doesn't win many bouts, but he has proved equal to most and drew many of his fights. England

  • Domzo on August 25, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas - Cook is a technically sound player in that he knows what he can do and what he can't and ensures that his strengths are maximized and his weaknesses are minimized, that's why he gets big scores once he gets in. You say he lacks X-Factor, presumably because he isn't particularly a graceful or a dominating opener, but I'd contend that near limitless patience once he has his eye in and the fitness to bat for two or even three days if necessary and massive mental resiliency (look at how he shrugged off a REALLY poor run against Pakistan against the moving ball with a gritty century in the last test) is an X-Factor. Cook's a bit of a throwback - his batting won't sell tickets, but once he's got in, you'll be glad to have him in your side.

  • Arthaurian on August 25, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    This article speaks of England as if they are the only team that exists in the world right now, which is why I can't wait for the Proteas to bring them straight back down to earth next year. Desire can always be matched. No team can say they have the ultimate desire. Desire is an emotional human reaction. Ian Bell is not the best or the most talented batsmen in the world so stop calling him the next Sachin because he's not. de Villiers and Amla also play like the worlds next 'greats' and Kallis still reigns. India have played a test series against West Indies and England and have somehow managed to move from No1 to No3. Proteas have not played any cricket for six months, and have moved up to No2. Runs and wickets are not surreal things. Proteas for life.

  • Harmony111 on August 25, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    @MaruthuDelft:

    You don't seem to be very bright, failing to understand a simple point and trying to make it sound controversial. While it could be argued that India were not as dominant a side as WI of 80s and Aus of 00s, it is a fact that a team becomes #1 when most of its players are in great form and perform well together. Do you disagree with this too? Ind lost to Eng in this series because 1: Eng were just too good for them and man for man a better team and 2: Indian players were hopelessly out of form and just did not perform. It is the relative connection between 1 and 2 that decides the health and rank of a team, in any sport. The days when Eng player's lose their form and fail to perform together, they will fall too. There is no other explanation for a team to rise up and fall down.

  • tjsimonsen on August 25, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    @DazTaylor: While your point is valid (especially for the Aussies of recent years), the Windies did have to face Lillie, Botham, Willis, Imran and Hadlee. @amitcricketcrazy: Only two great teams in cricket history? Well, that depends on when said history started. Just going back to WWII your could easily add: South Africa in the years leading up to their isolation, England in the mid-late 50s, Australia from the war until the early 50s.

  • Nutcutlet on August 25, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    @5wombats. My feelings precisely! The world is dumbing down and this means in cricket that players with small reputations are ignoring test cricket (or even first class cricket) in favour of T20 'cuckoo cricket', because it is the quickest way to become rich - and for minimum effort! K Pollard is the obvious example. This is where the national boards, pre-eminently the BCCI, have a moral responsibility to keep the cuckoo from colonising (there's emotive for you!) the whole international cricket setup. As so often, those who are fixated on max profits from any venture know the price of everything and the value of nothing. So, yes, I too am fearful about the future of test cricket. It is a form of the game that is in danger of being marginalised, as it already seems to have been in the WIndies - and now India (pop1.2 billion) can't get a test XI together worthy of the name. Most seem not to be bothered. Maybe they see tc as the last vestige of imperialism. Who knows or cares now?

  • LeeHallam on August 25, 2011, 8:05 GMT

    Where are the Greats coming from? Who is to say the next greats of the game will not be from England. The Great Australian team had a few Great batsmen and some very good ones raised to greatness by association. Similarly they had one great fast bowler and a great spinner. Lee, Gillespie and Kasprowicz were very good bowlers but not all time greats. All England need is a few of their team to take that extra step, to have that magic combination. I think they have the potential to do that.

  • Lord.emsworth on August 25, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    How Cook would have got on against Marshall or for that matter Ambrose,Roberts,Walsh, Holding, Warne, Muralitaran,Waqar, Wasim, McGrath, Thompson etc. etc or digging deeper still down to Hall and Grifith sounds surreal. All Test playing countries are in a new phase today and building new legends. Bowlers like Steyn, Andersson and Malinga to name a few may flatter but the real bowling greats went some time ago with Warne & Murali. England IS the best in the new Test arena, period! Beating the Nr. one Test side 4/0 proves this beyond any doubt. Enjoy this while it lasts and dont dwell on the past. As Shakespeare said 'What's past is prologue'.....

  • amitcricketcrazy on August 25, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    i dont thinks england is great team becoz ranking no1 in test and just won 4-0 against india.in cricket history only 2 teams are great that W.I. and Australia.Neither team can mach up them's record.for example for last 2 year india is no.1 team and all people telled that now india will dominated in cricket but everybody knows the result.when you review both india and england both team are won only home series except 3-1 ashes series.these team are not great you can say good.can england won like australia every away series?can won 2 times 16 win in row? never.......non team can won like austrlia.india srilanka,england,southafrica and new australian team all are same quality.non team are great.so its nounsense to say that england are great and india are worse team.when england travel to srilanka and india then see that time.this all team is good and average not great. Australia and W.I. only 2 team are all time great team in cricket history

  • buntyj on August 25, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    yes greg chappells record vs 80s windies pace quartet in windies better even than gavaskars ( 83 only tour in which he faced full attack together in windies)

  • buntyj on August 25, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    also india's humiliating capitulation in eng this year isnt worse than eng's 4-0 loss in 5 tests to aus in 58-59, or aus' 4-0 loss (4 tests) to south africa in 69-70, in each case a good, highly rated team was unexpectedly thrashed by an even better side (though personally i dont think in 58-59 aus despite harvey, o'neill, davidson, benaud were better than eng so that one is still a puzzle).

  • buntyj on August 25, 2011, 6:56 GMT

    another method lets try to select an eng xvi post ww2(without hammond) - i believe most would agree that the following players (including contenders) would figure- hutton, boycott, gooch (with amiss, cooke in contention); may, compton,barrington, graveney (with gower, cowdrey, bell, trott in contention); knott, prior (taylor, evans in contention) of the 2 knott more likely in xi; laker, wardle (i believe he was apart from bedi best post ww2 sla n unlucky) or underwood; tyson, trueman, snow, bedser, botham (all rounder) with willis, anderson in contention. this also suggests that while this is a strong team its man for man not the strongest eng team even after ww2 though it may, for other reasons, be the most succesful; i dont think this team would beat 48 or 99 aussies,69-70 springboks, 80s or even 60s windies, 80s pakistan or indian team of few seasons back with all matchfit. but eng arent to blame that test standards are low; they deserve their success.

  • DazTaylor on August 25, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    "In September 1984, in the aftermath of their 5-0 whitewash tour of England, West Indies boasted three of the top five batsmen in the world (Richards, Greenidge and Lloyd <-- So tell me, how many times did these three gentlemen have to face Marshall & co? They didn't. How often did Ponting, Hayden etc face Warne, MacGrath & co? They didn't.

  • buntyj on August 25, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    actually, this is a strong eng team, strongest eng team in 20 years, and the strongest test team in world cricket now and i believe for the net 5 years (i would be surprised if they lost in the subcontinent or didnt retain the ashes); however, their success is due to two things- their gelling as a team unit focused to win, and the fact that their isnt much competition and test standards in recent years have been lower (often flat pitches, few quality hostile fast bowlers, restrictions on bouncers, superior bats etc); so while this may prove to be one of the most successful eng sides ever not necessarily the best by a distance, man for man. post ww2 alone i would rate eng's talent pool in 50s and parts of 70s higher but they faced superior competition and were unlucky that even stronger sides were around. this side has strong fm attack but no true pacers , 50s had trueman, tyson; 1 good spinner now but laker, wardle, lock, allan, ring in 50s; more bench strength in batsmen n fm bowlers;

  • Lmaotsetung on August 25, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    Bell was thought of as a prodigy when he was a teen. Cook was thought to be the only Englishman who could one day surpass 10k runs. Finn fastest to 50 wickets, faster than Botham. All these guys had the potential early on to be great and now we are seeing them fulfilling to some extent those promises and I think Finn will get there too. They didn't get to this point just like that. Lots of hard work and temporary banishment from the team as was the case with Bell. The system in place has enable them to play to the potential which is what we are now seeing and I truely believe this is just the beginning. KP looks like getting that second wind like all greats do. Remember Broad made his debut in 2007 at the age of 21...not that long ago. When all is said and done he might very well have better stats than Botham and Flintoff. Remember his partnership with Bopara back then in the one dayer in 2007? Like some says...time will tell.

  • MrPud on August 25, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    The current England team may not have as many individual match-winners as the recent Aussie team, apart from Pieterson and Anderson in favourable conditions, but they are the strongest mentally at the moment. Cook and Bell's concentration levels show what is required to succeed at Test level. The depth of their batting order is probably greater that even the Aussies at their peak. Broad and Swann coming in after Prior is stronger than Warne and Lee following Gilly. They may not be a spectacular team but they are a very well oiled machine with eveyone playing their part. Even a true blue Aussie can enjoy England rising to number one. Good for world cricket I reckon.

  • jmcilhinney on August 25, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    @RandyOZ - Provide some evidence to show that Aust has the potential to improve enough to regain the #1 status where Eng don't have similar potential to maintain or improve their play. I live in Aust so I see plenty of Aust cricket. Eng have been working towards their current level for some time. The Eng admin is doing all the right things and they have a good pool of playing talent. Aust also has a good pool of talent and the admin is trying to improve. I see nothing specific to suggest that Aust will rise and Eng will fall though. I guess it's just your own blatant bias. If Aust are so inherently good then why did Eng smack them down to earth this last Ashes? Eng's previous two Ashes wins were much closer but this last, in Aust no less, was emphatic. The WI were great in their day. Aust were great in their day. Those days have passed. Another great team may arise at some time. I'm not convinced that it will be this Eng team but they are the best right now.

  • Devon_Dumpling on August 25, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    I think this article puts forward the point very well - especially after reading the comment section about Mike Atherton "only" averaging 37 and being an example of failing to reach potential. How well would the record breaking partnership of Cook and Strauss (merely as an example of the wider batting/bowling issue) have coped with the 1990's?

    To have no respite whatsoever (whomever you ended up playing) - Donald/Pollock, Wasim/Waqar, Ambrose/Walsh, McGrath/Warne/Gillespie, Srinath/Kumble, Vaas/Murali. Now THAT was Test match opening...and all with a partially fused spine!!

    Quality ebbs and flows; it is just a shame that all the fantastic bowlers of the last generation have failed to be replaced and that bat so resoundingly dominates ball in all corners of the cricket world. The English batting line-up is immensely talented, but i wonder if their averages have been inflated by about 6-10 runs per innings, as per the rest of the worlds batsmen of modern times??

  • 5wombats on August 25, 2011, 4:56 GMT

    It may be that the standard of Test cricket has dropped. True, there are no players that stand astride the game like a Pollock G, Hadlee, Warne, Khan, Richards, Holding. Today there seem to be no "greats" - ultimate measures of their generation. Great teams define and set the standard for that generation. It's impossible to say whether 1984 WI could have beaten 1948 Aus - but we do know that those teams were truly great. The agony seems to be about whether the current England team is as good as recent results suggest and how this can be if they have no "greats". Surely winning is enough - do enough winning and greatness follows. In this series what has worried me is whether the rest of the world want to play Test cricket. If the other team can't be bothered to play then winning proves nothing. This series has upset me for that reason; there came a point where playing no longer proved anything - except that India were unfit to play Test cricket. Sickening and difficult to accept.

  • tjsimonsen on August 25, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    @LePom: Spot on! The winters were colder, the summer days longer and the ice creams bigger when I was a kid. That's how it was and how it always will be. However, I still take immense joy in watching the great WI pacemen make batsmen jump around in their crease. And whereas I do not think for one second that the current England setup would have been trashed by Steve Waugh's Aussies (I think it would have been a very close run, probably 50:50), I definitely think that both these sides would have been trashed by the Windies of the early 80s. Especially if the game was played on uncovered pitches, and the batsmen only had protective gear from that era. I'd like to see Pietersen shuffle across his crease to Garner, or Shewag try to go after Marshall and Holding from over 1!

  • KiwiRocker- on August 25, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    As always a good article from AM. Zaheer Khan's loss was a shame for India however England would still have won as Zaheer is not in league of Wasim, Amir etc. he has an average of 32 with the ball and quite a poor record against likes of Pakistan, SL, SA and Australia. England's current bowling attack is no where close to what they had in 2005 Ashes.Jones, Hoggard, Filntoff, Harmission were far more quicker and verstile. England's batting has also been made to look too good since India's bowling is probably one of the weakest in the entire cricketing world. English batsmen struggled against likes of Asif, Amir and Saeed Ajmal so obviously they can be controlled. Unlike Indian batsmen who struggle against pace and bounce, Sri Lankan and Pakistani batsmen enjoy pace on ball. You will not hear likes of Dale Steyn bouncing Pakistani batsmen.He actually has a poor record against them.England did well. They deserve to be No.1 however England's massive win had a lot to do how bad Indins were!

  • Meety on August 25, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    @Anne Smith - don't know how that illustrates a decline in bowling standards, but I DO AGREE that the Packer Supertests should be included in records. You would have to say the standard of match was FAR higher than most games including Bangladesh, quite a few Zimbabwe games, & some 21st century Windies games! Including the Super tests, I think a lot of people will have more of an appreciation why Lillee got into the greatest 11 of all time. @Nampally OMFG! Mate get your blinkers off buddy! India were smashed - Dravid, Dhoni, SRT, & Tendulkar were not injured - only Dravid could walk away with his held high. Gambhir failed when fit. There was only one REAL positive - Kumar. Mishra took over the mantle of a spinner who can't bowl but bats well (dig at the turbinator!). Whether the Poms dominate into the future that is debatable, but you didn't provide any credible reason to suggest otherwise! LOL!

  • on August 25, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    The England Team will not last longer than 6 months at the top... seeing from the peformarnce of the team against India in the first 2 Test Matches, it was the incompetent captaincy of MS Dhoni which let them off the hook. Any intelligent and shrewd captain would have made it India 2-0 under the similar circumstances.

    I dont know why they praise this Duncan Fletcher for coaching and making 5 English Teams , which failed at every level and then stupid BCCI accept him as their coach...Look at his big paunch, he himself is unfit and how do you expect him to bring Fitness Regime in the Indian Team.

    Wake up Indian Selction and BCCI Board.

  • me54321 on August 25, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    I haven't heard anyone say the current England team is an all time great team. this article certtainly does not, infact it hints at the opposite. So why are there so many comments here intent on proving that england are not great? There is a certain section of fans from a certain geographic area who give the all of the fans from that geographic area a pretty poor reputation as being unrealistic and childish. Just accept it, England are a very good side at the moment, better than any other team, and with age of their players, and the backup available, it's probably going to stay that way for a while.

  • on August 25, 2011, 3:40 GMT

    dang, with the damn english nitpicking - you just drubbed the #1 side in the world with a 4-0 'whitewash', can you just enjoy the moment for a bit here? *sheesh* ok, so the old timers were 'great' players and these are some competent pros, so what, big deal

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 25, 2011, 2:46 GMT

    @Harmony111, I don't see why Ian Bell shouldn't reach the heights that Dravid and Kallis have reached. Ian Bell is a class apart. I'm not sure about KP because he is a personality player, with arrogance personified, and can be made to lose his wicket. He may not reach some heights by the time he hands up his boots. But that doesn't make KP any lesser batsman. KP is topnotch, rare product. Bell is in a different mould altogether. He is sheer class, upright elbow, watertight defence and determination personified in the present England Team. Cook doesn't look like a technically sound batsman but gets big scores. There's nothing in his batting that's special or elegant or some x factor is missing.

  • meeransb on August 25, 2011, 2:24 GMT

    Miller, seriously you call this an English team with so many South African connections. Even Sri Lanka and West Indies field all locals, they do not import their key players. This South Africo-English team is good. I am from India and we did play badly and yes IPL is the reason. But I see nothing wrong in player's priority. Everyone has a free will to do and earn as they please with their skill set. There is a reason why you are not there in IPL and players like Suresh Raina are. They have a certain skill and they try to maximise it, which any normal human would do. Cricket is entertainment, I repeat entertainment. There is nothing sacrosanct about the sport and it is not handed from god. It is probably the only sport which has three formats and thoroughly confused on the way forward. The South Africo-English test team is good and will be good because all others do not/will not focus on test cricket going forward.

  • Deepkar on August 25, 2011, 2:12 GMT

    I dont agree that anderson is great bowler he is Good may be very Good at his best steyn is great even zahir Is better than him look how stayn bowld on flat nagpur pitch and even zahir dont need help from pitch or condition though he is also not great but better than anderson. and plz stop meuntioning amir and asif they are out of game and rightly so what they did is disgress to great sport and very pasionate fans of pakisthan.

  • RandyOZ on August 25, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    Thanks Miller again for another blatantly biased article! you talk up the team so much that I think it will get to their heads and they'll fail under the pressure. It doesn't matter anyway because Oz will ascend back up to #1 and smack you back down to Earth!

  • LePom on August 25, 2011, 1:31 GMT

    I have been following cricket since "Botham's Ashes" got me interested as a child. I can confidently say that people are right. Test cricket is not as good as it used to be. But it never was and never has been (and never will be). When the Australians were dominating, we had the same arguments about weak opposition and that they were not as good as the West Indians before them. Funny thing is I can remember the same thing being said about W.I. and previous eras. People were saying the W.I. bowlers were not as good or fast as Lillee & Thommo, and my father compared them unfavourably to the likes of Trueman (and I dare say his father would have told him Trueman was nothing compared to Larwood).

    When it boils down to it, does it really matter whether a team is get results because it contains great individuals or because its members combine together to be effective?

    It is too early to say if this England team are great. But it is undeniable that they have started well.

  • on August 25, 2011, 1:30 GMT

    There is clearly a lot of natural talent in this England side (Bell, Pietersen, Anderson), but more than anything they benefit from an excellent management and coaching structure. I agree that few of them are at a genius level that would have excelled regardless of the backroom staff, but in past years you might have had someone like Bell falling by the wayside a la Mark Ramprakash, who, being honest, with that ability should have scored 8000 or more test runs. The backroom staff these days get the absolute best out of their players, and less talented players like say Cook or Bresnan are able to reach their full potential and even exceed it. Twenty years ago Cook might have finished his career averaging 37 a la Atherton or Bresnan might have ended up with a career akin to Derek Pringle. Yes, the opposition haven't been the best but the backroom staff can't be praised highly enough for instilling such discipline, work ethic and confidence into the players.

  • here2rock on August 25, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    How many of those wins have come at home? All teams do well at home these days so if you play majority of thoses matches at home then you are going to have a higher percentage of wins. England is good not great!

  • StJohn on August 24, 2011, 23:55 GMT

    Actually, that stat of England only winning 20 Tests in the whole of the 1980s in remarkable. But there are even more remarkable stats within that. For example, we ony won one lonely Test between in 3 years from the end of 1986 and the end of 1989! And of those 20 wins in the 1980s, 14 came in the period up to and including January 1985. So from January 1985 to January 1990 we only won 6 Tests! I remember the repeated whitewashes by the West Indies which then gave way to utter domination by the Aussies from the end of the decade, but I never really realised how bad England were back then! God we were awful back then! Great or not, I've been waiting since 1984, when I first got into cricket during that West Indian summer, for England to deliver to their potential. There were false starts with the away wins over Pakistan and SL in 2000-01 and then Australia in 2005, but it is only in the last couple of years that we have now got there. One win in 3 years...praise be that's history...

  • heathrf1974 on August 24, 2011, 23:38 GMT

    This is a great England side. It will be interesting how they go against South Africa in South Africa, They should win but it would be an interesting series. India are on a deep slide. Following the retirements of some of their great batsmen they may struggle for some years.

  • StJohn on August 24, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    Good article. Funny, although India were very poor and ordinary in this series, even now I'd still be tempted to say that they are a great side given the players they have in that team. The loss of Zaheer was a real shame, but I'm surprised that Sharma & Sreesanth didn't do better - English conditions ought to help them more than those in India. As for England, I think we're generally too bashful to claim greatness anyway, but it is far too early to tell. One general thought though, there now seems to be some healthy competition for both batting (eg Bopara, James Taylor) and bowling places (Finn, Tremlett, Bresnan, Panesar), which perhaps wasn't so much the case a couple of years ago. That must only be a good thing as it will help to keep the incumbents on their toes. The Australian 2nd XI of 1995-2005 would probably have been the 2nd best team in the world, so if England can develop a similarly deep pool of talent to draw on, that will help them stay top.

  • Shan156 on August 24, 2011, 23:27 GMT

    @BuffetBowling, Graeme Pollock not Shaun. Also, after the two tests against India, Trott averages less than Sutcliffe, Barrington and Hammond.

  • bumsonseats on August 24, 2011, 22:10 GMT

    the oddballs have started on the theme. i have a say but this panic about the team just beaten 4 - 0. fact. england have a good side. fact. they are the top of the icc ratings. fact. if they dont get results in the asia block countries they will loose that # 1. fact there may be other teams get to that position. fact if england top the league for the next 5 years they will not be classed as a great team.fact if they are still there after 10 years they then be called a great team. not the greatest but a good team. dpk

  • Biggus on August 24, 2011, 21:56 GMT

    @ChrisRa-Correct on all three points I reckon.

  • BuffetBowling on August 24, 2011, 21:40 GMT

    I take issue, though, with the lack of genius comments. Anderson's bowling is very much in the "Genius" category at times, look at his 6-17 against Pakistan last year as well as numerous other spells - as good as anything I have seen from Steyn, Amir or anyone else in the last few years. And Pietersen, in terms of overall ability and "WOW" moments, is in the Viv Richards category. Even Ian Bell is now close to the perfect batsman. Average Bowlers? Do me a favor. Maybe their averages are around 30 but they are chipping away at them with every passing test. If you looked at their averages over the past 2 1/2 years they would be considerably less than that, same goes for the batsmen. Cook, Pietersen and Bell all now average more than VVS Laxman, Trott's average is only bettered by Bradman and Shaun Pollock and even Matt Prior, at 7, averages 45

  • ChrisRa on August 24, 2011, 21:29 GMT

    People do write a lot of nonsense. i don´t see how anyone can disagree with Andrew´s main points. 1. England are very good. 2. Whether they are "great" time will tell. 3. The level of test cricket at present is not very high.

  • BuffetBowling on August 24, 2011, 21:26 GMT

    Of course we can't yet be considered an all time great side, but it would be churlish to deny that we are capable of it. We are seeing the foundations laid a decade ago by Duncan Fletcher bear fruit. Our players are fitter and more skillful than their foreign counterparts, and many are still young - Cook, Broad, Bresnan and Morgan will be around for another decade, and the youngsters coming through - Finn, Taylor, Stokes et al - already look like world beaters in the making. That's not to say continued dominance will be easy. The way I see it, we go to the subcontinent this winter, SA at home in the summer (which will be an easier win for us than many people think) and then India away. If we win those - I don't see why we shouldn't, the gulf in class will overcome alien conditions - we will have completed the "cycle" that started when flower took over, having beaten every major test team. To be a truly great side, though, we will have to rampage through that cycle 2 or 3 times.

  • Shan156 on August 24, 2011, 21:24 GMT

    @sachin3741, In that case no Indian team can ever lay claim to greatness because their best bowler was Kapil Dev and he averaged over 28. Zaheer averages nearly 32 and Kumble and Harbhajan were over 30 too.

  • whoster on August 24, 2011, 21:22 GMT

    Very good article. It's fair to point out the lack of real quality in bowling attacks around the world, but it also says a hell of a lot for the quality of England's bowlers. No, we don't have any world beating superstars bowlers like Warne or McGrath, but we do have a strong squad of very good bowlers. For a bowling attack to bowl teams out on a flat deck, it needs to keep pressure on from both ends. This is what England have done consistently well in recent times. England have a lot of very good batsmen and bowlers, but I'm hopeful within three or four years, one or two of these players could become all time greats. I'm optimistic about England's chances of staying at no.1 for a while, because England have plenty of players who'll be around for a few years and hopefully keep improving. I must say, it is lovely to be debating just how good England are - never thought I'd see the day! Very proud of captain, coach and team. Not the most spectacular of sides, but worthy all the same.

  • landl47 on August 24, 2011, 20:54 GMT

    As usual, the rhetoric swings from one extreme to the other. Whether this is a great England side to rival other great sides will be seen now that they are in a position to dominate the rankings. If they go on to remain number one for 5 years, they will be a near-great side. If they go on to remain number 1 for 10 years they will be a truly great side. There are a couple of features to look at. One is whether this side can win anywhere. We'll see in the next two years. They've already shown they can win in Australia and Bangladesh. They tied with SA, but that was relatively early in the Flower/Strauss era and England are a better side now. The India side that England just beat tied with SA recently in SA. The other is whether they are a complete side. Can they bat first or second, can they win on any type of pitch, do they have holes in their line-up? So far, the answer seems to be they are a complete side. We'll see in the next 2 years, so come back then and revisit the debate.

  • nonnb on August 24, 2011, 20:52 GMT

    Crumbs. We've watched the Poms hauling themselves from an absolute mire, building up some backbone and character along the way, and have now proven themselves worthy to be at the top of the pile. And you guys are still whining!. Who cares if there aren't any superstars in the team (yet). As KP has proven, if success gets to the head, having prima donnas in the side is a liability. Take a bow - you are now the team to beat!

  • Shan156 on August 24, 2011, 20:51 GMT

    @Nampally, ROTFL. Kumar missed only game because of injury. Harbhajan wouldn't have taken more wickets than Mishra and would have scored less runs. Yuvraj's frailties against the rising ball was ruthlessly exposed in TB. The only guy who India genuinely missed was Zaheer. To say that he would have made some difference is fair enough but to say that India would have won the series had these guys played is just silly. Also, it is the player's responsibility to stay fit. Zaheer and a few other Indian players showed up with paunches. England, too, lost Tremlett after the first test and Trott midway in the second test. Now, don't disgrace yourself with silly excuses and "what ifs". There is nothing wrong in saying that England were/are miles ahead of India in fitness and displayed much better skills. India's bunch of aging stars and over-rated youngsters were simply outplayed by a disciplined group of fit, young cricketers hungry for success.

  • khurramsch on August 24, 2011, 20:49 GMT

    i thnk the major reason is tht curent team evry1 performd.only swan left and he did on last inings. Straus cook trot,bel,kv p, morgan,prior al made 100s excpt straus 2 big 50s.thn broad,bresnan both with bat bal.andrson with bal. So thy wil stay at top until all have same type of form.and at the moment no othr team has all 11in good form.thts the difrnce.

  • Shan156 on August 24, 2011, 20:42 GMT

    @drumbeat, How do you know that this England side would have been thrashed by those champion teams? It is probably your belief and your wish but unless it happens you can argue either way. One thing is for sure - it wouldn't have been a no contest like the one we just witnessed. Also, how do you think England's predecessors as the #1 team would have fared against the West Indians of the 80s? Unlike Indian fans who thought their team was among the pantheon of great teams of the past, most of us England fans know very well that we don't belong there yet. We are a very good side. Not great, not yet, but a very good side. So, instead of advising us not to get pompous, perhaps you should worry about how your team's test side is going to cope after the loss of legends like Dravid and Tendulkar. Most of us England fans (and more importantly, the England team) are quite humble. It is Indian fans like you who need a crash course on grace. Apologies to 'normal' Indian fans.

  • MaruthuDelft on August 24, 2011, 20:37 GMT

    @Harmony111 , 'WI and Aus are facing it, India faced it just now, so will Eng'...You put this Indian team on par with those other great teams? Nuts in your head have gone loose!!!!!

  • Harmony111 on August 24, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    I just checked the records of Cook, KP and Bell. They are way short of the club 9k and would need about 30 more tests to get there If they sustain their current performances. Esp for Bell, he needs to almost score as many runs as he has scored so far to get there. Miller is being very poor with the basics of extrapolations and seems to believe that these 3 can keep this level for the next 30-40 tests. Unlikely. In fact, it is more likely that one of these would suffer a loss of form or would retire (KP esp) before that time comes. If we could extend into the future like that then Sachin should have had close to 150 100s and not 99 but even he suffered a dip. Cook is enjoying a very special form at the moment but we all know it very well that these last for a couple of seasons at most. What goes up must come down. WI and Aus are facing it, India faced it just now, so will Eng. Again congrats to Eng, they are too good, but only for now and may be at home only. No trolling to me please.

  • Shan156 on August 24, 2011, 19:56 GMT

    "Nightwatchman Mishra"? What is Andrew talking about? India are done with the concept of nightwatchman. If not, they would have sent Raina instead of Mishra.

  • KiwiPom on August 24, 2011, 19:48 GMT

    Finally. The Truth emerges

  • on August 24, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    It takes an Englishman to see success as a problem.

  • Harmony111 on August 24, 2011, 19:24 GMT

    I guess Andrew Miller has gone really overboard with this victory and so have most of the Eng fans. England were the better team by a distance in the series and are worthy number 1 but that is a stat ONLY FOR NOW. I think India would have lost even with Zak but the overall shabby performance by India has made Eng look much better than they really are. One could say that it was Eng's brilliance that made India looks worse than they are but anybody who had seen how wasted Broad was against SL earlier would know that Broad just had a purple moment of his career and that was all. Miller says that only SA are the worthy contenders to the #1 title, I think Miller is losing all sense of Cricket when he says that. India were the #1 till a few days back and can regain it. This is not impossible. I highly doubt if Jimmy-Broad et al will be half as effective when they play in India, in fact I am sure they would lose to SL too.

    All that I would say is "Eng fans, enjoy your moment but dont boast."

  • Tlotoxl on August 24, 2011, 19:22 GMT

    I'd like to put the argument the other way round- the Windies were undoubedly very good but just how good were their opposition? what fantastic players did they come up against and beat? England have won or drew series facing Dravid, SRT, Laxman, Sangakarra, M Jayawardene, Ponting, M Hussey, Clarke, Kallis, Steyn, Sarwan, Chanderpaul & Gayle - are these all rubbish players who would not get in a club side? Or was every single one of them just happen to be out of form when they played England?

  • Nampally on August 24, 2011, 19:14 GMT

    Mr. Miller, I agree with your overall assessment that this England team will not remain on top for long because it has an average bowling line up who caught an injury depleted Indian side on the wrong foot at the wrong time. India had either missing injured (Zaheer, Yuvraj, Harbhajan & Kumar) or playing injured(Sehwag, Gambhir, Ishant Sharma) from their original selected squad The replacement players did not rise to the occasion due to lack of experience in the English conditions. As you say the limitations of the England's bowling was severly exposed by the night watchman & a bowler - Mishra's innings of 81.India at full strength with no injuries would have won this series let alone 4-0 whitewash. Now England has to defend theiir title away from home against strong Asian teams - India, Pakistan & SL - each of them are capable of beating this England side in their own countries.So all the wins against the same teams in England may be reversed.Has England beaten SA away yet?

  • tjsimonsen on August 24, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    @khanc: I was thinking almost exactly the same. However, I would call McGrath a genius too. No, he wasn't spectacular. But therein lay his genius: he took the simplest (and in some ways most difficult) aspects of seam bowling, to rely on immaculate consistency allied to slight variations, and turned it into a most devastating artform. And McGrath also had an almost Bothamesque ability to take wickets by sheer reputation. However, I don't think this England side would be better served with a "true genius" or two like Lara (the batting genius of the past 25yrs), Botham or Flintoff in the side. Most relying more on genial ability than competence (not just in sport) are generally bound to fail massively and surprisingly from time to time, something that's unsettling for the entire team (think Lara again), basically to go from the sublime to the rediculus without any stop in between. This England side on the other hand has the collective potential to maintain a constant very high level.

  • SDHM on August 24, 2011, 18:56 GMT

    I agree with the feeling that England are the best of a relatively weak bunch at the moment, which, funnily enough, is why they're beating all comers. What makes it odd is that people seem desperate to put this team down in the face of pretty conclusive evidence that they're pretty useful - you only have to look at the ridiculous and bitter messages the likes of Miller get sent on these posts and on websites like Twitter. Why does England being at the top seem to rankle with so many people? Surely every nation's ambition is to be the best? Sorry if England just happen to have made that a reality. Maybe people should look at their own cricket and wonder why, if it's so good, it's been put in front of this England side and been beaten. The subcontinent and South Africa await, but looking at the way this team has faced up to the challenges that have been put in front of them, I fancy their chances to be perfectly honest.

  • sachin3741 on August 24, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    hi Andrew England has played very good cricket for last couple of years ,but this side cant be considered great primarily bcz it was very poor show by other teams in recent times.english are looking great side which they actually are not,their bowlers Anderson,Broad,Swann average 30 ,which is nowhere near great sides of yore,bowlers of great sides averaged 21to 23 as you must be knowing and top 5 batsmen used to average in 50's.According to me its not all weather great team,time will tell though but i doubt considring their overall bowling averages ,their bubble has to burst and it is possible it will burst in sub-continent,btw they have a chance in sub-continent these days because of the poor sub-continental teams these days ,i am sure this team had no chance 3-4 years back in asia

  • bumsonseats on August 24, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    ccc-man thats an argument thats been banded about for years and by me many times to get over the fact we were been stuffed. cricket teams are made up with many facets sometimes you only need 1 guy to make the team great, as warne did for the aussies without him they would still be a very good, but with him they won games that they should not have won (ade 2006 ). W I had a great fast bowler holding and a great batter in richards, and very good bowlers and batters without holding and richards the WI would still have won those games but taken a bit longer. this england team are good, but no way near those teams. but as long as they keep on winning tests in the way they have been they will do for me and as i go into old age. iv waited a long time for this so im going to enjoy it while i can. and you guys can discuss it in 10 years time, if the england team play up to that level during that time. dpk

  • testcricketisdying on August 24, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    England are good but they are also benefitting from a massive drop in the standard of test teams. If this sounds overblown consider this: in the 1990s, each of the top four teams had at least two outstanding fast bowlers. Australia had McGrath and Gillespie (and also Warne), West Indies had Ambrose, Bishop and Walsh, Pakistan had Waqar and Wasim, South Africa had Donald and DeVilliers/Pollock (and the support pacemen were not too bad either). India did not have outstanding fast bowlers but it did have Srinath and Kumble. Batting was not easy as it is today. Atherton averaged only 38 in tests. Today he would average as much as Cook. The drop in quality of bowling is where the real decline in test cricket had occured. If this is not reversed soon, cricket will become like professional wrestling in a few years - a joke, not a sport. It is already run by characters that are shadier than those who run professional wrestling.

  • Rahulbose on August 24, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    You can't fault Eng for the lack of quality opposition. But I suspect they cannot keep performing at such a peak, almost everyone in the squad is outperforming their career averages. Also, on the sub-continent litmus test that is not really a major hurdle. Srl without Murali are not a major threat, India will probably never be able to look this team in the eye and Pakistan are in complete disarray. Add to that the best spinner in the world is English.

  • Tom_Bowler on August 24, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    England have been excellent under Strauss and Flower but are distance from being an all time great side as I'm fairly sure the mamnagement will be telling them. I think the scheduling has helped England in that they have continually had short term challenges to rise to; 2009 the Aussies toured against whom we had one Ashes victory in 20 years. 2010-1 we toured Australia where we hadn't won in 25 years. This summer India toured as the reigning world number one. Moving forward we tour Pakistan and Sri Lanka this winter, we haven't beaten either away for ten years, next summer South Africa tour which is always a huge series, the following winter we tour India who we last beat away in the 80s and in 2013 there is the inaugural Test Championship. If England have ticked off the majority of that check list in two years time arguments for their greatness wil be a lot more compelling.

  • hhillbumper on August 24, 2011, 18:24 GMT

    I think strauss has the right idea.he is not saying they are the worlds best and he is saying that they need to get better and move forward.But in the last two years England have beaten what has been put in front of them.Bradmans invincibles are feted despite the fact that England had been weakened by the war.England are not saying that they are the greatest ever and it will be good to see what happens against south Africa.

  • shanshan on August 24, 2011, 17:57 GMT

    you wrote a good article! It is sad to see the art of fast bowling is dying, thanks to too much one-day cricket and tournaments on flaccid pitches, where bowlers are relentlessly punished.........................I want it the other way around!! It is really upto the Idiot and corrupt ICC to preserve 'the real form of cricket' by promoting 5-day cricket. They should really take a stand and find a way to make 5-day cricket more interesting then the other formats. I also like to congratulate the English cricket authorities to preserve the art of swing and seam bowling, otherwise it would also die soon!!

  • Roger_Allott on August 24, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    12 of our last 20 victories (from 31 games) have been by an innings plus a bit. How does a team get that level of dominance "in an era of flat decks"?

  • on August 24, 2011, 17:09 GMT

    Good article and another which i would like to been a Fit Zaheer Khan and a firing sehwag things might have been different though not entirely for what we saw from zaheer khan on that first day that had he been fit he would have been very effective and we all know that what a fit and firing sehwag can do to the opposing teams. Proven that england have been rattled by good bowling and there is a serious lack of comptetion in test cricket and lets see what happens when they meet the south africans

  • Nutcutlet on August 24, 2011, 17:00 GMT

    No England do not, at the moment, have any individual player who can lay an unarguable claim to all-time greatness. There are several who are in the level below ('arguably great' would be what I would call this category). Perhaps KP, Bell, Cook, Trott and Anderson are in this bracket. But that is not the point. Not one of the above five would want to claim to be above the other six (and the other six - or seven - are very, very good) because that is plainly not the Strauss/ Flower ethos. These two have inculcated a team ethic that is awesome and, as I have said before, as old as Father Time: all for one and one for all. With this mindset England believes, with increasing justification, that they can beat all-comers - and looking round the planet, that seems likely for the foreseeable future. A test may be lost here and there, like Perth, but such checks to the progess and the will to win only act as a sharpened spur - witness the trouncings at the MCG and SCG that followed!

  • on August 24, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    To illustrate the decline in standards, it is well known that Greg Chappell scored 7,110 test runs at 53.86 but tetween 1975 and 1980, he made the following consecutive scores against the great West Indian attack-

    123, 109no, 13, 43, 52, 182no, 6no, 4, 48, 54, 68no, 74, 124.

    AND before the last two innings, he played 5 Supertests in the West Indies and scored 621 runs at 68 and in all World Series Cricket Tests, he was the leading batsman and he scored 1415 runs at 56 which is a better record than Viv and Barry Richards.

    Indeed the World Series Tests were described by all who played in them as the highest standard of cricket they experienced and the attack Chappell batted against was comprised of Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft, Daniel, Imran, Le roux and Proctor.

    It is difficult to conceive of a greater irony in cricket that these World Series Tests are not found in the record books, yet they were of immeasurably higher quality than the vast majority of Tests played since

  • khanc on August 24, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    The paradigm (to use a maligned word) has changed from genius to workhorse. This was evident in the Australia dominance. Here the only genuine genius was Warne. The others (Langer, Hayden, Waughs, McGrath) were supremely talented but they dont have that sort of undisciplined quality that geniuses by definition must. I for once am glad that in cricket as in other sports the disciplined, hungry, hardworking outfit is coming of age. Genius is good spectacle, but there is something deeply satisfying in a disciplined, hungry, "mind over matter" outfit that grinds the opposition to dust and finds its "geniuses" wanting.

  • on August 24, 2011, 16:47 GMT

    In relation to how good England are,how many great sides did Australia beat in the 2000s.Warne and McGrath were great bowlers,but would Hayden,Gilchrist and co hammer Holding,Marshall and Garner about the park.The fact is you can only beat who is put in front of you,and it seems strange that when any English team do well,it always seems to be belittlede.Lets just enjoy it while it lasts.

  • bumsonseats on August 24, 2011, 16:42 GMT

    i think england r the best team of average countries and some poor countries. but the great bowlers of the past had also to play poor countries, gods they had to bowl at england during the 80s. if england are still the best side after a decade then i think you can then look at the WIs and australia, sides i expect if so england would be 3rd in the list, but all said and done u can only beat who they put in front of u. i was there in barbados when holding ( the best bowler ever )bowled that over to boycs and also in jamaica when patterson bowled england out. holidaying in the 90s 2000s and saw the aussies beat all and sundre. so if england are 3rd at the end of their period of # 1 im quite happy if thats the cace. dpk

  • on August 24, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Let's not forget that Australia gained dominance over England largely as a result of simple competence: McGrath bowling tight and giving nothing away, Gillespie ensuring that played-and-missed was the main event and Warne's unerring accuracy. Add to that the likes of Steve Waugh, Mr.Competent (without being flash), Langer, Ponting, Martyn - they simply had a plan and stuck to their strengths. We should be celebrating the fact that England are now the team making others look foolish, as we were made to look routinely in the 90s and early 00s. Genius? 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, always has and will be. Australia had central contracts and a settled team in the 90s, England has it now. It makes a huge difference, particularly to squad strength. The best thing is that we also have competitive Lions and A squads playing good cricket - long may that last. It should ensure the longevity of the Test team.

  • on August 24, 2011, 16:36 GMT

    To illustrate the decline in bowling standards, it is well known that Greg Chappell scored 7,110 test runs at 53.86 but tetween 1975 and 1980, he made the following consecutive scores against the great West Indian attack-

    123, 109no, 13, 43, 52, 182no, 6no, 4, 48, 54, 68no, 74, 124.

    Before the last two innings, he played 5 Supertests in the West Indies and scored another 621 runs at 68 and in all World Series Cricket Tests, he was the leading batsman and he scored 1415 runs at 56.

    Indeed the World Series Tests were described by all who played in them as the highest standard of cricket they experienced and the attack Chappell batted against was comprised of Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft, Daniel, Imran, Le roux and Proctor.

    It is difficult to conceive of a greater irony in cricket that these World Series Tests are not found in the record books, yet they were of immeasurably higher quality than the vast majority of Tests played since.

  • Percy_Fender on August 24, 2011, 16:28 GMT

    I would advise England supporters not to be carried away by this big win against India. The English bowling and batting simply pales when one compares it with the West Indies galacticos of the 80s and the 90s and the Aussie juggernauts of the 90s and 2000s.This English team would have been completely thrashed by Marshall and co and by Magrath, Warne and that lot.It is usual for English commentators to become a bit patronising and pompous after a few wins. Please take a leaf ot of Andrew Strauss's book on humility and common sense. There is no doubt that this England team is better than many of their earlier predecessors but that will not make them invincibles. They will soon find out when South Africa comes calling next year. It will be seam for seam and I think Steyn, Morkel Tsotobe Tahir and Parnell will be quite a handful. India's bowling was dreadful. South Africa will be up for it.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 24, 2011, 16:17 GMT

    I think England are VERY GOOD side. In fact I think England have the best bench strength in international cricket at the moment. What I wouldn't want to see is arrogance from the English players here forth. For the Indian fans I would like to say one thing, it's o.k. to support one's team but it's not bright to cover up the shortcomings of the side. If you compare the two teams, India had a lot of experience in the batting department. Even you if wish to excuse the bowlers, the batsmen should have made amends. Quite simply they couldn't do that. England show cased clinical cricket with brutal precision. I am not a fan of "come to the sub continent, we will show you" thing. Sure, England will be tested and may well lose games in the subcontinent, however, how they lose is what counts. I am certain England won't lose like how India did here. 4 innings defeats means something is VERY VERY wrong with Indian cricket. Wake up fans !

  • vichan on August 24, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    "England's heightened professionalism that's pulling them away from the pack, in a fixture-congested era in which mental flab at Test level is all too apparent. With Twenty20 driving the global agenda, too few individuals have the staying power to match a Cook or Rahul Dravid." -- The interesting thing is, of course, that England are the world champions at Twenty20 also. So clearly it is possible to balance the ambitions for Test cricket with the 'new kid on the block'. Hence the question is, why can't any of the other teams manage to do excel at more than one type? -- "In the whole of the 1980s, England's cricketers scraped together a total of 20 victories in 104 Tests." -- It is an unfair comparison to make between the current England team and those of the '80s or '90s. Those two decades were clearly England's worst in its 140-odd years in international cricket. It is a fairer to compare to other England teams which were number 1 in their day e.g. early '30s, mid-50's, early-70s etc.

  • mani_narayan on August 24, 2011, 15:57 GMT

    Well, when good teams win, everything looks perfect. I think the big difference between older England teams and this one is the ability of their batsman to make big scores consistently. As everyone points out, England has to perform in sub-continent conditions first. Only recently in the World Cup, England lost to Bangladesh and Ireland with pretty much the same team. It shows that the England bowling will struggle and the batting will also struggle because they are simply not very comfortable in those conditions. The good thing for England is that they are getting to play against Australia and India when their great playesr have retired or are nearing the ends of their careers. I would wait for another year and a half to see how England fare against SA and against India at home. In a few months, their tours of Pakistan and SL will be their first real test. Meanwhile England should enjoy their #1 position because they have earned it by playing good solid cricket.

  • Biggsey on August 24, 2011, 15:56 GMT

    No one would argue that McGrath was an unbelievable and genius bowler, however, in his best years he was far from a pace bowler. Metronomical line and length were his weapons. He wasn't a Holding, Amir or Steyn but the most amazing bowler of his generation. What's to say that once this next era has passed we won't look back on Broad, Jimmy and Bresnan as greats??

  • saivich on August 24, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    I would like to see if the English batsmen can play their own bowling. Let us do a grafting experiment: India with English tail and England with Indian Tail . Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Swann should represent India and Zaheer, Ishant, Praveen and Bhajji should represent England.

    This could be called the Chimeric Test match to test among other things, the hypothesis that the present English batsmen are truly great.

  • CCC-Man on August 24, 2011, 15:53 GMT

    Too early to predict is England that good. Indian squad was without any decent bowlers and batters played like they forgot the game.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • CCC-Man on August 24, 2011, 15:53 GMT

    Too early to predict is England that good. Indian squad was without any decent bowlers and batters played like they forgot the game.

  • saivich on August 24, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    I would like to see if the English batsmen can play their own bowling. Let us do a grafting experiment: India with English tail and England with Indian Tail . Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Swann should represent India and Zaheer, Ishant, Praveen and Bhajji should represent England.

    This could be called the Chimeric Test match to test among other things, the hypothesis that the present English batsmen are truly great.

  • Biggsey on August 24, 2011, 15:56 GMT

    No one would argue that McGrath was an unbelievable and genius bowler, however, in his best years he was far from a pace bowler. Metronomical line and length were his weapons. He wasn't a Holding, Amir or Steyn but the most amazing bowler of his generation. What's to say that once this next era has passed we won't look back on Broad, Jimmy and Bresnan as greats??

  • mani_narayan on August 24, 2011, 15:57 GMT

    Well, when good teams win, everything looks perfect. I think the big difference between older England teams and this one is the ability of their batsman to make big scores consistently. As everyone points out, England has to perform in sub-continent conditions first. Only recently in the World Cup, England lost to Bangladesh and Ireland with pretty much the same team. It shows that the England bowling will struggle and the batting will also struggle because they are simply not very comfortable in those conditions. The good thing for England is that they are getting to play against Australia and India when their great playesr have retired or are nearing the ends of their careers. I would wait for another year and a half to see how England fare against SA and against India at home. In a few months, their tours of Pakistan and SL will be their first real test. Meanwhile England should enjoy their #1 position because they have earned it by playing good solid cricket.

  • vichan on August 24, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    "England's heightened professionalism that's pulling them away from the pack, in a fixture-congested era in which mental flab at Test level is all too apparent. With Twenty20 driving the global agenda, too few individuals have the staying power to match a Cook or Rahul Dravid." -- The interesting thing is, of course, that England are the world champions at Twenty20 also. So clearly it is possible to balance the ambitions for Test cricket with the 'new kid on the block'. Hence the question is, why can't any of the other teams manage to do excel at more than one type? -- "In the whole of the 1980s, England's cricketers scraped together a total of 20 victories in 104 Tests." -- It is an unfair comparison to make between the current England team and those of the '80s or '90s. Those two decades were clearly England's worst in its 140-odd years in international cricket. It is a fairer to compare to other England teams which were number 1 in their day e.g. early '30s, mid-50's, early-70s etc.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 24, 2011, 16:17 GMT

    I think England are VERY GOOD side. In fact I think England have the best bench strength in international cricket at the moment. What I wouldn't want to see is arrogance from the English players here forth. For the Indian fans I would like to say one thing, it's o.k. to support one's team but it's not bright to cover up the shortcomings of the side. If you compare the two teams, India had a lot of experience in the batting department. Even you if wish to excuse the bowlers, the batsmen should have made amends. Quite simply they couldn't do that. England show cased clinical cricket with brutal precision. I am not a fan of "come to the sub continent, we will show you" thing. Sure, England will be tested and may well lose games in the subcontinent, however, how they lose is what counts. I am certain England won't lose like how India did here. 4 innings defeats means something is VERY VERY wrong with Indian cricket. Wake up fans !

  • Percy_Fender on August 24, 2011, 16:28 GMT

    I would advise England supporters not to be carried away by this big win against India. The English bowling and batting simply pales when one compares it with the West Indies galacticos of the 80s and the 90s and the Aussie juggernauts of the 90s and 2000s.This English team would have been completely thrashed by Marshall and co and by Magrath, Warne and that lot.It is usual for English commentators to become a bit patronising and pompous after a few wins. Please take a leaf ot of Andrew Strauss's book on humility and common sense. There is no doubt that this England team is better than many of their earlier predecessors but that will not make them invincibles. They will soon find out when South Africa comes calling next year. It will be seam for seam and I think Steyn, Morkel Tsotobe Tahir and Parnell will be quite a handful. India's bowling was dreadful. South Africa will be up for it.

  • on August 24, 2011, 16:36 GMT

    To illustrate the decline in bowling standards, it is well known that Greg Chappell scored 7,110 test runs at 53.86 but tetween 1975 and 1980, he made the following consecutive scores against the great West Indian attack-

    123, 109no, 13, 43, 52, 182no, 6no, 4, 48, 54, 68no, 74, 124.

    Before the last two innings, he played 5 Supertests in the West Indies and scored another 621 runs at 68 and in all World Series Cricket Tests, he was the leading batsman and he scored 1415 runs at 56.

    Indeed the World Series Tests were described by all who played in them as the highest standard of cricket they experienced and the attack Chappell batted against was comprised of Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft, Daniel, Imran, Le roux and Proctor.

    It is difficult to conceive of a greater irony in cricket that these World Series Tests are not found in the record books, yet they were of immeasurably higher quality than the vast majority of Tests played since.

  • on August 24, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Let's not forget that Australia gained dominance over England largely as a result of simple competence: McGrath bowling tight and giving nothing away, Gillespie ensuring that played-and-missed was the main event and Warne's unerring accuracy. Add to that the likes of Steve Waugh, Mr.Competent (without being flash), Langer, Ponting, Martyn - they simply had a plan and stuck to their strengths. We should be celebrating the fact that England are now the team making others look foolish, as we were made to look routinely in the 90s and early 00s. Genius? 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, always has and will be. Australia had central contracts and a settled team in the 90s, England has it now. It makes a huge difference, particularly to squad strength. The best thing is that we also have competitive Lions and A squads playing good cricket - long may that last. It should ensure the longevity of the Test team.

  • bumsonseats on August 24, 2011, 16:42 GMT

    i think england r the best team of average countries and some poor countries. but the great bowlers of the past had also to play poor countries, gods they had to bowl at england during the 80s. if england are still the best side after a decade then i think you can then look at the WIs and australia, sides i expect if so england would be 3rd in the list, but all said and done u can only beat who they put in front of u. i was there in barbados when holding ( the best bowler ever )bowled that over to boycs and also in jamaica when patterson bowled england out. holidaying in the 90s 2000s and saw the aussies beat all and sundre. so if england are 3rd at the end of their period of # 1 im quite happy if thats the cace. dpk