August 26, 2011

England's challenge, and the Swann factor

England still have plenty of overseas challenges to conquer, but the presence of their ace spinner gives them an excellent chance
37

England's drubbing of India over the last month has made them the undisputed top side in Test cricket, but as Andrew Strauss said, the worst thing England could do from here is to get too cocky too soon. "The greatest pitfall is feeling like you have done it all. I'd be disappointed if our side fell into that trap." England have achieved plenty over the last couple of years, but they're far away from doing it all. In fact, they have plenty of challenges coming their way over the next 18 months, and how they cope will establish how long they stay at the top.

The gulf between England and India was embarrassingly wide in this series, which was a big surprise to most because of how close the teams were statistically in the 30 months preceding it. There have been comments that India's rise to the top was based on home wins against weak teams while England have done well all over the world, but a look at the recent numbers doesn't support that argument. In fact, Ricky Ponting said this in an interview to ESPNcricinfo: "[Y]ou've got to give England credit for what they've done. They've won pretty much everywhere they've been the last few years." Ponting would be surprised to see that England's only successful overseas campaigns over the last four years have been in Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh. The Ashes triumph was obviously exceptional, but it's also true that England have lost their last Test series in India, Sri Lanka, and even West Indies, while only managing to draw in South Africa.

In fact, the stats for England and India are remarkably similar during the period mentioned below. Between October 2008 and July 20, 2011, India had a 15-3 win-loss ratio in 30 Tests; England, from May 2009, have a 20-4 ratio in 31 Tests. During this period England played 20 home Tests compared to 16 by India. Both sides were utterly dominant at home, and had almost identical numbers overseas, with 6-2 win-loss records, including 2-0 series in Bangladesh. Both managed 1-1 draws in South Africa.

Over the next 18 months, though, England will get opportunities to avenge most of their losses over the last four years. In Sri Lanka later this year, they can atone for their 0-1 defeat in 2007-08; their Test tour to India next year will give them a chance to reverse a similar result in 2008-09. There's also South Africa touring England next summer - the last time that happened, England lost the Tests 1-2. Before all that, there's also a Test series against Pakistan in the UAE. England surely have the personnel to tackle these challenges, but the results they post will determine how long they hold on to the top spot.

England since May 2009, and India between Oct 2008 and Jul 20, 2011
Team Tests W/L/D W/L ratio Bat ave Bowl ave
England 31 20/4/7 5.00 43.78 29.41
India 30 15/3/12 5.00 44.17 35.76
England at home 20 14/2/4 7.00 43.71 27.43
India at home 16 9/1/6 9.00 49.27 36.27
England away 11 6/2/3 3.00 43.89 33.07
India away 14 6/2/6 3.00 38.95 35.17

The Swann factor
The series coming up for England over the next 18 months appear to be tough ones, but one factor gives them a distinct edge over England teams of the recent past: the presence of Graeme Swann. The lack of an attacking spinner had often handicapped England, especially on tours to the subcontinent, but with Swann around, home sides will probably think many times over before preparing turning tracks.

A team-wise look at the performance of spinners shows that over the last two and a half years England have been in unfamiliar territory: their spin average is the best among all teams. They've taken 158 wickets at 31.53, of which Swann has contributed 145 at 28.23, including all 11 five-fors and the lone ten-for.

These numbers are in stark contrast to England's spin stats before Swann made his mark in Test cricket: between 2000 and 2008, England's spinners averaged a dismal 42.21 runs per wicket. They also averaged barely two wickets per Test, a number that has more than doubled to almost four and a half since Swann's arrival.

While England's spin stock has risen several notches over the last couple of years, the teams who have been powerhouses of spin bowling through most of the 2000s have plummeted. Sri Lanka, Australia and India had been the three best spin teams between 2000 and 2008, but since 2009 the averages for these three have shot up to more than 39. Sri Lanka and Australia have obviously been struggling to cope with the retirements of Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, while India have been hit by Anil Kumble's retirement and Harbhajan Singh's poor form.

Team-wise performances of spinners in Tests since Jan 2009
Team Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
England 36 158 31.53 63.6 11/ 1
Pakistan 23 139 35.43 71.4 6/ 1
Bangladesh 11 99 36.88 68.8 4/ 0
Sri Lanka 20 146 39.37 75.2 7/ 0
South Africa 58 75 39.97 85.8 2/ 0
India 28 186 42.06 82.5 3/ 0
Australia 26 82 43.23 78.8 3/ 0
New Zealand 16 84 43.78 89.1 1/ 0
West Indies 23 98 45.20 89.0 3/ 0

Team-wise performance of spinners in Tests between Jan 2000 and Dec 2008
Team Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Sri Lanka 85 765 25.31 58.9 55/ 22
Australia 102 601 29.06 55.4 33/ 8
India 97 801 32.99 67.8 45/ 10
New Zealand 72 272 35.54 76.7 17/ 3
Pakistan 74 428 36.16 74.4 16/ 3
England 115 328 42.21 84.7 13/ 1
South Africa 102 256 42.96 83.1 8/ 1
Zimbabwe 44 158 47.05 90.0 6/ 2
West Indies 96 252 49.19 104.9 3/ 0
Bangladesh 58 238 50.87 97.9 15/ 1

The stats for spinners since the beginning of 2009 show how far ahead of the pack Swann is. Among spinners with at least 50 Test wickets, only Saeed Ajmal of Pakistan has a comparable average. Harbhajan is one of four spinners on this list whose average is on the wrong side of 35.

It's true that Swann has played only four Tests in the subcontinent, but his overall Test stats indicate he will be a handful for any batting line-up in helpful conditions, as the Indians found out at The Oval last week.

Highest wicket-takers among spinners in Tests since Jan 2009
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Graeme Swann 34 145 28.23 57.2 11/ 1
Harbhajan Singh 24 92 36.80 76.8 3/ 0
Daniel Vettori 16 59 38.28 89.5 1/ 0
Saeed Ajmal 11 50 31.14 68.9 3/ 1
Nathan Hauritz 14 50 37.34 69.6 2/ 0
Paul Harris 17 50 42.56 97.4 2/ 0

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shan156 on August 27, 2011, 16:36 GMT

    Valavan, well said mate. I am not sure what makes these SL fans think that they can win tests against top notch opposition. Their bowlers wouldn't bowl Boycs' mum out. We saw what happened to them after Murali retired last year. They lost to even India:-)

    @Barry, true. Away wins should be valued more. But, home defeats should be penalized more too. SA lost to Australia and drew with England and India at home. England lost to SA and have defeated everyone else at home. India are unbeaten at home and except for the 0-4 drubbing they have had decent results everywhere else. The fact that they lost 4 consecutive tests have brought them down and that is understandable. The rankings are a reflector of current form and England are the best team atm. SA, for all their greatness, have never defeated a top team so comprehensively in a series. Also, SA have two excellent bowlers but the rest are mediocre. England have a set of very good bowlers.

  • Valavan on August 27, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    @Asanka, England will be surprised if SL wins a test in SL. SL looks pathetic without malinga, vaas and murali. And ODIs, ye in 2007 i think 3 - 2 win for england with all biggies in squad. You will lick the same wounds as indian fans did. So dont jump over the moon before the toss.Now Aussies are making SL toil. First try to win one test aginst aussies and speak of it.

  • on August 27, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    The rankings seriously need to consider an away series win as more valuable as a home win. This article proves it. In the last 4 years South Africa have won away from home in Australia and England, and drawn in India. Neither England or India have come close to having as good an away record as South Africa.

    A team that lost against the West Indies and played two thirds of their tests at home in the last 3 years is no 1 now?! Seriously?

  • Chris_P on August 27, 2011, 0:44 GMT

    Let's face it, for India to win they need to take 20 wickets. Look at the bowling figures in England. An overall average over 70! How is this popgun bowling lineup going to take that many wickets to win? Apart from Zaheer, the rest of them wouldn't get a run in any half decent first class side or most 2nd XIs. And he is on the wrong side of 30 and consistently injured AND unfit!

  • on August 26, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    Sri Lanka will put England in their place at the end of this year. I will be surprised, if they win a single test match over there.

  • slimmorrell on August 26, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    Is Swan a GREAT spinner, no. Is he the best spinner in world now, statistically just None of this really matters to me though because Is he the best spinner England have had for a long time, hell yes I've always loved watching good spinners bowl, so as an Englishman I've always had to admire other teams spinners, now finally we have one who can stand up as one of, if not the, top spinner in the game and I don't care that he's not one of the best ever. He is still very good indeed.I'm really looking forward to the upcoming tests against Pak and SL to see how Swan does on those pitches, also to see if England will play 2 spinners in a 5 man bowling attack I'd love them too but they seem reluctant to change their formula and that is 4 bowlers.Seems very strange to say this but I can't see England losing the next 2 test series, after that in the SA and India tests who knows what will happen. One thing I do know though is England will fight to the last and make the most of what they have

  • Valavan on August 26, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    @Shan, rekax mate. indian fans will speak about statistics which are favorabe for them, One hindh88 said England lost to windies. yes we did by 1 - 0, but some 4 months ago same time in Sep 2008 , India lost to SL to mendis magic. They dont count that. Its really a bitter pill, this 4 - 0 whitewash, so just trying to calm themselves,In other articles, also i saw winning an LOI against sussex and speak about 5 - 0 whitewash. Anyway we dont have to talk shan, our players will prove in the field.

  • Shan156 on August 26, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    @Thomas Cherian, True. Warne and Murali have rather ordinary records in India. That is because the Indians are great players of spin bowling. However, Kambli never played a single test against Australia. He has played ODIs against them and has flayed Warne and there is no reason why he couldn't have played him better in tests.

    There is no reason why Swann can't succeed against India in India either. Last time he played he took two wickets in his very first over and finished with an average of 40. Mediocre but you also have to consider that was his first two tests. He is a much improved bowler now and, as the Indians learnt at the Oval, when conditions favor him he can be very good. You would find no England fan who would claim him as a great but as someone else mentioned, he knows his job in the England side. Tie up one end if conditions aren't favorable; attack if they are. And, he does it very well.

  • on August 26, 2011, 17:39 GMT

    One simple question, what if a certain Mr Swann has a drop in form? And if the English are wanting to believe that Mr. Swann is infallible then i quote Andrew Strauss from this article: "The greatest pitfall is feeling like you have done it all". Swann is definitely not infallible, and i think that was eminently proved in the first three tests here. And Anderson & Co would certainly be a far less potent force in the sub-continents. So, lets see who has a longer reign at the top, India, or England.

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

    well ranking system is not correct .... now indian r calling it wrong when they became No 1 they were not tht good ..... they did not beat Aussie , RSA , or even srilanka ( since 1993) on other hand RSA n england beat aussie in their home ground.... nw it is not fair tht england gt NO 1 ..... my only question tht way india played in this series the look like bangladesh.... blowing even worse then bangladesh..... it is not about 4 -0 it is about how lose .......n tht was for NO 1 ...

  • Shan156 on August 27, 2011, 16:36 GMT

    Valavan, well said mate. I am not sure what makes these SL fans think that they can win tests against top notch opposition. Their bowlers wouldn't bowl Boycs' mum out. We saw what happened to them after Murali retired last year. They lost to even India:-)

    @Barry, true. Away wins should be valued more. But, home defeats should be penalized more too. SA lost to Australia and drew with England and India at home. England lost to SA and have defeated everyone else at home. India are unbeaten at home and except for the 0-4 drubbing they have had decent results everywhere else. The fact that they lost 4 consecutive tests have brought them down and that is understandable. The rankings are a reflector of current form and England are the best team atm. SA, for all their greatness, have never defeated a top team so comprehensively in a series. Also, SA have two excellent bowlers but the rest are mediocre. England have a set of very good bowlers.

  • Valavan on August 27, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    @Asanka, England will be surprised if SL wins a test in SL. SL looks pathetic without malinga, vaas and murali. And ODIs, ye in 2007 i think 3 - 2 win for england with all biggies in squad. You will lick the same wounds as indian fans did. So dont jump over the moon before the toss.Now Aussies are making SL toil. First try to win one test aginst aussies and speak of it.

  • on August 27, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    The rankings seriously need to consider an away series win as more valuable as a home win. This article proves it. In the last 4 years South Africa have won away from home in Australia and England, and drawn in India. Neither England or India have come close to having as good an away record as South Africa.

    A team that lost against the West Indies and played two thirds of their tests at home in the last 3 years is no 1 now?! Seriously?

  • Chris_P on August 27, 2011, 0:44 GMT

    Let's face it, for India to win they need to take 20 wickets. Look at the bowling figures in England. An overall average over 70! How is this popgun bowling lineup going to take that many wickets to win? Apart from Zaheer, the rest of them wouldn't get a run in any half decent first class side or most 2nd XIs. And he is on the wrong side of 30 and consistently injured AND unfit!

  • on August 26, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    Sri Lanka will put England in their place at the end of this year. I will be surprised, if they win a single test match over there.

  • slimmorrell on August 26, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    Is Swan a GREAT spinner, no. Is he the best spinner in world now, statistically just None of this really matters to me though because Is he the best spinner England have had for a long time, hell yes I've always loved watching good spinners bowl, so as an Englishman I've always had to admire other teams spinners, now finally we have one who can stand up as one of, if not the, top spinner in the game and I don't care that he's not one of the best ever. He is still very good indeed.I'm really looking forward to the upcoming tests against Pak and SL to see how Swan does on those pitches, also to see if England will play 2 spinners in a 5 man bowling attack I'd love them too but they seem reluctant to change their formula and that is 4 bowlers.Seems very strange to say this but I can't see England losing the next 2 test series, after that in the SA and India tests who knows what will happen. One thing I do know though is England will fight to the last and make the most of what they have

  • Valavan on August 26, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    @Shan, rekax mate. indian fans will speak about statistics which are favorabe for them, One hindh88 said England lost to windies. yes we did by 1 - 0, but some 4 months ago same time in Sep 2008 , India lost to SL to mendis magic. They dont count that. Its really a bitter pill, this 4 - 0 whitewash, so just trying to calm themselves,In other articles, also i saw winning an LOI against sussex and speak about 5 - 0 whitewash. Anyway we dont have to talk shan, our players will prove in the field.

  • Shan156 on August 26, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    @Thomas Cherian, True. Warne and Murali have rather ordinary records in India. That is because the Indians are great players of spin bowling. However, Kambli never played a single test against Australia. He has played ODIs against them and has flayed Warne and there is no reason why he couldn't have played him better in tests.

    There is no reason why Swann can't succeed against India in India either. Last time he played he took two wickets in his very first over and finished with an average of 40. Mediocre but you also have to consider that was his first two tests. He is a much improved bowler now and, as the Indians learnt at the Oval, when conditions favor him he can be very good. You would find no England fan who would claim him as a great but as someone else mentioned, he knows his job in the England side. Tie up one end if conditions aren't favorable; attack if they are. And, he does it very well.

  • on August 26, 2011, 17:39 GMT

    One simple question, what if a certain Mr Swann has a drop in form? And if the English are wanting to believe that Mr. Swann is infallible then i quote Andrew Strauss from this article: "The greatest pitfall is feeling like you have done it all". Swann is definitely not infallible, and i think that was eminently proved in the first three tests here. And Anderson & Co would certainly be a far less potent force in the sub-continents. So, lets see who has a longer reign at the top, India, or England.

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

    well ranking system is not correct .... now indian r calling it wrong when they became No 1 they were not tht good ..... they did not beat Aussie , RSA , or even srilanka ( since 1993) on other hand RSA n england beat aussie in their home ground.... nw it is not fair tht england gt NO 1 ..... my only question tht way india played in this series the look like bangladesh.... blowing even worse then bangladesh..... it is not about 4 -0 it is about how lose .......n tht was for NO 1 ...

  • on August 26, 2011, 16:47 GMT

    Only point to note here is Murli and Warne much ahead of Swann as spinners did not have much success in India. Even a batsman like Kambli took Warne to the cleaners.....

  • Shan156 on August 26, 2011, 16:46 GMT

    @CricIndia208, Is any team a worthy challenger for mighty India? I think you should petition the ICC to implement the tiered system and place India alone in the top tier and the rest of the teams in the second tier. While the rest of us slug it out for the top spot in the second tier, your players could play only the IPL and fans like you can relax knowing that India are the "undisputed" #1 in all formats.

  • Shan156 on August 26, 2011, 16:03 GMT

    @hindh88, yeah India managed to vanquish all opponents home and away, didn't they? What is beyond England? England did beat SA in SA (2004-2005). In fact, since 2000, England have managed to beat all teams, sans India, away (that one blemish will be set straight next winter). OTOH, your undisputed #1 team, India, have never, ever won a series in Australia or SA. It has been more than 15 years since they won a series in SL too. When was the last time India won an away series convincingly, say, by a 2 test margin? How many times has your team won all tests in a series convincingly even at home? Perhaps, you should worry more about the state of your team after the big 3 and Zaheer retire - you will be slugging it out with the likes of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

    It must hurt to lose 0-4, eh?

  • ejsiddiqui on August 26, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    WOW, Pakistan bowling has improved greatly after the inclusion of Saeed Ajmal.

  • CricIndia208 on August 26, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    India will regain the No.1 spot in the next 12 months, West Indies at home, Australia away, and then Pakistan followed by England at home should not be a challenge.

  • chiggers on August 26, 2011, 14:43 GMT

    @davidpk; 'when we play SA next year and we win' - in which alternative universe would that be, then?

  • on August 26, 2011, 14:17 GMT

    Pakistan have also been contributed by abdur rehman taking 29 wkts in his six tests.i think if there is a ranking of test spinners in 2011,swann is #1,ajmal #2 but still ajmal is more handy due to his unreadable doosra n beautiful variations in length n pace which makes him dangerous even on dead pitches unlike swann who does it only in helpful conditions.bishoo n imran tahir r other notable spinners along with shakib which r expected to be world class spinners in the upcoming years,but feel sorry abt the future of spin in aus,sl n ind.but india can still bounce back in this department if the likes of ashwin,iqbal abdulla show their potential in future n succeed at test levelPakistan have also been contributed by abdur rehman taking 29 wkts in his six tests.i think if there is a ranking of test spinners in 2011,swann is #1,ajmal #2 but still ajmal is more handy due to his unreadable doosra n beautiful variations in length n pace which makes him dangerous even on dead pitches unlike swa

  • HatsforBats on August 26, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    They are quite interesting figures. At the moment England face the same criticism that India have for the past 2 years; currently they are no.1 on the ICC figures list but they haven't beat the best sides at home, and they can lose their spot depending on the outcome of other series. The difference between the 2 sides though is that England have an excellent bowling attack and are currently dominating their opposition. Even though Stevie Wonder could see that Eng's last 2 major opponents have been well below par, Eng haven't allowed the opposition into the match (barring Mitch "The Freak" Johnson in Perth). Personally I think Eng have the attack & the belief to win anywhere, and they will do so. I'm still going to cheer for SA though, after all, I'm Australian : )

  • bumsonseats on August 26, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    if u are the # 1 team then u are the undisputed # 1 team. when we play SA next year and we win, other teams will say similar. its perpetual there is always someone else. unlike manchester united in a league that u play every 1 in a 10 month period. and u win the league after that period. if we get beat playing SL and pakistan this winter then india could by that time have beaten suffient # of teams to go back to # 1 after they were drubbed 4 - 0 . dpk

  • allblue on August 26, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    This can't be right. A common consensus on these boards over the last few months is that "Swann is over-rated". Therefore, these stats, plus the ICC bowler rankings must be wrong. QED. But seriously, England are a pretty tricky statistical creature at the moment. Because the ICC ranking spans four years it's an obvious time frame, but there are effectively 'two Englands' in that time. From 2007 up to and including the Windies tour in 2009 their record is pretty ordinary, but that was an unsettled side, lacking key components and a ranking of 4th or 5th was about right. Since that tour however, under a new captain and coach, they have gone from strength to strength winning eight and drawing one of the nine series played. By the time the next Ashes series comes round we'll have a four year period to judge this team, and a much better idea of where they are in the big scheme of things.

  • Nutcutlet on August 26, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    Articles that like this that focus on one aspect of cricket, here spin-bowling, specifically Swann's contribution to the effort of Team England, miss the major point. Swann is the default spin-option in a team of four specialist bowlers. He, like every other member of the team, knows his role and, MORE importantly, how his role fits into the bigger picture. (I have said this before, but I have to say this many times because there is a, largely Indian, emphasis on spotlighting individuals in such articles). His role is to take advantage of favourable conditions where they are found - and otherwise to bowl economically, for long spells if necessary. He is pivotal in allowing the pace attack to function at max. effectiveness. There will, in the 4- pronged attack favoured by Strauss&Flower, always be two bowlers who are being rested. England's bowlers are a pack, hunting relentlessly for the next kill. Individual stats are interesting, that's all.Taking 20 wickets is what matters!

  • LancashireHero on August 26, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    The next year will be a good challenge for this England side. They have been steadily improving under the captincy of Andrew Strauss and given the age of the players I can see the team staying together for a few years. They should win all home series and at least draw or win the majority of the away series.

    demon_bowler where can you find out how the ranking system actually works?

  • Proteas123 on August 26, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    England have done very well to earn there number one ranking. However they are certainly not the undisputed number one side, just as India were not. If England can go on to win in the sub-continent and actually win series against SA then they can claim to be the undisputed number one team. Currently the top 5 teams are close and all have a fair chance of beating each other especially at home. There is no undisputed number one. @ LePom - Correct, they have the best recent record and are therefore ranked number one but hindh88 has got a point. Eng have not dominated away from home.

  • sunglassesron on August 26, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    Some proper seething here from the INdians again. I love their players, though was disappointed in their abject performance here this summer. However many (but not all) of their fans have been very graceless in defeat.

  • chiggers on August 26, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    If the rankings took account of the margin of victory in individual games (as they do in other sports) then England would be even further ahead. Of the last 20 victories, 12 have been by an innings, 4 by 8 wickets or more and the other four by an average of 200+ runs. Dominance like that is rare in any sport

  • Chris_P on August 26, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    This is the reason why India won't climb back up to #1 and England (with maybe the odd short term blip) will remain at the top in the near future. England are not defending points, whereas India has to keep winning to remain at #3 (with this bowling lineup? Highly unlikely). This is the way of the rankings. I don't understand this talk about being "undisputed". England have followed the criteria to be #1. There is no dispute. Are they great? Not in my opinion, for that, they need to win everything home and away like the past great teams, but surely, the #1 ranking reflects current form and they fully deserve it. (And this coming from an Aussie!)

  • YorkshirePudding on August 26, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    If England can maintain thier form over the next 14-18 months they should cement thier place at the top of the rankings, however we english fan recognise that there are a number of challenges coming not least Pakistan, SL and India away, with a resurgent WI bowling unit, and SA visiting these shores we need to bring our A+ Game each and every time. My big concern is the batting if we lose a couple of key players we dont have any reserves in place to step in, I'd like to see Stokes, Taylor and Bairstow give run of a few tests each, probably replacing Morgan in the number 6 slot we've seen what he can deliver so now its time to see what others can do.

  • ansram on August 26, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    The results themselves do not show the differences between the English side and India side overseas. India have never dominated the opposition even when they won. Take for example, the SA series.

    First test: SA won by an innings and 25 runs. Second test: India won by 87 runs. Third test: Match drawn ( with honors even)

    England has a similar 1-1 against SA, but when they won they paid back the innings defeat. Even againt WI India did not win in a convincing manner. India do not win a series 3-0 or 4-0 even against weak oppositions and have hardly ever justified their No.1 ranking. A No.1 team must crush weaker teams and must prevail against better teams. India won quite a few matches recently but never dominated and it was only a matter of time they lost that top spot. They failed to dominate because their bowlers struggled to take 20 wickets, and until India can find world class bowlers it is unlikely that they can take the top spot and hold on to it for a long period.

  • Legster on August 26, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    Meety, Dockerell, if England are interested, is quite low in the pecking order for spinners, right now the reserve spin queue includes Panesar, Tredwell, Briggs, Patel, Borthwick (IMO) and Rashid.

  • Truemans_Ghost on August 26, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    The English are often accused of over-emphasising the Ashes, but I think others are guilty pf downplaying it. The Ashes win was NOT at home, it was 3-1 and although they had their problems suggestions that Australia were little more than a club side are nonsense. Let's not believe a new myth that the Aussies were hopeless and the whole world knew it before 3-1 series wins do a lot for your rankings. England's record in SA isn't bad- their last trip was a draw-even if it was a skin of the teeth draw. it is hardly a final frontier. Although they haven't won a series in India for a good while, their last 2 involves a tied series and a one test loss, in the days when tey were a less good team and India were a better one. It is obvious by the nature of the rankings that, to stay there, they have to keep winning whereveer they play, which invoilves some tough overseas tests. If they win them,, they'll stay top and deserve to. If they don't they'll drop down the table and deserve it.

  • Meety on August 26, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    @ hindh88 - worse comes to worse, when England tour India next, they might just recruit young Dockrell from Ireland as a spinning buddy for Swann!!!! LOL!!!!!

  • Meety on August 26, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Just a minor point - I don't think Punter was referring to FOUR years, just the last 2. @hindh88 - the big difference is that England WIN more games - India DRAW more games. So whilst I don't begrudge India from having been #1, they were never going to hold it for long. England's away stats are superior to India with Bat & Ball. They have a better record in Sth Africa then India, but I do agree that to be dominant as a #1, (given almost half the cricketing world are in the sub-continent), they will have to win series in Asia. For India to have been undisputed #1 they had to win away from home, draws against Sth Africa (I was very impressed that they drew) & Sri Lanka was not great performances particularly lined up with a 4nil loss to England. Can India get revenge on their home soil - hell yeah, WILL they, maybe yes, maybe no, Swann (& Panesar), will be worthwhile adversaries!

  • gzawilliam on August 26, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    Thats the way most teams in all sports make it to number 1 though.. Even soccer teams rely on a large percentage of their wins being at home.

    But england haven't just landed on there.. They have muscled their way up there with skill and hard work.

    I saw a bit of footage from oval test where the coaches were working with Ian Bell for his short leg catching. They had a machine setup made for short catching and made use of it.

    I doubt india or australia have been going to those lengths to improve. Actually i know india haven't. They are the laziest team in all of sport imo.

    I think england will dominate in the subcontinent the same way australia did a few years back. Lose the occasional test or series but i doubt they will fall like people think they will.

    They just have too much depth and professionalism.

  • demon_bowler on August 26, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    The author apparently does not know how the ICC Reliance Rankings system works. No extra points are awarded for away wins (it's the major flaw of an otherwise pretty good algorithm). Also you cannot gain points from beating lower ranked opposition unless you do so by a wide margin. Example: India lost points by only beating West Indies 1-0. England would now gain fewer points from beating third-placed India than they have just gained from beating India when it was ranked in first place.

  • LePom on August 26, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    hindh88 - Incorrect.

    The reason England got to No 1. was by beating Australia, the last truly dominant team, in 3 out of the last 4 series, including the last one in Australia. Because Australia was the No 1, the wins counted big for points. Not only that, but they drew with S.A. in South Africa last series, and have now absolutely thrashed India, and beaten Srilanka. So since 2009 that is an away series win and a series draw plus three home series wins all against the top 5 placed test teams (including two teams that were ranked No 1 at series times). There is no other team in the top 5 that can claim that type of record against the other top teams in the same time period.

  • on August 26, 2011, 4:17 GMT

    While I agree Swann has been very good in recent years, it is still my opinion that Vettori is the best spinner in the world. Swann has the luxury of bowling in a good attack however, whereas poor old Daniel has so little around him that guys can just sit on him, waiting for something easier to come along in no more than 6 balls time.

  • Hindh on August 26, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    This article clearly proves that England have landed up at No 1 just by playing and winning at home but losing even against WI when away... They have to win in SA and Sub continent consistently to be undisputed No 1 and I think it is beyond them.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Hindh on August 26, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    This article clearly proves that England have landed up at No 1 just by playing and winning at home but losing even against WI when away... They have to win in SA and Sub continent consistently to be undisputed No 1 and I think it is beyond them.

  • on August 26, 2011, 4:17 GMT

    While I agree Swann has been very good in recent years, it is still my opinion that Vettori is the best spinner in the world. Swann has the luxury of bowling in a good attack however, whereas poor old Daniel has so little around him that guys can just sit on him, waiting for something easier to come along in no more than 6 balls time.

  • LePom on August 26, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    hindh88 - Incorrect.

    The reason England got to No 1. was by beating Australia, the last truly dominant team, in 3 out of the last 4 series, including the last one in Australia. Because Australia was the No 1, the wins counted big for points. Not only that, but they drew with S.A. in South Africa last series, and have now absolutely thrashed India, and beaten Srilanka. So since 2009 that is an away series win and a series draw plus three home series wins all against the top 5 placed test teams (including two teams that were ranked No 1 at series times). There is no other team in the top 5 that can claim that type of record against the other top teams in the same time period.

  • demon_bowler on August 26, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    The author apparently does not know how the ICC Reliance Rankings system works. No extra points are awarded for away wins (it's the major flaw of an otherwise pretty good algorithm). Also you cannot gain points from beating lower ranked opposition unless you do so by a wide margin. Example: India lost points by only beating West Indies 1-0. England would now gain fewer points from beating third-placed India than they have just gained from beating India when it was ranked in first place.

  • gzawilliam on August 26, 2011, 5:23 GMT

    Thats the way most teams in all sports make it to number 1 though.. Even soccer teams rely on a large percentage of their wins being at home.

    But england haven't just landed on there.. They have muscled their way up there with skill and hard work.

    I saw a bit of footage from oval test where the coaches were working with Ian Bell for his short leg catching. They had a machine setup made for short catching and made use of it.

    I doubt india or australia have been going to those lengths to improve. Actually i know india haven't. They are the laziest team in all of sport imo.

    I think england will dominate in the subcontinent the same way australia did a few years back. Lose the occasional test or series but i doubt they will fall like people think they will.

    They just have too much depth and professionalism.

  • Meety on August 26, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Just a minor point - I don't think Punter was referring to FOUR years, just the last 2. @hindh88 - the big difference is that England WIN more games - India DRAW more games. So whilst I don't begrudge India from having been #1, they were never going to hold it for long. England's away stats are superior to India with Bat & Ball. They have a better record in Sth Africa then India, but I do agree that to be dominant as a #1, (given almost half the cricketing world are in the sub-continent), they will have to win series in Asia. For India to have been undisputed #1 they had to win away from home, draws against Sth Africa (I was very impressed that they drew) & Sri Lanka was not great performances particularly lined up with a 4nil loss to England. Can India get revenge on their home soil - hell yeah, WILL they, maybe yes, maybe no, Swann (& Panesar), will be worthwhile adversaries!

  • Meety on August 26, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    @ hindh88 - worse comes to worse, when England tour India next, they might just recruit young Dockrell from Ireland as a spinning buddy for Swann!!!! LOL!!!!!

  • Truemans_Ghost on August 26, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    The English are often accused of over-emphasising the Ashes, but I think others are guilty pf downplaying it. The Ashes win was NOT at home, it was 3-1 and although they had their problems suggestions that Australia were little more than a club side are nonsense. Let's not believe a new myth that the Aussies were hopeless and the whole world knew it before 3-1 series wins do a lot for your rankings. England's record in SA isn't bad- their last trip was a draw-even if it was a skin of the teeth draw. it is hardly a final frontier. Although they haven't won a series in India for a good while, their last 2 involves a tied series and a one test loss, in the days when tey were a less good team and India were a better one. It is obvious by the nature of the rankings that, to stay there, they have to keep winning whereveer they play, which invoilves some tough overseas tests. If they win them,, they'll stay top and deserve to. If they don't they'll drop down the table and deserve it.

  • Legster on August 26, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    Meety, Dockerell, if England are interested, is quite low in the pecking order for spinners, right now the reserve spin queue includes Panesar, Tredwell, Briggs, Patel, Borthwick (IMO) and Rashid.

  • ansram on August 26, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    The results themselves do not show the differences between the English side and India side overseas. India have never dominated the opposition even when they won. Take for example, the SA series.

    First test: SA won by an innings and 25 runs. Second test: India won by 87 runs. Third test: Match drawn ( with honors even)

    England has a similar 1-1 against SA, but when they won they paid back the innings defeat. Even againt WI India did not win in a convincing manner. India do not win a series 3-0 or 4-0 even against weak oppositions and have hardly ever justified their No.1 ranking. A No.1 team must crush weaker teams and must prevail against better teams. India won quite a few matches recently but never dominated and it was only a matter of time they lost that top spot. They failed to dominate because their bowlers struggled to take 20 wickets, and until India can find world class bowlers it is unlikely that they can take the top spot and hold on to it for a long period.