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'England must beat SA to be considered the best'

Stuart Broad reflects on a summer where he has helped win the Ashes again and looks forward to trying to do it again very soon. But he knows England still have more to do to climb back up the rankings

Alan Gardner

September 18, 2013

Comments: 108 | Text size: A | A

Stuart Broad beams with delight as he takes the final wicket, England v Australia, 4th Investec Test, 4th day, Chester-le-Street, August 12, 2013
Stuart Broad twice blew teams away this season and he knows it can't be an "accident" © PA Photos
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Stuart Broad appears relaxed and contented, his manner as easy as his suit is sharp. In London to present some awards at a charity event, he is happy to chat despite being delayed for several hours on the train from Nottingham. Cricketers know a fair bit about life in transit and Broad had the latest series of Breaking Bad to divert him, as well as the comforts of first class. But still, the man who can disappear into Britain's public transport wormhole and come out the other side looking pretty chipper must be feeling good about life.

And well Broad might. Rested for the recently completed ODI series, he has had a couple of weeks to reflect on England's 3-0 Ashes victory, during which his 22 wickets at 27.45 took him to the top of the list of Test wicket-takers for 2013. His batting, too, showed signs of renaissance, with Broad facing more balls in a series than he had since 2010, when he made his only Test century against Pakistan.

Beating Australia was, he says, "really hard work", the kind of series where "you're just making a brew and then you lose a wicket and there is massive pressure back on". The respite for both teams will be short, as there are just nine weeks until the sixth Test of back-to-back Ashes begins in Brisbane. But in these brief moments, Broad is able to reflect with satisfaction on a season of sustained English success in which he has played a full part.

It may not have been this way. Less than a year ago, he left the tour of India with an injury that will likely affect him for the rest of his career. The one-time enforcer, England's fast-bowling big cat had been diagnosed with a kitten heel - a lacerated fat pad for which little could be done beyond rest and careful management - and, as 2012 drew to a close, Broad knew he faced an uncertain future. His comeback began in New Zealand, where, he says, "the first ten days I was in trouble". But he was able to gradually increase his workload, starting with the T20s and finishing the three-Test series in encouraging form. Then came Lord's, Chester-le-Street, euphoria.

"If you'd have offered me the summer we've had - beating New Zealand, Champions Trophy final, the Ashes and, personally, the summer I've had with being the leading Test wicket-taker in the world, I'd have snapped your hand off," he says. "From where I was at Christmas, to where I am now? Delighted."

During the Ashes, Broad became the 15th Englishman to reach 200 Test wickets, fittingly with the dismissal of Michael Clarke, Australia's captain, who alongside AB de Villiers is the batsman Broad has removed most times. Seven years since he made his England debut at 20, he may well have passed the halfway mark of his career as an international cricketer. It is, he says, "a bit weird when you get to an age where you think you have played more than you're going to play", but he has not begun to set targets.

"I am one of these characters who seems to thrive off a little bit of niggle, a little bit of pressure. It's quite strange, because off the field I'm quite shy, quiet, prefer to watch a bit of TV at home, but get me on the cricket field I like it all kicking off"

Several of England's higher peaks - Andrew Flintoff (219), Darren Gough (229), Matthew Hoggard (248) - are on the horizon. Broad now has 217 Test wickets, while his new-ball partner James Anderson is second only to Ian Botham, with 329. At the close of the 2009 Ashes, the 27-year-old Anderson had 140. "I feel I've learned a huge amount that I can put into hopefully my best years," is about as far as Broad will go.

"I think this year has proved my hot streaks, so to speak, are coming between shorter gaps. So I seem to be picking up wickets more regularly than I did in the past, and that's going to come with experience, knowing how to do that. I feel excited about what I could offer the team in the next four to five years, having been through bad trots with the bat as well. So it's an exciting time to be part of this English cricket team."

Has he yet decoded the formula behind those "Broad bursts", the force-of-nature displays that yielded 7 for 42 against New Zealand at the start of the summer and 6 for 50 on a charged evening to seal the Ashes in Durham? Perhaps not entirely, but he says, "It is happening a bit too regularly to think that it just happens by accident.

"I think that the older I get, the more I play, you realise when it's your time. I mean, when you look through those Durham wickets, they're not all good balls. Smith sort of dragged one on, then I was on a roll. I'd say at Lord's I probably bowled a bit better but just didn't have any luck - you get the plays and misses rather than the nicks. So I think with the experience of knowing that, it means that when you are not getting the wickets you can just hold and hold and make sure you're doing your job for the team rather than panicking and thinking you've got to bowl wicket-taking balls."

Australia have been flamed before, one of Broad's earliest displays of mercury helping to wrest back the urn at The Oval in 2009, and the contest clearly invigorates him. The pressure - not to mention the ambient media hothousing of every tiny issue - could be enough to cool anticipation of an immediate return series for some but Broad says England are "very fortunate" to have the opportunity to play back-to-back Ashes. Having been called a "cheat" by Darren Lehmann over his contentious non-dismissal at Trent Bridge, Broad is accustomed to the scrutiny and is ready for "a bit of a barrage" Down Under. Away from the game he is more interested in box sets but the middle is his boxing ring.

"I am one of these characters who seems to thrive off a little bit of niggle, a little bit of pressure," he says. "It's quite strange, because off the field I'm quite shy, quiet, prefer to watch a bit of TV at home, but get me on the cricket field I like it all kicking off. So it's something I look forward to, it will be interesting. I don't quite know what to expect but I'm certainly not expecting cheers."

After beating Australia four years ago, England mapped the route they had to take to become the No. 1 Test side in the world. Broad says they have not yet undertaken that exercise again but there is a sense that the team, unbeaten in 13 Tests, are girding themselves once more. Australia consumes their short-term future but there is a bigger, perhaps more-important, target - and a far harder beast to bring down - that England must pursue.

"I don't think we'll be classed as the best team in the world until we beat South Africa in a Test series," Broad says. "For me, watching them and playing against them, I think they're the best in the world. [Jacques] Kallis gives them a huge advantage in world cricket. The bloke's got 288 Test wickets, averages 56. So, I don't think as an England team we can class ourselves as the best until we play them, which schedule-wise is 2015-16."

Stuart Broad didn't walk after edging to slip, England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day, July 12, 2013
Never one to shy away from getting under the skin of the opposition © PA Photos

It is two winters until England next visit South Africa to take on the team who swept them aside 2-0 at home last year and left with the ICC Test mace. That, Broad says, is a shame. "Our next stepping stone to being the best team in the world has to be to beat South Africa wherever we play them. But that's miles away, it's too far for me to even consider."

England's players have often spoken about how "making history" motivates them, and winning in South Africa for the first time in more than a decade is a decent-sized carrot. They will get plenty of stick in Australia over the next few months, too, but attempting to become the first England side to win four Ashes series in a row since the 19th century is, Broad believes, plenty of motivation to keep them focused on the task at hand.

Broad, as Anderson and Graeme Swann have in recent days, cheerfully accepts that England did not play their best cricket in beating Australia. That, he suggests, is a reason to be confident they will hit the return series even harder. There is also a personal mission for Broad, for whom it was "heartbreaking" to have to return home from the last Ashes tour and miss out on the final three Tests, the sackings of Melbourne and Sydney and a first triumph in 24 years. The thought of playing on pacier pitches is enough to make his blue eyes twinkle again.

"We're in a good place as a team and it's exciting to think we won a series 3-0 but know we weren't quite there, we weren't quite at the races all the time. Being in that changing room and knowing that we weren't quite as good as we could be gives us every incentive to work harder, to go and win in Australia. There's a huge hunger for that and no fan needs to be concerned that the guys won't be properly on it."

Winning is a tricky habit to acquire, far easier to misplace and England's capacity to grasp the important moments in a Test was evident during the summer. "We'll find a way to win a half hour that will eventually win us the game, and you need that as a cricket team," Broad says. An experienced team, in which four players are approaching 100 Tests, gives England a wealth of knowledge on which to draw, and that will inform the campaign ahead. As for the perception that Australia were somehow unlucky, and might have won two, three Tests had the dice fallen differently, Broad responds with a wry smile, informed by his own 62-Test career.

"It could have been 5-0 to us. That's not how sport works, is it? At the end of the day it's a stats, result-driven business. You get judged on your results. Of course your performance is important but… That's why I'm not a big predictions man. You look at this series coming up, no one knows what is going to happen, but you have to prepare yourself better than the opposition, you have to train, do your analysis better than the opposition to give you the best chance to win. So yeah, Australia had chances to win Test matches in England, there's no doubt about that, but they won none. That's the bottom line, really."

Broad's personal balance sheet, meanwhile, looks ever more impressive.

Stuart Broad was supporting the Chance to Shine campaign to keep cricket alive in schools. The Cricket Foundation's programme has brought cricket to over two million children since 2005. Just £15 pays for a year's coaching for one child. Donate at Chance to Shine

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Liquefierrrr on (September 23, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

@Shan156 - Firstly, I'm Australian. Secondly - I didn't mention that SA were a great side, I simply pointed out that rankings-wise and educated opinion shows that SA are miles better than anyone out there at the present.

This includes England.

Thirdly - where are you pulling Philander from in my writings? Feels like you wanted to exorcise an agenda in relation to Philander, whose early Test career is peerless when looking at the raw statistics.

Re: Kallis - you may be right, but that is no consolation or of no relevance to the here and now. That's like saying (in 12 years time South Africa won't have AB de Villiers, so let's see how they go then). Essentially anyway. Nobody plays forever is my point. Kallis will go eventually but until he's gone that's irrelevant.

Swann and Anderson have averages of 28 and 30 and not for no reason. Swann is a very good spinner for his time, heck we'd kill for him, but that average stays at 28. Good, but not great. Same with Anderson.

Posted by applethief on (September 23, 2013, 5:03 GMT)

@Shan156 It's a little convenient that you insist on using the arbiter of Ajmal's success as how he performs in India - convenient that you pick a yardstick that cannot be used. There's only one party that refuses to let Pak v India tests go ahead, and that's India. They refuse to let Pakistani players in the IPL, so you don't even get to see Ajmal play T20s in India to debunk the myth that India are good players of spin (Which Swann and Panesar have already done). Ajmal wasn't half bad in the last ODI tour where Pak beat India in India, was he? It's a little hollow that you're hiding behind an impossible target to try and place a thin veil over admitting that Ajmal's the best spinner in the world right now. Inspired by your reasoning, I hearby declare Swann a useless spinner as he's failed to prove himself by playing on Mars. Let's see how many people agree with that, shall we?

Posted by applethief on (September 23, 2013, 3:14 GMT)

@Shan156 Why aren't you replying to the comments that have challenged and debunked your theories? Esp. where your whole "Ajmal hasn't performed around the world" idea falls flat? And what's with the "statistical" argument between Ajmal and Swann for 2010? Ajmal was the visiting spinner, played fewer tests than Swann in the series, yet maintained a healthy average and strike rate. You might want to look further into the wicket count, it might have had something to do with the Pakistani seamers taking the lion's share of the wickets (this was, after all the series where Amir and Asif were swinging it round corners before they ran afoul of the authorities). Swann's a talented spinner, sure, but he came out 5th in the UAE series - he was outbowled not only by his partner Pannesar, but by Ajmal, Rehman and even Hafeez in that series. If you come out 5th out of 5 in 3 straight tests, that's not a blip, that's just evidence that he wasn't the best.

Posted by   on (September 22, 2013, 22:12 GMT)

@shan: it's weird how you consider Swann better than Ajmal. It's actually laughable considering the stats of both these men. It's like saying Wasim Akram is a better bowler than Masrhal or Lillee or even Steyn because he didn't get good bowling pitches like the others did. Just rubbish mate!

Posted by   on (September 22, 2013, 22:07 GMT)

@sham156: I agree with almost everything you said. I don't think anyone has said that Ajmal is the greatest ever spinner. That is just the bigger overstatement ever. However currently he is the best spinner by a distance. You say he hasn't played in all parts of the world? Except for Australia, he's played in every country. And he's done very well I must add. Early on in his career I remember him taking 5 wickets in a match against England in that controversial 2010 series, and in SA he got 10 wickets in a match. I'm not sure how he'll do in Australia, but for a spinner in English and especially SA conditions, that's really impressive!

Posted by Shan156 on (September 22, 2013, 3:15 GMT)

@Muzammil Jable, When you guys can claim that Philander is better than Marshall when he is yet to play a single test in the sub-continent, then there is nothing wrong in claiming Dhawan will take him to the cleaners. How come only English seamers need to prove themselves in the sub-continent to be considered even just good enough while other country bowlers are considered the greatest ever even without playing a single test in the sub-continent? Ajmal is yet to play all around the world and prove himself in all conditions, yet he is considered the best ever spinner. Now, that is rubbish.

Posted by   on (September 21, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

@Shan. more rubbish from you mate. Pointing out a single test in philanders career is really strange. has every great bowler never gone wicketless? congratulations. making assumptions that dhawan is going to smash the SA bowlers (like the englishmen presumably) for someone who never played in South africa? by that token we could assume philander will run through India?

Posted by Shan156 on (September 20, 2013, 19:22 GMT)

@Tanvir Ahmad, it is you who understands little about cricket. Pak. losing to lowly Zimbabwe is no big deal but Eng. losing to #1 SA is a shame, is it? Yeah, we all understand that. Philander has had a better start than most but he is yet to play in India or SL. We all saw how miserably he failed in the first test in Australia. And, you haven't seen Dhawan yet. Wait and see what he is going to do to the Protea bowlers. And, if you guys claim that he is unproven in SA, then even Philander is unproven since he hasn't played a single test in the subcontinent. Yet, Philander is a great. Talk about hypocricy.

Posted by Shan156 on (September 20, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

@MrGarreth, Congratulations for exposing the hypocricy in my post. Let's see that now, shall we? Yes, WI did not have a great spinner, we all know that. But, they had 4 great fast bowlers plus more waiting in the bench that they never needed a spinner. SA has one great paceman - Steyn. Philander is unproven in the subcontinent where Marshall wreaked havoc. Morkel and Abbott are great bowlers for SA but not for the world. We all saw how Morkel struggled in India. They don't even belong to the same class as Gillespie and Lee. It is true that Aus. had only 2 great bowlers and a few other merely good bowlers but that is why having a spinner of the class of Warne was such a huge advantage for them. Finally, the Windies had the guts and talent to field 4 pacemen in India. Can SA do the same?

Posted by Shan156 on (September 20, 2013, 19:09 GMT)

@Tanvir Ahmad, shows how little you know. Ajmal outbowled Swann in the 2010 series, did he? Let's see. Swann took 22 wickets at 12.22 with a SR of 29.1. Ajmal took 12 at 29.41 with a SR of 62.5. UAE is still spin-friendly but Swann plays the majority of his cricket in England. So, yes, Ajmal has better numbers than Swann and he may possess the doosra but has a questionable action and is yet to prove himself in Australia and India. I am not saying Swann is better but let Ajmal prove himself first all over the world. And re: Swann admitting Ajmal is better, sure, Swann is not going to say he is the best. So, there is little to read there.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2013, 17:02 GMT)

Shan 156- Most pundits including Swann himself accept that Ajmal is the best off spinner in the world for the simple reason that he posesses the "doosra" which Swann doesnt. Ajmal outbowled him during the 2010 series in Eng and again in UAE. Also see overall figures below : 1. TESTS Ajmal has 147 wkts from 28 matches @ 26.78 with 4 x 10wkt hauls Swann has 248 wkts from 57 matches @ 28.55 with 3 x 10 wkt hauls At this rate, Ajmal is on course to have 50 wkts more and twice no. of 10 wkt hauls with better average when he has played same no. of matches 2. ODIs Ajmal has 146 wkts from 92 games @ 22.92 with 2 x 5wkt hauls Swann has 104 wkts from 79 games @ 27.76 with 1 x 5wkt hauls.

Please note that Ajmal doesnt play any home tests on turning pitches and UAE isnt Pakistan

Posted by landl47 on (September 20, 2013, 15:30 GMT)

It's been good to see how Broad has improved as he has gained more experience. If he can stay fit, I think he is the key bowler for England in the upcoming Ashes series. Anderson was brilliant in 2010/11, but this time I think Broad will be the man. The secret is not magic, it's consistency.

As for SA, by the next time England plays them, they'll be a different side, as will England. Kallis will have gone, Smith, Amla and Steyn will be near the end of their careers and who knows whether ABD's back will hold out. England will likely be without KP, Trott and Swann. I think England's pool of exciting young prospects is much deeper than SA's, but there's no way to predict how they'll come together as a side.

Broad was there when England failed to top SA in 2012. He'll likely be there for the next shot, but it will be two different sides. That's the nature of the game.

Posted by applethief on (September 20, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

@Shan156 Sounds like sour grapes over Ajmal mate. Most teams would love to have him. And you're very inaccurate about him only performing in the UAE. He's got 10 wicket hauls in West Indies and South Africa (think it might have even been 11 on WI). He's played a test in England, and if you watched him, you'd see he was a nightmare to handle there as well. This idea of India being the best players of spin is a myth that should have died out long ago. Just look at how they failed to handle Swann and Panesar last time they faced off. And it's not good saying Ajmal's not proven himself against India - there's only one team that keeps refusing to play tests in a neutral location, and it's not Pakistan

Posted by applethief on (September 20, 2013, 14:43 GMT)

@JG2704 re the consistency issue, I think scheduling has a part to play in this, I don't think England are managed well in the FTP, considering how many tests they play. The NZ tour came straight after 4 tests in India, which is a tough place to tour. Especially draining for non-sub-continental teams, away from home playing in the heat for long periods. By and large, the team doesn't get much IPL time there either to be familiar with the environment. And on the flip side, their long layoff between India in 2011 and Pakistan in 2012, the team looked out of shape. KP admitted his own fitness was low, and their calamitous "going back and playing across the line" response to dedicated (but not prodigious) spin showed they were out of practice.

The 2012 summer was better, a decent break between West Indies and SA - England were still overpowered by SA, but I don't think we can say that England underperformed in that series.

Posted by Jda123 on (September 20, 2013, 14:41 GMT)

Beating SA... I don't know.

You got JK, Amla, Smith, AB then Philander, Steyn, Morkel

Posted by JG2704 on (September 20, 2013, 11:36 GMT)

@icfa on - I'm not sure if ICC awards more points for away results as compared to home results. If not they should do for sure. Eng play pretty much the same amount of tests/series at home as they do away which anyone can work out if they look through the series results on the Eng home page. Yes I can understand what you're saying re playing less matches can show a false reading but by the same token doing it this way , no one can say "They only have more points because they have played more matches" In an ideal world there would be a standardised length for a test series (maybe 4?) and all teams would play each other home and away within say a 3-4 year period or however long it takes. Unfortunately it's not always an ideal world

Posted by JG2704 on (September 20, 2013, 11:35 GMT)

@legsidewide on (September 19, 2013, 21:54 GMT) True , re SL but by the same token in UAE our batsmen should have won us at least one of the 3 tests if not 2. However I am also sceptical that Eng has what it takes as it stands. Too inconsistent - I'd say drawing in NZ (which could/should have been a defeat had BM either made Eng follow on or not batted on so long or of Prior didn't stick superglue to the bails lol) after winning in India shows this.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (September 20, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

Would have been nice if Eng was touring SA in 9 week's time instead of another 5 tests down under now that India has refused to tour SA. I don't think I have the patience to wait til 2014-15.

Posted by Vic010 on (September 20, 2013, 10:49 GMT)

Wow, Dhawan will be in totally foreign conditions. Good luck against Steyn & co. He did say he liked the ball coming onto the bat, the faster the better. That's good because he'll get it faster than he has ever had before on fast wickets with bounce. All totally foreign to him as well, when you think all he has had to do so far is basically put his front foot down the pitch and hit through the line on an absolute road.

Posted by siddhartha87 on (September 20, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

It's difficult to compare teams from different era but out of the teams i have seen Aussie 2003-07 was the best by some margin.They beat every team during that time beat them comprehensively.The world put everything against them. Remember the series against WOrld XI.They even whitewashed them in ODI's and test. And for the information the World XI team had 1. Sehwag 2.Smith 3.Kallis 4. Tendulkar 5.Lara 6 Dravid 7.Flintof in their line up and all were at their peak then.Man i miss that domination to be honest. They were truly champs.Presently no team is that dominating.No one can claim themselves to be world beaters.Even South Africa has not won a series against India in last 4 years. India lost to England and Australia. England lost to South Africa.And south africa drawed the last home series against Australia.The world cricket is full of mediocrity at the moment.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2013, 9:31 GMT)

Shan156- You really dont understand cricket at all my friend if you think Dhawan will put Philander in his place and that Philander is no Marshall. Philander has a better start to his career than Marshall and has potential to be an even better bowler. Check out what Aussie and English bowlers did to Indian batting on seaming pitches and then work out what SA bowling might do to them. Is it surprising that BCCI dont want to play them??. Actually just check out what Junaid Khan did to Indias best batsman, Kohli on seaming pitches in India last Dec and you can work out what challenge Dhawan might have against Philander and co.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2013, 9:21 GMT)

Shan156- Pak can be unpredictable and we wont lose sleep about losing the odd test to Zimbabwe. We are capable of recovering by beating SA at home(last time it was 0-0), which would be better than what Eng managed against them. Eng will get thumped down under but I expect them to thrash India again next year. Its a fact Eng will always fear Pakistans talent like no other country, pls thank us for Eng developing a world class spinner and learning what Reverse Swing. Certainly you would not be a top side without these skills. BTW all these comparison about SA and Eng, for sure SA are different class even though they lent KP, Trott and Prior ie all playes with SA background.

Posted by SaffaSeano on (September 20, 2013, 9:18 GMT)

It always amazes me, yes you are the top wicket taker but have played double teh amount of test than guys like Dale Steyn and he only has 12 less wickets..strike rate far more important!

Posted by MrGarreth on (September 20, 2013, 7:52 GMT)

I just want to point out hypocrisy on the part of @Shan156: You say West Indies and Australia are the 2 great sides and that SA aren't a great side because they don't have a great spinner. West Indies had a great spinner? Pray tell who this mystery person is? As far as the history books have lead me to believe, Windies were at the peak of their power with an all seam attack and rarely relied on their spinner even when they had one in the side. Plus I've read through all the comments and I've yet to see anyone say SA are up there with those 2 sides. Do they have the potential to be? of course they do. Go look at their unbeaten run with regards to both matches and series. The bitterness is what is most astounding in your post. And btw the Aussies and WI did have weak links but they're strong links weighed it out to such a degree that it became unnoticeable. eg: the Aussies never had a world class allrounder nor a spinner that could cope with Indian conditions but it didn't matter.

Posted by SICHO on (September 20, 2013, 7:12 GMT)

And then you mention Dhawan putting Philander in his place, last time I checked that's what every batsmen of each country he plays against is suppose to do, but non of them succeeded, he just keeps getting wickets and at some point bitter fans like you should accept it, he's here to stay. Dhawan in his short career has never played on a pitch where even a single ball deviated and you expect him to handle the SA attack, something other batsmen can't do, even England batsmen (we won 0-2 last time we were there didn't we?). To me comparing sides/players of different eras is ridiculous, the game has changed a lot. Its a shame that there are still bitter and arrogant fans who hate to see other sides succeed if it's not their side. This SA side might not be The Invincibles but they deserve respect in their own right, this comparing thing is just ridiculous and should stop.

Posted by SICHO on (September 20, 2013, 6:58 GMT)

@shan156, "some of you claimed that Tahir was SA's Warne" could you kindly mention the names of those who made that claim because it seems you are the only one who saw that comment. England couldn't beat the Indian side that had the likes of Laxman, Dravid, Tendulkar (younger), Kumble and Harbhajan something that SA regularly did, you beat a side that were almost all out of form and and its an achievement, come on! I wonder why people keep on comparing the SA attack with Windies attack, those guys were bowling on uncovered pitches! I bet Morkel and Steyn can be unplayable and cause havoc on those of pitches. The fact that SA doesn't have a quality spinner highlights how good the pace attack is, I just can't imagine England without Swann. The Aussie side of the late 90s-2000s was great side because they had a superb batting line-up, McGrath and Warne, all the other pacers were just good bowlers, you wouldn't call the likes of Lee, Kasprowicz, and Gillespie legends would you?........

Posted by Shan156 on (September 20, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

@Tanvir Ahmad, re: domestic infrastructure and budget, ZC is no better than Pak at that but they still defeated you. At least they don't make excuses like you do when they lose.

Posted by Shan156 on (September 20, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

@Liquefierrrr, England may not be a great side but neither are SA. They are the best right now, that's it. You must be a SA fan. You talk as if SA are equal to the great Windies and Aussie sides. Those sides swept everyone before them and had few weak links. SA don't have a decent spinner leave alone a great one even though some of you claimed that Tahir was SA's Warne. SA are yet to win in India and are yet to beat home. Even India drew a series last time they toured. And Dhawan is sure to put Philander in his place and expose him for what he really is. You speak as if Philander is Marshall. How many tests has he played in the sub-continent? Let him perform there and we will talk. Kallis won't play forever and then we will see how good SA really are.

Posted by Liquefierrrr on (September 20, 2013, 3:58 GMT)

Good interview from Broad - he has every right to feel secure in his own game and within the English ranks after a good Ashes and an overall good year.

His batting also looks settled again, which is a huge and dangerous asset for England as their top-order are definitely grafters. When Prior, Broad and even Swann (though less and less these days) get going they can score 100 runs between them in 15-20 overs and change the tone of the innings and even the game.

Oddly enough, Broad's best spells in the recent Ashes contest often reaped him few wickets, but his presence was well-known, as was the pressure he applied with some hostile bowling.

And he is right - England, for all their sore-winning fandom on these forums and ridiculously OTT and troll-esque newspaper headlines (both of which the world laughs at heartily from afar), are miles behind SA in the test rankings. That is formally and also when viewing the teams side-by-side.

Posted by Liquefierrrr on (September 20, 2013, 3:51 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge - nice try, but England have daylight between them and SA, the rest is pretty close to be honest. In fact Eng and Ind are tied right now

England beat a severely weak Aus team, and so they should have, and beat India in India (which is a good feat). But no, nobody seriously believes that England and SA are at all close, nor that there is daylight between anyone else and England.

10 points for effort, as always, but be serious mate. I agree that Steyn and Amla are awesome players, add Kallis, Philander and de Villiers to that list too.

Anderson and Swann are very good in the context of England's history of players, and reasonable in their present era and that's where the buck stops. Both have average averages and will retire with figures that aren't even as good as Gough, Caddick or Fraser - all of whom are never spoken of anymore.

And Cook's ashes against a horrid Aus side was appalling, average 27, s/rate 36 and terribly defensive and one-dimensional captaincy.

Posted by crick_sucks on (September 20, 2013, 3:48 GMT)

and to add further to my previous comment, I would like to see more weight-age given to away wins compared to home wins. Odds are heavily stacked in favor of the home team so to even that out one must always play a equal number of home and away matches and if that is not possible(as it is presently) then more weight-age should be given to away wins.

Posted by crick_sucks on (September 20, 2013, 3:43 GMT)

@ JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 9:48 GMT) : It is really simple you play just 1 game and win it then your win ratio is 100% compare that to another team that has played 3 and won 2. Who is better according to you? The win/loss ratio doesn't clearly depict the real picture. I took smaller numbers just to clearly illustrate the difference. So I feel more weight-age should be given to teams playing more cricket.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (September 20, 2013, 3:29 GMT)

By 2015/16 theres no way the South African side will be of the same pedigree, Kallis will surely be gone, Smith will be a season away, and Dale well, you never know when a fast bowler will break down. But i guess so too will England, Swann will be at his end as he is 34 at the moment, Kp and trott will be close, Jimmy might still be there.

Posted by   on (September 20, 2013, 3:17 GMT)

I don't see SA losing their No.1 ranking for quite a while. What is amazing about them is that everything they could need is contained within an eight-man team: Smith/Amla/de Villiers/Kallis/du Plessis/Steyn/Morkel/Philander + 3 random fielders I would rate above a full-strength England side, even. They have five of the best batsmen in the world and three of the best bowlers and within that the most experienced skipper, all of whom you can expect to do their job consistently well. With the three extra spots they can faff about putting in whoever they need, such as Abbott or Duminy and not worry about them as the weak links because their eight-man core is so good.

England and India by contrast have cores that are nowhere near as solid. It's going to take a lot of retirements for SA to drop to second...and the only one very close to retirement is Kallis. Smith even is so experienced yet still has 4+ years left in him. It's incredible.

Posted by Shan156 on (September 19, 2013, 23:49 GMT)

@Milhouse79, how can Saeed Ajmal be the best spinner in the world when he is yet to prove himself in all conditions? Surely, the standards have to be the same for all players, not just England's. So-called neutral fans don't even accept James Anderson and Graeme Swann as club level bowlers because they average 30 and 28 respectively. Never mind the fact that they have played more tests and all around the world. Ajmal's successes have mostly come in friendly conditions in the UAE. The guy averages in triple digits in Australia (although he has played only one test), over 58 in NZ (again only one test), 33 in SA (Swann's is 31.38), and 30 in SL (Swann's is 22.18 although he has played only 2 tests there). Ajmal is yet to face the best players of spin - India - in a test (Swann averages a very respectable 28.96 over 6 tests in India). He did bamboozle England and WI and credit to him but let him play more tests in all conditions and then we will see if he can still be called the best.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 23:44 GMT)

Deuce03 - There is no doubt that Eng are much better and more consistent than Pakistan at present. This is mainly due to a more professional set up, not being deprived home Tests like Pakistan and plenty of cash to develop the pool of resources they have. Its obviously not comparing Apples and Apples anymore. It has always been a contest between Pak pacers and spinners against Eng batsmen but with departure of Asif/Amir its a no contest. But credit to Eng for the way they beat India away as to me thats bigger than winning Ashes against a weak Aussie side.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 23:26 GMT)

@Shan156- I am not saying Pak are a better side at present than Eng but for sure we have dominated you a fair bit in the last couple of decades. Yes you do have a better record against other nations but that was hardly the subject of debate. Please also not forget that Pakistan hardly play any matches at home these days and dont have the domestic infrastructure or budget to develop the talent compared with ECB. Despite that we have given you plenty of trouble over the years and for sure you were worried in 2010 when Amir and Asif were all over you and on the verge of a 2-2 drawn series. Also, its funny that when Wasim/Waqar were dismantling you with reverse swing it was called cheating and now Broad and Anderson do it so of course its a natural art ;)

Posted by markatnotts on (September 19, 2013, 23:24 GMT)

@Milhouse79, can people on these forums stop peddling the lie that Ajmal "chucks it". He is clearly within the current rules and is an absolute pleasure to watch. The last rule change happened because many fast bowlers were involuntarily straightening their arm at delivery far more than was obvious to the naked eye.

Posted by applethief on (September 19, 2013, 23:21 GMT)

@JG2704 you're right in the timing of the series, though the plausible 3-0 to SA over NZ and all else the same would have cost England their place at the top of the pile. Think it was it rain in Hamilton that messed up South Africa's plans... Do you think that if SA had whitewashed NZ, the added pressure would have galvanised England to perform better in the UAE with their ranking on the line so soon after they had won it? There was an awful lot of chest-beating and bravado after the India win, with the team talking of building a legacy and it being a culmination of a decade of planning; it would have been embarrassing to lose it on their first assignment. I enjoyed the context and content of the UAE series, but it might have been even more fun with the extra spice of England's ranking on the line. As it was, they didn't deal well with a little bit of pressure, as seen in the second test, but seeing how much they privileged their ranking, it might have created more stubborn resistance

Posted by applethief on (September 19, 2013, 23:00 GMT)

@Milhouse79 everyone seems to forget that it was actually Ajmal's "teesra" that actually undid England in the UAE: the one that comes around the wicket and looks like Abdur Rehman.

Posted by applethief on (September 19, 2013, 22:54 GMT)

@JG2704 it's a good point about England's progression in the subcontinent throughout 2012, however, I am still sceptical over their ability to deal with a halfway decent bowling attack. Their drawn series against SL was more down to a KP special than the team showing marked improvement. India's inability to even field a passable second seamer towards the end of their series v England spoke to their lack of ideas and options, instead opting for 4 "specialist"spinners, 2 of whom were inevitably underused. I don't think this team of players has what it takes to be regarded as "the best" on the world while SA are around in their current shape, but perhaps Cook will lead a stronger side in the future (batting-wise, at least, as the bowling unit in tests is strong)

Posted by TheDoctor394 on (September 19, 2013, 22:22 GMT)

A lot of sensible talk from Broad - keeping his feet on the ground, and being a realist. Good stuff.

Posted by noimagination on (September 19, 2013, 21:18 GMT)

All this ranking talk is boring and meaningless. The reason to follow cricket is because you enjoy the contest - who comes out on top is secondary. As a South African, I'm just really sorry that our test side plays as few tests as it does - I feel as though Dale, Hash and AB are going to retire before I've had my fill of watching them :/

Posted by Jaffa79 on (September 19, 2013, 20:47 GMT)

Much ado about nothing here. England were pasted by SA and there is space between the two sides but England are a very comfortable second in the world. Broad acknowledges this. It is hardly news! The Indian fans need to remember recent results (not too good eh boys?) and that they are going to get flogged here next summer! Anything less than a whitewash would be a failure against that mob of fat, lazy, gutless cricketers. Yes, England did lose to Pakistan in conditions that they struggled in against the magic of Ajmal, who is clearly the best spinner in the world, even if he does chuck it. Others may struggle there too! Pakistan have just lost to Zimbabwe so lets not get too carried away with them shall we?

Posted by JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

@legsidewide - Eng certainly need to show more consistency. It's like the series in UAE undid what Eng did at home to India and the series in NZ undid what they did in India. Although it's interesting that you mention the stats from the SC. 3-0 in UAE was woeful but if one looked at it from a different angle they went from losing 3-0 in UAE to drawing in SL to winning in India , in which case England have been getting better in SC. Re being more accurate about SA becoming number 1. 1 - The NZ series was after Eng became number 1 so that result would not have meant they became number 1 before Eng 2- The NZ result alone would not have had SA becoming number 1 so the earliest they could have become number 1 was after the Pak/Eng series provided Pak won like they did

Posted by Shan156 on (September 19, 2013, 20:02 GMT)

@Suleman Toor, uh? didn't we just beat India in India? C'mon, that was less than a year ago. Last time I checked we also beat Aus. in Aus (2010-2011). It is funny how some of these fans post about Eng. without knowing facts. Someone claims that we have to beat Pak. also to be considered the best. Not really. Steve Waugh's team didn't beat India in India and yet they were the best of that time. I think WI didn't beat NZ in NZ and struggled against Pak. during their reign as the best team. India have never won a series in Aus. and SA but then no one questioned their reign as #1. I guess the rules are different for England.

Broad simply said that they cannot become the best without beating the team that is ahead of them in the rankings. We have beaten the team that just trails us both home and away. I guess it makes perfect sense. He also acknowledges that series is far away and a lot could change in between.

Posted by ReverseSweepIndia on (September 19, 2013, 18:06 GMT)

cntd.. and in any way I do not want to demean Eng. They have played good consistent cricket overall and in qualifying period won more matches than anybody else bar SA to be ranked #2. My original comment was in response to chest thumping FFL.

Posted by ReverseSweepIndia on (September 19, 2013, 17:58 GMT)

@Shan156, you may consider it funny but it isn't. Against SA you lost, you lost against Pak and I won't consider rest of teams (no dis-respect) but we have defeated them as well. So out of 4 major opposition you lost 2 and won 2. I said u were lucky that opponents are either in transition or playing badly, I did not used the term both. To make it straight India played badly and Australia are in transition.And about considering the possibility that Eng made India play badly, no, that's not the case. And yes, not your fault that we played badly. We played badly because we had horses who were pass their use by date. And I am not claiming that Dhawan is going to be better than Sehwag in career. But he is better than walking wicket Sehwag. Pujara is able replacement. Kohli has started to show credentials in tests too. I admit that these guys needs to be tested outside Asia, but they still would be better than what our greats had fallen to in their end time. cntd..

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 17:34 GMT)

broad needs to calm down a have beaten england 2-0 b2b in england in last few years .one test win over sa wont make them number 1 .they are on 116 rating points same as india.a full 19 points behind will take few series losses by sa to be surpassed by any draw by england cud push them below india in 3rd rank.

Posted by Shan156 on (September 19, 2013, 17:25 GMT)

@Tanvir Ahmad, Yes, we have lost to Pak. several times between 87-96 (when we were a poor side) but Pak. has not won a series in Eng. since 1996 while Eng. won a series in Pak. in 2000-2001. We also have better results against other teams than you do. We drew our series in SA while you lost 0-3. When was the last time you won a test, leave alone a series, in Australia? Oh, I remember those whitewashes against Aus. both in Aus. and in neutral territory. Remember when Pak. could not score more than Hayden's 1 innings score in 2 innings combined (59 and 53, lol).

Finally, we have never lost a test to Zimbabwe but you did. Yet, you guys have the gall to claim that you are the only genuine threat to SA's position as #1. What a joke.

cricinfo, please publish.

Posted by Shan156 on (September 19, 2013, 17:15 GMT)

@ReverseSweepIndia, that is about the funniest thing I have heard even though we have heard it before too. England beat India because they were in transition or playing badly. Who asked them to play badly in the first place? Have you considered the possibility that England may have forced them to play bad by playing...better? Even we could claim that Pak. beat us because we played badly or SA beat us because we played badly. Everyone can use that excuse.

Unlike some of you, we admit that Pak. and SA beat us because they played better cricket. We beat India and Aus. because we played better than them.

We saw Dhawan. Yes, he is exciting but is he the finished article? But, how many tests has he played and how many outside home? Are Indian fans already claiming he is the replacement for Sehwag (who himself was mostly a failure against England)?

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 17:02 GMT)

Broad, let's just concentrate on the upcoming away Ashes series and put the mediocre Aussie side in their place.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 16:59 GMT)

@Suleman Toor: "England needs to beat some one outside England to be considered the best!"

Like India, perhaps?

But then, South Africa are a whole different kettle of fish compared to the average Indian Test side.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 16:27 GMT)

in the last 4 away series against what i would call the top 4 inc themselves. they have beat Australia they have beat India and have drawn against south africe. those stats alone means we deserve 2nd spot on merit. before writers complain, please read my piece ( away from home. ) only the saffars can say they have a better record hence they are top.

Posted by hnlns on (September 19, 2013, 16:14 GMT)

Might also say "with less dependence on poor decisions like the howlers we saw in that Ashes series" if England are to be considered real champion team. Broad himself was the center of controversy in one of those howlers.

Posted by DingDong420 on (September 19, 2013, 16:13 GMT)

concentrate on the upcoming series, we know what happened last time you players got excited

Posted by applethief on (September 19, 2013, 16:07 GMT)

@JG2704 To be more accurate, the reason SA didn't become #1 earlier was becuase it rained in New Zealand last time they were there. Otherwise, they would have been the reigning #1 side before they showed up in England.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 15:56 GMT)

England needs to beat some one outside England to be considered the best!

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 15:53 GMT)

one cant say england has won the ashes,its the combined effort of south african, of the world,right now england has to develop players born,spent in england not like cherry picking players from Ireland,scotland......and with a week australian team right now losing 4-0 against India,england players should think they didnt win by5-0 they almost lost their 3 match but the weather saved them.

Posted by applethief on (September 19, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmperor Migration happens, especially to a multicultural country like England. However, you do have a point, a lot of the sporting success in the England cricket team has been down to much more mercenary motivations. The likes of Morgan, Rankin and other Irish players who have test aspirations will jump ship, and plenty of South Africans have come solely for cricketing opportunities and money rather than legitimate migration. People like to point out contrary examples, but I think they are comparing apples and oranges. Imran Tahir married a South African and moved to be wit his wife. Fawad Ahmed came to Australia in tough circumstances. England, though, turns out players who used to represent other countries quite often.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

We (South Africa) are waiting for you, young man. Enjoy your success. 2015 won't be fun!

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (September 19, 2013, 15:35 GMT)

Some interesting thoughts Pearsfan... I don't subscribe to the point of view that Test Cricket needs saving, but an interesting proposal nonetheless. Some extra spice over and above bragging rights would be good. I've never been a big fan of Chris Broad's with his bang it in short of a length approach. I'll have to reassess after his brilliant summer and the results he has delivered over time. I am already looking forward to Newlands test on Boxing Day 2015! A few cold castles and some great cricket!

Posted by applethief on (September 19, 2013, 15:31 GMT)

Need to do a bit more than just beat the number #1 side to be called the best. There's plenty more in-between that they haven't proven they can do. Pakistan took down the #1 side in a whitewash last year, but no-one got carried away enough to say that they were the best. England have won 3 of the last 9 tests they've played in the subcontinent, and lost 5. Their last tour to the West Indies wasn't exactly spectacular either.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (September 19, 2013, 15:21 GMT)

@siddhartha87, I agree india is largely untested with its new line up out, and it will be interesting to see how they play in England next year, Especially looking forward to watching Pujara bat. As usual theres still the big question mark over SRT, and when will he retire after that its a relatively young team and if the develop it should be a good tussle for number one over the next few years with England, India and SA all looking to create a sustainable position.

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (September 19, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

First let us see if they could beat Australia down under.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (September 19, 2013, 14:57 GMT)

"James Anderson is second only to Ian Botham, with 329 [test wickets]. At the close of the 2009 Ashes, the 27-year-old Anderson had 140"! That's an incredible observation/stat, and just shows how much Anderson has improved over the latter years and how bad/shaky a start he had to his career. I must admit I was one of the many doubters in his early years in test whites, but there's no denying he's a vital cog in England's bowling line-up these days.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

@2nd_Slip - Many thanks for the flattery. I think Smith himself at times was overcautious and had he not been as cautious SA could have been no 1 sooner. Personally I feel we're overcautious and more importantly too rigid with our plans. Even in ODI cricket KP is starting to play like Bell/Cook in terms of attacking intent. The NZ series (where we just had enough time to force the win) for me was a classic example of Eng being over defensive. Had we drawn the game we'd still have won the series but probably dropped a ranking point and those habits can catch up with you (and the points you let slip add up) and you're not going to be quickly catching up with SA who already have a huge lead if you let those opportunities slip. You have to weigh up the percentages/risks and the likelihood of Eng not getting enough play in to beat NZ was always going to be greater than that of NZ following on and then winning the game

Posted by JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 14:53 GMT)

@gsingh7 - Broad isn't presuming anything. Probably is showing a level headed side by acknowledging SA are ahead rather than a jingoistic approach (you know the type I mean) in pretending Eng are better than SA right now. I realise you're not really into reading others posts but if you read one of my earlier posts you will realise how the ICC rankings work - so that it doesn't work against teams who have played less games. SA are leagues ahead , Eng are marginally ahead of India. SA have played 24 matches and have 3240 points and their points ranking is 135 and guess what figure you get if you divide 3240 by 24? With India and Eng it's the same - actually both are slightly below the listed 116 as it is rounded up. Eng are on 115.973... and Ind 115.766.... which is how Eng come to be marginally ahead on the actual table

Posted by jmcilhinney on (September 19, 2013, 14:44 GMT)

@Arthaurian on (September 19, 2013, 9:40 GMT), I agree that SA don't play enough Test cricket but that doesn't make their being #1 any more or less impressive. The rankings are normalised so a team with 10 wins and 10 losses from 20 games will achieve the same ranking as a team with 20 wins and 20 losses from 40 games.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (September 19, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

Fairly obviously in spite of Australian claims it could have been 5-0. He's right. Look at the results and stop speculating, Australia. I was always irritated by Hussein's term the 'Enforcer'. It smacked of sensationalism driven by too ,much imagination. Maybe Nasser sees himself as the' Terminator'. He really does lose it sometimes. Overall I thought Broad was brilliant this year;initially unlucky, he found reward at Durham.( I think Durham needs to host a lot of Tests-lovely venue.) He is now in his pomp and should be a handful for many teams. And the batting as ever is infinitely watcheable when functioning.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (September 19, 2013, 13:31 GMT)

@gsingh7, thats assuming that the India tour goes ahead, and india woulhave to hope that SA lose to Pakistan 2-0 and they beat SA 3-0 (should the tour go ahead).

Personally 2 test series shouldnt be allowed,

Posted by gsingh7 on (September 19, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

india a and england are joint second and sa number 1 in official icc ratings india played fewer tests than england still have 116 rating same as england . sa have 135 but they played even fewer tests than india. any indian victory over sa in upcoming series will make india closer to top spot and clear second best team in the world as according to official icc approved and deduced test team ratings. these ratings are true as they are facts based not some assumptions.

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (September 19, 2013, 13:00 GMT)

@ JG2704 once again your comments and views are a pleasure to read. I personally think the main reason why Eng probably get as much stick from opposition fans i.e. Indian and Australian fans, is largely due to the fact that you cant help but look at the English team and think they are capable of dishing out better performances than the usual safety first non-inventive same old approach which they(apart from KP) dish out series after series. Don't get me wrong that is a good approach if you have a good experienced captain who knows how to lead from the front and knows how and when to go for the kill during that approach like Greame Smith does with his SA troops. Lets face it SA also has the same approach but have mastered it to perfection. Just like Braod says in the article the one major difference that sets SA miles ahead of the rest is in the form of, Amla,Steyn,Philander,ABD and most importantly Kallis. Who in my opinion are just miles ahead of what any test team can put together.

Posted by gsingh7 on (September 19, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

why is broad presuming that england and sa be fighting for top spot in few years? may be by then they are number 2 and 4 in test rankings then his presumptions for fighting for being best team wud seem far fetched. sa have to play on rank turners of uae where england were whitewashed. maybe pak can win all tests there and gap between india and sa reduced before sa plays on rank turners of india in future. anything cud happen and its foolish to think thAT England will be best test team by just beating sa. rankings at that time wud matter more.

Posted by Deuce03 on (September 19, 2013, 12:57 GMT)

Tanvir: You're right to say that England have lost a number of series over the years to Pakistan, especially in the late 80s and 90s when Pakistan were the best, or close to the best, team in the world and England were very poor. However, when comparing more current editions of these sides, over the last four series, or the last ten years, England have beaten Pakistan twice at home, and lost to them twice away. That suggests two teams who are now relatively evenly matched when they play each other, rather than Pakistan being routinely dominant. Compare India and Australia in the 90s/00s when both sides would win at home and lose away. Not that this England side is comparable to that Aussie one, but it goes to show that you don't have to beat everyone everywhere to be great or #1.

By the same measure, though, it is undeniably true that Pakistan have proven one of the more stubborn obstacles for England. Other than SA they're the only team England haven't beaten home and away.

Posted by dogcatcher on (September 19, 2013, 12:54 GMT)

Maybe the ECB should trim or scrap the 5 tests series with India next year and arrange one with the CSA. A better contest and just rewards for the way the BCCI have treated CSA. :)

2015 is way too far away.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 12:47 GMT)

@tanstell87 - ctd . Also saw my side Somerset suffer similarly vs Warwicks as NZ vs Eng - non declaration first of all. The 1 difference was that NZ's mistake was wanting too many runs/against time to bowl Eng out but at least they batted with urgency whereas Somerset didn't show that much urgency with the bat and a little more urgency and they'd have had another hour or 2 to bowl Warwicks out in. You have to judge each game/situation on it's merrits but I would as a whole say our approach is rigidly overcautious.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 12:42 GMT)

@tanstell87 - Hello. Sorry but I'm not sure I agree with you re the safety first approach - not all the time anyway. I think there are times when it is the right approach to play that way. Despite all the criticism I think they played the right way in the final test despite it being an ugly spectacle. However vs NZ they almost snatched a draw from the jaws of victory by 1stly not making NZ follow on and then not batting with much intent for much of the 2nd inns before declaring. Lucky the NZ batting was woeful and the weather was not as woeful as predicted otherwise there would have been no win and when you start dropping wins , you start dropping points and momentum. We saw NZ being ultra safe (in choosing too many runs on the board against time to bowl Eng out) vs Eng in the final test and that definitely cost them the win. Then you have Clarke getting criticism for not declaring earlier (IMO a bit unjust as he had no idea of how much weather was about)

Posted by Sirchris on (September 19, 2013, 12:34 GMT)

Interesting that much is made of Broad being the leading wicket taker for 2013 - looking down the list what is striking is that most of the top ten wicket takers have an average that is in the 20s or 30s. The one that really stands out is Dale Steyn who has taken 33 at an average of 12.36, compared to Broad's 45 at an average of 25.42

The fact that Dale Steyn is not top of the list is purely down to the relatively small number of tests that SA play - which makes the current BCCI / Lorgat / CSA scandal about the upcoming India / SA test series so much more disappointing!

Posted by HumungousFungus on (September 19, 2013, 12:27 GMT)

It is somewhat disappointing that England will not play South Africa until 2015-16, as it is likely that the compositions of the respective teams will have materially altered in the meantime. All of KP, Trott, Prior, Swann, Anderson, Smith, Kallis, De Villiers, Steyn, Philander will be some way into their thirties by the time that this series is played, and the dynamic of world (Test) cricket could easily shift in the meantime if these teams lose some or most of these players. It is equally disappointing that there is currently such a gap between SA, Eng, and the rest in Test terms. England have played average cricket and beaten Australia comfortably, and are likely to have to do no more than this in the return series. I am in no doubt that all of the India tests next Summer will be on fast, bouncy wickets, which will deliver another comfortable series victory. In the meantime, SA struggle to play Tests at all, which will presumably keep them at number 1 for some time yet!

Posted by zoot on (September 19, 2013, 12:26 GMT)

Broad is stating the obvious as a quick glance at the rankings confirms. England were inconsistent against Australia and should concentrate on retaining the Ashes rather than anything else. It's going to be harder in Australia.

Posted by tanstell87 on (September 19, 2013, 12:12 GMT)

@ JG2704 - agree with you buddy....Indian fan here...they are too much defensive in ODIs...dont know why....i seriously felt KP should have been batting at 4 & Trott was made to open with Carberry...anyways a full strength English team made the final of Champions Trophy.....regarding tests that is what every team does - making the game safe first & it isnt exactly a wrong approach...

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 12:06 GMT)

@Deuce03. Here are some pointers to prove that for sure Pakistan have been Englands bogey side over the years. Pak beat Eng in their backyard in 1987, 1992 including a 2-0 hammering in 1996 The series in 2001 where Ws were not in prime was still drawn at 1-1. Eng beat Pak at home in 2006 easily whilst in 2010 despite a young Pakistan batting line up they were on the verge of a 2-2 drawn series at Lords with Eng 90-7 till the Spot-fixing saga happened. Pak thrashed an Ashes winning Eng side at home 2-0 in 2005 and then whitewashed the no.1 ranked Eng side 3-0 in 2010 in neutral territory in UAE.

What do you say now????

Posted by Pearsfan on (September 19, 2013, 12:04 GMT)

It's an aberration that, with India ducking out of their tour of SA, the world's top side might not play either of the contenders for its crown (India and England) until 2015.

They should schedule test tours on a ladder system so that each team plays the team ranked immediately below it in a minimum of 3 tests. Whoever wins moves up a bracket, whoever loses drops down to a bracket . Drawn series could be decided on net run rate.

That way every series would have significance and every series the top team played would be a challenge for its crown.

ODIs could be organised separately, rather than tacked onto test tours, to allow for more lucrative games.

This kind of radical thinking is needed to save test cricket. It would mean ECB and CA relinquishing their precious guaranteed regular Ashes tours and would require revenue pooling to ensure all series were viable. But in the long run competitive, meaningful test cricket would be in everyone's interests.

Posted by Sir_Ivor on (September 19, 2013, 11:55 GMT)

South Africa's 2-0 beating of England in England last year is a fair reflection of the comparative merits of the two side.Because it happened in the Ashes, beating Australia 3-0 in England is not really up there because it is an open secret that Australia is in a sorry state at the moment, as was best illustrated in the manner they were beaten in India earlier apart from the rumblings that caused the ouster of their coach Arthur just before the commencement of the last Ashes series.The other thing is that though England won that 3-0 close watchers will acknowledge that it was a grossly misleading bottom line.With a bit of luck it may have been 2-2.While it is true that England have a terrific bench, they have to win consistently in South Africa,and Australia before they can be said to have shed the blues of not so long ago.Broad and others have no doubt won the bragging rights thanks to beating the old enemy but beating South Africa and even Australia in the return Ashes will be tough

Posted by DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on (September 19, 2013, 11:26 GMT)

white washed by pakistan and lost 2-0 to south africa. Clearly england needs to go long way to be called dominant in test.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 10:50 GMT)

I'm not sure Eng will become number one again in the foreseeable future and I feel they often play like a team which is very happy to be number 2 compared to desperate to be number one. I feel we play to make the game safe first before going for the win , which I also feel has much to do with Eng's seeming lack of popularity among other cricket fans. This is prob why Eng's win over Aus in 2005 was greeted with universal respect was not just because they won but the brand of cricket they played. I also wonder about the team's (lack of) ability to change tact in must win games. I even feel Eng are overdoing the defensive bit in ODIs We may even slip to number 4 or by the same token pull away further from Aus/India after the return leg of the Ashes - a series which will tell us more about our progression.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

@ icfa on (September 19, 2013, 7:52 GMT) But there has to be a best team even if it is because every other team is so poor. No Eng are not the best side at the moment. SA are clearly the best side right now with Eng some way behind and Aus/India closely behind Eng in a 3 way battle for 2nd which could see several changes over the next few years. I genuinely don't understand what you're saying about playing more = your win,loss,draw ratio changing. Your ratio changes because of your form and the ICC calculate their team rankings by dividing the points gained by the games played so you don't get the "it's unfair because this team has played less games" accusations.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 19, 2013, 10:48 GMT)

@ReverseSweepIndia - No no no. Both India and Eng became number 1 because at the time they were better than all the other teams over the qualifying ranking period.

SA didn't become number 1 earlier because they drew too many series (which maybe they should have won). I believe that from mid 2007 to when Eng became number 1 the only top 4 side SA beat was Aus in Aus and Aus beat SA in SA the very next series. They beat Eng in Eng in Eng in 2008 but I'm not sure Eng were top 4 then. SA have been on top in some of those drawn series but you get points for results and ICC don't take bad luck into consideration.

Obviously Eng benefitted hugely by beating the number 1 side 4-0 but the rankings system works by being rewarded more points for beating better sides and dropping more points for losing vs sides ranked lowly as Eng did vs Pak. But even if you did it by just awarding points for wins and draws SA would have had too many draws to be number 1.

Posted by Arthaurian on (September 19, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

SA simply do not play enough test matches. Yet besides that they are always either number 1 or close to number 1, which is undoubtedly admirable. The problem is that they are too passive to challenge the FTP

Posted by milepost on (September 19, 2013, 10:29 GMT)

@F-F-L, I'm not sure you're the one to lecture people on bitterness! South Africa are by far the best side playing (or not depending on the BCCI) Test Cricket and England are more the pedestrian with the rest of the group, not at the top. Many posters were saying how poor, how dismal the Aussie side was yet gloat about England's greatness? They hammered Australia in one game? How great are they really?

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (September 19, 2013, 10:12 GMT)

I would respect England's achievements only if I see their team sans people of South African/ Pakistani/Indian/Irish/West Indian extract. In athletics too, one sees a lot of sportsmen of Ethiopian/Kenyan/Somali extract performing for many a country so that they can win international medals particularly in long distance track events. Such methods may not constitute cheating technically speaking, but then they do little to build national pride and honor. Peoples of certain nations are definitely better in certain sports. When countries use people with roots in other nations, to significantly advance their own standing in international sport, then it hardly accounts for much by way of achievement. That's my view, though many, who cannot accept the truth and validity of it.

Posted by hhillbumper on (September 19, 2013, 9:31 GMT)

is there anything that an England player can say without certain fans getting up in the air and going on about how England don't do this or that.For all you Indian fans just one point.Have you ever won in South Africa or Australia? In that case how did you ever become number 1? You beat a poor England team while they were struggling during the Moores era.Apart from that series England have owned you so perhaps it is time you kept quiet not that it will happen.At least Pakistan can win abroad.

Posted by Deuce03 on (September 19, 2013, 9:31 GMT)

Right now, South Africa and England are in a different league to everyone else. They're also in a different league to each other. India and Australia are ahead of the rest of the pack, but we won't know how close they are to challenging SA and England until next year. As for England beating Pakistan, it's not necessary to win every series to be the #1 side, or even a great one. How many times did Waugh's Australia win in India? It's also easy to forget that England smeared a very good Pakistan team - one with probably better bowlers than the 2012 edition - all over the place in 2010 even before the fallout from spot-fixing gutted the Pakistanis. It's not like Pakistan are England's bogeys, they just had a bad series.

On the article, thoughtful stuff from Broad, which possibly shouldn't be surprising, but he can come across as a bit brainless on the field. Hopefully this side of his character will continue to develop and come through; he could make a good captain one day if so.

Posted by tamperbay on (September 19, 2013, 9:27 GMT)

Fair enough. If England can get to the #1 ranking, maintain it, and beat SAf in SAf, they could rightfully call themselves the #1 team, and I would have to admit that. But it still holds true that to do that they would have to not lose test series in the meantime. Broad is thinking ahead to 2015 but they still have to succeed in 2013 and 2014 to be able to call the SAf v Eng test a battle for #1. And to most people they haven't showed enough dominance to be rightfully confident of that. I agree that the England team wouldn't care less about my opinion. Its obvious the only thing they care about is the result - not the style in which they achieve it.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 9:07 GMT)

Why even talk about it when a meeting between the two sides is two winters away! And right now there is no just comparison between South Africa and England despite them being ranked no. 1 and no.2 respectively; South Africa is way ahead of England in every aspect.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (September 19, 2013, 9:04 GMT)

England still have an awful lot of work to do to become deserved number one team. Even if they beat Australia down under in the upcoming Ashes series, we're still going to hear lots of moaning about how "raw" and "unsettled" the Australian test team is, and the comparisons with South Africa will never stop. Therefore Broad is spot-on: the only way to silence those doubters is to beat the best. I think England have the right players: Compton opening with Cook, Trott and KP bolstering the middle, Bell and Root anchoring the lower-middle, Prior keeping, Swann spinning, and then whichever three seamers are fit and in good form (another spinner used in spin-friendly conditions) - makes a cracking team, with decent fringe-players waiting on the sidelines. The one key component England is missing is a genuine all-rounder ala monsieur Kallis.

Posted by   on (September 19, 2013, 8:55 GMT)

Stuart Broad showing his genius here. Yes, actually being able to beat the world number 1 team WOULD prove that England was, hypothetically number one. Actually being able to get the ICC #1 ranking would be something else that could do. Was anyone saying England was the best? Other than the usual chest-beating suspects in these comment sections?

Posted by crick_sucks on (September 19, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

WI were the best team before AUS took over. After that there never has been a best team. And ENG certainly with some favorable results at home can't consider itself best, just yet. Beat all other teams in all conditions home and away for a considerable period to earn the tag. Stop the wishful thinking. Forget ENG I don't consider SA as the best team at the moment for one reason that they don't play enough cricket compared to the other top teams. Just look at how many matches they have played. Even the ODIs. It has been like this for more than a decade. You play more, win/loss ratio will change and also the wear and tare of the players which affects the rest of the top teams. SA has been immune to this. How irregular it is to see a top SA player out with an injury that is because they play far less compared to others. The rankings must take this angle as well in their calculations on team rankings.

Posted by ReverseSweepIndia on (September 19, 2013, 8:05 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge agree :) its daylight between SA and Eng. SA are undisputed #1 while Eng are manipulative ranking's distant #2, just like dey were #1 with it and just as we were #1 with it. Luck play a factor in these rankings (SA were just unlucky when they did not got it early, and only deserving team while they are out there). You are winning because? Toured NZ who could not close a embarrassing deal on you. Defeated us (twice, but good it happened who our selectors realized that every good things comes to an end and they need to be replaced. See Dhawan) Defeating Aus? When your whole first XI retire, its gonna take some time and even then if that Dreadful Review System had some call here instead of there, they would have gone with same scoreline as ODI's. You went to Pak in gulf and won 3-0, I give it to you. Oops, lets not talk about it. Well, everything above can be called an excuse. But reality is Eng was winning because other teams were either in transition or playing badly.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (September 19, 2013, 7:42 GMT)

@tamperbay on (September 19, 2013, 5:25 GMT), if England have better results than everybody else then they can rightfully call themselves #1, whether they beat Pakistan or not. You don't have to win every series to be the best; you just have to be better than everybody else. If England can't beat Pakistan then they certainly can't claim to be great the way WI and Australia teams of the recent past were great, but you don't have to be great to be #1. Would anyone dispute a tennis player being #1 because they couldn't win the French Open? Of course not. I doubt they'll care all that much what your opinion of them is.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (September 19, 2013, 6:51 GMT)

These days there are too many jealous people who can't get over the fact that South Africa and England are the two best sides in the world, with daylight between them and anyone else. There again, England have spent the last 5+ years hammering Australia and some Aussie fans can't even accept that. What's great for cricket lovers is that we can witness such awesome players like Steyn, Anderson, Swann, Amla and Cook ply their trade on the world stage. Cricket is about enjoyment not bitterness.

Posted by highveldhillbilly on (September 19, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

I wonder if England will pull out of the series against SA in SA in two years time because they don't like the schedule? Unlikely!

Posted by tamperbay on (September 19, 2013, 6:25 GMT)

I agree with @jimbond. Apart from beating SA in 2015/16, to rightfully call themselves #1 they'll have to beat Pakistan, and also win every other series between now and then - starting with the Ashes down under. If they do that, learn how to play more positive, attacking cricket, and not resort to cynical unsportsmanlike conduct like time wasting, and having their bowlers feigning cramp so that they can go off the field for a rest, then to me they'll classify as a 'great' side. Somehow I can't see any of these things happening, especially with their mind-set of results being more important than performance, or being models for sportsmanslike behaviour.

Posted by Crickeyvet on (September 19, 2013, 5:20 GMT)

English batters bar KP and Bell lack the flair required if they are to be Number1. They are quick to err on the side of caution.that's not how champion sides play! Compare with steve waugh's side, or even the current SA side. Trott vs Ponting vs Amla. Then Cook vs Hayden vs Smith. Then KP vs Martyn vs Kallis. Then Prior vs Gilly vs AB. Bairstow vs Duminy vs Symonds/katich. Any wonder y Trott made England side, but never S.A? Too conservative, too limited, little flair. At that rate, Eng will Never hold down a number 1 spot!

Posted by jimbond on (September 19, 2013, 5:07 GMT)

I guess England also have to beat Pakistan to be considered the best

Posted by tanstell87 on (September 19, 2013, 4:22 GMT)

Indian fan here....yes South Africa & England are top 2 teams in test cricket right now....The Proteas are way ahead of the rest...England are close behind...while all the rest are catching up...India with the young guns has a good chance to topple Saffers in their own backyard if the test series takes place which is unlikely at the moment...Broad is unplayable when he bowls like he did in 4th test 2nd innings...

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