December 31, 2011

The day-long menace of the relentless collective

The marvel of England's worldbeating fast bowling attack is how it transcends the sum of its parts
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England's ascent to the top of the world Test rankings was marked by two contrasting but complementary features. On the one hand their batsmen moved collectively into the zone, and with seven double-centuries in the space of 15 months, they made it their duty to turn every start into a grandstand finish.

But those feats would have counted for little had England's bowlers not also raised their own games, and with a tally of eight innings victories in the space of 13 Tests, the net result has been one of the most impressive periods of dominance in the team's Test history. At the same time, England's one-day cricket has continued to flounder for a coherent strategy - which is proof, perhaps, of just how good those best efforts have turned out to be in the long-form game.

The real wonder of England's run of results has been the everyman nature of the contributions. Other sides can claim to possess more fearsome or inventive operators, with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and, when fit, Zaheer Khan among those who would give England's ensemble a run for their money. But when it comes to the relentless pursuit of breakthroughs - be it through hours of strangulation or flashes of inspiration - few can match the day-long menace that England currently provide.

England's statistics for 2011 are especially revealing. Four of the five bowlers vying for top billing in the year's averages are fast bowlers - James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan. Each claimed between 21 and 35 wickets, at sub-30 averages and with economy rates of no more than three an over, but not one of them was able to feature in each and every one of an unusually light workload of eight Tests.

Far from being a fatal flaw in England's bid for Test supremacy, that interchangeability turned out to be a serious strength. After the euphoria of the 2010-11 Ashes victory, it proved to be the team's first line of defence against fulfilment - one of the many factors that brought about England's demise after the 2005 triumph - while at the same time it broadened the squad's experience and so reduced the reliance on inspiration that has so often been the source of teams' downfalls.

In England's recent history there was a time when the performances with the biggest impact on team morale were those that had already been and gone. Steve Harmison, to name but one notable example, spent most of the final four years of his Test career failing to recapture the menace of his pomp, and succeeded only in muddying the waters on the infrequent occasions when his radar found its range - much as Mitchell Johnson's Perth rampage hoodwinked the Aussies into thinking they were back on an even keel during last winter's Ashes.

Then there was the thorny issue of Andrew Flintoff - England talisman and heartbeat of the dressing room during the 2004-05 zenith under Michael Vaughan, and seemingly indispensable right up until his final Test appearance, in the 2009 Ashes. That, however, ignored the fact that Flintoff had missed as many Tests as he had played in the preceding four-year cycle, and it wasn't until England were able to achieve closure on his career that plans for the future could be forged and players such as Anderson could emerge from his immense shadow.

The progress of England's attack in the past two years has been astonishing, and in 2011 a new candidate for attack leader presented himself for duty almost on a match-to-match basis. Anderson has consolidated his status as the Test team's first-pick bowler, but when he succumbed to a side strain in the first match of England's home series against Sri Lanka in May, it was the formidable Tremlett who took up the cudgels with a brace of irresistible spells in Cardiff and at the Rose Bowl - the first of which inspired England to an extraordinary innings victory in 24.4 overs of Sri Lanka's second dig.

No sooner had Tremlett laid bare his credentials, however, he too found himself on the outside looking in, as a back spasm paved the way for the unheralded Bresnan to take his personal Test record to ten wins out of ten with a series of performances that were belligerent and disciplined in equal measure, and included, at Edgbaston, one of the balls of the year to dislodge the otherwise imperturbable Rahul Dravid.

It was Broad, however, who ended up as Man of the Series against India with his own renaissance display, and by the end of England's international programme, on their otherwise ill-fated tour of India in October, the fastest and most accurate speedster on display was none other than Steven Finn. Ten months earlier in Australia, he had been England's leading wicket-taker after three Tests of the Ashes but had been discarded for his profligacy. MC Escher himself would be proud of such seamless overlaps.

The preferred method of England's bowlers has been Spartan in the extreme. No one exemplifies this better than Anderson, the reformed loose cannon whose finest displays these days are as remarkable for their economy as their impact. He conceded his runs at 2.93 an over in 2011, compared to the 3.81 he used to leak in his early days in the England set-up, prior to his recall against India in 2007 - the first series in which he hinted at the onset of maturity.

Under the tutelage of England's bowling coach David Saker, the former Victoria seamer who favours mindset over mechanics, Anderson has resolved to eliminate the four balls that used to litter his performances, and in so doing, he has made himself a threat at both ends of the wicket at once. If he's not claiming the breakthroughs himself, the chances are that his colleague at the other end is cashing in on his parsimony, given that many modern-day Test batsmen, schooled on the urgency of one-day cricket, break into a cold sweat when the scoreboard is too slow-moving.

In a man-for-man comparison, England's quicks of 2011 might struggle to outshine the legendary quartet of 2005 - Anderson might slot in for Matthew Hoggard, but Flintoff, Jones and Harmison in their pomp would be harder to displace. However, the squad mentality that has been cultivated in recent campaigns is something that few captains in Test history would be willing to trade for a better model

The method that England have employed is hardly groundbreaking. When the West Indians were at the height of their powers in the early to mid-1980s, their awesomeness stemmed as much from the expectation of excellence as from the pressure they exerted on their opponents. With just four precious berths in the attack, and a production line of replacements bubbling up from the islands, every spell was an event of multi-faceted importance - for the man with the ball in his hands as much as for the batsman getting ready to receive it. And yet, crucially, the bowlers in both instances recognised that the best response to that pressure was to put team glory ahead of personal gain.

England's attack wouldn't ever pretend to be cut from such ferocious cloth, but the similarity is telling - just as it was in 2005, when England last boasted a pace attack with the credentials to subdue the best. In a man-for-man comparison, the quicks of 2011 might struggle to outshine that legendary quartet - Anderson might slot in for Matthew Hoggard, but Flintoff, Jones and Harmison in their pomp would be harder to displace. However, the squad mentality that has been cultivated in recent campaigns is something that few captains in Test history would be willing to trade for a better model.

"The great thing about our bowling unit is that we genuinely take as much pleasure in each other's successes as our own," said Broad during the summer. "It doesn't matter who takes the ten wickets. When I was a kid and a fan, I got the impression at times that Darren Gough and Andy Caddick were almost competing against each other to take wickets. We put pressure on together and squeeze the opposition as a pack."

The evolution of England's attack has undergone four distinct phases since the days of Gough and Caddick. First there was the scattergun selection of the early Vaughan years, when James Kirtley, Richard Johnson and Anderson Mk 1 were all tried, tested and found wanting. Then there was the brief but glorious alchemy of the 2005 attack, which in turn gave way to an era of round pegs in square holes, as England attempted to replace the irreplaceable with tyros such as Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett, neither of whom was really given a chance to be his own man.

The catalyst for England's new approach came arguably in the spring of 2007, when Peter Moores - a man whose brief tenure is starting to be seen in a more favourable light - dispensed with Duncan Fletcher's obsession with 90mph bowlers, and turned to the yeoman service of Ryan Sidebottom and his left-arm swing. At the time it seemed something of a novelty to pick such an unglamorous player and trust him to do what he had done for years on the county circuit, but it was the beginning of a new era of laissez faire from the management.

For two unstinting seasons Sidebottom shouldered the mantle of attack leader, to provide England with an alternative to the men whose best years were behind them, and to show the younger men alongside him, most notably Anderson and Broad, that whatever special skill or speed you may be able to impart on the ball, there's no mode of delivery quite as effective as the timeless virtues of line and length. When every candidate for selection buys into that single truth, it becomes quite a recipe for success.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY GeorgeWBush on | January 3, 2012, 19:34 GMT

    The England & Wales test cricket team needs to win abroad in India, Sri Lanka and against Pakistan and to beat South Africa over a test series to be truly considered the best in the world. So far the test side has beaten or drawn with the teams they have come up against for the last few years. We will see if they can keep it going. given the age of the England side they have a couple more years before any changes will be expected (expect for injury or serious loss of form) so they have a chance to cement their No1 ranking. It won't be easy though. Pakistan will be a really tough challenge and the series with South Africa in England will be very closely contested. The biggest test of all will be the tour of India though. England have a terrible record in India and will need to consistently post large batting totals to have a chance there.

  • POSTED BY GeorgeWBush on | January 3, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    I think most people in England would agree with the sentiment of the article - that the England & Wales cricket team doesn't contain any stand-out superstars but have found a way to perform far above expectations. England are ranked as the No1 test side because they have consistently won series over the last 2 years. Only time will tell if that success continues. Pakistan will be a tough challenge for England that all cricket fans will enjoy watching. Personally, I can't wait.

  • POSTED BY on | January 3, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    shan thats wat m saying austlia are a great teamindia won series in england and drew in 2007 even came close ro winning in 2011 in sa but just one odd test in aussies and this year england beat injured indian side and there record in india everyoneknows

  • POSTED BY on | January 3, 2012, 14:33 GMT

    but mate now they have won nows its term to prove that they can winoutside england

  • POSTED BY RoJayao on | January 3, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    The Poms are the best team in tests and have the best attack without a doubt, despite the parochial calls of other countries fans. However to the smarmy Pommy supporters who think they'll dominate for years to come, while your bowlers are good, your batters, despite career best years from Cook, Bell and Trotts, is unlikely to be the same for long or as good. You only have to see the laughable state of your limited overs game to see that England's depth is still rather shallow.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | January 2, 2012, 6:11 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta - very well put. When you see Trott and KP winning matches, you can't really call it an English win.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2012, 1:46 GMT

    lol@Jonesy2, RandyOZ & the usual subcontinental suspects pretending to rate England's attack as the 4th or 5th best in the world. Do you guys need reminding that we didn't just *beat* Australia & India: we ANNIHILATED you; we ground you into the dirt. The young Aussie pacers are certainly showing a lot of promise - as are Yadav & Aaron for India - but with neither Australia's nor India's batsmen having a clue how to counter-attack against the pace, bounce & swing of Tremlett, Anderson, Broad, Finn & Bresnan, we'll be dominating the Aussies & Indians for years to come - starting with the Indian tour in 2012.

  • POSTED BY Captain_Oblivious on | January 2, 2012, 0:40 GMT

    Nice article Andrew. It's the strength of their 2nd attack that tells the full story. At first I couldn't believe that Onions wasn't chosen for the Australia tour, but after the series i could see why! Anderson has received much praise over the last few years, but I believe Tremlett is their best. He was absolutely outstanding in Australia. Good lord, I really can't believe these Indian fans. What is wrong with them? They always talk about performing on Indian pitches, but I've always maintained that Indian wickets make for soft cricket where less than courageous batsmen can plant the front foot forward and hit through the line. Real cricket is played on grassy wickets, for real men.

  • POSTED BY brittop on | January 1, 2012, 23:03 GMT

    @apoorv: and they hadn't won in Oz for ages either, so what's that prove. (BTW India hadn't won in England for 21 years prior to 2007).

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    Broad, fin and swann are the only ones that can perform well in the subcontinent. As far as anderson is concerned , we'll just have to wait and see. He has alot to prove this year. I think that Pakistan has the best bowling attack in the world atm simply because our bowlers have the ability to 20 wickets regularly in asia something that SA couldn't against us. Then comes australia's which is then followed by england's bowling attack. But i see broad and fin having a good decent year. Swann might do well against us and the sri lankans but against india in india he is definately going to struggle.

  • POSTED BY GeorgeWBush on | January 3, 2012, 19:34 GMT

    The England & Wales test cricket team needs to win abroad in India, Sri Lanka and against Pakistan and to beat South Africa over a test series to be truly considered the best in the world. So far the test side has beaten or drawn with the teams they have come up against for the last few years. We will see if they can keep it going. given the age of the England side they have a couple more years before any changes will be expected (expect for injury or serious loss of form) so they have a chance to cement their No1 ranking. It won't be easy though. Pakistan will be a really tough challenge and the series with South Africa in England will be very closely contested. The biggest test of all will be the tour of India though. England have a terrible record in India and will need to consistently post large batting totals to have a chance there.

  • POSTED BY GeorgeWBush on | January 3, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    I think most people in England would agree with the sentiment of the article - that the England & Wales cricket team doesn't contain any stand-out superstars but have found a way to perform far above expectations. England are ranked as the No1 test side because they have consistently won series over the last 2 years. Only time will tell if that success continues. Pakistan will be a tough challenge for England that all cricket fans will enjoy watching. Personally, I can't wait.

  • POSTED BY on | January 3, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    shan thats wat m saying austlia are a great teamindia won series in england and drew in 2007 even came close ro winning in 2011 in sa but just one odd test in aussies and this year england beat injured indian side and there record in india everyoneknows

  • POSTED BY on | January 3, 2012, 14:33 GMT

    but mate now they have won nows its term to prove that they can winoutside england

  • POSTED BY RoJayao on | January 3, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    The Poms are the best team in tests and have the best attack without a doubt, despite the parochial calls of other countries fans. However to the smarmy Pommy supporters who think they'll dominate for years to come, while your bowlers are good, your batters, despite career best years from Cook, Bell and Trotts, is unlikely to be the same for long or as good. You only have to see the laughable state of your limited overs game to see that England's depth is still rather shallow.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | January 2, 2012, 6:11 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta - very well put. When you see Trott and KP winning matches, you can't really call it an English win.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2012, 1:46 GMT

    lol@Jonesy2, RandyOZ & the usual subcontinental suspects pretending to rate England's attack as the 4th or 5th best in the world. Do you guys need reminding that we didn't just *beat* Australia & India: we ANNIHILATED you; we ground you into the dirt. The young Aussie pacers are certainly showing a lot of promise - as are Yadav & Aaron for India - but with neither Australia's nor India's batsmen having a clue how to counter-attack against the pace, bounce & swing of Tremlett, Anderson, Broad, Finn & Bresnan, we'll be dominating the Aussies & Indians for years to come - starting with the Indian tour in 2012.

  • POSTED BY Captain_Oblivious on | January 2, 2012, 0:40 GMT

    Nice article Andrew. It's the strength of their 2nd attack that tells the full story. At first I couldn't believe that Onions wasn't chosen for the Australia tour, but after the series i could see why! Anderson has received much praise over the last few years, but I believe Tremlett is their best. He was absolutely outstanding in Australia. Good lord, I really can't believe these Indian fans. What is wrong with them? They always talk about performing on Indian pitches, but I've always maintained that Indian wickets make for soft cricket where less than courageous batsmen can plant the front foot forward and hit through the line. Real cricket is played on grassy wickets, for real men.

  • POSTED BY brittop on | January 1, 2012, 23:03 GMT

    @apoorv: and they hadn't won in Oz for ages either, so what's that prove. (BTW India hadn't won in England for 21 years prior to 2007).

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2012, 18:43 GMT

    Broad, fin and swann are the only ones that can perform well in the subcontinent. As far as anderson is concerned , we'll just have to wait and see. He has alot to prove this year. I think that Pakistan has the best bowling attack in the world atm simply because our bowlers have the ability to 20 wickets regularly in asia something that SA couldn't against us. Then comes australia's which is then followed by england's bowling attack. But i see broad and fin having a good decent year. Swann might do well against us and the sri lankans but against india in india he is definately going to struggle.

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | January 1, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    @RandyOZ, you rank the English attack above India's? That's a surprise. Considering that you put the 'green but talented' Aussie attack above England's proven attack, I would have expected you to rank the Indian attack higher too. Obviously, you have disappointed some of the Indian fans.

    These struggling journeymen, cannon-fodders and useless bowlers were the ones who blitzed your batsmen last summer to win 3 tests by an innings at your home. And, you have the gall to call them useless? Worry about your batting mate. India may yet win the next 3 tests and considering that SL is performing well in SA, Australia's ranking might slip below NZ's (even they won a test in Australia recently).

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | January 1, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    @Apoorv Pandey, Anderson has only played 3 tests in India and has taken 10 wickets at a very respectable average of 29.30. Zaheer averages 34 but, obviously, he has played more tests there. What do you think of Dennis Lillee who took just 3 wickets at 100 each in Pakistan? Is he a poor bowler too? And, if Sachin is such a great batsmen why does he lose his wicket time and again to a poor bowler like Anderson? Regardless of the conditions, he should be smashing him to all parts of the ground, correct? Just so you know, Anderson has claimed Tendulkar's wicket a few times in India too.

    Yes, England have not won a test series in India for the last 26 years. Definitely bad. But, India have *never* won a test series in Australia (or SA, for that matter). Do you have anything to say about that? Do you accept that India are home bullies too?

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    dont tell me what anderson averages in india dude we know past 25 years england not wan series in india atleast india won in 2007 england are good in homw conditions

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | January 1, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    The English attack you'd have to rank below Pakistan, Oz and SA. Swann has less than 200 test wickets even though everyone makes him sound good. Considering he's 32 he'll be gone soon. Tremlett and Bresnan are cannon fodder, Finn is pedestrian compared to Pattinson/Cummins, Broad is useless outside England and Anderson is a struggling journeyman. They are going to be blitzed by Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta when bemoaning "true blue blooded Englishmen", by which I think you insinuate, only those born in England (or Wales?), then best not to use that Indian fella, Colin Cowdrey as an example ;-) And has Alistair Cooke's holiday to the Isle of Wight counted against him in the foreigner stakes?

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    @maximus6: what you have to remember about the 2005 attack is that they helped defeat a near full-strength Australian team - Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Martyn, Katich, Clarke, Gilchrist, Warne, McGrath, Lee and Gillespie. It was a team that had just conquered India in India and SL in SL. They routinely thrashed SAF home and away and 18 months after 2005 they rolled England 5-0. And yet, in 2005, they conjured an Ashes regaining win against the odds. They were a fine bowling unit. The current unit are yet to be severely tested against a full-strength, experienced, in-form batting line-up.

  • POSTED BY er.Vaibhav on | January 1, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    let england play some series in subcontinent...everyone will know the truth

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | January 1, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    If Anderson is a poor bowler then what does that make Sachin who has lost his wicket to him 8 times for very little? The fact that Anderson ranks alongside bowlers like McGrath and Murali as the bowler to have dismissed Sachin the highest number of times is testament to the fact that he is a very good bowler. No, I am not comparing him to McGrath. He is not as consistent but he is a talented bowler and anyone who can dismiss Sachin that many times ought to be good. @aracer, I was going to ask about Cook too. England's bowling attack is all English and Cook and Bell are as English as they come too. People like Jose simply cannot digest the fact that England are the #1 team in the world and hence try to find all the excuses under the sun to denigrate the team. For all we know, these Joses might be naturalized citizens in another country enjoying the same rights and privileges as the native citizens. Yet, they cannot accept that the likes of KP and Trott enjoying the same rights.

  • POSTED BY me54321 on | January 1, 2012, 3:26 GMT

    Looking forward to these upcoming Asian series'. Then all these people who say England can only bowl and win in helpful conditions will have to find something else to spout nonsense about. People shouldn't base their arguments on what's happened in the distant past, but should look at more recent events. If you want to go back to the past, I seem to remember Nasser Hussein leading a far less impressive England team on quite a successful subcontinent tour. When England are good (not very often), we can win on those pitches. On the other hand of course I could be proved wrong, and I may have to avoid reading these comments pages for a while.

  • POSTED BY ampshare on | January 1, 2012, 3:00 GMT

    Cook and Bell are English and.... Strauss is no more South African than Colin Cowdrey was Indian or Ted Dexter Italian.

  • POSTED BY Nerk on | January 1, 2012, 1:12 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta - D'Olivera the first major import? England has always used players born in other countries. How many Scots have captained the side? Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans, Indians, Irish, people born in malta, greece and almost everywhere have played international cricket for England. Just because you weren't born in a country does not mean you are not a citizen of that country, and cannot represent that country at the highest level.

  • POSTED BY sk12 on | December 31, 2011, 23:27 GMT

    Agreed, England was the best team in 2011. But bear in mind these things can change really quickly - as we Indians found out the hard way. Brace yourself for a much tougher 2012 with the sub continent tours. If you can come out unscathed, we would bow down in respect. Till then enjoy your No1 status, good luck.

  • POSTED BY RosstheIcon on | December 31, 2011, 23:15 GMT

    If anyone saw the kind of stick the England team have taken from the media and its own fans through the 90's and 00's I think it would stop them from moaning that they praise themselves too much. England deserve every bit of praise that's come their way. I have no doubt that this team can win on flat tracks as there is enough variety in bowling, with young spinners and seamers waiting for a chance. I will also echo the point that they have been scoring over 600 (710 at Edgbaston) on the same (varied) pitches as India, Australia and Pakistan have been badly struggling for 300. Their only major issue is that their ODI tactics are highly flawed, not helped by the lack of a top-order batsman who can bowl now that Collingwood's out of the picture.

  • POSTED BY aracer on | December 31, 2011, 23:14 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta - er, what's not English about Cook (the man with the two highest scores in the past couple of years)?

  • POSTED BY 2.14istherunrate on | December 31, 2011, 19:40 GMT

    Some interesting points here. Firstly was the 2005 attack peerless? e.g. Flintoff better than Broad or Harmison better than Tremlett( though the latter has not appeared so many times, or Jones better than Bresnan or Finn or Onions? Broad has more 5 wkt hauls by a distance, though lacks the scoring tourniquet which Fred could apply. Tremlett gets the ball on the same spot from a higher place at nearly the same pace. Jones one will never know about really, as he played only till 2005 and looked the part. Onions, Bresnan and Finn have all had their moments. As for Anderson and Hoggerd I expect that Anderson will end up with far more wickets, though this is largely because of age- v. similar bowlers. re sidebottom- he did swing it a lot. I suspect in the end history will treat the present pace attack with equal respect and fondness as tyhe 2005, more perhaps as they won in Aus. The attack as whoole though is miles better with Swann for Giles and it is this which will keep Eng at no.1.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | December 31, 2011, 16:14 GMT

    I see it still hasn't sunk in that England has the best test side in the world. England currently has 3 of the top 4 bowlers in the ICC rankings and the only reason Finn and Tremlett aren't also right up there is because they haven't played enough (one of the problems of having strength in depth is that top-class bowlers always have to miss out). South Africa also has an excellent pace attack with the emergence of Philander and de Lange and this Summer's tests promise to be great entertainment. To suggest that Pakistan without Asif and Amir are a top bowling attack is frankly ludicrous. Australia and India have a couple of good prospects each, but the magnitude of their defeats by England in the last year shows how far they have to go. Let me just remind you of England's scores against those two attacks: 1-513, 5-620, 517, 644 (Aus); 8-474, 544, 7-710, 6-591 (India). 5 of those games were won by an innings. Talk all you want, the results speak for themselves.

  • POSTED BY pigeotto99 on | December 31, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    I cannot believe the first few comments on this! the only two quality attacks around now are england and sa, and id probably take englands tbh, any green track bully tags can be removed after australia. This is talking test attack and india cannot take 20 wickets on anything that isnt a dusty turner, it shows a weak attack when the other team can score 600 on a 'green top'.

  • POSTED BY insightfulcricketer on | December 31, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    Sum being greater than the parts. This is very true of this English attack. With dependable batsmen putting up very good scores this attack with its miserly line and length and subtle skills is proving to being peerless in international cricket. Previous English team generally had one or two bowlers who were very good but others leaked runs. Not so anymore. Its great for international cricket to see the cricketing crown being passed around and all teams competing with each other on more or less even terms. Broad ,Anderson and Bresnan individually may not send shivers but collectively they definitely do.Cheers to English test team of 2011!!!

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    @allblue totally agree with you and the fact Australia are using our blue print on how to beat the Indians tells us everything we need to know about how good our bowlers are,PS HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL <3

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    This international XI fielded by England is producing such a good performance, that it may retain the top spot among the test teams for quite a few years to come. Good for those International players. And, congratulations. And, a very Happy New Year 2012, with encore performances. But... I wish it had come about playing an ENGLISH team. For example, out of the SEVEN double hundreds, mentioned in this write-up, only ONE is by a true blue blooded Englishman -- Ian Bell. My love for Cricket came from the English teams from the pre D'Olivera days -- the first major import. Truman & Statham were my early heroes. Elegance of Colin Cowdry & the skill and tenacity of Ken Barrington used to fascinate me and keep me glued to the BBC broadcasts. Those were the days... Alas, now maintaining glory, through imports and opportunistic mercenaries from South Africa has killed part of the glow in that glory. Oh, my dear English cricket, and true English players who got sidelined... I cry for you.

  • POSTED BY smartie1973 on | December 31, 2011, 14:20 GMT

    Seriously could people actually read and attempt to understand the article. At no point does the author say that England have 'great bowlers' he says: "The real wonder of England's run of results has been the everyman nature of the contributions" so please don't get on your high horses about England arrogance.

    Next - England have to prove themselves in the subcontinent, absolutely true and Anderson has a poor average, true again. He may fail, but to simplistically say "Anderson has average of 50 Lollz" is not comparing like with like. As the author says: " The preferred method of England's bowlers has been Spartan in the extreme. No one exemplifies this better than Anderson, the reformed loose cannon whose finest displays these days are as remarkable for their economy as their impact."

    People can get better over time (or worse). So please try and understand the nuance and thrust of an article before commenting or don't bother.

  • POSTED BY Zohaib.R.Q. on | December 31, 2011, 14:16 GMT

    "LEGENDART QUARTET of 2005" where did that come from?

  • POSTED BY analyseabhishek on | December 31, 2011, 13:32 GMT

    The factor that the article overlooked was Graham Swann. The variety in the attack is a factor which acts as a real force multiplier. On this account, the current attack is better than 2005. I'd pick Anderson ahead of Hoggard. Tremlett could cover for Freddie and Broad looked as menacing as Jones, at least this summer. The subcontinent would present a challenge to these blokes but its not as if fast bowlers have not succeeded here. WI pacers, Richard Hadlee, Dale Steyn all managed to win tests on their own. Lesser mortals like Kasprowicz and Lance Klusener also returned with match winning hauls.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 13:00 GMT

    Ha ha, the amount of praise the English shower upon themselves is unparalleled.

  • POSTED BY IndiaNumeroUno on | December 31, 2011, 13:00 GMT

    LOL!!... 5-0 in India and still "marvelling" at the pace "attack"

    Wait till Pakistan blow you to smithereens with theirs!!

  • POSTED BY SDHM on | December 31, 2011, 12:55 GMT

    Apoorv - Anderson's test record in India is 10 wickets at 29! Hardly awful. People seem to forget that, with the exception of Perth and the first morning and Melbourne, the pitches in Australia were pretty flat - not completely lifeless, but certainly good for batting, and if anyone thinks otherwise remember that England piled on over 600 at both Adelaide and Sydney. Even Edgbaston and The Oval here in the English summer were pretty flat (700 doesn't lie!). England won by an innings on all of those occasions. England can bowl on flat pitches. Anyone saying they can't bowl in India has to remember that this attack hasn't played together in India yet in a Test match! Anderson, Broad and Swann have played games there, but not within this unit, and not with this confidence. It should be an exciting year!

  • POSTED BY Freewheeler on | December 31, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    As good as they are right now, I'll reserve my judgment for another year until it becomes clear how they perform on flatbeds. And I get a feeling that Graeme Swann has already peaked and is on a terminal decline right now. IMHO, the most talented and balanced bowling attack is Pakistan's without doubt. And this comes from an Indian cricket fan.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    It appears that 'well played' is a very difficult turn of phrase for some Indian fans.

  • POSTED BY er.Vaibhav on | December 31, 2011, 11:52 GMT

    @heading to top...if you are critisizing someone for something firstly ask youself that are you really any different...you just keep repeating stuff about indian team that they cant win outside india...yeah alright england won comprehensively in england but am i missing something or england last 11 odi's in india against india are 10 loss and 1 tie...now tell me play worst outside their own country against each other..oh come one just brush up your stats and learn to admit the reality that whole home baby thing applies to england too..they also cant play in adverse condition.

  • POSTED BY Pacelover on | December 31, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    The England attack against India was, Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Swann. The remarkable thing about England at the moment is that you could make a very good attack out of bowlers not being used right now, Onions, Tremlett, Finn and Panesar for example. There are also up and comers such as Woakes and Borthwick.

    The only things England can improve on include a passable part time bowler to take some of the workload (They lost this when Collingwood retired) and finding a like for like replacement for Anderson when he is not available, this was exposed slightly in the Lords test against Sri Lanka when Broad, Tremlett and Finn were too similar.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 11:46 GMT

    still some of indians batsman performed outside england bowlers average anderson averages 50 in asia lolzzzz anderson ha ha ha go green track bullies

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 11:43 GMT

    top attack is sa because performed well in subcontinent then aussie m sure patto and cummins and do well in india then india zaheer master of reverse ishant fit and bowling quick still just 22 over 100 wickets yadav great talent 150 kph aaron 150kph england pak they at the moment dont have express guys but have mediumpacers junaid khan good bowlers gul pace is dropped cheema is not great after that england green track bully everybody knows anderson record in india lolzz broad lilbetter bresnan was looking lyk a club bowl;er in india finn looks great serious talent but one bowler cant win matches in my opinion aussies will topthe chart in 2012 amazing attack indi have three 150 kph aussie have patto cummins siddle jhonson harris and hilfenhas has got descent pace hmmm

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    still some of indians batsman performed outside england bowlers average anderson averages 50 in asia lolzzzz anderson ha ha ha go green track bullies

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 11:34 GMT

    england is not that good there is no one that has greatness they are good at best but the problem england has is they are also dull to watch. but they might be number 1 which after the years seen may be true but the competion is bad. and then england in the mordern cricket world are the king of the bads. other beat good team to get the top england still need the contest to prove whetever they are good. but in a years time england will be shown up as they can only beat haft fit team. steyn will rip you up like 09. no colliwood then south africa are fav.

  • POSTED BY spence1324 on | December 31, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    @allblue,totally agree with you and the fact Australia are using our blue print on how to beat the indians tells us eveything we need to know about how good our bowlers are, PS HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

  • POSTED BY heading_to_the_top on | December 31, 2011, 10:47 GMT

    It makes me chuckle when I read comments from 'some' Indian fans about England's bowling attack. Let's just rename your top 6 from 'the Galacticos' to 'the Collapsicos'. Let's face it guys outside of India your batsman can't score a total above 300. You've just been smashed by a talented but emerging Australian attack. Says it all really. England's bowlers annihilated India last summer, a simple fact. Dravid and Tendulkar are 2 of the greatest batsman ever to grace a cricket field but all good things come to an end. As for VVS, well the less said about him the better. For me, the most disappointing thing about the Indian cricket team was last summer at the Oval. As they approached the players entrance that morning, apart from Praveen Kumar, I watched them completely ignore their young fans, not a wave or a smile. Tendulkar was in the zone for batting, that's excusable, but for the rest... So out of touch. New faces please. Make the most of you huge pool of talented Indian cricketers.

  • POSTED BY er.Vaibhav on | December 31, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    bet you they can't get 20 wickets in a subcontinent test match....indian a nd sri lankan batsman can beat the hell out of them their..they say for the indians but they are no different lion of their own land..just give them what they want

  • POSTED BY allblue on | December 31, 2011, 10:20 GMT

    Excellent article Andrew. England have played impeccable Test cricket over the last year, and the 8 of the last 13 wins by an innings is an incredible statistic. Yet, as the early comments here show, for some reason there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge what a good team they've become. Perhaps, churlishness aside, it's partly for reasons alluded to in the article in that it's the strength of the collective rather than outstanding individual brilliance. There's no Warne, Murali, Tendulkar, Gilchrist, Richards, Botham etc. and of the current side you probably wouldn't pick anyone for an all-time England XI, let alone World XI, yet there they are with 8 wins and a draw from their last 9 series. What's more, Strauss is 34 but the rest are all in, or approaching their prime years so they're going to be around for a while. The next 12 months they have series away to Pak, SL, India and home to WI and SA, a tough challenge, but they do seem to thrive on tough challenges.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 10:02 GMT

    @bouncer3459, well South African bowlers have done well in sub continent pitches

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    great bounser tese are average bowlers

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    They are most certainly a bowling attack far more than the sum of their parts

  • POSTED BY FreddyForPrimeMinister on | December 31, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    I have been saying for years that Duncan Fletcher was wrong - it simply isn't necessary for a bowler to hit 90mph. Far more important is the ability to bowl line and length and then to move the ball a fraction through seam or swing. Two of the three best bowlers of the last era were McGrath and Pollock - neither of whom bowled much quicker than 82mph. Even the third, Curtley Ambrose, wasn't express pace but again relied on unerring accuracy allied to bounce and a little movement. Richard Hadlee was another in the same mould as was Dennis Lillee in his later years. Jimmy Anderson was capable of hitting 90 regularly in his early days - but suffered because of the number of four balls he bowled. Now he rarely bowls quicker than 83-84 yet is twice the bowler. Broad "the Enforcer" finally realised he was far more successful when bowling line and length. My question is, why did it take so long for these supposed top coaches to realize what was blindingly obvious to any student of the game?!

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | December 31, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    TO ME WASIM AKRAM , MACGRATH , WAQAR YOUNIS WERE GREAT FAST BOWLERS . THEY CAN TAKE WKTS ON EVERY SURFACE . WHILE ENGLAND QUICKS LIKE ANDERSON ARE RUBBISH IN SUBCONTINENT . FINN IS GOOD .

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    Ridiculous comment bouncer3459. By the same argument we non indians can regard the indian batting line up 'monsters' when they start scoring runs regularly outside the subcontinent - dravid excluded perhaps!

  • POSTED BY AidanFX on | December 31, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    Typical response from a one eyed Sub continent fan - Whatever troubles these teams have had there not so much more competitive than your teams on International surfaces. Wait till the old men finally do whats right by their nation and retire rather than just accumulate ridiculous stats - you will get humiliated on your own turf then.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | December 31, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    hahahahaha legendary quartet of 2005! didnt know this was page two. very funny stuff, well done. as for todays england bowlers, meh, they are average as anything, i would rate them 4th or 5th best in the world behind australia, south africa, pakistan, west indies, maybe ahead of india but they are getting some decent pacemen themselves.

  • POSTED BY bouncer3459 on | December 31, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    These MONSTERS in England/ Australia/ South africa are TEDDY BEARS in the subcontinent. I will regard them as real bowlers when they Win a Test Match in subcontinent (Minus Bangladesh) on thier fast bowling.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY bouncer3459 on | December 31, 2011, 4:41 GMT

    These MONSTERS in England/ Australia/ South africa are TEDDY BEARS in the subcontinent. I will regard them as real bowlers when they Win a Test Match in subcontinent (Minus Bangladesh) on thier fast bowling.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | December 31, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    hahahahaha legendary quartet of 2005! didnt know this was page two. very funny stuff, well done. as for todays england bowlers, meh, they are average as anything, i would rate them 4th or 5th best in the world behind australia, south africa, pakistan, west indies, maybe ahead of india but they are getting some decent pacemen themselves.

  • POSTED BY AidanFX on | December 31, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    Typical response from a one eyed Sub continent fan - Whatever troubles these teams have had there not so much more competitive than your teams on International surfaces. Wait till the old men finally do whats right by their nation and retire rather than just accumulate ridiculous stats - you will get humiliated on your own turf then.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    Ridiculous comment bouncer3459. By the same argument we non indians can regard the indian batting line up 'monsters' when they start scoring runs regularly outside the subcontinent - dravid excluded perhaps!

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | December 31, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    TO ME WASIM AKRAM , MACGRATH , WAQAR YOUNIS WERE GREAT FAST BOWLERS . THEY CAN TAKE WKTS ON EVERY SURFACE . WHILE ENGLAND QUICKS LIKE ANDERSON ARE RUBBISH IN SUBCONTINENT . FINN IS GOOD .

  • POSTED BY FreddyForPrimeMinister on | December 31, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    I have been saying for years that Duncan Fletcher was wrong - it simply isn't necessary for a bowler to hit 90mph. Far more important is the ability to bowl line and length and then to move the ball a fraction through seam or swing. Two of the three best bowlers of the last era were McGrath and Pollock - neither of whom bowled much quicker than 82mph. Even the third, Curtley Ambrose, wasn't express pace but again relied on unerring accuracy allied to bounce and a little movement. Richard Hadlee was another in the same mould as was Dennis Lillee in his later years. Jimmy Anderson was capable of hitting 90 regularly in his early days - but suffered because of the number of four balls he bowled. Now he rarely bowls quicker than 83-84 yet is twice the bowler. Broad "the Enforcer" finally realised he was far more successful when bowling line and length. My question is, why did it take so long for these supposed top coaches to realize what was blindingly obvious to any student of the game?!

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    They are most certainly a bowling attack far more than the sum of their parts

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    great bounser tese are average bowlers

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2011, 10:02 GMT

    @bouncer3459, well South African bowlers have done well in sub continent pitches

  • POSTED BY allblue on | December 31, 2011, 10:20 GMT

    Excellent article Andrew. England have played impeccable Test cricket over the last year, and the 8 of the last 13 wins by an innings is an incredible statistic. Yet, as the early comments here show, for some reason there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge what a good team they've become. Perhaps, churlishness aside, it's partly for reasons alluded to in the article in that it's the strength of the collective rather than outstanding individual brilliance. There's no Warne, Murali, Tendulkar, Gilchrist, Richards, Botham etc. and of the current side you probably wouldn't pick anyone for an all-time England XI, let alone World XI, yet there they are with 8 wins and a draw from their last 9 series. What's more, Strauss is 34 but the rest are all in, or approaching their prime years so they're going to be around for a while. The next 12 months they have series away to Pak, SL, India and home to WI and SA, a tough challenge, but they do seem to thrive on tough challenges.