2012 Review

Golden but not always

England had a year of notable highs, balanced by a fair few lows

George Dobell

December 26, 2012

Comments: 58 | Text size: A | A

Nick Compton, Joe Root, Samit Patel and Jonny Bairstow relax after victory, celebrates the series win, India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 5th day, December 17, 2012
England's new boys after the series win in India © Twitter
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Two thousand and twelve brought a reality check for England. The year started with talk of legacy and ended with an historic victory. But in between England discovered how much they have to learn and how far they have to travel before they can fulfil the prophecies many of us made for them at the end of 2011.

No year that ends with seven Test losses, two series defeats, a failure to defend a global title and a fall in Test ranking can be deemed a success. The tarnished retirement of a fine man and respected captain in the moment they lost the No.1 Test ranking was a sad ending to what had been a rather wonderful chapter in England's history.

But the year also brought notable achievements. England won a Test series in India for the first time since 1984-85, they won an English record ten ODIs in a row, they were unbeaten in all four ODI series in which they participated, and they rose to the top of the ODI rankings. Most of all, they also saw the emergence of an admirable new leader in Alastair Cook.

More importantly England demonstrated a preparedness to "start again at their beginnings", as Kipling put it. They showed they can learn from their mistakes. They showed the willingness to acknowledge their flaws and the desire to eradicate them. It was a year not just of endings but of new beginnings; it may yet prove to be the making of this England side.

It started in the UAE. History may recall that England went into the Test series complacent and underprepared, having achieved their goals the previous year. But that version of history would be a disservice to a fine Pakistan side that included a genius spinner in Saeed Ajmal and a determined captain in Misbah-ul-Haq. England can learn plenty from the way Pakistan renewed themselves after the trough of 2010. England's bowlers performed valiantly in the UAE but were undermined by their batsmen's frailties against fine spin bowling. It was an abrupt wake-up call.

There was some attempt at mitigation. England, some claimed, were not weak against spin. They were just weak against high-quality mystery spin in alien conditions. But it was a version of events that ignored the fact that Abdur Rehman, who was almost as effective as Ajmal in the UAE, was very much a conventional, if quick, left-arm spinner.

Besides, such explanations were quickly brushed aside in Sri Lanka. England were spun out by Rangana Herath, an orthodox left-arm spinner, in Galle, to enforce the view that England's batsmen had technical and mental issues with spin bowling. Defeat in the UAE could no longer be dismissed as an aberration.

Perhaps that acknowledgement marked the start of England's recovery. In the second innings of that game, Jonathan Trott scored England's first century of the year, and in doing so, demonstrated a method that could prove successful. England subsequently squared the series in Colombo, with Kevin Pietersen playing the first of several great Test innings in the year.

It says much for the changing fortunes of the two sides that England's victory against West Indies was taken for granted. Certainly a West Indies side diluted by internecine squabbles and IPL commitments never seriously threatened to shock England.

The series against South Africa, billed as an unofficial world Test championship final, proved far tougher. South Africa's batting proved too strong and their seamers outbowled England's. England handed over the No.1 ranking after less than a year in possession.

The nagging doubt remains that England failed to do themselves justice in the series. Had catches been held and had England's batsmen not collapsed on a blameless Oval pitch, the series might even have been stolen. England actually entered the final session of the final two Tests with victory still a possibility, particularly after a wonderful innings from Pietersen in Leeds. Few would dispute, however, that South Africa looked the better side. They deserved their victory.

The final Test was played without Pietersen after allegations emerged that suggested his behaviour was not conducive to a productive team environment. Whatever the contents of messages he sent to members of the South Africa squad, however he treated new team-mates, whatever his motivation for claiming he wanted to retire from ODI cricket, and whatever he said about his captain, Andrew Strauss, there is no doubt a divide had grown between Pietersen and the rest of the England team. His absence was mourned more by spectators than team-mates.

In the midst of all that, England showed improved ODI form by whitewashing Pakistan, West Indies and Australia in series, before drawing with South Africa. It took England to the top of the ODI rankings; a significant marker en route to fulfilling a key ambition: a global ODI trophy.

Apart from the Pakistan series, those victories were achieved without Pietersen. He announced his retirement from ODI cricket in May, and in line with ECB policy that is designed to protect their ODI ambitions, was subsequently considered retired from all limited-overs international cricket. A successful recall for Ian Bell compensated for Pietersen's loss, while Cook continued his improvement in the format.

Without Pietersen, however, England never threatened to defend their World Twenty20 title. Pietersen was man of the tournament when England won in 2010, and in his absence they lacked the firepower to progress. The team and the individual suffered for his exile.

The issue was resolved before the tour of India. Pietersen apologised, to Strauss in particular, and made himself available in all formats. While the batting of Cook was more relevant to England's success in India, Pietersen also contributed a brilliant century in Mumbai that helped turn the tide of the series.

His return symbolised the renewed spirit of England. When they lost the first Test, in Ahmedabad, all the doubts about their ability to combat spin bowling and Asian conditions came flooding back. They looked doomed. But they demonstrated their improvement over the next three Tests. Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar outperformed the Indian spinners, Cook batted magnificently, and James Anderson was by far the most effective seamer on either side. It ensured a positive ending to a difficult year and allowed England to look to the future with justifiable confidence: a good but not great side with room for improvement.

New kid on the block
Having not given a Test debut to anyone throughout 2011, England used five new players in 2012. Tellingly, all were batsmen: Samit Patel, Jonny Bairstow, James Taylor, Nick Compton and Joe Root. It has proved harder than imagined to find a replacement for Paul Collingwood. Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara, the men given first opportunity, failed to take their chance.

But the not-so-new kids on the block are Ashley Giles and Cook. Giles' appointment as England's limited-overs coach marks an end to Andy Flower's day-to-day involvement with the one-day side. Relatively recently retired as a player, Giles enjoyed a successful spell as director of cricket at Warwickshire and takes charge of a side rated No. 1 in ODI cricket and with realistic chances of winning the Champions Trophy. His timing may prove impeccable.

The appointment of Cook is even more significant. Taking the job with England beaten at home and the team divided, Cook insisted a solution was found to the Pietersen problem. He then instilled a determination, a positivity, and an intolerance of excuses, that served his side well in India. He has started brilliantly.

Fading star
There are a few options here: Bopara lost focus as personal issues clouded his mind. Tim Bresnan, a shadow of the bowler he had been before elbow surgery in December 2011, laboured throughout the year and finished with a Test bowling average of 55.43. Stuart Broad, too, seemed to lose pace, and having been appointed vice-captain at the start of the India tour, was dropped after two Tests.


Kevin Pietersen arrives back at Heathrow Airport after England's series win in India, London, December 18, 2012
Pietersen: when he was not embroiled in controversy, he was producing classic innings © PA Photos
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But the retirement of Strauss marked the end of an era. Strauss had been a declining force as a player for some time and, despite centuries against West Indies, accepted after the South Africa series that it was time to go. He departed assured of the affection and respect of team-mates and supporters for a job well done. Under him, England reached heights they had not for many years. And, whichever of the two impostors he was confronted with, he treated them just the same: with affable, calm, constructive good humour. It was sad that the Pietersen saga deflected attention from his departure.

High point
After all the disappointments and fallouts, England found redemption in India. Written off after a thumping defeat in the first Test, most expected England to struggle against familiar weaknesses: spin bowling and Asian conditions. Instead they fought back admirably, showing they had learned the lessons from earlier failures. They were the first side from any country to win a series in India since 2004, and only the second side from any nation in history - after that 1984-85 England side - to come from behind to beat India in India. While victory did not negate the earlier struggles, it did suggest England were back on track.

Low point
From the moment Pietersen retired from ODI cricket, speculation about his future was never far from the headlines. If he made some valid points about England's unrelenting schedule, they were rendered disingenuous by subsequent revelations over his IPL and Big Bash intentions.

It was sad that, in the light of Pietersen's "it's not easy being me" press conference in Leeds, the England dressing room was exposed as divided; it was sad that Strauss' farewell was tarnished; and it was sad that England should be denied arguably their greatest batsman of the modern age when defending the World Twenty20 trophy. There were, no doubt, faults on all sides - including the media - but Pietersen has to take a fair share of responsibility for one of the dullest, most egotistical episodes in modern English cricket.

What 2013 holds
Despite the setbacks of 2012, this remains a golden age for England cricket. Anyone who grew up in the 1980s and '90s will have become used to a grindingly mediocre England side that once slipped to the lower reaches of the Test rankings and was knocked out of the World Cup England hosted before the theme tune was released. The fact they can look to the future with realistic optimism shows how far they have come.

The coming year could be momentous. Hosting the Champions Trophy provides a great opportunity to win a global event in the format. With Pietersen back and England with the attack and experience of conditions to exploit the use of two new balls, they may never have a better chance.

For many 2013 will be defined by the back-to-back Ashes series. Expectations are arguably as high as they have ever been, though the emergence of a strong Australian pace attack could dampen spirits. But with Cook and Andy Flower at the helm, Pietersen back in the fold and Anderson, Prior, Trott and Swann all just about at the peak of their powers, England remain in good hands.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

Pakistanis are unpredictable, though they're slightly better than India (despite no big names). The real worry for me when England didn't manage to control SA. After hammering Australia (0-5) in Ashes, I was looking forward a good contest in England vs SA. In the end, Amla was just too much for them. Winning in India was a huge effort, specially after the loss of first test match. After their performance in Asia (Loss, Draw in Sri Lanka, Won in India), I am satisfied as they did learn from the mistakes and didn't repeat them in India.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 28, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

@Phat-Boy, agree with everything you right except the "world's best swing bowler" part. I am sure you are referring to Philander but how is he the world's best swing bowler. He has been there for, what, one year now and has not played a single test in the sub-continent. How come he is the best when he is still unproven in all conditions. And Australia is among the hardest places to tour for Philander kind of bowlers. And, it was no surprise that he went for plenty in the first test. He should thank his lucky stars that he missed the second test; otherwise, that bowling average would only have went up more. He was lucky to play the third test in more favorable bowling conditions. Philander is very good, no doubt, but till he proves himself in all conditions, he cannot be considered the best. Our Indian friends say that Anderson is still not good enough even though he has performed in all parts of the world.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 28, 2012, 9:38 GMT)

@Phat-Boy, You'll notice RandyOz has a habit of going silent whenever floored by the facts. Expect another few months off for him then. Great Post, he probably still thinks Warne plays for them, then one day he wakes up and realizes all they've got is Lyon! LOL

Posted by Jedi029 on (December 28, 2012, 0:39 GMT)

England have had a good year but probably still don't do it as No.1 for me. It's good to see them blood some young cricketers but as the low point in the article pointed out some of the stars are fading, not just the veterans but players i'd thought would power through these next 5-10 years. I'd would have liked to see how the England test squad of today would have gone against India several years ago in the sub-continent; would have been great to see their bowlers against the likes of Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag and Tendulkar while in form and their batsmen against Kumble and Singh.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 27, 2012, 23:58 GMT)

@jimmy2s, none of those WI bowlers are anywhere as good as Finn. Finn would walk into any test XI except the Saffers.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 27, 2012, 23:56 GMT)

@RandyOZ, remind me, what was the series result last time when England and Australia clashed both in England and Australia.

Australia have lost 2 home series the last time they played all opponents. England have lost 1 home series and won everything else. England have just completed a successful tour of India - a country where it is hard to get test wins leave alone series wins. Let's see how many tests Australia won there; or rather, how many they don't lose.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 27, 2012, 23:34 GMT)

Despite the roller-coaster year in Test results, England finish it in a clear 2nd postion, behind SA, with Australia at about the same interval as that between Eng & SA, in third. Pakistan, as ever the maverick nation, is back in 4th. India, sinking fast, holds 5th. At a distance SL head the rest. Although those cricket-crazy countries of the sub-continent don't want to hear or much acknowledge this, the old order has re-established itself. Alll countries want to do well in all forms of the sport yet those that have set out to prioritise the shorter forms over TC (India, WI, SL & Bangladesh) have had patchy success, the WI win over SL in the T20 WC being the sole shining exception. On the other hand, the 3 old order nations have performed well in all formats. Conclusion? True professionalism produces teams that acquit themselves well in ODI & T20, despite holding TC in the highest regard. Therefore,'top down' works best. And the major underperformers across the board? Wealthy India!

Posted by Phat-Boy on (December 27, 2012, 22:47 GMT)

@RandyOz, wake up and smell the overt patriotism. Got unlucky in the last test? Losing by 300 runs and being felled for 150 in the first innings isn't what I'd call 'bad luck.' Being unable to dismiss a team who's best batsman was on one leg despite having them 4-60 isn't 'bad luck.' Having a day of cricket washed out when the opposition has sauntered to 2-240 isn't 'bad luck.' Australia pushed South Africa to the brink but ultimately weren't good enough, despite Kallis playing two tests as a batsman who could barely run, having the world's best swing bowler sit out the second match, and having a specialist batsman and their only spin option injure himself out of the Brisbane match without seeing a ball.

Posted by legsidewide on (December 27, 2012, 21:27 GMT)

I'd take a Roach, a Russell, a Rampaul or any other bowler who can send down a delivery without ramming into the stumps at the non-striker's end every time

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (December 27, 2012, 20:52 GMT)

It sure was a golden year for me, I bought a boat with my winnings Eng v Pak i bought a jet ski with my winnings Eng v SA, I bought a Merc with a bet that Eng would lose another captain to South Africa, I went on a cruise with my winnings that England being number 1 in all 3 formats would last no longer than 3 weeks ,oh yeah WHAT A YEAR.

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 27, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

@hhillbumper - no, you drew with Sri Lanka, and only just. We dominated south africa and got unlucky in the last test. You got crushed including the second worst defeat in test history. All this and South Africa was also supplying your team with players.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 27, 2012, 18:18 GMT)

@JG2704, I agree we have a long way to go. But, India are not as bad as they are made out to be and so our win there raises my hopes about England doing really well in the coming years. India's bowling is not good enough but I think they have enough in their armoury to trouble the Aussie batsmen who are more fragile than their Indian counterparts, of course, except Clarke and Hussey. Clarke has had an exceptional year and is going strong but soon the law of averages is bound to catch up. I think India will win the series against the Aussies by a 1 test margin. SA's batting and seam bowling is too strong and they will thrash India in SA but I am not sure if their spin attack is strong enough to win them a series in India.

While we are considered poor in ODIs based on our poor showing in India, people may be surprised that we are the #1 ranked team now. We are good enough to give other teams a run for their money in the Champions trophy next year. I think 2013 will be great for us.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (December 27, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

@RandyOZ (post on December 26 2012, 23:52 PM GMT): England are above Aus. in all formats at the moment, and have been for most of the year. Other countries don't seem to write articles like this because their "Fading star" and "Low Point" paragraphs would dominate the articles and make them depressing reads...

Any England team that contains the likes of Broad could easily be classed as 'rebuilding', so people using this excuse need to change the record. Collingwood's absence left a gaping hole in the balance of the England team, and it is proving arduous to fill. It seems England will never be happy to go with 5-1-5 line-up, despite fans cries. But hey... roll on 2013!

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 27, 2012, 11:33 GMT)

Randy Oz. Who has your lot beaten ? India well who can't.Sri lanka yep beat them too, You lost to Saffers. lets face it Calrke can't continue his current form and who else do you have?

Lets face it your bowlers get injured at the drop of a hat and Lyon can't spin a washing machine cycle so yep see you in the summer when I expect the silence will be deafening from you once more.

Posted by JG2704 on (December 27, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

@Shan156 on (December 26 2012, 23:58 PM GMT) Indeed. I certainly wouldn't write off Aus or SA chances there as I do believe India are probably at their most fragile but let's just see how both sides go there. As we have noticed , we had numerous junk comms talking about thrashings and whitewashes and I'm sure the same people said Ind were in transition after they lost. Surely they were in transition before the series began. Australia were supposed to be the worst side when we beat them and yet they have only lost one series since and that narrowly after dominating the 1st 2 tests. Still feel we have much to prove

Posted by JG2704 on (December 27, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

@LillianThomson - But is KP categorically our best batsman? n recent years Trott and Cook have both been around the same mark as KP.KP is a special talent admittedly but re the final test

1- You have to balance out his heroics in the 2nd test with his scores of 42 and 16 in the 1st test , so no one knows what KP would have scored 2-KP played in the 1st test and England were still thrashed - see above for his contributions 3-airstow came in and scored 95 and 54 (ave for that test 74.50) - would KP likely have bettered that?

Folk seem to remember KP's heroic inns (SA/SL) but forget all the times he failed (SA/SL/Pak). He'd definitely be in my side and is definitely one of our best batsmen but is certainly not head and shoulders above guys like Trott and Cook

@RandyOZ - don't usually find myself responding to your posts there but while SA have usurped us at the top and Aus may well do so , at present which format exactly are Australia ahead of England in?

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

@RandyOz: Welcome back, we missed you for the last few months and last thousand Ashes. Do enlighten us - How's Australia's spin department going these days with the seamer Lyon? How's the Christmas Minnow Big Bash?

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 27, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

England have left certain sections of Australian fans bitter and jealous and for the England fan this has been a joy to witness. Suffering innings after innings defeat in your own back yard must hurt them, but the extent of the vitriol has been fabulous. England have for so many years now been better than Australia, and the last few months has demonstrated just how big the gulf is between 1&2 in the world and the rest. But who's really surprised? - As England celebrate the flooring of the critics yet again by winning on minefields in India, all Aussie fans have got to cheer about is the 'Christmas Minnow Big Bash' which only highlights the continued squirming around the bottom of the barrel they've done for so long now. England have raised the bar so much in recent years with fitness, skill, discipline and leadership in the world's best test opener Cook. 2013 will see the mace back at the home of cricket, the country that invented the game, where it belongs.

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 8:25 GMT)

@frontfoot. One of the reasons England don't have more 10,000 run players is that historically individual players play far fewer tests for England

Posted by   on (December 27, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

I don't think any realistic England fan would look at this year as anything but a missed opportunity. England played nowhere near their best against Pak and SA, and this was compounded by the fact that both teams played some brilliant stuff. Credit where it's due. England could have been at the top of the Test rankings for ten years and won five world cups in a row and some people would still say we were rubbish, so not sure engaging with the trolls is overly constructive. Excellent result in India. Granted the Indian side isn't the strongest, but look at the history, they don't tend to lose in India, and I note with interest that the same purveyors of the "England will get slaughtered" line quickly changed their tune to "India were rubbish".

Posted by mikey76 on (December 27, 2012, 7:27 GMT)

Ah the wonderful RandyOz back on form after a layoff. Now Australia are back to winning ways against terrible opposition he feels free to bad mouth his favorite subject.....England. Was conspicuous by his absence when we were taking India to the cleaners. He's probably forgotten Aus tour there soon and without any decent spinners might struggle. Its funny how misplaced his confidence is regarding the ashes when England have 5 world class players to Australia's 2. Perhaps with a third ashes win on the bounce in the summer he might finally scuttle off and start bad mouthing Bangladesh or something. Glad to see Johnson doing well, that means he'll be on the plane to England and we can enjoy feasting on his wide half volleys while Siddle huffs and puffs at the other end to no avail. As for Nathan the Lyon, well he better get used to looking behind him as the ball disappears into row Z.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 26, 2012, 23:58 GMT)

@JG2704, many people think beating Indian team in India is easy. Granted India weren't as strong as before but still there were several things stacked up against England - as you mentioned, we were deprived of any decent practice, thrashed in Ahmedabad, lost vital tosses in Mumbai and Kolkata, India had posted decent first innings scores, and our batsmen were supposedly weak at playing spin in the sub-continent. Still we prevailed and it was a team effort. While the win in Mumbai was mostly due to Cook, KP, and Monty, Compton and Swann played key roles too. And in Kolkata, it was a team effort with Jimmy and Finn coming to the party as well. Make no mistake, it was a terrific effort to win a series in India. To put it in perspective, since 2000, SA have won 4 and Eng. and Aus. have won 3 each there. No other team has won a test leave alone a series there.

We will see in a few months time how the Aussies do there. With no decent spinners, even SA will struggle to win a series there.

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 26, 2012, 23:52 GMT)

England have had a terrible year, but it is entirely fitting of their true ranking. The fact is they reach a very brief high on the back of imports and Australia rebuilding. Now Oz and SA are back up the top and order is restored. Whitewash defeats to Pakistan ans SA have proved how poor England's batting and bowling stocks really are.

Posted by mikey76 on (December 26, 2012, 23:44 GMT)

Front-Foot_Lunge. The reason why England don't have guys with 10k runs to their names is simply because the last lot of great batsman we had in Gooch and Gower simply didn't play enough tests to acquire those runs. Australia got there with Border in the 90's but he played 150 tests! Cook will be the first to get there, followed by KP and then most likely Trott. It's a lot easier these days getting runs when you don't have Donald, Pollock, Ambrose, Walsh, Wasim, Waqar, Warne and Murali to come up against. I'm sure Gooch would have made the 1100 extra runs if he'd faced today's bowlers.

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 26, 2012, 23:08 GMT)

@JG2704 England went into the deciding Test v South Africa trailing 1-0 in the series. But the lead-up to the match was dominated by the Pietersen Affair, and the team went into the match without its best batsman and lost narrowly.

I am the first to admit that Pietersen is a high-maintenance Prima Donna. The best players often are. But I'm a psychiatrist, and my belief is that the poor handling of that affair unsettled some members of the England team and also gave the South Africans a sense that a weakened England were there for the taking.

I believe that England and South Africa are quite well-matched. The quick bowling is similar, and while South Africa has more batting strength, England's superior spin bowling makes it easier to bowl teams out in the Fourth Innings.

The Pietersen Affair was predictably resolved when a) England realised they couldn't win close series without him and b) time cooled down hot heads on both sides. That should have happened in the first place

Posted by warnerbasher on (December 26, 2012, 23:01 GMT)

I'm not sure that a series victory against an appalling Indian side saves the year however I agree with the dude writing the article that England were not that far away from South Africa and with a bit of luck may have jagged a 1-1 result. Same could be said of the Aussies if some catches had not been dropped in Adelaide. But hey thats cricket. Cook was outstanding and the battle between him and Clarke over 10 tests next year will be brilliant. England have the more settled side than Australia however I like whats coming through in the Aussie bowling department though. Should be 2 cracking Ashes series

Posted by aracer on (December 26, 2012, 22:02 GMT)

@FFL - I'm not sure what overall batting stats has to do with the current strength of any team - not given that it takes 12 years at minimum to get to 10,000 runs and I don't think anybody is at all bothered about how England performed in 2001. Oh and I hadn't realised Cook was from SA!

Posted by Shan156 on (December 26, 2012, 21:37 GMT)

Too much hype surrounding the Aussie bowlers. Yesterday, when the match was going on, some Aussie fan commented that injuries do not matter since any of the paceman they bring into the XI is taking wickets. Fact is, the Aussies are playing a mediocre SL team whose batsmen, while talented, are impatient and not suited to tests. The real class (or the lack) of Aussie bowlers was there for all to see when they were unable to dismiss SA on a 5th day wicket. Their leading spinner went wicketless and their pacemen, sans Siddle, looked innocuous. The less said about the Aussie batsmen, sans Clarke and Hussey, the better. I think the Ashes is safe with England folks:-) Aussie fans, keep dreaming. First India will thrash you and then it will be our turn to blow you into smithereens, twice:-)

Posted by JG2704 on (December 26, 2012, 21:00 GMT)

@LillianThomson on (December 26 2012, 06:06 AM GMT) Re the SA series , I wouldn't blame the KP debacle etc on losing that 2-0. It was always going to be a tough series but while the 1st test was a massacre the other 2 tests could have gone either way.

@jimmy2s on (December 26 2012, 14:34 PM GMT) I think he'd have a chance to play in any other pace attack bar SA. I'm not saying he's better that the Aus bowlers but I'd say he's at least on a par with them and with their rotation policy he'd get his chances and who have WI got that is that much better than Finn?

Posted by JG2704 on (December 26, 2012, 21:00 GMT)

@RoJayao on (December 26 2012, 04:40 AM GMT) Agreed it wasn't the best Indian side out there but what was so pleasing was that (apart from all the rubbish we endured pre series on here about revenge and whitewashes etc) was the fact that we'd come from a test down where we were heavily beaten so that was a show of character and it was a psychological barrier , like winning the Ashes in Australia. I'm realistic enough to know that this more signifies a stem on the downslide as opposed to an upturn. BTW , I thought Prior and Anderson also played well, Trott found his feet towards the end of the series, Compton showed encouraging signs and Root showed promise too so while the players you mentioned were the main contributors there were others

Posted by neo-galactico on (December 26, 2012, 20:50 GMT)

England are a very good team and beating India in India is a great achievement (even if it is a weak India side). But I still believe the Saffers are a stronger and better team man for man. Anderson is a very good bowler and is probably 2nd best only to Steyn but doesn't have wicket tallies that prove that for he swings the ball too much, whereas Philander swings it just enough to get the edge.

Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (December 26, 2012, 20:11 GMT)

We were one loss away from being the worst performing team in English history. Wins over weak opposition such as the Windies can't hide the fact that were were humbled by Pakistan, Sri Lanka,South Africa (at home). India's powers, so faded now, meant we managed a series win there and all of a sudden, all is forgotten? England's problems run deep, their foundation being an over-reliance on 'managerialism' rather than fostering great players and great spirits. One telling fact, Sangakarra made 10k test runs today. They had a list of the great batsmen to make that tally, 15 in all.... and not a single englishman. The first one...will probably be South african!!!

Posted by legsidewide on (December 26, 2012, 19:39 GMT)

@ Sir Freddie, weren't you the one predicting 500 in every innings and a clean sweep for England in the UAE this year?

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 26, 2012, 18:07 GMT)

It is an interesting time to be sure.There is a lot of young bowling talent with potential. Harris,Woakes,Mills and Topley offer some promise for the future.

Posted by AJ_Tiger86 on (December 26, 2012, 18:00 GMT)

@jimmy2s: Finn won't get into the Australian side? That must be a joke of the year canditate! Fact of the matter is, NONE of the Australian bowlers will get into England's first or second XIs. They are all mediocre hardworking bowlers at best with no ability to swing the ball -- either conventional or reverse.

Posted by   on (December 26, 2012, 17:27 GMT)

@ jimmy2s, good to know that you're thinking about your comment: how would Finn not get into New Zealand? West Indies - are you serious, with all their injuries and non-consistiency? Pakistan, their seamers are solid, but not as good as Finn! South Africa I agree, but he would definitely be in their squad. And Australia, Finn is at least as good as Pattinson and Cummins, but he gets injured less as well, bonus! He is also better than the inconsistiency that is Mitchell Johnson and also Hilfenhaus. So no, I don't agree with you.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 26, 2012, 17:26 GMT)

@bonobo, true but George doesn't call this the "golden year". He says this is a golden age for English cricket despite the setbacks in 2012. There is reason behind it. In the past, England tours would most likely result in defeats. If you look at Eng's away results - wins against Ind, Aus, NZ, draws against SA and SL, and defeats against Pak and WI. That is not as bad as it used to be. Our overall latest away results against all other teams is 9 wins and 9 defeats. And, our home performance is 14-4. Maybe not good enough to call it "golden" but we are 2nd in the test rankings, and 1st in ODIs. When was the last time we were ranked this highly.

Posted by Shan156 on (December 26, 2012, 17:22 GMT)

@Long-Leg, I agree. While defeat is always bitter, the manner in which we were knocked down was disappointing. England put up a decent fight at Lord's and had they held on to their catches (esply when Amla was on 1 in the 2nd inng), they would have given themselves a better chance to square the series. But, the Oval defeat was the lowest point for me. SA scored 631/2. For a side boasting a decent bowling attack, that is really bad. Of course, the batsmen had several low moments in the UAE. Ajmal and Rehman are good spinners but no where in the league of Warne and Murali. But, the way our batsmen succumbed to them, you would have thought that the two greatest spin legends were bowling on both ends. No disrespect to the Pakistan spinners though - they deserved their success. But, England batsmen could have applied themselves better. Again, even in the UAE, our bowlers put up a decent fight. In the Oval, it was a total letdown. But, I will take the 2-1 against Ind. happily:-)

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (December 26, 2012, 16:55 GMT)

South africa, england ausrtailia and pakistan have good test sides to watch. Pakistan vs south africa test series is one to look forward to. spin is already very well packed with likes of ajmal, rehman and hafeez but Pakistan was lacking some pace battries after amir and asif's exclusion but i think some new guys like muhammad irfan, ehsan adil and junaid khan will take over quite well v soon. I hope they get a call in test side against SA series.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 26, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

I suspect that was all our one step back, and we are moving forward again-hopefully. My biggest query-one not mentioned here-is why in god's name do we put up with 3 Test series against West Indies? This will often trouble me. I lived through and survived the regular annihilations visited upon us series after series in the 80's and after. We were still expected to find 11 players whose minds had not been shot to pieces for each of those games. Yet we show these excesses of mercy in reply. Please, please can we have proper series in which to mete out the same to our West Indian opponents. Just as matter of honour!!

Posted by shillingsworth on (December 26, 2012, 16:28 GMT)

brusselslion - Rose tinted specs there, I'm afraid. Boycott's last test was in 1982, whilst Dilley rarely performed at test level. The rest were good players but seldom appeared in the same team. The opposition may be weaker now but the overall quality of players, coaching, selection and management is all streets ahead of the England teams in the 80s and 90s.

Posted by shillingsworth on (December 26, 2012, 16:20 GMT)

@Peter Banyard - Compton was 'schooled' at Harrow which, as any old Etonian will tell you, is nowhere near South Africa.

Posted by brusselslion on (December 26, 2012, 15:29 GMT)

"No year that ends with seven Test losses, two series defeats, a failure to defend a global title and a fall in Test ranking can be deemed a success." Agreed. So how do you then conclude: "Despite the setbacks of 2012, this remains a golden age for England cricket"?

This is a promising England side but lags someway behind the leading Test nation (SA). It achieved a great series result in India against a very poor team but the next 2/3 years will define whether this was a 'silver' lining or the start of a 'golden' period.

BTW: The 80s and 90s weren't all bad: Any team that contained the likes of Botham, Boycott, Dilly, Gatting, Gooch and Gower couldn't be all bad. However, there definitely were some lean periods.

Posted by   on (December 26, 2012, 15:22 GMT)

What did Bairstow do wrong? I thought his first innings against South Africa produced 96 runs, and they were hard fought runs. He did as well as any in the second innings and Scyld Berry described him as potentially a great batsman. Since then, he has been given just one go which ended in a catch off a fielder's helmet and should not have been given out by the umpire.

Now he is mentioned nowhere, and Andy Flower chooses yet another South African schooled batsman in Compton, who has failed often enough. Joe Root to open and Bairstow at number six.

Posted by legsidewide on (December 26, 2012, 14:34 GMT)

Why is the standard moniker for Finn that "he would walk into any test team"? Do people think before regurgitating this line? He'd make it into India, Zimbabwe, SL and Bangladesh, that's it. Does anyone really think Australia would pick Finn, given the bowlers at their disposal? Same for Pak, WI, South Africa, NZ - Finn would be a net bowler at best

Posted by   on (December 26, 2012, 13:16 GMT)

Sad to see no mentioning of Monty, i think he has been a real key to english success in India, and he bowled wonderfully well in UAE aswell. If captain cook wants just one spinner in his side specially with 5 right handers (SAF) he should look at monty as the first go.

Posted by voma on (December 26, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

@RoJayao , i read your post with interest . I agree with most of it , apart from the bit about the players . How on earth can Steven Finn be described as a lame duck . The guy would walk straight into any test team , he only played 1 test in India . But still looked the most dangerous bowler , he will be opening the bowling next year . Broad needs a rest , thats for sure . But the potential is still there with him , Anyone remember him destroying India so called brilliant batting line up at the oval . Compton is doing fine , and Eoin Morgan must be given another chance . Happy new year everyone

Posted by bonobo on (December 26, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

It was a great victory in India, but to be fair Pakistans win over us, was greater, and then we got beat at home badly, to lose the No1 spot. I think calling it a Golden Year, gives credence that the English commenatators on Cricinfo are given to plenty of hyperbole. The point is also very important to access the merits of the India, after they have faced the Australians. No new players emerged against India (although some looked promising) and the Strauss, Collingwood holes till exist, and it is not clear yet if we will soon be talking about Broad, Bell and Bresnan/Tremlett holes

Posted by OhhhhhMattyMatty on (December 26, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

England possess 5 world class players: Cook, Pietersen, Prior, Anderson and Swann and a smattering of strong Test performers and limited overs performers. If 4 of the big 5 perform next year, 2 Ashes series and a Champions Trophy will be England's! Test XI for the Ashes: Cook, Compton, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Root, Prior(wk), Swann, Finn, Anderson, Onions. 3-0 and 2-1 wins await.

Posted by shillingsworth on (December 26, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

@sawifan - I can't find anyone from the English media who has written about the WI triumph in the World T20 in the terms you describe. Sharda Ugra did indeed write in this vein on this site but, last time I checked, is not from England. @LillianThomson -The performances of Pietersen's replacement at Lord's were the main reason why the match remained winnable for England. Attributing the loss of this test solely to Pietersen's absence is pretty daft. Panesar was also omitted for the test in Colombo, a match England won to square the series. Your offensive remarks about Flower on this subject look equally ill informed.

Posted by maf17 on (December 26, 2012, 9:38 GMT)

You cant place too much emphasis on the India series. It was a case of Indian self-destruction and steadiness from England rather than brilliance. For all that I expect England to retain the Ashes at home in 2013 and I expect most Australians in their heart of hearts will acknowledge that, especially as we do not expect any friendly pitches. However, the Aussies are a rapidly improving side. It is going to be very hard for England to go back to back in the Ashes Down Under without substantial equivalent improvement.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (December 26, 2012, 7:40 GMT)

@ RoJayao - I know it must still be hurting to not only fail to avenge the whitewash of a year and a half ago but at the same time to lose the series altogether after being 1-0 up. Oh the sweet tears of bitterness!

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 26, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

As a Kiwi in Australia I have to say that England's Test year looks worse than it really was.

They met an excellent Pakistan in alien conditions in the UAE. They deserved to lose the First Test for only fielding one spinner, which Flower amazingly did again in Ahmedabad, raising doubts as to his IQ.

But England could have won the Second and Third Tests in the UAE, and their improvement in slow, spinning conditions there and in Sri Lanka made me predict on this site that they would win in India, as they so admirably did in spite of their brainless initial omission of Panesar in "Dubai 3 at Ahmedabad".

As for South Africa, England's defeat was again self-inflicted.The stupid "jolly hockey sticks" boarding school-style code of conduct led them to vilify their best batsman and then throw him overboard, just in time to lose a winnable Test at Lords.

So the players mainly did quite well, and improved in Asian conditions. The administrators and Andrew Flower show no such improvement.

Posted by sawifan on (December 26, 2012, 4:53 GMT)

why when its England with a hope of 'winning' the Champions Trophy is it deemed a 'global event', yet no-one likes to acknowledge it as such when the Windies won it?! Their World T20 Win was hailed as their first global comp win since the '79 World Cup, yet they won this same Trophy in 2004. Typical English media hypocrisy. If England do somehow win it, we all know it'll be celebrated as if they won the World Cup!

Posted by RoJayao on (December 26, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

Fair enough assessment, though really while the Poms success in India looks good on paper, the reality might look a little different in time. Simply the runs of Cook won them that series while good spinners in Swann and Monty took advantage of India's laughably mistaken attempt at massive pitch doctoring for their own very pedestrian spin attack. Cameos by others helped, especially the pietersen ton, but the likes of Trotts and ding Bell still struggled mostly. England's back up players are very ordinary, the likes of Bopara, Morgan, Patel and Compton, together with lame ducks like Broad, Bresnan and Finn will not hold any fears for Australia. Just loving England's overconfidence, I can feel a 1989 coming on!!!

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