England v India Third Test Result – Aegeas Bowl, Southampton
England beat India by 266 runs
The Greek philosopher Aristotle said “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” I doubt very much that in 384BC he thought his famous quote would help define a crucial moment in this England cricket team’s development – but I didn’t think United would make a signing this summer so he’s in good company in being proved wrong.
After 11 months, England have won again. They trounced an insipid India to produce a crucial victory for both the captain and the team. It’s a great feeling to win again and I think England will go on to win the series.
This is an important victory as England had forgotten how to win – it may sound obvious that a team without a win in their last 10 games isn’t swimming in expectations of victory but the most disappointing thing about this horrible 11 months is that England have rarely gone into a Test match as under dogs – we’ve managed to beat our self on almost every occasion.
Look back to the winter and the 5 0 in Australia seems absolute – that we were blown away by Johnson’s bowling and that it was no contest. Not true. England won plenty of sessions and were in pretty much every game we played. Dropped catches were a nightmare – unnecessary collapses and a lack of ability to finish the tail off. These aren’t the traits of a good team, but creating chances and dismissing the top 5 regularly show that we were no mugs. The defeats to Sri Lanka and India reinforced that the problem was with the way England played as opposed to the opposition.
Normally defeat in Test cricket comes when the opposition are better than you. A bowler you can’t handle, batsmen you cannot get out. Sri Lanka and India played well for their wins, but they shouldn’t be at England’s level in these conditions.
So Cook and Bell scoring big runs, Anderson and Broad performing at their best and the emergence and Balance and Buttler has all helped England overcome their own failings, not opposition genius. England will have to play well to win the series and progress as a team but the elephant has been booted out of the room – if England don’t play as badly as they’ve proved they can then we’ll win the series.
Of course all is not completely well. Chris Woakes bowled well and Chris Jordan bowled badly – they both took 0 wickets. That has to change. Stokes and Plunkett carry more of a threat. Sam Robson is struggling for form – I’d give him more time but he cannot play the ball outside of his off stump. England need stability at the top of the order. Andrew Strauss has not been replaced two years after his retirement.
Finally, before England move onto Manchester on, it’s worth commenting on Moeen Ali. 6 wickets in the second innings was a magnificent achievement but the Test match was stained by the ICC forcing him to remove his ‘Save Gaza’ wristbands. Politics has no place in sport in my opinion, but being sanctioned for wearing a small bracelet to show solidarity with thousands of innocent dead is not a political statement, but a humanitarian one.
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