England’s Test match summer has come to an end in mid-August and after a terrible start and an iffy middle England came through to resoundingly thrash India in the fifth and final Test match at the Oval.
England won the match by an innings and 244 runs. It’s the 5th largest margin of victory in the history of cricket. A total shambles of a contest. The margin of victory means it’s difficult to work out how much England have improved. The turnaround has been prolific. After a 95 run defeat at Lords England smashed India by 266 runs in Southampton and innings and 54 runs in Manchester.
The consensus after the Lords defeat was that England had reached rock bottom after their 95 run defeat. I’d disagree with that and say losing a home series to a hard working but limited Sri Lanka side. After the bore draw at Trent Bridge the Lords pitch was tailored specifically to England’s bowling attack and to win the toss and lose was really poor. I was at the first two days of that match and the game was very even. To lose batting last was poor, unacceptable almost, but not the disaster many people have made out.
Lessons were learnt and England have totally embarrassed India in the remaining three test matches. Cook scored runs and the senior players stood up. Bell got a ton, Balance scored (more runs) and the tail started to get runs, ably tutored by the outstanding Joe Root who’s had something of a golden summer.
England, thankfully, have started scoring big runs again. I wrote earlier in the summer that England would not win test matches as they couldn’t score 400 runs in an innings, let alone big scores of 500 plus. Well England’s scores in this series have been 469, 569 and they even won by an innings scoring just 367 runs. The bowlers have been good, but the batsmen have finally laid the platform.
The problem with all of this is that India were so poor that it’s hard to judge how far this England team, who don’t play another test until April 2015, have come.
India were a disgrace in the final three tests, It seemed like a shock victory was on the cards after Lords and they were excellent as a team. India are the best paid team in world cricket and their performance would have shamed Zimbabwe or Bangladesh. Dhoni reckons the 2011 4 0 defeat was worse but for me this was far more embarrassing. England were an excellent side in 2011 now they’re just improving. To lose 20 wickets in less than 90 overs over the course of this last match is shameful. It’s tough touring away from home, especially when all 5 tests are crammed into a schedule such as this one – but for India to perform as they have is damaging to the game.
It would be more understandable if they had been facing a truly great team or India themselves did not have the players to cope with what England had to offer – but that’s just not true on this occasion. I wrote earlier this summer that ‘Chief Exec’ pitches were damaging the game. Can you blame the counties for trying to keep the games going as long as possible when India lose twenty overs in a day’s cricket on a blameless pitch? It’s not sustainable.
Well played England, the Test summer has ended on a high but there are still as many questions as answers.
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