Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Almost as good as the Ashes

England can't play cricket in the subcontinent.  They just can't. Last year they proved that by being basically humiliated in the UAE by Pakistan, then only scraping a drawn series in Sri Lanka thanks to a magnificent innings by Kevin Pietersen. 

India don't lose home test series. It rarely happens. Their last home series defeat was in 2004, by the all conquering Australian side containing Gilchrist, Warne, McGrath, Langer and co.

India also don't let teams off the hook, last time they lost a series lead at home was in 1984/85 when David Gower's England won there.

England have had a terrible year in Test cricket:

  • 0-3 vs Pakistan in the UAE.
  • 1-1 vs Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka
  • 2-0 vs West Indies in England
  • 0-2 vs South Africa in England
That's just 3 test wins from 11 with 6 defeats, when they started that spell as world number 1.

So of course the writing was on the wall when England were caught in a spin in their first innings in Ahmedabad, all out for 191 and forced to follow on.  However, it seems like this England side has learned from it's mistakes and is possibly turning over a new leaf thanks to the magnificent Captain Cook.  It was in a losing effort but the 176 in the second innings by the Captain swung the momentum around and showed the rest of the team that it was possible to bat in these conditions.

To be fair, after that I thought India were really pretty poor, this was supposed to be a revenge series after the 4-0 whitewash England inflicted on them last year on their way to becoming number 1 in the world.  The mighty Sachin Tendulkar didn't look like he could buy a run, with only one score of note.  Dhoni seemed uninspiring in the middle when the team needed a boost and they haven't really replaced Rahul Dravid who was one of their all time greats, though Pujara was one of their plus points.

I don't want to take anything away from England though, this was a remarkable turn around that after the first test I didn't see happening.  The selectors though got most of the calls for the next few tests spot on, Monty had to play, and picking Root at 6 for the final test was definitely the correct decision. They out batted India - 4 of the top 5 run scorers in the series were English, Swann and Panesar took more wickets in fewer overs at a better economy rate than the leading Indian spinners and Jimmy Anderson was comfortable the best seamer.

Reintergration looks complete
if Prior's tweet is anything
to go by.
The best quote I've read was by Analyst Ayaz Memon who said India "were outplayed in all departments of the game - even more so in two that are not reflected in stats and figures: fitness and planning".  I think this really summed it up.  England also seemed like a team and look to have put the Pietersen issue behind them.

For me, it'd take a lot to top the 2005 Ashes series, the first win against what was clearly the best team in the world at basically full strength.  This though, has to be up there with the Ashes of two winters ago when we dominated Australia in their own back yard.  The cricket wasn't always scintillating but the result is what counts.  Congratulations to the team, and hopefully they can use this for what will be a very big 12 months, with 10 tests against the old enemy - I for one can't wait!