So the test series in South Africa is over and there ended a long run of 17 test matches in 9 months for England!!!!!!!
WORKING WELL IN A THREE
It seems a long long long time since their tour to the West Indies which ended in an embarrassing loss in Barbados, hence a shared series. This meant the end for Peter Moores and a new direction for the England Team in general. Andrew Strauss took over, kept on existing number two Paul Farbrace, hired Trevor Bayliss, resisted the call for Kevin Pietersen to return despite the usual twitter bully boy tactics from his sycophantic entourage, and England you have to say have moved on nicely if somewhat inconsistently at times since then. An exciting drawn series with New Zealand early summer was followed by the thrilling 3-2 Ashes victory, when everyone expected the Aussies to walk all over the England side after the 5-0 drubbing down under in 2013/14. Despite spirited performances and missed opportunities defeat followed versus Pakistan in the UAE, though to be fair most teams struggle in those unique conditions of Pakistani cricket’s temporary home which gives them a huge advantage. What followed was a fantastic series win in South Africa against at the time the number one test team in the world. Despite their successes their record over the 17 matches reads 7 wins 7 loses and 3 draws which for me tells me there are a few issues to iron out.
KEEP THE SCOREBOARD TICKING OVER
Under the Strauss, Bayliss and Paul Farbrace triumvirate England now play with a flair and more positivity in test cricket. Yes captain Alastair Cook is their solid, unflappable run machine who scores slowly but prolifically, but with players such as Root, Stokes, Bairstow and Moeen Ali in the line up quick runs are in those players make ups. If you look at the touring party for South Africa you could argue nearly all of the batters were shot makers – maybe only Nick Compton is more in the Cook mould. However this on occasion can lead to batting collapses which have been a bane of the team with collapses occurring far too frequently in the last few months, hence the number of defeats. Their latest in the dead rubber at Centurion was shambolic really and verged on the unacceptable though winning the series gives them some leeway.
CATCHES WIN YOU MATCHES – DROPS DONT!!!!!!!
On the fielding side, the bowling looks great, Broad and the returning Finn have been outstanding, especially with Jimmy Anderson having an injury interrupted few months. Mark Wood never let the side down when playing and the back up of Woakes, Jordan, Plunkett, and Footitt look promising. The spin options are an issue though, Moeen Ali has not let the side down but there are still question marks about whether he is good enough to be a frontline spinner at test level. Adil Rashid and Samit Patel have been adequate when in the side, but do need more playing time as it is clear to me we don’t know enough about them at this level to make a definitive decision. The main issue in the field is catching!!!!!!! It seems this England side are either brilliant in the field catching ‘worldies’ or dropping ‘dollies’ as a matter of course. Across the 17 tests they have been made to look like superstars or idiots in the field with their catches and work needs to be done on this as getting 20 wickets is hard enough let alone 21, 22, 23, 24,25………you get my drift.
NUMERO UNO PLEASE
Alastair Cook has already stated the plan is to get this England side to become the number one test team in the world, improvements in the above areas are imperative as consistency is required to reach the summit. They return to the test arena in May with a three test series against Sri Lanka, followed by a four test series with Pakistan. The time to step up for this young and vibrant comes now. I feel they can do this as teams with Andrew Strauss at the helm have a habit of bouncing back.
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