The Trent Bridge test will be long remembered as the match in which India, the reigning number one, were made to look like a minnow side by a dominant England.
During this test much has been said about fitness, player absence, the winning template and the spirit of the game. Trent Bridge has left England with two championship points, to borrow some tennis terminology, to the number one spot. India will scrap hard in the next two test matches of the series, but make no mistake, it will not stop England from winning the series and the crown.
In April 2011, during the build up to this England India series, I had written on my blog the following passage in my post "Cricket -An Asian Sport"
"India has held the number one Test ranking since Dec 2009. This rise was hard fought over a long period of building. Like every team sport which has top drawer contenders, at some point the top spot will be occupied by another competent side. The era of Test Cricket domination for a decade or more is now probably over. In the long history of the game there have been long periods of domination by England, Australia and the West Indies. The top spot in recent times has always been under threat, much like ATP rankings of tennis pros. This is good for the game, as uncontested leadership makes the sport less exciting. Recall the period of domination in F1 of the Ferrari Schumacher combination, which forced significant changes to the sport, to open up the field. In Test Cricket today there are at least five teams at any point within striking distance of the number one spot, keeping the whole “Cricket Industry” interested. Akin to the changes in F1, the threshold into this variable era of Test Cricket leadership was marked by the famous English victory over the dominant Aussies in the Ashes summer of 2005.
No team can afford complacency, beyond a healthy level of confidence, aiming to maintain the winning habit and the momentum. India will be very conscious of complacency, either for the upcoming West Indies tour or the English tour this summer. England, they well know have always been very tough competitors, especially in their own typical conditions."
The present England side has built the strongest test match combination in the game today. Following the template of the Windies of the 80's, they have a quartet of four tall seamers at 80-90mph, with atleast two amongst them who are competent allrounders. Allrounders are rare breed these days, aren't they? They also have the best spinner in the world, making the bowling attack a real handful. No respite offered at all to opposition batsmen. It is worth also mentioning an impressive reserve list of pacemen who could make it to any other test side as first choice. That is a formidable bowling battery, a great problem of plenty, and one that no other test side can compare with or come close. Add to that five very competent top order batsmen and the best keeper-batsman in the business, and the combination is complete. This is easily the best English test team in decades. And at a time when other test sides are on the verge of or in the middle of a rebuild. This English side looks set to dominate test cricket for a couple of years, if not more.
India have held the crown for less than two years, thanks mainly to their batting strengths. A line up that put up or chased down scores which the thin bowling resources could deal with. With the present series, one can see the results when the batting has struggled to get past 300 in the four innings played so far, against a very demanding English attack. The bowling has been further impeded by absence and injury to key bowlers. Remember Australia soon after McGrath and Warne retired?
England will be deserving test match champions, when they finally get there in the days ahead. They definitely look set to hold their domination for a while. The Strauss-Flower plan, and execution, of world domination is now very close to fruition.
Well played England.
Can't wait for the third test, and hopefully watch a more complete Indian side take on England in Birmingham. Another great match in prospect.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
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