Is England’s Test Success over rated?: England is every cricketer’s dream to play in. The mecca of cricket, Lords and other picturesque & historic grounds like Old Trafford, Oval, Headingly. Batsmen thrive to score and succeed in the utmost challenging swinging conditions where they get value for runs and swing bowlers lick their lips and to seize a bucket load of wickets. Tough conditions for spinners and real test for technique and skill for batsmen.
But not many have been successful because along with the difficult conditions, England have built strong teams and fairly successful TEST record in the recent past. Starting with Nasser Hussain, Michal Vaughn, Andrew Strauss, they have had match winners in the form of their current Test skipper Alastair Cook, who has been their batting main stay for the last decade. James Anderson & Stuart Broad, their frontline seamers, KP, Trott & Flintoff in the middle order, Swann and Panesar as their spinners and the likes of Joe Root, Morgan, Bairstow, Butler, Stokes and Finn the newer breed.
The question is, are they really a force to reckon with? Can they be compared to the Class of West Indies of the 80’s or Aussies of the late 90’s and 2000’s? Is the cricketing super power shifting towards England at least in Test cricket? What are they doing right? What are others doing wrong or less right?
The record ever since that famous 2005 Ashes, when they beat the mighty Aussies in the Ashes after 16 years, till today has been admirable. Out of 139 Test matches played in the last 11 years, the English have claimed 44 Test wins at Home with 32%-win ratio, a highly commendable success. But, any teams’ performance matrix critically is gauged by their Away record. With 15 away wins and 19 away draws culminating to 24% away success (including 6 wins over Bangladesh home and Away) might seem to be mediocre. Considering the fact that emphasis on Results in Test matches, have been the norm in the last 5 years, this is a record to be envious about.
Anderson and Broad have yielded ordinary away records except for an occasional burst. Barring Strauss, Cook, KP, Trott not many have handled the bounce down under and spin and reverse swing in sub-continent & Caribbean.
Breeding Tall and lanky seamers, focusing on fitness and fielding and tactically planning tours in the early English Summer when the ball swings prodigiously more than normal and offering practice games against grade 2 teams are good for improving home wins. The ECB must most definitely do its homework and have strategical plan for the development of their game in alien conditions. Success in India and New Zealand and Australia in the recent past have shown that they are working towards it.
To go further high in terms of records, they need slightly wider pool of players who can win you matches in unfamiliar conditions. Focus on A team tours and letting their players groom their skills in tournaments such as IPL, Big Bash, Ram Slam and CPL would definitely ensure the team would be prepared for what is to come.
Future is definitely looking bright for this English squad but they still have a lot of work to do. Are they world beaters now, definitely not but can they become one, absolutely possible.