THEY did it! A total whitewash of the now former world number one team! England continued to crush the Indians in the Test series and won 4-0 against a frankly pathetic touring team.
A second innings defeat of the series for India and the continued failure of their batsmen to get stuck in and play an innings of repute will be a worry for Duncan Fletcher, the Indian (and former England) coach.
Their bowling also lacks penetration in good bowling conditions compared to back home. Even the usually unflappable Sachin Tendulkar looked out of his depth in England’s relatively bowler-friendly conditions.
All the talk before the series was about when the Little Master would score his hundredth international century, which never happened during the Test series (there’s the ODIs to go, so he still has a chance). Pundits seemed to think that a Tendulkar century was inevitable during his eight innings, but it obviously wasn’t to be.
It does make you wonder whether one can compare players from different countries to any great extent, though. The Indian batsmen have struggled because they are not used to the ball actually doing anything, so their averages of 50-plus are a little deceptive. You could say the same of Sri Lankan and Pakistani batsmen as the conditions they regularly play in are similar.
English, South African, New Zealand and possibly Australian (now that they have a policy of giving the bowlers more of a chance on pitches due to falling crowds) batsmen have to work harder for their runs.
You often hear the likes of Michael Atherton say that the benchmark of a good Test match batsman is to have a career average more than 40. You can add at least 10 to that if the batsman comes from the sub-continent. Conversely Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan seamers have the opposite problem on pitches where the ball scuffs up very quickly and surfaces that yield little, making the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Kapil Dev and many more’s achievements all the better.
It’s the nature of Indian pitches that has led to the catastrophic Test series loss against England, in that the Indian batsmen haven’t been under that much pressure in recent series.
Their tour to South Africa would have presented problems had the South African attack contained more than two decent bowlers (Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, in case you were wondering). England now have a bank of quality seam bowlers, all of whom are very good: Anderson (second in the world rankings), Broad (fifth), Tremlett (10th), Bresnan (11th), Finn (20th), without mentioning Dernbach, Onions, Shahzad, and Woake . . . I could go on. They are backed up by Graeme Swann (third in the rankings), with Monty Panesar returning to form and James Tredwell also providing back-up. The Indians never had any rest-bite from the pressure they were put under.
If you couple the fact that England have a good bowling attack and the Indians were clearly under-prepared for the Test matches, one must presume that heads will roll in the various metropolis’ in India.
MS Dhoni, the Indian captain, has spoken well in interview and been pretty honest, but his batting has been patchy and his wicketkeeping awful alongside an laid back form of captaincy – he will certainly feel the pressure.
Apart from him, I fully expect Virender Sehwag to get dropped along with VVS Laxman, both being great players on their day, but if India are to stop the rot, they need to get new blood in, and quickly. The bowling also needs looking at as well as some nutritional education in some cases, with bowlers having lost pace and menace.
There are now a number of meaningless ODIs set to run into late September, but with England announcing that their next target is to win the World Cup in 2015 (a competition they have never won), they could become more interesting, especially as they’ve finally realised that Kevin Pietersen no longer warrants a place in the 50-over side. There will be lots of new faces in the England line-up, so that the batting has as much strength in depth as the bowling.
The real measure of progress is that Australia have just changed their national cricketing system after an inquiry into what had gone wrong with Australian cricket. Their new system is almost identical to England’s current one – high praise indeed.
After years of hurt, times are now good for being an England cricket fan. I think I’ll write a song about it: “Three Lions” I’ll call it. What was that? Oh, have they? Never mind, I’ll just content myself with gloating to the rest of the cricketing world instead.