December 18, 2012
What a brilliant achievement from the England cricket team and their skipper Alastair Cook. Not since David Gower’s XI in 1985 have England beaten India in their own back yard, and it’s fair to say this current side did it the hard way.
After losing the first Test in Ahmedabad so comprehensively, even the most optimistic of England supporters would have laughed off suggestions this could have been turned around. Although Dravid and Laxman were missing, this was still a mighty impressive Indian team, but more importantly a team who knew exactly how to win in their conditions. The last time India lost a Test series at home was to the all-conquering Australians in 2004, that included Ponting, Warne, McGrath.
In Ahmedabad England inexcusable played one spinner, and when Ian Bell decided he was going to try and hit a six first ball of his winter, the writing was on the wall. England then regrouped, huddled and came up with a way to turn things around, and from the outside it looked as though the formula for this was very simply. The batsmen were told to occupy the crease, and we then picked a balanced attack which co-insided with our bowlers out-bowling India’s.
England also had the luxury of James Anderson who looked streets ahead any seamer on either team. Who would have thought Anderson could have developed such a skill level in a part of the world where not too many men from Burney have succeeded!
Cook might not have been born a natural captain, but England have someone that will give 100% dedication and professionalism, and he will lead from the front through performance. Actions speak louder than words and his teammates will respect this fact, especially when he is churning out big hundreds at what appears to be every ground the team bus parks at.
With Cook taking over the armband he has now found the right place for himself in the field (mid-off), but more importantly Ian Bell too. A brilliant short-leg is hard to come by and Bell is just that. He may be reluctant to go in there, but when you play two spinners in this part of the world, your close in fielders have just as much value as your slip fielders on a fast track, if not more. And it was good to see Bell show his true class with an important century on the final day of the series.
Looking further ahead you would expect England to win back to back series against New Zealand before the old enemy land in July for a five match Test series. With the retirement of Ricky Ponting the visitors will be relying on Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey to score the volume of runs that they are currently doing. Even if these two men continue their remarkable form it’s hard to see anything other than England making it three Ashes series in a row. Wouldn’t that be fun!
Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins on winning SPOTY on Sunday night. British sport is as healthy as ever and it makes you proud as a fan to look back on 2012 a year that will live long with everyone. You could just tell Roy Hodgson was enjoying his night on the front row, but he looked very thankful Gary didn’t interview him on a night that was meant for celebration.
Chris Murtagh 18/12/12